Event Management & Data

How to Effectively Increase Event Attendance

Mike Khorev
June 13, 2023

Table of Contents

Event attendance is a very important measure of an event’s success. No matter how well-planned and well-executed your event is, it’s not considered successful if you can’t attract enough of your target audience to attend it. 

The presence of an engaged and vibrant audience not only enhances an event atmosphere but also helps you achieve your event’s goals, be it building awareness of your product or service, facilitating networking for your audience, educating potential customers, and so on.

With that being said, increasing event attendance should be a key objective for event planners, but in practice, it can be easier said than done.

This is where this article comes in.

In this guide to effectively increase event attendance, we will explore key strategies you can implement not only to attract more attendees, but also to increase engagement and satisfaction in your event. 

By the end of this guide, you’d have learned about the following:

  • How to identify the ideal audience for your event
  • Crafting compelling event content that attracts potential attendees
  • How to leverage various marketing channels to increase event attendance: social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, etc.
  • Using the power of event management software to attract more attendees

Without further ado, let’s delve into this guide to enhance your event’s reach, attract a larger and more diverse audience, and achieve greater success.

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Understanding The Event’s Target Audience

One of the most important steps in increasing event attendance is making sure you are targeting the right audience in your promotional efforts. Every event is unique, and each will cater to a specific group of individuals who may share common goals or interests.

If you can precisely define and understand your target audience, you’ll be able to tailor more effective marketing and promotion strategies and attract the right attendees.

The first thing you should do to identify the right target audience for your event is to conduct market research.

Conducting Market Research for Events

For events, market research is about gathering and analyzing relevant data about potential attendees: their needs, behaviors, preferences, interests, priorities, and more.

There are a wide variety of approaches you can use to conduct market research, but here are some of the most effective ones you can consider:

  • Surveys: You can create offline or online surveys (i.e., with tools like Google Forms or Survey Monkeys) to ask potential event attendees about their needs, interests, goals, and pain points. If you’ve hosted previous events in the past, you can also use these surveys to collect feedback from past attendees and gauge interest in your next event.
  • Interviews: Conducting one-on-one interviews with potential attendees, relevant influencers, or experts in your niche can be very beneficial for gathering personal feedback, gaining insights into specific concerns, or understanding motivations, among others. You can conduct interviews in person, over the phone, or by leveraging video conferencing solutions.
  • Focus groups: You can bring together potential attendees or relevant experts to have a guided discussion and ask specific questions related to the event (i.e., format, topic, promotion strategies.) Focus groups may allow you to have a deeper exploration of potential attendees’ perspectives.
  • Industry research: You can read and analyze industry-related articles and reports, attend conferences, or talk to other event planners to understand the latest trends and best practices on how to promote your event.
  • Data analysis: You can analyze data from previous events (if you’ve hosted previous events in the past) or similar events within the industry to examine attendee behaviors/demographics, registration patterns, behaviors, feedback, or other relevant data.
  • Social media listening: Monitoring relevant social media platforms can be a great way to identify trends, sentiments, and listen to discussions related to the event (Or similar events.) You can leverage various social media listening tools like Hootsuite or Sproutsocial to assist you in aggregating and analyzing social media conversations.
  • Competitor analysis: Examining competitors’ events or similar events within your niche/industry can help you research how your competitors package their events, their marketing strategies, attendee feedback, and more. Analyzing this data can help you identify gaps and opportunities, so you can tailor your own event to differentiate itself and attract attendees.

There is no one-size-fits-all research method, and the best method for your event will depend on your specific goals and needs. You can combine a variety of research methods to gather more comprehensive data and insights about your target audience and their needs.

Gathering and analyzing information about your target audience will help you design an event that is compelling, informative, and engaging, so it can attract a sizable audience. Information regarding your potential attendees’ behaviors and preferences can also help you in choosing the best marketing channels and designing promotional campaigns that cater to your ideal audience.

For instance, if your target audience is younger people who are active on social media, then investing in digital and social media-focused marketing campaigns may benefit you the most.

