When preparing for an event, a lot of attention is spent focusing on how to create an engaging experience during the actual event. What tends to only be considered until the very end of the planning process, if at all, is how to maximize attendee engagement before an event takes place.
You don’t want all your weeks and months of hard work in designing an amazing event experience to have been in vain, so it’s crucial that you think about how to promote your event and get attendees excited before they actually arrive onsite. The attendee engagement strategy leading up to the event is equally as important as your strategy to keep attendees engaged during the event. Building a relationship with attendees in advance of the event can be extremely advantageous in getting your audience energized and excited, shape the content of your event or kick-start networking.
Goals for Pre-Event Promotion
Prior to an event, major goals of an event organizer are keeping attendees up-to-date on event-related information, and enabling attendees to start putting out feelers to connect with other attendees.
Common approaches include:
- Gradually ramping up excitement by sharing event details with attendees through private and public channels
- Sharing marketing content that will resonate with your registered attendees, but also draw the attention of your broader target audience
- Breaking the ice between attendees to help them get more out of their experience
- Connecting first-timers with more experienced event-goers to give an opportunity to ask questions
- Involving attendees in planning the event experience by getting their feedback and input
- Help attendees find others interested in meeting up in the days leading up to the event
- Give speakers an opportunity to start a discussion with attendees about their upcoming topics.
Tactics to Get You Started
Below are tactics that will help you execute a stellar pre-event promotional strategy that will increase attendee engagement before an event. These tips are based on the successes we’ve seen our clients experience, so learning from their wins will also enable you to achieve success in the promotion of your event.
1. Build Community Via Public Social Networks
Ignite Conversations on Social: Start conversations on your external social networks like LinkedIn Groups, online forums, Facebook Page, Twitter or Instagram (or all the above) to build excitement about the upcoming event.
Push Out Promotional Content: Content can include assets such as videos from past events, blog posts from speakers, and the event hashtag. Seeing a video clip from a former event can stimulate good memories in the minds of your community members (as well as whet curiosity for first-timers), and drive anticipation for your upcoming event.
Design and Deploy Targeted Marketing Campaigns: Use segment-specific messaging that brings audience members together around a common topic or concern. This works especially well with a broad audience who can be broken out into distinctive groups with specialized interests. For example, if you have a list of registered attendees who can be cleanly broken out into different groups by profession or title, you could run a drip marketing campaign for each stream to gradually build excitement.
2. Build Community Via Internal Channels
Spark Internal Social Conversations: Build and nurture internal social platforms like member-only online forums, website-hosted communities, event app group discussion channels, or an event app activity feed. Private channels are ideal for certain types of event-related discussions that may not be as relevant to the public sphere. It also creates a sense of exclusivity that encourages attendees to engage with each other leading up to the event to find out the latest news.
EVENT TECHNOLOGY TIP
Build an Event App and Encourage Attendees to Download It Before the Event
An event app is a great way to help build the excitement leading up to your event, and provides many opportunities for attendees to network with each other. Advertise downloading the app in your promo material a few weeks ahead of the event. To encourage adoption, position the app as a way to get up-to-date info on event details, and receive exclusive content only available through the app. Here are a couple of creative ideas on how to take advantage of your app to build excitement and networking opportunities leading up to your event:
-In the group discussion channel, attendees can start engaging in conversation around topics of interest, such as arranging meet ups to see the local sights before the event for early arrivers.
-Update the activity feed with images of your team preparing for the event, and new speakers who will be at your event to get attendees excited and spreading the word.
Share Content Related to Event Speakers and Sessions: Post and share links to longer-form content such as blog posts and articles written by your event speakers and/or content team as a way to get attendees excited and learning more about the event sessions.
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Use the Event App to Communicate to Attendees When New Information is Available
Alert notifications are a great way to keep attendees informed of any updates to the agenda. For example, whenever new sessions and speakers are added to the lineup, you can send out a notification and create a discussion group so that attendees can engage with the speakers and ask them questions beforehand. Speaker documents and handouts can also be uploaded to a documents manager within the event app for attendees to review ahead of time.
Kick-Start Event Engagement: Event app discussion channels are a great tool to catalyze group chat around specific topics and can help your audience get to know those with common interests or values. Attendees can use this platform to start connecting with the event theme and each other.
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Gather Attendee Insights Through Registration Surveys
During the registration stage, use this opportunity to collect data that can be used to build out your audience segmentations and help you with the event design. To gauge what topics your attendees are most interested in learning about or activities they might be interested in participating in before and during the event, you can use your event app to send out a survey to gather feedback.
In addition to helping your team design the event experience and agenda, you can also share the results of the survey on the activity feed and send an alert notification to notify attendees who are curious to see the results. The benefits are twofold – not only are attendees given the opportunity to engage with one another and contribute their input, but you also get valuable information that will help guide the design of your agenda and overall event. It’s a win-win situation!
For event organizers interested in creating the most successful event possible, attendee engagement before an event is an industry best-practice that can result in happier event attendees.
Your event’s return on investment stems from how well you can extract value from interactions and engagement of your attendees. Pre-event promotion helps event planners not only draw a crowd to the event, but also target the best prospects in that crowd. In order to ensure you’ve got ROI on the back end, you’ve got to plan for it on the front end.
Design a pre-event promotional strategy that helps build attendee loyalty and engagement, with the help of our eBook:
Create an Event Community to Increase Attendee Loyalty and Engagement