Let's agree on a couple of things: attendees are the fuel that propels events forward, event organizers should make every possible attempt to understand attendee preferences and behaviors, and using one platform that consolidates and unifies attendee data is optimal.
Now that we're on the same page, here are the details on the kind of strategy you need to have in place to drive attendance through your event management platform.
Meet prospects at the front door
It's safe to say that the majority of prospective attendees—whether they learn about your event on social media, from a colleague, or from a printed brochure—visit the event website for more information. Here's how to use the website to attract, convert, and monitor potential attendees:
- Provide attractive content offerings (newsletters, white papers, email updates) to convince prospects to opt in
- Use website analytics tools to monitor all visits and clickthroughs
- Send targeted emails and content to individuals based on their website behaviors
- Store data about website behaviors in the same database as the one used for registration and event management
Get accurate data from registration
It's difficult for many event organizers to resist the temptation to create 15-page registration forms in order to extract every possible detail from attendees. On the other hand, when too much is asked of attendees; they cut corners (skipping fields that aren't required or providing incorrect information). There are a couple of ways to collect good information quickly:
- Prepopulate data fields when possible to shorten the amount of time required to register
- Use a single sign-on feature (connected to LinkedIn, for example) when possible to get more accurate data on registrants
- Limit the number of data fields to only the information you actually have a plan for using
Add on-site behavior to the mix
A mobile website or native app is a window into the on-site behavior of the attendee. The clicks, favorites, messages, and meetings they register for are a good indication of the content, speakers, sessions, and exhibits that interest them. To make the best use of mobile for understanding more about attendees, there are a couple of best practices to follow:
- Develop a mobile strategy that aligns with your attendee acquisition and retention objectives
- Use an app that is integrated with or an extension of your registration/event management software platform
- Make the app convenient so that more attendees will use it
Figure out what works
With attendee data from multiple sources—website, registration, and mobile—flowing into the same database, it's much easier to understand how an attendee consumed the event. There are a number of questions that could potentially be answered:
- What content assets provided on the event website led a new prospect to convert, i.e. register for the event?
- Was the content an attendee viewed on the event website the same content or programming that she placed on her mobile itinerary at the show?
- Are there patterns of behavior that are predictors of the likelihood that an attendee will return the following year?
By combining data from the event website, event management platform (including registration) and mobile app in a single database, event planners can track the major elements of the attendee journey and extract insights that can help them attract and retain attendees.