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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.