Marketing Your Association Event: 5 Tips to Boost Attendance

Picture this: You’ve just wrapped up months of planning for an event that’s finally right around the corner. The venue is set, the vendors are confirmed, and the time has come for prospective attendees to register and mark their calendars. You send out a few emails about the upcoming opportunity, then wait for registrations to begin flooding in. 

However, only a fraction of the attendees you hoped to attract are trickling into your registration page. And when the day of the event arrives, you’re left grimly staring at an attendance list that’s far shorter than what your organization had anticipated.

When it comes to hosting a successful event, an effective marketing campaign is critical to encourage registration and attendance from target audiences. Whether you’re trying to boost the success of a hybrid conference, a digital auction, or an in-person convention, the right marketing strategies can have an immense impact on how your event unfolds. 

To help you secure high rates of attendance for your next event, we’ll walk through a few key event marketing strategies you should keep front-of-mind. From using the right event management tools to performing preliminary audience research, we’ll cover how you should: 

  • Understand your target audience.
  • Launch a multichannel marketing strategy.
  • Leverage your network to build excitement.
  • Direct prospective attendees to event pages.
  • Track the success of your marketing campaigns.

Ready to strengthen your approach to event marketing and maximize the impact of your upcoming events? Let’s dive in.

Understand your target audience.

Who is most likely to be interested in attending your event, and who would benefit the most from the opportunities and resources it has to offer? Additionally, what kinds of messaging and content will they respond well to? 

These are important questions for your team to ask before creating your event marketing materials. By identifying and understanding the target audiences who will receive your promotions, you can launch a more impactful event marketing campaign. 

To locate your event’s ideal target audience, start by examining data about members and past events. In particular, this Crowd101 resource on increasing virtual event registrations suggests that you: 

  • Segment your members based on common characteristics. You might segment members by age, profession, and event attendance history. You can use these segments to craft messages highlighting particular event opportunities that may be of special interest to certain members.
  • Reach out to members who have attended events in the past or are registered for other upcoming events, alerting them to other event opportunities they may enjoy.
  • Personalize your one-on-one marketing materials, such as event email marketing, using members’ names, how long they’ve been with your organization, and other details.

Additionally, knowing which of your current members have enjoyed specific events in the past can help you to locate potential attendees to reach out to. When you have a strong grasp of your constituents’ demographics and who the event will appeal to, you can use that information to reach out to new audiences with similar interests.

Launch a multichannel marketing strategy.

Once you’ve determined the audiences you’re trying to reach with your event marketing, you need to determine the best mediums through which to engage attendees. This is where multichannel event marketing becomes a critical asset for your association. 

Multichannel marketing is the use of various communication channels to promote your organization and its programs. This allows you to effectively reach out to prospective attendees through the channels and platforms they regularly use, with a diverse array of content.

For example, perhaps you’re hosting a networking event. Email messaging would work as a great tool to attract current members, while social media marketing is a valuable strategy to reach young professionals who are unfamiliar with your organization.

In particular, some of the most important marketing channels for your organization to consider include email, social media, direct mail, and your website. Of course, you should think of each channel as its own unique medium with distinct best practices and audience demographics. 

While, say, Instagram is a great place to tease video event sneak peeks for younger audiences, direct mail is well-suited to use written content and storytelling to engage older professionals. 

For the best results, an effective association management platform can streamline your event marketing efforts by automating messages and personalizing mass communications to different member segments.

Leverage your network to build excitement.

From guest speakers to event vendors, there are various people in your organization‘s network that support your event and could pitch in to enhance your marketing efforts.

In particular, you can effectively leverage your professional network by:

  • Interacting with members on your communication channels, such as responding to event post comments on social media
  • Encouraging event vendors, sponsors, and exhibitors to promote the upcoming event through their own communication channels
  • Tagging and giving shout outs to event guests and speakers in your marketing materials
  • Reaching out to social media ambassadors and other influencers in your professional space to promote the event

While some of these points of contact have their own personal stake in the success of your event, you can also offer other incentives to encourage them to contribute to your marketing efforts. For instance, provide brand ambassadors with custom merchandise or agree to share other resources from your event speakers. This will not only give them additional motivation to contribute to your events’ success, but also strengthen their ongoing relationship with your organization. 

Direct prospective attendees to event pages.

When a member or prospective attendee spots one of your event marketing materials and stops to explore it further, you’ll want to set up a clear path to direct them to important event pages. After all, how are these potential attendees supposed to move forward through the registration process if they can’t easily find the page to sign up? 

By funneling prospective attendees into your event website landing page, registration page, or other event resources, you can improve your marketing efforts and maximize attendance.

For your digital marketing materials, link back to important event pages and use compelling calls-to-action to encourage users to click through to these resources. 

Once again, you can use other incentives, like an early-bird registration discount or event content sneak peeks, to entice users to explore your event pages.

Track the success of your marketing campaigns.

In order to continue strengthening your event marketing campaigns now and in the future, you need concrete data that shows how these campaigns perform. By carefully setting key performance indicators (KPIs), you can identify which strategies are succeeding, which are falling short, and how you can take steps to improve.

More specifically, the Fonteva guide to member engagement strategies suggests tracking these KPIs to get a sense of how engaging and successful your outreach strategies are:

  • Social media—How often you gain and lose followers, level of post engagement (such as comments and reactions), the number of profile tags or references, and which of your posts get the most attention
  • Email marketing—Email open and click-through rates (CTR), which members opted to receive your newsletter, and how often members respond to your correspondences
  • Live events—How many people registered, total attendance, how people found out about your event, and the type of tickets people have bought

While you can manually record all of this data, your association management software solution should be able to track, analyze, and generate reports of important metrics. This gives you a 360-degree view of the many different components of your event marketing and engagement strategies, paving the way for continued growth.

Events are a hefty investment of time, effort, and resources that all associations struggle to make as engaging and successful as possible. There are dozens of different factors to consider throughout the planning and management process, and it can seem easy to neglect your marketing efforts in the midst of creating an engaging event.

However, with these powerful event marketing techniques in hand, you should be equipped with everything you need to begin increasing registration, attendance, and revenue for your future events.

Jake Fabbri

With over two decades of experience marketing association technology, Fonteva CMO Jake Fabbri has developed a deep understanding of the unique needs of associations and the challenges technology can solve. Jake’s marketing expertise has been honed by demonstrated excellence in the areas of lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.