12 cost-effective ways to bring more participants to your events
Organising regular events – even if not part of your company’s key services – can provide great opportunities to strengthen your brand, raise awareness about your cause, expand your community and build the personal connection needed to drive meaningful action. But how do you ensure successful participation numbers, especially if you have a limited budget? Check out the 12 tips below.
1. Craft an irresistible value proposition
This will be the backbone of all your event promotions. An inspiring message that resonates with your target audience, shows the uniqueness of your event and triggers action is key in driving registrations. To craft an irresistible message, don’t forget to use Simon Sinek’s golden circle: start with the ‘why’ and then address the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. An effective approach to help you answer the ‘why’ is to keep asking ‘So what?’ to every answer you give until it’s obvious and it feels silly to continue.
Here’s an example:
Learn new breathing techniques (So what?) –> So that you relieve stress and achieve inner calm (So what?) –> So that you feel relaxed, radiant and alive every day.
So the message can become:
Feel relaxed, radiant and alive every day. Discover new breathing techniques that will help you release stress and achieve inner calm.
Once your event information is on the website, don’t forget to optimise the content for search engines. Check out this HubSpot blog post for on-page SEO management tips.
2. Build anticipation
Got a clear theme and a date for your event? Even before you have all the practical details figured out and you open registration, make sure you generate buzz around it:
• Promote it consistently across all your social channels and consider creating a series of fun/inspiring videos to accompany your posts.
• Send an email to all your subscribers, including previous participants, who might be interested in the theme of the event.
• Announce the event at other events.
• Let your partners know about it and ask them to help promote it across their channels.
• Don’t forget to add a sign-up form to your event page for people who want to receive more information about the event. In this way, when registration is open or eg. the speaker line-up is ready, you already have a list of warm leads.
3. Slice and dice your email lists
Email marketing is one of the most effective tools in event promotions. But it’s really important to stay away from email blasts and respect data privacy regulations (eg. GDPR). Understand your subscribers’ preferences and only target the people to whom the theme of your event is relevant. An effective approach is to identify the key segments in your database and map all the event topics against these segments. In this way you will have a clear content overview to help you in your promotions as well as an easy way to tailor your messages.
An important group is that of previous participants (as long as the theme is relevant to them). These people were previously engaged with your organisation so they are likely to want to participate again. In addition to obvious segmentation by job title, organisation type and size, career level, topics of interest, country of residence etc, this list can further be split based on level of satisfaction with previous events, number of events attended before, sessions they attended etc. And if you don’t have all this information available now, make sure you start collecting it.
4. Launch a new product or publication
If you’re planning to launch a report, a book or a new product, why not use your event as a platform? In this way, your launch can receive extra attention and your event can gather more people interested in hearing about the launch. Double win!
5. Develop a content strategy around your event’s theme
Having a content strategy around your theme can help your event get found by the right people and trigger action among a relevant audience without having to fight for their attention. By picking a set of key topics from your event and writing related content that addresses the needs and goals of your ideal participants, you will attract qualified prospects that you can then nurture into registrants. Make sure that each piece of content you produce is optimised for search engines and ends with a call to action and a sign-up form.
6. Promote the location of your event
While the theme, speakers and set-up of your event will define the unique selling points, the location and venue of the event can also make a difference in your promotions. After a full day of discussions and learning, people love unwinding and discovering new places. You can talk about what the city has to offer and describe the atmosphere of your venue to give your potential participants a taste of the event’s ambiance and thus, an extra reason to join.
7. Unlock the power of your network
The social impact space is highly collaborative – organisations and individuals support each other’s causes and work together towards shared goals. Help your partners promote their work and they will surely return the favour.
In addition, give your speakers ready-made messages to announce their speaking engagements among their networks and also encourage your employees to spread the word. Last but not least, identify influencers and ask for a shout-out. Most of the time, people will step in for a good cause.
8. Prepare a (social) media kit
You want people to help spread the word? You gotta make it easy for them. Don’t expect them to go to your website, figure what to say about your event, craft a message and tailor it to different channels. Maybe you’ve got a few evangelists out there but most of the time people are too busy to put all that effort.
But if you give them the right tools, they’ll help. So take your event’s value proposition and adapt it to all the different channels where you’d like to get some visibility (eg. social media, email). And then make some variations so people have some choice and your message gets out there in different forms. Plus, always attach some channel-specific photos and videos for extra visibility. When your kit is ready, send it to all your employees, speakers, participants and partners. In this way, everyone can just copy, paste and publish your messages, and you can generate a lot of buzz.
9. Raise awareness at other events
Whenever you or any of your organisation’s employees attend other events, make sure to bring marketing collateral to promote your event. And if you have a booth, use pull-up banners, flyers and screens to feature your event’s unique selling points and promo videos. Make sure you allow for people to sign up to be notified about the event and also consider organising a raffle as an incentive.
10. Turn your registrants into event ambassadors
Very often, registration confirmations are the last touch points before the event takes place. So many lost opportunities! What if you could turn your registrants into ambassadors for your event? Here are some ideas:
• Add share buttons and ready-made social media posts to the confirmation page and emails. Make it easy for people to instantly share their excitement with their networks.
• Invite them to the Facebook/LinkedIn event and thus raise awareness among their friends as well.
• Send a monthly newsletter to registrants as you book new speakers, add some exciting sessions to the programme or develop interesting content related to some of the topics. This is also where you can mention practical details and boost enthusiasm about the city and the venue. This will keep your registrants engaged and give them content to share with their networks.
11. Always think hybrid
Hybrid events are becoming the norm. But even if the event is supposed to be in-person only, make sure you give the world at least a glimpse into the content and buzz of your event through eg. live video from key sessions. In doing so, you will boost the visibility and engagement of your brand and raise interest in future events. And of course, make sure you have a sign-up form available for people who could not make it to stay informed about your future events.
12. Follow up
The end of your event should not be the end of your relationship with your participants. Follow up with a survey; ask them what they liked and what they would improve; send a link to photos, recordings and presentations; get in touch with each and every person who you promised to contact after the event; send them relevant content (ebooks, webinars) based on their session participation. Establish a connection that goes beyond the event participation and who knows, maybe some of them will even become ambassadors of your brand.
What other tactics do you use to boost participation at your events? Share in the comments below.
Are you looking for ways to attract more participants to your events? Let’s work together on a marketing strategy that will ensure the success of your events. No time for implementation? No worries, we’re here to help. Get in touch for a consultation.
Photo credit: @kanereinholdtsen, Unsplash
Published on 6 May 2018 and updated on 28 Jan 2022 by Laura Tufis.