Every event marketer has one main goal - to get more attendees. We’re here to help you do just that with our roundup of the 12 most useful and effective ways to increase attendance and reach that ultimate goal: a sell-out event.
- Event website
- Email marketing
- Word-of-mouth tools
- Content marketing
- Paid social ads
- Organic social media
- Event registration and ticket promotions
- Influencer marketing
- Partner/sponsor marketing
- Contests and giveaways
- Event listings
The events industry can have even the most seasoned of event marketers riding a rollercoaster of emotions. We’ve seen it all - everything from selling out events in a matter of hours, to fighting the urge to panic, flee the country, and start a new life when tickets don’t sell as well as you hoped.
With so much noise out there, it can be tough sorting the hacks from the real talk. As event professionals who’ve ‘been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt’, we’ve tried it all, and put together this roundup of 12 tried and trusted ways to get more attendees for your next event - no hacks necessary.
First off, you need an attention-grabbing website to serve as your hub for event registrations, important details attendees need to know, and as a place to show off all the highlights of your event. Make it work by giving them reasons why they need to be there. It’s not enough to have the when, where, what, why, and who - show potential attendees what’s in it for them.
Ultimately, a website gives you a platform to promote, analyse traffic and conversions, and (if you play your cards right) rank in Google. Inbound by Hubspot do this brilliantly, with an exciting, dynamic website that gives you a taste of what’s to come.
Use it best for content marketing, lead capturing, and remarketing alongside your sales page, to maximise the chances of selling tickets to visitors who didn’t register on first sight. Don’t forget CRM integration to help create more engagement opportunities for attendees.
With 78% of event planners citing email marketing as one of their most effective channels (source: Eventbrite), neglect this at your own risk. To really make it work for you, carefully segment your audience (by demographic or behaviour, e.g. whether they’ve attended the event before), so you can target different attendee groups more effectively.
Use it best by creating a drip campaign to drum up interest prior to tickets going on sale, then follow it up with an automated email sequence to maximise sales opportunities right up until the event. Don’t forget to tweak the messaging to cater to each audience segment!
Hot tip: use urgency triggers like flash sales and ‘limited number remaining’ messaging to boost ticket sales. But keep it real - if you fake these, people will know.
It would be silly of us to go this entire post without mentioning the foundation of our entire business model, so here it is (yes, we’re tooting our own horn here - for good reason). Word-of-mouth marketing tools like Gleanin help harness the most powerful marketing channel there is, into tangible ticket sales. We’d say it was magic, if it wasn’t one of the most reliable and trusted methods of marketing since before the internet (or computers) existed.
Use it best by working with a platform like Gleanin, to help easily create content to help your attendees, sponsors and partners effectively promote your event.
There’s a big wide world of opportunities out there with content marketing, and if you do it right - the rewards are massive (brand recognition, ticket sales, ambassadors, and more). Blog posts, videos, memes, photos, speaker announcements, interviews and Q&A - all can help guide potential attendees to the top of your event’s sales funnel.
Use it best by choosing your channels wisely - for large, recurring events, play the long game with blog posts so you can get more attendees via organic search engine rankings and social shares, but for smaller events, opt for quick wins with ephemeral and shareable content. Don’t forget to use strong Call To Actions (CTAs) on every piece of content, so your readers know where to go to take part.
Paid social ads
You’ll want to pay close attention to timing and geotargeting here. Decide upfront how you want to advertise in the months, weeks, and days leading up to your event, and structure your messaging accordingly. When choosing your platform, think about where your attendees spend most of their time, so you can meet them where they are.
Use it best with lookalike audiences - if you’ve run this event in the past, you can find people matching the demographics of your previous event attendees, and market directly to them. It’s a way to get your marketing budget working smarter, not harder, by eliminating people less likely to fit your audience profile. Bonus - it keeps your costs down, too.
Organic social media
Clever marketing on platforms like TikTok and Instagram can result in huge reach for very little output. Create a hashtag for your event, and start a trend where attendees can join in the fun using TikTok videos and Reels - both of which have the potential for exponential growth if enough people engage with your content. TikTok partnered with the Brit Awards to celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2020, creating a hashtag and trend that was splashed across digital billboards all over London. Now, we’re not saying you need to go that big, but don’t underestimate the power of a well-organised organic social campaign.
Use it best by focusing on entertaining, shareable content (short-form video is where the reach is at the moment), and repurpose your content across relevant platforms to squeeze more out of your time. There’s no need to point and dance, either.
Event registration and ticket promotions
This may sound obvious, but is it crystal clear how to register and buy tickets for your event? You’d be surprised how often this slips under the radar, so triple check your CTAs, your registration links, and any email promos, to be on the safe side. Once you start collecting registrations, you can easily track capacity and dial up (or dial down, if things are going well) your marketing efforts accordingly.
Use it best by having a clear, compelling registration page, and running regular promotions so you don’t see a slump in ticket sales (which usually happens in the time between tickets going on sale, and the short period before registrations close). Think beyond the standard early bird pricing, and look at incentives like bundled ticket/meal options, special group pricing, deals of the day, bonus content access - get creative to see how your audience responds.
Don’t sleep on this one. Careful partnership with the right influencers can make a huge difference to your ticket sales, with the influencer marketing industry set to grow to $13.8 billion in 2021 (source: Influencer Marketing Hub).
Use it best by following the metrics. Seek out relevant figures who have a highly engaged following in their niche (note: your speakers are often the best people to start with!), and make sure their followers align with your ideal audience. Sweeten the deal with an exclusive offer they can promote to their followers.
Top tip: a custom discount code will let you track registrations from a specific influencer.
Partners and sponsors are an often underutilised resource, which is a shame because there’s plenty of opportunity for cross-promotion that benefits everyone. Similarly to influencer marketing, sponsors and partners typically have larger platforms and communities they can promote to and engage with. By highlighting their involvement with your event, and featuring them in a prominent place on your event’s website and social media feeds, it increases visibility for both their brand and the event itself.
Use it best by setting them up for success, and providing them with easy ways to promote your event. Give them a quick blurb to use, and an eye-catching post they can quickly and easily share on their social platforms. Interviews and Q&A can also make great content for sharing. The key to making it work? Make it easy, and make them look good.
Contests and giveaways
Drum up interest by gamifying the event with giveaways and contests. This can be applied to the ticket sale period as well as during the actual event - a simple “share to win” contest can generate huge organic visibility - great for staying top of mind.
Use it best by inviting entrants to tag friends for more entries, and to share posts on their social accounts. Free tickets do well, but you can also offer discounts and ‘runner up’ prizes (#swag). It’s also worth noting each social platform has specific rules on contests, so make sure you read the fine print to make sure you don’t unwittingly violate their terms and conditions.
If your event is on the larger side, it’s worth doing a press release to get the word out. Depending on the size of your event and how much press coverage you need, you may want to release a few of them, as you announce further news in the lead up to the big day.
Use it best by giving it an interesting or fun angle, so it’s a worthwhile topic for journalists to jump on. For the best chance of media coverage, highlight high-profile speakers and sponsors, mention anything out of the ordinary (important announcements, unusual missions, live performances), and if you’re running an event for a non-profit, highlight the cause and the community behind it.
Spread the word about your event via platforms dedicated to curating events across a huge array of industries and interest areas. Websites like Evvnt are perfect for this, and many will let you list for free - helping the marketing budget stretch that little bit further.
Use it best by creating a killer blurb on your listing to encourage registrations, and submit to relevant and niche industry websites for best results.