6 Effective Strategies for Optimizing Event Attendee Retention

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Posted on August 8, 2023

6 Effective Strategies for Optimizing Event Attendee Retention

Whether you rely on events to generate leads or just run a business that holds events, event attendee retention is key. A high retention rate tells you that you’re doing something right with your event strategy. It means you’re engaging your audience enough so they want to continue patronizing your brand’s events.

When they give you their continued support, they can even become your brand advocates and promote your brand to others.

But how can you optimize your event attendee retention rate in the first place?

In this article, you’ll learn six strategies.

1. Provide value during events

Education is the number one reason people attend events. Statistics show that 80% of event attendees are there to learn. The second reason people attend events is to avail of networking opportunities. 

When you provide your listeners with these types of value, the next time you run another event, they are more likely to attend.

Whether it’s an in-person or virtual event or conference, providing value starts during the planning stage. 

Choose topics that your audience will find beneficial. You can determine what they find beneficial by conducting a survey on possible topics to be discussed during your event. You can send these surveys via email or post a poll on social media prior to the event.

Once you have your chosen topic, pick reputable speakers in the industry. You can even ask your potential attendees whom they’d like to hear speak during your event. Then make sure you boost each speaker’s credibility by including their credentials in your promotional event material:

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Provide value during your event by allowing for networking opportunities, too. Create breakout rooms where attendees can form smaller groups and connect on a more personal level. Let’s pick an example from one of the most popular SaaS conferences, Inbound. Here’s their sample agenda for a conference:


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Notice that there’s some allocated time for a “networking meetup.” 

Overall, providing value to your audience is a great way to keep them coming to future events. If you gave them that value they were looking for in your previous event, after all, chances are, you’ll give them the same value in your next.

2. Create meaningful connections using your CRM data and email marketing 

After the event, you must keep in touch with your attendees. You can effectively reach out to them with the contact details they gave you when they registered for your event. After collecting these contact details, make sure you add them to your CRM or client management software. Include other relevant details in your system, like the times they attended events you hosted or their content preferences.

One of the best ways to keep in touch with your attendees via email marketing post-event is by collecting feedback immediately after the event. This way, you don’t just nurture your relationships with them. You also gather data on how to improve your next event (we’ll talk more about this later). With both strategies, you pave the way for optimized event attendee retention.

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Another way is to send them your event content via email so they can refer to it when they need to.

When sending your emails post-event, make sure you take into account your CRM data. You can use your CRM to segment audiences and send them email content they can relate to. Say you’re a digital marketing company that runs webinars every year. Does this segment prefer to be updated on SEO? Does the other group prefer content on email marketing?

The importance of a CRM system in creating meaningful connections cannot be overstated. It helps ensure personalized communications post – event, boosting brand loyalty and engagement and optimizing attendee retention rates for your next event.

3. Maintain communication in other ways

We already know that keeping in touch with your event attendees will help your attendee retention rate. Out of sight, out of mind, right? So if you remain top of mind with attendees, they’re likely to attend the other events that you organize.

But don’t just maintain communication with your attendees using your CRM and email. You can do this using other platforms as well:

  • Through your website – After the event, upload your event content on your website, too. Writing engaging blog posts about the recently-concluded event and including images of attendees participating will help keep them excited even after the event. 

Don’t forget to update your website regularly with sensational event content and the latest news from your industry and business. Your website is the first place attendees will visit to see upcoming events.

  • Through social media channels – Post updates on your official social media accounts. Make sure you respond to comments they leave. 

If your attendees feel like you’re interested in keeping your relationship with them even after the event, they are more likely to attend the next event you host.

4. Offer incentives for returning

Another way to optimize your event attendee retention rate is to appreciate your loyal attendee base. Think of ways of acknowledging their loyalty to your brand’s events.

For instance, you can give them discounted fees to your next event. 

Have a different reward for those who attended your previous events more than three times. This is brand loyalty at its finest and you want to reward that kind of behavior. That’s why your incentive for this kind of behavior should be something grand. Something like branded merchandise can work. Here’s an example:

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If you sell physical products, I would suggest giving out any of these instead. This is one way you can promote your products, too. If the recipients liked your free product, they are more likely to recommend it to other people as well. So, you essentially hit two birds with one stone. You incentivize loyal behavior and increase your chances for sales.

You can also reward your well-engaged attendees. These are the ones who posted the most on social media about the event, for example. Or, they may have completed every feedback form and left a review for you on your event’s app or landing page.

Offering incentives to returning attendees will make them feel appreciated. This will motivate them to attend more of your future events, optimizing your event attendee retention rates.

5. Develop a community

People are usually motivated to attend events where they know they’ll meet a few familiar faces. That’s why creating a community for your event attendees is a must. With a community, they can keep in touch with each other even after your event. So, when you run another, they’ll want to attend it to see their newfound friends again.

Creating a community is not as difficult as it sounds. You can create a social media group right after your event and add your attendees. Check out this example. It’s a Facebook group for Hubspot Academy students:

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You can also use online community platforms like Circle. The good thing about these platforms is that they come with features that allow you to share exclusive content and resources. They come with engagement features, too.

Just make sure you set your community guidelines before you start adding people to your group. You want to make sure everyone is on the same page about what they can say and what they can’t say when interacting with other members. You want to avoid potential member conflicts.

6. Leverage feedback

Remember when I said you should gather vital feedback immediately after your event to create meaningful connections with your attendees? Well, you shouldn’t just hold on to this feedback. You need to implement this, too. 

You can use both positive and negative feedback to your advantage. The positive feedback you get from your event attendees can serve as social proof for your next event. So, you can include a quote from a satisfied attendee on your next event’s landing page for registration. This might just be the nudge other attendees need to sign up again for your next event. 

You can also use this positive feedback as a sign you’re event strategy is on track. So, if your attendees say your webinar this year was engaging, you might want to use the same strategy for your next event the following year.

As for the negative feedback, you can use it to improve your next event strategy. If several attendees tell you, for instance, that your webinar on email marketing was boring, you might want to include more games in your next webinar, for example.

Both positive and negative feedback can help you ensure a successful event next time around, and optimize your event attendee retention rate. Just use them to your advantage.

In closing

Attendee retention should be part of every event marketing strategy. In this article, you’ve learned some tips to use to ensure maximum attendee retention. 

Start by providing value during events. Don’t forget to create meaningful connections with your attendees post-event using your CRM data and email, and in other ways. Also, offer incentives for returning attendees. Make sure you develop a community for your attendees after the event.

Finally, use the feedback you collect from attendees–whether positive or negative—to your advantage. 

Follow these strategies and you’ll see the same people signing up again for your next event. Good luck!

The author Martin Gessner is the Founder of Focus on Force. He has spent over 10 years working in various Salesforce roles including business analyst, project manager, consultant and solutions architect. Along the way he has earned twelve certifications, published “The Salesforce Career Playbook”, and helps Salesforce professionals learn more about Salesforce, develop their career and prepare for certifications.

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