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Event Check-In

Increasing Event Attendance: Strategies and Best Practices

A2Z Team June 24, 2024
Table of Contents
14 min read

A conference, trade show, or expo requires months of work to plan and organize. However, it is all worth it if the event is well attended and the overall result is a connection, and continued engagement. You have committed your valuable time, secured speakers, promoted them to your audience, and even created an awesome agenda, yet if you find your registration is still lagging, it can be understandably frustrating. 

Thankfully, the following will tell you everything you need to maximize your attendance and get the payoff you deserve for putting on a phenomenal event.

Common Reasons for Low Attendance

Before looking at how to maximize attendance, it’s helpful to study what causes low attendance in the first place. Overall, low attendance can be the result of many issues. Since you have created an event that is most certainly worthy of attendance, it can feel like quite a blow to experience low attendance. 

Therefore, it’s helpful to understand the “why” behind poor attendance so you can make adjustments and ensure that it doesn’t happen at your event:

  • Lack of Awareness: The simple fact could be that potential attendees don’t know about your event. Getting the word out about your event is key towards building up attendance.
  • Cost Barriers or Registration Issues: Another common reason for low attendance is an event that is priced too high or that the audience doesn’t understand the value of, along with having issues with registration. The harder and more complex the process of registration, the more likely individuals are to give up and not attend.
  • Uncompelling Content or Topic: Let’s face it, we are all so busy in today’s fast-paced society that it takes something of great value or something immensely compelling to merit our time and focus. Therefore, low attendance for an event can be merely because it isn’t a compelling enough topic or doesn’t draw enough interest.
  • Inconvenient Location and/or Time: As with real estate, the location of your event is key. Make sure you are also timing it well and that your location is one that will appeal to attendees.
  • Competing Events: This situation could include other similar events taking place at the same time. It can be avoided by researching upcoming events in your field before you commit to a date.

Understand Your Audience

Now that we have looked at the common reasons that attendance to your event might be low, we have arrived at the tips you will want to know that will ensure that you maximize attendance and avoid this happening to you. 

The first step to take is to understand your audience. This means that you take the time to do your research on your audience. You want to know key information about your ideal attendees so that you can effectively meet those needs. Consider market research to find out the following:

  • What skills or information does your audience hope to gain by attending your event?
  • What problems or challenges does your audience need to overcome?
  • What aspects will motivate your audience to attend your event?

Create Detailed Audience Personas

One way to ensure you are planning the right kind of event for your target audience is to create and define your audience persona. An attendee persona is a fictional yet ideal representation of the type of individual you want to appeal to at your event. The persona will include unique characteristics that differentiate them from the general public.

Consider factors like an ideal attendee’s occupation, gender, age, needs, interests, and more when creating this persona. You can use demographic data, registration form answers, and even third-party research to create your target audience persona.

Develop a Strong Value Proposition

As we discovered above, not feeling an event is valuable enough to merit attending can be a reason for poor attendance. Therefore, it’s important to communicate the benefits of attending your event to your audience. 

Let your audience know what they can learn from your event that isn’t available to them in any other setting. Consider unique themes, technology integration, and more to provide value to your event. You can even share data or case studies that show the results of previous events. 

The idea is to showcase exactly why your event has value, why an individual will not want to miss out on it, and what they will gain from attending.

Highlight Key Benefits and Features

As mentioned above, make sure that your attendees know what they will gain from your event. Include information about keynote speakers, who they are, and the value they provide. Also, make sure you share information pertaining to networking opportunities and also include information about workshops. 

Make sure that you highlight your event like a high-end sporting event, showcase it, brag, and toot your own horn; this is your opportunity to hook your attendees. 

Also, make sure that you add any applicable venue details to all your informational copy, communicate about the local area’s public transportation situation, cover nearby hotels and landmarks, and inform guests about parking details and wheelchair access at the event location.

Use Testimonials and Case Studies

If you have had previous successful events, consider yourself lucky because you likely have a wealth of information you can use to share with future guests. Past attendee testimonials can build credibility for future attendees. 

Use case studies, questionnaires, and more to prove that your previous event was well attended, enjoyed, and successful. This will help prove the worth of your next event because you have verifiable proof that you have hosted a successful event in the past. You have proven yourself already.

Leverage Digital Marketing Strategies

In today’s digital society, it’s important to embrace digital marketing strategies to meet your attendees where they are, online. Create a high-quality event website and registration page. Promote your event on social media, offer streaming sessions and more to build even more excitement. 

Use an event app if you would like to provide attendees notifications and reminders leading up to your event and throughout the event itself. Share photos and highlights of previous events on various platforms.

Optimize Your Event Website

Speaking of your event’s website, this is a must for today’s event. Ensure that your event website is user-friendly across lots of devices, meaning it looks just as good on a computer as it does on a smartphone or tablet, which is a strategy called mobile optimization. 

