Attendees have tons of options for events right now, and there are only going to be more next year. This is great news for event-goers, but it also means big competition between events!
So how can organizers make sure attendees keep signing up and returning to their event? Also, what’s the best way to keep your event relevant and on everyone’s radar. The answer – it’s all about making your attendees happy (even when there are no events happening). To show you how here’s our top five ways to keep attendees coming back year after year and earning that event loyalty.
Understand your audience.
The first step to maintaining event loyalty is to do some high-level analysis of who your attendees really are, as people.
Where and how do they like to connect on social media? What kind of content do they enjoy most? Do they want to hear from you online, or would they appreciate a well-designed snail-mail letter?
It’s also good to take a poll on your attendees’ thoughts and concerns in their industry. What do they need to know more about? What advice do they need right now? What gets them excited about their work?
It all comes down to knowing your audience and what’s on their mind. Once you have that, you should be able to craft compelling content and communications.
Pro-tip: Create an attendee poll when you are between events. Incentivize people to take the poll with a discount, swag, or ticket to an exclusive webinar with interesting guest speakers.
Create an event experience attendees can’t get anywhere else.
If your attendees know that your event is the only place they are going to get access to exclusive speakers, product launches, or information, then you know they will want to come back.
At our recent webinar Finding the perfect speaker: Where to start and what to know, Bobbie Carlton (TEDx speaker and Founder of Innovation Women) talked about how attendees will often see the same speakers at the same events, and then get bored with those speakers.
She went on to say that attendees may opt not to go to the next event if they notice a similar panel or keynote speaker – even if they still really like those speakers!
To help make your event unique, Carlton suggested looking beyond the usual C-suite positions for speakers. Think directors, managers, or up-and-coming thought leaders. This will raise new voices and bring new perspectives to your stage – keeping your event cutting edge.
Stay in touch, for real.
You want attendees to feel like they have a genuine connection to your event, especially when it will be a while until the next event.
Email blasts and social media posts are a great way to do this and keep people up to date on the going-ons with the event. You can also include news from speakers (past, present, and future), interesting articles, and even throw in some life/career updates from attendees!
The key is that the communications feel real and personal. These aren’t messages for selling. They are messages to help build your brand and especially your event community.
Attendees want to know that they are a part of something bigger, or that they can reach out to people from all over about their industry or new business. Your event is the perfect way to make this happen for attendees.
Keep the content flowing.
A steady stream of social media and video content will help keep your event on attendees’ radar long after it ends.
Content is king. We all know this. But it’s important to add that your content needs to be unique to your brand. It should show off everything you love about your event, and the things that make your event so important to attendees.
Think about recruiting your favorite speakers for webinars, blog articles, or short social media takeovers. You want to bring together people that can keep the conversations from the event going, and incorporate new information and developments.
Events only happen once, maybe twice a year. Your content is a chance to keep everyone excited about all the amazing things you have planned for the future. Which is very important when people are deciding which events to go to next, and hopefully they return to your events!
Attendees are tuned into industry changes, trends, or new technologies people are talking about. Events should be as well, and probably more so.
All the topics, themes, and workshops of last year’s event are probably not going to get anyone excited a year later. The same goes for marketing designs, visual language, and maybe even presentation styles and event technologies
Keep everything fresh and on-trend. You want attendees to feel like the panelists and speakers are talking about the issues that are happening right now, today.
Additionally, every part of the event should seem new and innovative. From the way they register or check-in, to how they make their way around the venue and interact. It all needs to be on-trend and pique people’s imaginations.
It’s all about making attendees happy.
If you just focus on doing things that make attendees happy, they will keep coming back year after year. And you will earn that attendee event loyalty.
Knowing how attendees want to get information and stay connected is a great place to start. Keeping the content flowing with webinars, blog posts, or social media stories will help keep the conversation going. And focusing on genuine connections will make sure everyone is excited to get back together again. In the end, a happy attendee is guaranteed to be back next year!