In the next sections, we will explore various marketing channels available to promote your event and how to optimize your strategies for each. However, we must start by having a solid foundation: compelling event content.

Crafting a Compelling Event Content

Regardless of how you are going to promote your event, having clear and compelling event content is critical, and you must think about two things: the content of the event itself (i.e., the sessions, speakers, etc.) and the content of your promotional materials, and both must be properly aligned with each other.

To achieve this alignment, it’s critical to first develop a clear, concise, and informative event message.

What is the main message that you want to convey with your event? What is its core purpose? What makes your event unique from others?

The event message should clearly elaborate on the benefits the attendees can expect and emphasize what makes the event worth attending. Consider:

  • Speak your target audience’s language: Avoid technical terms and jargon that your audience may not understand, unless you are speaking to a highly technical audience. 
  • Make sure your message is relevant: Know and understand your target audience. What are their interests and needs? Tailor your event message to meet these needs.
  • Be creative and engaging: Use storytelling techniques, incorporate humor, and be creative to make your message more memorable and engaging. Your event message shouldn’t only be about facts and figures, and find the right balance between being compelling and informative.
  • Proofread: Make sure all content is free from typos and grammatical errors, which can hurt your credibility. Take the time to proofread your content carefully before you publish it.
  • Leverage visual elements: Don’t underestimate the power of visual elements like images, infographics, and videos to capture your potential audience’s attention and convey your event’s core message. Make sure your visual content is well-designed, high-quality, and strategically chosen to align with the event’s theme or topic.

Harnessing the Power of Content Marketing to Promote Your Events

Most of us are familiar with the concept of content marketing: by publishing valuable and relevant content, we can establish our position as the thought leader or expert in our niche and attract potential customers.

However, implementing this principle in marketing an event may be tricky since you might not have enough time to promote the event between the announcement and D-Day. 

To tackle this issue, here are some tips you can consider executing effective content marketing for your event:

  • Start early: It’s important to start promoting your event as early as possible, at least 6–8 weeks before the event date for small (or local) events), and at least 12 weeks (or 16+ weeks) before the event date for large events. This will give you more time to create and publish content and for attendees to learn about your event.
  • Choose your content formats strategically: Due to the limited time, choose the content formats that will be the most effective for your target audience, and make sure your content is compelling and engaging. 
  • Leverage social media: Social media is a great way to harness the power of content marketing in a limited time. Share your content on relevant social media platforms that your target audience frequents. In the next section, we will further explore how to use social media to promote your content.
  • Use email marketing: If you’ve already built an email database, then email marketing is another great way to promote your content and your event. Send out email newsletters to your subscribers to let them know about your event.
  • Track your results: Track the performance of your content marketing initiatives to see what’s working and what could be improved. This will help you make more informed decisions about how to improve your content marketing strategy and to make sure you are reaching the right audience.

Leveraging Social Media to Promote Your Events

It’s quite obvious that social media is a powerful tool to promote anything, including your event.

Yet, with virtually everyone promoting anything on social media, how can we get our events noticed amidst all the noise? 

Here are some tips:

Identify the right social media platform

The key to successful social media marketing is to first identify which social media platform(s) you should focus your campaign on.

This will ultimately depend on the type of event you are promoting and its target audience.

For example, if your event is targeted at professionals, then you might want to focus on LinkedIn. On the other hand, if you are targeting a younger audience and your event is more focused on entertainment, targeting Instagram might be a better fit.

Create a content calendar

Once you have identified the right social media platforms to target, the next step you should take is to create a content calendar. 

A content calendar, simply put, is a document that outlines your content marketing strategy, which especially consists of a schedule of your post and the content that you will be posting. 

For a social media content calendar, here are some of the most important elements to include: 

  • Date: The date you are going to post your content. It will help you stay on track with your social media marketing schedule.
  • Channel: Which social media platform will you be publishing your content on?
  • Content type: The type of content that you will be publishing. Choose a format that is appropriate for your audience and your objectives.
  • Topic: the topic of your content, if applicable.
  • Keywords/hashtags: The keywords or hashtags that you will be using to optimize your content.
  • Call to action: A brief statement (typically together with a clickable button or a hyperlink) that tells the audience the action you’d like them to do, whether it’s visiting your website, registering for your event, etc.
  • Timing: The time of the day you’d like to post your content. You want to post when your audience is online and most likely to be engaged.
  • Approvals: Who needs to approve this content before it is posted?

