Running virtual or hybrid events? Need some advice to help boost virtual event registration?
These six steps will help you increase your virtual event attendance. They assume you are already using a virtual event platform to run the conference, as they focus more on promotion. If you need a more in-depth guide that includes executing the event, check out this definitive guide to running virtual events.
- Highlight speakers and have them promote
- Tease or share pre-event content
- Promote your agenda
- Lean on testimonials
- Make your main event page accessible… very accessible
- Offer an on demand experience
1. Highlight speakers and have them promote
Have a thought leader delivering a keynote at your virtual event? Do you have someone influential giving an in-depth session on their area of expertise?
Well known speakers can be a great way to boost virtual event registration. Promoting their participation can turn heads and attract interest. As an added benefit, usually these professionals have their own network of followers. As a result, having them mention their participation on the virtual event can attract an additional audience. This doesn’t have to be “salesy”, as it can simply include what they plan to present or talk about, when and ideally where with a link back to the main site for the event. Once visitors get to the site the CTA (call to action) should be clear so that they can navigate to the registration and attend.
In terms of this outreach, plan to make the speaker’s job as easy as possible. This means coming to the table with pre-written Tweets, LinkedIn messages or Facebook posts that they can share. It can also include having pre-created imagery for them as well. Depending on the relationship with the speaker, you may also note that they aren’t beholden to using the exact copy or images if they want to maintain a “voice” with their following. In those instances it helps to express at least one goal, like please share the link to the event page.
2. Tease or share pre-event content
A nagging question for many potential attendees can be if the event is worth their time. Is it relevant, is it interesting, is it valuable to them. These can often be areas of consideration.
To addresses these, teasing or sharing event content early can pay dividends. These can take many shapes, but ideally should give the impression of what’s at the event. Examples include custom messages from well known speakers discussing what they plan to cover or what the viewer will learn from watching. If dealing with pre-recorded content, this could also be a bite size moment from the longer presentation to lure attendees. However, be careful with the latter if you are doing a simulated live event, as generally you’ll want the content to feel live during the virtual event even if it’s not and by sharing a moment ahead of time the illusion will be ruined.
3. Promote your agenda
Getting a speaker to promote your event to their audience can be a great way to get their attention. However, no matter how great a keynote or speaking session is, for many attendees it’s the greater picture that matters. They are looking for an event with a selection of sessions that will appeal to them.
Consequently, making an agenda available ahead of time can be quite valuable. This doesn’t have to be an agenda down to the hour start time, but a way to boost virtual event registration can involve sharing your known agenda. This should include titles, speakers and a brief description for each entry. Anything that’s not yet confirmed shouldn’t be included, as it can leave a bad taste if a session of interest is suddenly yanked from the agenda.
4. Lean on testimonials
Many virtual events are not a “one and done”. They often fall into the reoccurring category, like annual events or venues from show producers with a history of other virtual events under their belt.
In these scenarios, getting testimonials from attendees can be valuable. These can act as a source of validation and are generally best if they convey how much they enjoyed the earlier event. Quotes that stress how they are looking forward to the next one also help sell that not only did they enjoy it but found it valuable enough to want to do again. These testimonials will often resonate best if the person giving it is in an aspirational role, like a CEO, or is someone that your target audience can association as a peer.
If this is your first event, and you plan to have future shows, plan to gather initial testimonials for use next time. Make sure you have cleared the rights to use the testimonial long term as well, as you might find yourself using particularly great testimonials for more than a year.
5. Make your main event page accessible… very accessible
This may seem rudimentary, but is actually quite involved. Making the main event page accessible goes a long way toward boosting attendance. On the simple side this means, if you have a main company website that sees good traffic from your potential audience, making the event page easily navigable from your home page. Burying it within several layers of navigation will generally work against you here.
The second and tricky element to this is making sure the event page has good SEO (search engine optimization). Your goal here is that if someone is looking for an event on your topic they’ll stumble onto your event page. That is easier said than done, especially as SEO is not an exact science. It’s constantly working with, or against depending on your perspective, changes made to search algorithms. In fact, Google made over 3,000 changes to their algorithm in 2018, which was up by over 800 changes from the prior year. As a result, an SEO best practice today could theoretically hurt you tomorrow. In the end, it’s best to have a page that features good content. It should adequately describe the event and use keywords that might attract the wanted audience. For example, an event on Blockchain might incorporate “Blockchain 2021 conference” or “Blockchain 2021 event”, depending on keyword traffic. The page should also launch early enough that tweaks can be made based on performance, i.e. if it’s not ranking as high as desired.
6. Offer an on demand experience
A virtual event done live is exciting. The sense that anything can happen and the ability to participate, be it through chat, breakout sessions or some other means. That said, while the live experience is ideal, there can be circumstances that prevent someone from attending. These can range from prior commitments… to simply learning about the event too late.
In these scenarios, providing a post event, on demand experience can be another way to boost virtual event registration. Essentially offering the on demand content after someone registers, increasing your overall audience for the event.
These six steps are great methods toward boosting attendance for your virtual event. An unspoken seventh tip is to craft an enjoyable, engaging event experience that has audiences raving, building word of mouth. Easier said than done, although those looking for some more advice on running virtual and hybrid events should check out this definitive guide.