You also need to ensure that your website has been designed with SEO factors that will help it be found on various search engines. Finally, make sure your website has a clear CTA or call to action that directs site visitors to their next steps. This should guide them to signing up, subscribing, or pre registering for your event.

Utilize Social Media Platforms

Global research numbers indicate that more than half the world’s population now uses some form of social media, representing 5.07 billion people. Therefore, if you want to increase the exposure of your event and ensure that the right people know about it, you must embrace social media as an avenue of advertising. 

Create engaging content, headlines, and snippets that communicate what will take place at your event. Also, consider using paid ads to elevate your brand and ensure that even more potential attendees see your posts, photos, videos, and more.

Email Marketing Campaigns

Nope, despite what you might have heard, email marketing has not gone the way of the dinosaur. In fact, it is still a very effective way to market if you employ the right strategies. 

Build a targeted email list for your event that includes previous guests and individuals who have expressed interest in some way in your upcoming event. 

Create compelling email invitations designed not just to provide information but also to entice potential event attendees to sign up. Then, use your email marketing lists to follow up with reminders for event registration and more as it draws closer.

Collaborate With Influencers and Partners

Influencers are all the rage today, so if you want to amplify a modern event, partnering with an influencer is a great idea. Of course, if your event doesn’t lend itself well to the presence of influencers, you could instead partner with other companies or industry leaders in your field. 

Don’t feel like you are losing yourself by partnering with an influencer, but instead, look at it as a way to expand your reach even further and appeal to individuals you might not have otherwise interested. 

You can either have these influencers be part of your event or just have them attend and help build the reputation of the event. Either way, their presence is immensely helpful.

Create Joint Promotional Content with Sponsors

Don’t be afraid to join forces with other companies sponsoring your event and promote co-branded content like blog posts, webinars, and even execute social media takeovers. 

Together, working as a team, you and other professionals, companies, and more can cast a much wider net and interest even more individuals in your event. 

You can also utilize content that these other brands have created to further boost your upcoming promotional event.

Offer Early Bird Discounts and Incentives

It is said that early birds get the worm, and one way to entice early registration is to offer early bird discounts and incentives for those who are on the early end of signing up. You can also offer other types of discounts to promote action on the part of attendees. 

It’s human nature to want to get a good deal, so make sure that attendees who act fast will reap the benefits of their actions. In turn, this will ideally encourage even quicker action from others.

Time-Limited Offers

Time-limited offers have proven effective in a wide range of marketing capacities. Early bird campaigns like those mentioned above are one example. Another way to is to create a time limit on an offer, encouraging quick action. 

Time-limited offers create a sense of scarcity and urgency and encourage a person to act fast to keep from missing out.

VIP Packages and Special Perks

Create VIP packages and special perks for some guests. This will allow them to feel set apart from the general population of event attendees. This can include prestigious meet and greets, VIP-only keynote speakers, reserved seating, swag bags, and more. 

Exclusive perks can entice attendees to pay up in order to get more bang for their buck at your event. It makes them feel like they are being treated specially and uniquely, like a VIP. This appeals to our innate desire to be treated special and uniquely.

Engage Attendees Before the Event

Before your event takes place, it’s important to keep attendees excited about what’s coming up. As we all know, things that are out of sight tend to move out of mind. Therefore, it’s important to engage with your attendees before the event. 

Communicate regularly about pre-event activities and more to promote growing excitement as the date draws closer.

Send Pre-Event Surveys

Surveys are immensely helpful. They give valuable insights into any group of people. Use feedback from surveys you send out to those planning to attend to tailor the event itself when possible. 

No, you will not ever be able to make everyone happy, but if many guests are asking for the same thing, then why not provide that, if possible, to increase your event’s success?

Host Pre-Event Webinars and Meetups

Another way to get this helpful information other than surveys is through pre-event virtual gatherings. You can simply have a discussion about what attendees are hoping to experience at your event and what could be done to enhance their experience. 

Use digital marketing to promote the virtual meeting and perhaps even offer other incentives to increase attendance, so you can get the information you need to optimize your event.

Utilize Traditional Marketing Methods

Although much of the world is online, that isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for traditional marketing methods. In fact, they still work incredibly well in many instances. 

For example, print advertising, direct mail advertising, and more can promote your event and will appeal to individuals who might not spend all their time online.

Print Advertising and Direct Mail

Local print publications and trade magazines still provide you with a great opportunity to appeal to event guests via print ads. In addition, with direct mail, you can even send personalized invitations to your event or share engaging brochures that could entice interest.

Local Community Engagement

Another way to entice more participation in your event is to create some local interest. You can do this by encouraging engagement with your community and its businesses in a variety of ways. For example, you could ask them to hand out flyers about your event locally, or you could even partner with various businesses or have local sponsorships for the event. 

The idea is to involve the community in which your event is taking place to make the entire town and local businesses feel they are part of your event.