Leverage targeted social media advertising

While organic social media marketing efforts alone can be effective, it can take time to build followers on your social media profiles, and remember, you may not have the luxury of time to promote your events.

This is where leveraging the paid options offered by various social media platforms (paid advertising, sponsored posts, etc.) can help you reach a wider audience in a shorter time frame.

Most social media platforms offer the option to launch targeted advertising campaigns: you can define specific criteria such as demographics, location, behaviors, and interests, so the ad will only be displayed to those who are the most likely to be interested in attending. 

Consider allocating a portion of your marketing budget towards paid social media advertising, which can significantly enhance event attendance.

Encourage engagement through polls, contests, and discussions

The higher the engagement of potential attendees on social media, the more likely they will register and attend your event. 

So, encouraging engagement should be a key focus in using social media to promote your events, and we can do so by incorporating interactive elements such as giveaways, contests, live Q&As, polls, and others:

  • Contests and giveaways, or other incentives-based activities can motivate participants to share the event with their networks, amplifying your reach
  • Polls can help you gather valuable opinions and insights from the audience while at the same time generating conversations.
  • Live Q&As can provide an opportunity for potential attendees to ask relevant questions, fostering a sense of community

Actively engaging with your audience can help event planners establish a strong online presence, credibility, and enhance your event attendance. 

To summarize, leveraging social media is a powerful strategy to promote your event and gain more attendance. However, you’ll still need the right strategy, and you can follow the tips we’ve shared above to generate buzz and increase attendance.

Implementing Email Marketing Campaigns

Despite all the newer technologies and more “modern” communication channels, many people still prefer email as a form of communication, especially for receiving professional and promotions. 

By following these tips, you can also leverage email marketing to promote your event and enhance its attendance: 

Build a targeted email list

The key to a strong email marketing campaign is to first have a targeted email database consisting of individuals that are potentially interested in your event. 

You can collect email addresses from various sources, but mainly sign-ups on your website, social media engagement, previous event attendees, and industry contacts.

To comply with current regulations, it’s important to ensure that individuals on the email list have given their consent to receive promotional emails from you. 

Personalization is key

The average person may receive tens, if not hundreds, of promotional emails per day. The first battle is to have them notice and click your email, which can be challenging on its own.

This is why it’s important to make your email compelling and personalized, starting from the subject line.

A common (and still effective) practice is to use the recipient’s first name in the subject line, but you can also incorporate other details you’ve identified from each specific target audience.

If possible, the subject line should also highlight the event’s unique value proposition and the benefits of attending, which can significantly help in capturing the recipient’s attention and increasing its attendance.

Leverage automation

Use email marketing and automation tools to send the right message to the right person at the right time

Tools like MailChimp can help you schedule and automate a series of emails, including reminders for registration and follow-ups, to help nurture potential attendees and help keep your event staying top of mind. Using this approach can help you maintain potential attendees’ interests and encourage them to take action (i.e., register for your event.)

Also, automation can streamline the process of following up with those who have shown interest but haven’t registered, prompting them to complete the registration. 

Offer incentives and exclusive offers to encourage registrations

Another effective way to boost event registration rates through email marketing is to offer exclusive offers and incentives to email recipients.

Common practices include offering limited time promotions, early-bird discounts, special perks for early registrations, VIP/backstage access, and so on.

For this approach to be effective, include clear links and/or clear-to-action buttons in the email that directs the recipient to a conversion-focused landing page. Make sure to make the registration process as seamless and easy as possible, which we will also cover in the next section.

Providing a Seamless Event Registration Process

Attracting potential attendees to our website or platform is already challenging enough, and the last thing we want is for them to abandon the registration process because it is too confusing or difficult—which will lead to lower attendance.

