How do you increase your virtual event attendance? It’s a question on everyone’s mind these days. Luckily, we have the answers.
Below we break down some of the best ways to get more people to attend your virtual event.
How Do You Boost Attendance at Your Event? It All Starts With the Design
Look at the emails, events and advertisements that catch your eye, it’s all about the hook. A hook is the thing that gets people interested in your event—it could be something as simple as a big giveaway or something more high level like a celebrity appearance/performance. In your design, you need to focus on your hook in your marketing materials. To better understand how to get more attendance it’s important to look at your event through two lenses:
All of your ticket sales come under marketing. It is the boosted fundraising and event satisfaction that comes from the second one.
Below, we have some tips for designing a great event.
Make It Unique and Intriguing
Virtual events are an interesting challenge—you can’t do the same things you’re used to for in-person events, but you can do new and intriguing things. In-person events really are often less thought-provoking for many event planners. The venue, catering, speakers…. (and some other details) are frequently the bulk of the event. Many of them boil down to “put people in a room and let them create their own engagement.” Virtual events are different. You have to make the same things happen, but with more clear thought into how they will engage and what they will be engaging with.
For example, give them a backstage pass. Provide access to things they didn’t get before: a chance to connect with speakers, or a chance to see something they haven’t in the past. Let your audience see the work that goes into the “Cirque Du Soleil performance” you have going on behind the scenes. Perhaps they get the chance to meet the winemaker or brewmaster of your local winery. Alternatively, they could connect with a local celebrity, or a wine-tasting they can participate in from home also works well.
Share the Vision, but Not the Details
Unless you are putting on a virtual conference, don’t worry about a full itinerary of the evening. Give them a taste of what to expect and let them imagine and wonder what the middle will be.
Keep It Short!
When you advertise your event, how long is it? Would you want to attend a 3-hour online event? A good length of time is 90 minutes—even 45-60 minutes of the main show can be great for those just looking to support you and check out the main activities.
We always try to keep people wanting just a few more minutes from the event. When an event is over we send out a survey to the audience members. One of the key questions is about the length of the event—the sweet spot we aim for is getting roughly 90% of the attendees feeling satisfied with how long the event was, and 10% thinking it was too short.
Create Events Within Events
Have a pre or post-event reception where people who have the time and interest can attend the “optional” portion of the event. This way, if you only have 1 hour to attend the main event, you can. However, those who prefer to spend 4 hours connecting with other attendees before or after the event can do that too.
We use software tools in our online events that enable people to visit with each other in small groups online and go about their networking from there.
Know your market
About 90% of your tickets will sell to your existing audience and people connected to your organization.
This means direct marketing will be key.
If you have the ability to build out an event that really attracts people with a big auction, huge speakers, and some great content, then invest more into outbound marketing. However, understand that most of your tickets will sell to people that you don’t need to pay to reach.
Highlight the Cause and Highlight the Experience
When you launch your fundraising event, a portion of tickets will sell to people who just love what you do and what you support. You don’t need to do much—these are the same people that support non-event giving. In order to broaden your reach and the amount you can raise, you’ll need to create a ‘show’ for the rest. When both of these are really well conveyed through your advertising you’ll make the most money.
Showcase the cause in an uplifting way—heavy, heart-wrenchingly sad events discourage people instead of motivating them to donate more. Instead, celebrate the accomplishments of your last year/decade. Encourage them to give by saying “here is what your money has done.” Then show your attendees future rewards/goals by highlighting the impact their money will have by donating.
Advertise the Auction/Raffle/Giveaways
A core of many events are auctions, giveaways, and raffles. Big-ticket items people can win are always easy draws for events. Have some large, intangibly-priced items, but make sure to mix in some smaller-scale items too to still provide good incentives if people don’t win big. This is where auctions like silent auctions are perfect for online events because they give the opportunity for people to choose the item they want to win.
Send Out Reminders
One ad probably won’t cut it to reach your maximum event attendance. Sending out periodic reminders about getting closer and closer to the date of your virtual event will help improve attendance and keep your event top-of-mind.
They could be simple ads, being part of an email chain, or posts to your social media platforms. The point is to make sure people know your event is happening soon and the sooner they sign up, the better chance they have of snagging a ticket to your virtual event.