Monitor and Analyze Results

If you don’t track, monitor, and analyze your event results in various ways, you will never know if the event has had the promotional or end result you desired. What you look for data-wise and monitor will depend on what metrics and results you are hoping to achieve

You can monitor the number of attendees, clap count during speeches or talks, number of meetings or workshops attended, live stream watch time, and much more. 

This data will give you the rate of return for any event by measuring various key points like how many leads turned into sales, the event attendee satisfaction level, and more, revealing what did and did not work in terms of your event.

Use Analytics Tools

There are many applicable analytics tools available today that work to give you the key insights you need about your event. You can use email marketing reports, social media insights, or even Google Analytics to track the success of your event, the overall opinion of attendees, and more. 

Key metrics to track include registration numbers, social media engagement as the event drew closer and during the event, and website traffic throughout. By looking at these metrics with these helpful tools, it will give you an idea of what elements worked and what might have been lacking.

Event Metrics to Track During Your Event

The following are a few helpful metrics you can track during your event that will help you determine the overall value placed on your event by the attendees:

Event Attendance:

This is an easy one. How many people attended your event? Combine this data with check-ins, sales, and other data to help you figure out if your event was successful.

Returning Participants

This is the number of people who have attended your events before and have chosen to attend again. It’s obvious that when you have a good number of people coming back again, they found value in previous events.

Engagement Rate

This tells you what attendees liked most about your event. Engagement can be measured by noting applause during various workshops or signups for specific classes or workshops. You can also track posts about your event and when these posts took place.

Live Polling Response

Especially if you are hosting a virtual event, it’s important to poll the audience regularly. This can help keep the virtual at-home audience engaged. It can also make the audience feel they are part of the process, and their voice is being heard.

Chat Messages

High engagement can be tracked by the presence of chat messages, such as on YouTube live streams.

Session Popularity

This information will help you determine what were the most popular and least popular sessions. Noting the topic and style of the most popular sessions is wise, as this can tell you a great deal about what to offer at your next event.

Event App Usage

If you have an event app that is a big part of your event, it’s helpful to track how many guests used the event app as designed. Be sure to give attendees access to the app from a variety of devices like their smartphones, computers, or tablets.

Drop-off Rate

If you are streaming live, make sure you track how many audience members drop off and don’t watch the entire session.

Event Metrics to Track After Your Event

Tracking your event shouldn’t end at the close of the event itself. In fact, in order to completely understand the success of your event, you need to track some key metrics after the event is over. Consider adding these to your data gathering if you haven’t already:

Website Traffic

Analyze your website traffic after your event is over to get an idea of how much interest you drew from your event. For example, if you notice that the visits to your site have increased after an event, this could indicate that individuals are searching for your brand after learning more about it at the event. This is especially true if you are noting keywords or branded keywords being searched for that were part of your event.

Net Promoter Score

You have likely experienced this one-word questionnaire, called a net promoter, in a restaurant or other setting. It’s a simple survey question asking attendees how likely they are to recommend your event to colleagues or friends with a scale from 1 to 10. 

Ideally, you want to get mostly 9s or 10s. Anything less means the attendee likely wasn’t as engaged as you hoped. To get an overall Net Promoter Score, take all your positive responses, or those that were 9 or 10, and subtract negative scores, or those that are between 1 and 6. Responses between 7 and 8 are considered neutral.

Sales From Leads

After your event, how many attendees showed interest in purchasing your attendee services or products? These individuals are now sales-ready to go from attendee to customer. This information can be difficult to track without the right technology in place, so be sure to explore event lead management solutions.

Post-Event Surveys

In addition to asking attendees if they would recommend your event, having general surveys covering various other elements of your events can help you gather valuable feedback to use for future event planning and marketing strategies.

Adjust Strategies Based on Data

Obviously, gathering data is only helpful if you implement what you learn into planning your next event. Even when you plan well, having actual metrics and data can go a long way in helping you refine your marketing strategies the next time you plan an event. 

For example, if you gather data that shows most attendees posted throughout the event on Facebook, then you will know that Facebook is a strong platform on which you should promote your next event. Metrics might also reveal that a specific type of workshop was poorly attended. 

This could indicate you might leave that type of workshop out of your next event. It really is just about paying attention to the data and then making changes to better meet attendees where they are, instead of trying to pull them to your event.

Maximizing Your Event Attendance: It is Possible

It’s understandable to get discouraged when you feel like your event is not meriting the buzz you feel it deserves or isn’t attended as well as you planned. You have put a great deal of work into the planning and logistics of said event and understandably want to reap the benefits of your hard work. 

Thankfully, there are some actionable ways you can increase your event attendance almost assuredly by keeping the tips listed above in mind. 

While you can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time, using data, technology, a multichannel approach, and a comprehensive overview, you can increase your chances of hitting the bullseye and hosting an event that proves successful.

Increasing event attendance is easier when you have the right technology helping manage your event operations. For over 20 years, A2Z Events has been helping event professionals host amazing events. Schedule a demo today and checkout A2Z Events’ incredible array of event tools that make managing events simpler.