It’s important to make the process as easy and seamless as possible.

Here are a few tips on how to streamline your registration process:

  • Use a user-friendly event registration platform. There are various event registration platforms or all-in-one event management solutions that offer easy-to-use registration features. Choose one according to your specific needs and budget.
  • Optimize the registration process. Make sure the registration process is concise and clear. Only include the steps that are absolutely necessary, and make sure they are easy to understand.
  • Offer multiple payment options. The default is to offer credit card payment, but remember that not everyone has a credit card. You might want to offer other payment options like PayPal, Venmo, or Stripe.
  • Provide clear instructions: make sure to provide clear and easy-to-follow instructions for each step in the registration process. 
  • Test your process: before you launch the registration process—and your event—, be sure to test your registration process to make sure it’s working properly.

Eventtia is an all-in-one event management solution that can help you build and optimize a seamless and easy registration process. With Eventtia, you can create a registration page on your event website with a user-friendly interface, integration with other event management solutions, and support for multiple payment options. 

Building Buzz With Pre-Event Promotions

To enhance attendance, building buzz and anticipation to create a sense of excitement among potential attendees can be very effective.

In this section, we will discuss how to implement a strategic pre-event promotion strategy to engage your target audience, generate interest, and drive registrations:

Creating teaser campaigns and countdowns

One of the most common and highly effective ways to generate buzz is via teaser campaigns and event countdowns.

Release snippets of interesting information with short video clips or intriguing visuals to intrigue your potential attendees. Try to highlight the unique benefits and experiences your attendees can expect in your teaser.

You can incorporate countdowns through email updates, social media posts, or website banners to entice potential attendees to take action (i.e., register)  before the countdown is done. 

Share behind-the-scenes content

Another effective tactic to generate buzz is to engage potential attendees by sharing behind-the-scenes content on your social media and email newsletter. Doing so can effectively create a sense of exclusivity and authenticity, which may encourage them to register and attend.

You can, for example, share glimpses of event setups, interviews with performers or speakers who will participate in your event, and so on. When sharing this type of behind-the-scenes content, try to incorporate engaging visuals (photos, videos, or even live streams), which have been proven effective in showing potential attendees what they can expect at your event.

The idea is to use behind-the-scenes stories to build excitement and foster a deeper sense of connection for your target audience and encourage them to register for your event.

Leverage word-of-mouth through referral programs

Don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing in increasing your event attendance. Your potential attendees are more likely to join an event recommended by their peers, which can be more effective than any of your marketing campaigns. 

To leverage word-of-mouth marketing, you can implement a referral program, offering incentives to those who refer their friend, peers, or colleagues to register for the event.

You can offer various forms of incentives, from discounted tickets to exclusive event activities to pre-event perks and so on. 

Not only can this tactic be effective in enhancing attendance, but it can also generate buzz and a sense of excitement as your attendees become actively involved in your event. 

Early bird discounts

Creating a sense of urgency and generating FOMO will always be effective in driving registrations, and the age-old tactic of offering early-bird discounts (or other forms of limited-time offers) is popular for a reason.

Promote these limited-time offers through various channels: your website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc., to motivate potential attendees to register early.

Wrapping Up

There are various tactics you can adapt to effectively increase event attendance, and while it can be challenging, you can effectively increase your event attendance with the multi-faceted strategy we’ve discussed in this article.

Above all, understanding your target audience remains the most important factor in enhancing event attendance, so you can tailor your event promotions to your specific audience’s preferences and behaviors. 

Another key factor in improving event attendance is to facilitate a streamlined and frictionless registration process, and Eventtia can help you not only in creating an optimal event registration function, but also in creating a seamless attendee experience for your event as a whole.

By following the tips in this article, you can effectively increase attendance for your next event and create a successful event that will attract a larger audience.

Discover how Eventtia helps world-leading brands digitize and scale their events

Learn more

Discover how Eventtia helps world-leading brands digitize and scale their events

Mike Khorev
Inbound Marketing Consultant

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