The surveys don’t lie: most marketers believe live events are critical to their company’s success. Among the biggest challenges? Event registration and building an engaging experience. As difficult as planning your event may be, organizers agree that promoting it and carrying attendees through signups to engagement is a whole other battlefield.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t find your 1000+ true attendees. With these event promotion and logistics tips, you’ll not only find sold-out event success, but you’ll have a good time doing it. Why? Because they work.
The key to a successful event promotion campaign is keeping in mind your end goal: converting the people you reach into positive RSVPs. The formula for conversion includes a precise mix of organized campaign management, tailored and well-timed messaging, and thoughtful design.
Organization & automation
The most critical part of your campaign is how you manage it. Any hint of chaos or disorganization will show through your marketing efforts. Thankfully, technology has disrupted nearly every industry, and events are no exception. Invest in event management software that’s been tried and trusted. But, don’t make the mistake of foregoing your research and failing to take it for a test run — most platforms should offer demos.
Also, make sure to choose software that’s tailored to your specific kind of event and your unique needs as a company. For example, if you’re hosting a fundraiser, Eventbrite offers a version of their platform specifically for nonprofits. These kinds of services will help you with crucial tasks like managing ticket sales and RSVPs. Some even include promotional tools like social and email marketing.
Beyond software, don’t underestimate the power of creating and keeping a well-planned, cross-channel marketing calendar that includes every message you plan to send, to whom, when, and where. CoSchedule has a free excel template you can take a look at and build from.
Of course, to build a calendar, you need the content you plan to push out. Start with your target audience. Who are they, where do they spend time online, and what kinds of things do they engage with? Use the answers to these and similar questions to guide your content strategy.
Keep in mind the various points of the user conversion funnel:
- Realization of need
- and Retention
Create content and messaging that helps your target audience learn about your event, realize how they will benefit from attending, and funnel them seamlessly and easily to the place where they can register to attend. Of course, what this content looks like will also depend on how you’re trying to reach them. Send a personal email newsletter to people who have already engaged with you in some way. Publish a vague but enticing Instagram video teaser that directs your followers to a link in your bio. Meet them where they are, speak their language, and remind them of the relationship you have or could have.
Design & UX
To make sure the people who see your marketing campaign convert, capitalize on the power of beautiful design and great user experience. You don’t want site visitors to be bombarded with interstitials or spammy banner ads when all they’re trying to do is click RSVP. According to Koncept, the pillars of great design and UX include:
- A seamless “first impression”
- Effortless interaction, or “delight”
- Frequent and consistent testing
When designing your event and signup pages, prioritize usability above all else. Still, don’t neglect the aesthetic experience along the way. There are many tools, including our landing page creator, that can make this process as simple as possible.
Unfortunately, a list of registrants doesn’t always guarantee attendance. This is when the retention piece of the puzzle comes into play. It requires a delicate balance of reminding while avoiding the pestering zone. People who register for your event may not attend for a number of reasons ranging from forgetfulness to loss of enthusiasm. To help get signups to actually show up, have a separate campaign and content calendar in place that targets registrants.
For a post-registration campaign, at a minimum, you should have an email reminder queued up for a week and then 24 hours prior to your event. Depending on how much time sits between your early bird RSVPs and the actual event, plan out a balanced amount of teasers across your marketing channels. For a two-birds-one-stone approach, these can even be some of the same teasers you use to get the attention of newcomers.
Make sure registrants get access to some exclusive perks, though, by hosting some small giveaways. Tie these giveaways to prompts to spread the word. Ask for your supporters’ help in gaining more traction by sharing your posts. Tell them to tag their friends in the comments or to tweet out your event page link, letting their followers know that they’ve RSVP’d.
If you have special guests attending, have them pre-record a special “thank you for signing up” message that you send to registrants in a thank you email. Or, you can even set up a quick webinar Q&A for guests to learn more. Get creative!
You’ve planned, and you’ve promoted, and then the real work starts when the event date finally arrives. All kidding aside, if you want to make sure your guests are engaged and leave with the taste of a good experience in their mouths, cross and dot all your logistical t’s and i’s. Logistics aren’t as fun and exciting as figuring out your main attractions, but they are just as (if not more) important to your event’s success when it comes to engaging your attendees. Why? Because engagement is about avoiding distractions. They should be focused on fun, nothing else.
Security has been listed as one of the biggest challenges for many event organizers, but it needs to remain one of your top priorities and be handled right. There’s nothing that ruins an event quite like being unprepared for an emergency or mishandling unfortunate and unexpected situations. Start by performing a risk assessment, considering everything from the number (and profile) of guests to the venue. A celebrity guest, for example, can attract uninvited media and fans trying to access the venue. Knowing your security requirements will help you find the right security provider.
Also, make sure you have detailed job descriptions and a list of responsibilities and point people for every staff member.
For attendees, the main pain point of events is crowds. Edit: mismanaged crowds. It’s critical that you have a strategic venue setup and staff resources that allow you to achieve maximum flow rate and avoid unreasonably long lines or areas of congestion.
For example, here’s a formula to try to calculate the maximum number of attendees who can enter your event each hour:
(# of lanes) x (# of attendees processed by a single device per hour) = maximum flow rate.
Some other logistical questions to ask yourself to help you avoid the kinds of things that lead to poor engagement include:
- How many tickets will you sell at the door?
- How and where will you accept payments?
- How long will check-in take?
- How many entry points do you have?
- Where will your customer service booth be?
- Do you have access to a local internet network?
- What kinds of on-site tech do you need?
- What is your rush strategy?
- Which staff members are designated leaders?
- What’s your escalation path and exit plan?
When all is said and done, make sure to gather feedback, data, and analyze where you succeeded and where you can do better next time. Don’t forget to push out recap content that shows off the event’s best moments, and don’t be afraid to do so semi-regularly. That’s what #tbt is for!
About the Author
Cara Benson is the Community Manager at Eventbrite, the world’s largest event technology platform.