Month: August 2018

Improve Attendee Engagement, Part 3: 3 Tactics That Will Keep Your Attendees Involved After Your Event

Post-event engagement can be challenging and often overlooked, despite its demonstrable potential to support your long-term event strategy. Your attendees are leaving the meeting or event excited and energized, while your planning team likely wants nothing more than a few uninterrupted days of sleep!

That’s why it’s important to make a plan for post-event engagement before your event begins. As we’ve shared throughout our “Improve Attendee Engagement” series, you don’t need to unveil significant or costly initiatives to make a big impact with your attendees.

Instead, start with the following three tactics that will help your attendees feel appreciated and connected. One note: you can use these ideas for both recurring and one-off events or meetings. Simply tweak the messaging to fit the logistics of your particular event (we’ll give some examples below).

  1. Send a personalized thank you: Saying “thank you” is a simple but meaningful gesture that can make a big impression on your attendees. If you have a smaller group of attendees, consider handwritten notes to thank them for their attendance and involvement.

For larger audiences, it’s fine to go the digital route, but personalize the message and address attendees by their first names. Look for other small yet meaningful ways to personalize the message, maybe with a closing line like “We hope you made it safely back to [home city].”

You could also include a thank you note with a small parting gift that ties into your larger event theme and experience. Perhaps your host city is known for a particular food item or souvenir. Or depending on what products and/or services your company offers, you could offer attendees a gift that enables them to get a firsthand look at what you do. If you go this route, just be aware of possible travel logistics, including carry-on restrictions. If your budget allows, you could also send the gift and note to each attendee so that they have a surprise waiting for them when they return to the office.

  1. Encourage action: Refer back to your initial event or meeting strategy:
  • What do you want attendees to do once the event is over?
  • What information or ideas do you want them to take away?

Then, you can craft your post-event messaging around those goals.

Here’s a great place to start: encourage feedback! Send a link to a quick survey or form so that attendees can share their thoughts on the event or meeting.

What other types of actions can you help your attendees complete? Maybe there’s a way they could get involved with a particular company initiative, for example. Or perhaps your event, meeting or conference provided a place to begin discussions and you’d like to see that dialogue continued in the weeks to come.

Whatever those action steps are, you’ll first want to articulate them internally and ensure they align with your larger event strategy. Then, create an email campaign (or, if you have one, consider using push notifications within your mobile app) so that you can periodically touch base with attendees and give them ways to continue their involvement. That way, attendees feel like they have a larger stake in not only the events themselves, but also the outcomes.

  1. Prove value with targeted content: We’re betting that your event team and attendees create a veritable mountain of content during the event or meeting. Don’t let all of that incredible information go to waste! Instead, assess what you’ve gathered and see what content you can send to attendees to show them exactly what sort of value your event (and business) provides.

Sending out presentation slide decks is a common starting point. But before you send out an email filled with links, re-examine what decks you want to send out. Can you package each of them in a short yet valuable email that features a compelling pull quote from the presentation, along with 1-3 supplemental links that give attendees more information and context about the topic and presenter?

Look for other types of content, too, beyond presentation decks. Maybe you have some short video interviews with presenters or attendees. Did you distribute any collateral that you could easily repurpose into a single-page PDF or, better yet, an infographic? Or do presenters have any materials such as previously published blogs or whitepapers that you could distribute to attendees?

Think of it this way. You’ve invested a significant amount of time and money into crafting a thoughtful, strategic event experience. And that experience doesn’t have to end when the event does. Instead, look for ways you can evoke similar feelings and reactions in the weeks that follow your event or meeting.

Another tip, especially for sending out content? Allow for breathing room between the messages. There’s no reason you need to flood your attendees’ inboxes with an avalanche of content in the days immediately following your event. Instead, look at what resources you have and what you want to send, then make a brief editorial calendar that will keep you on schedule. You may also want to write some blog posts that summarize key event takeaways or showcase some of the content created at the event.

No matter your event specifics, the goal here is simply to provide value to your attendees. This not only reaffirms their decision to attend and invest in your event, but also demonstrates why it’s important for them to continue their relationship with your company and, if applicable, attend future events.

Plus, by showcasing insightful event content on your website and social channels, you can also entice prospective attendees to join you at your next event or meeting. There’s nothing like a little FOMO (fear of missing out) to show people why they don’t want to miss out on another event.

And that concludes our three-part attendee engagement series! We hope you have plenty of ideas to boost attendee engagement before, during and after your event or meeting. If you get stuck, we’re just an email or phone call away. Reach out to us and let us know how we can help make your attendee engagement strategy as effective as possible.

Improve Attendee Engagement, Part 2: 3 Ways to Involve and Excite Attendees During Your Event

Engagement

You’ve put in the work to connect with your attendees prior to your event or meeting. And now, it’s time for the show! Attendee engagement should be top of mind throughout your event lifecycle, but it’s especially important as your event unfolds. After all, engaged attendees are more excited about what’s happening around them, more likely to tell others about their experience and more likely to be a champion for your business goals long after the event concludes.

Of course, attendee engagement during a meeting or conference can be tricky. You want attendees sharing photos and content on their social media channels, for example, but you don’t want them to go through the event with their eyes glued to their smartphones. Like most other things in life, attendee engagement is all about balance. You want to encourage actions like social sharing, but also deliver entertaining, relevant and insightful programming so that attendees focus on what’s happening around them so they don’t miss a minute.

In this second part of our three-part attendee engagement series, let’s take a look at three ways you can boost attendee engagement throughout your event.

  1. Make social sharing easy: There’s a good chance that many of your attendees are active on at least one social media channel. And if they share what they find interesting or exciting about your event, that can give you a big boost of brand building and help recruit new attendees for next year.

The trick is to make it as easy as possible for attendees to share what’s happening in a way that helps support your business goals and messaging. Prominently display your company’s social media handles and any event hashtags on event signage, handouts and in your event mobile app (if applicable).

If your event includes presentations, encourage speakers to brand their slides with the event hashtag (and their own social media handles).

Depending on your company’s social media expertise and budget, you could also consider event-specific social media marketing ideas, such as a branded Snapchat filter. If you do go that route, be sure to let attendees know what’s happening so they can participate.

And speaking of your company’s social media marketing, make sure you have at least a couple of people watching the hashtag on applicable social channels. Share and repost the content that your attendees are creating. Not only does it help lighten your content creation load during a busy time, but it also helps attendees feel appreciated and that they’re sharing worthwhile information.

  1. Shake up your programming: Let’s face it. It’s difficult to keep attendees engaged and energetic if they’re sitting through hours (or even days) of speaking presentations.

That’s not to say that you should eliminate all presentations from your event or meeting! But it’s worth taking a look at your event schedule to see if you can make some small yet impactful changes to the programming.

Unconventional keynote speakers continue to be a popular choice to energize attendees and set the tone for what’s ahead. That could be a fun around-the-office activity: brainstorm your wish list for event speakers, then see what you can make happen depending on your event budget and other factors.

If you’re hosting a conference, consider incorporating some elements of an unconference to encourage networking and sharing. Instead of a solid block of presentations, mix speaking segments with more workshop-like sessions to give attendees a chance to talk about what they’ve learned and put that information into action.

Or instead of a standard break, incorporate a wellness activity to get attendees moving. Try a quick yoga session or a short stroll near the event venue (bonus points if you can work in a fun or interesting stop for photos at a local point of interest or other photogenic location). Distribute healthy snacks before attendees head back to their respective sessions or programs.

  1. Surprise and delight: Who doesn’t love a (happy) surprise? Receiving an unexpected gift or opportunity is typically met with happiness, gratitude—even giddiness or excitement. And those sorts of emotions not only skyrocket attendee engagement during your meeting or event—they’ll also help create a treasured memory that will last long after the event ends.

Set the tone for a successful event experience with a welcome bag filled with a few thoughtful goodies or an event “survival” kit with water, snacks, a portable charger and related items. Or go a little bigger and introduce a surprise element into your programming. Maybe it’s a secret keynote speaker who’s identity will be revealed that day. Or it’s an unexpected after-hours gathering—a meal prepared by a well-known local chef, a surprise musical performance or a visit to popular local destination, to name a few examples.

You could also focus less on the surprise and more on the delight. Thoughtful details such as ample refreshments like fruit- and-herb infused water throughout the venue, a self-care zone with chair massages, locally prepared meals that aren’t the typical conference or event fare, or varied event programming that helps attendees customize their own experience are all examples of ways you can have a lasting impact on your attendees. And because you’ve made social sharing easy, attendees will be more likely to share what a great time they’re having.

This piece of advice is a recurring theme in our blog posts, but it’s worth mentioning again. When it comes to strategic initiatives like attendee engagement, don’t overwhelm yourself by feeling like you need to try every idea right this minute.

Instead, take a look at your event or conference schedule, your budget and your larger business goals and identify a few small steps that could help make an impact. It’s always easier to ramp up than scale back, especially when you’re talking about something as critical as attendee engagement.

Stay tuned to the blog for the third and final post in our three-part attendee engagement series. We’ll focus on post-event engagement, why it’s so important (yet often overlooked) and how you can approach it.