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Promote Your Association's Event: 5 Ways to Boost Attendance

8 min read
Jan 22, 2020

As you plan your association's next big event, think about your last one. How did your attendance turn out? How many registrations went through? Did your event engage your members?

If any of these questions have less-than-favorable answers, it may be time to reevaluate your strategy so you can boost attendance and successfully promote your next event. Hosting in-person events is a great way to keep members engaged, but only if you build an experience that’s valuable and memorable to them.

That’s why we’ve outlined some helpful ways to successfully promote your event and get the attendance numbers you’re looking for:

  1. Streamline your communication process
  2. Use retargeting to remind web visitors of your event
  3. Create a convenient registration process
  4. Leverage data to improve your events
  5. Use your website to house important information

Create both value and memorability in your next event by incorporating these methods into your strategy. Let’s take a closer look.

In order to successfully promote your event, and maximize attendance as a result, your first step should involve streamlining your communication strategy. It’s important that your members receive emails that are relevant to them, including information about events they’re interested in. 

Rather than sending out bulk email correspondence to all of your members and prospective attendees, consider fine-tuning some key components of your email outreach.

For example, you can improve your communication process by:

    • Segmenting your email lists. Segmenting your email lists will ensure that different communications will be sent to different groups of members, rather than a single message to everybody in your database.
    • Keeping your records updated. Make sure that when members update their contact information, these changes are automatically reflected in your email list. This can be done through integrations between your association management system (AMS) and an email marketing platform.
    • Integrating with email marketing platforms. Use an AMS that integrates with email marketing platforms like Constant Contact and Mailchimp. This means your data will sync automatically and you can personalize and automate your outreach more easily.
    • Sending out automated reminder emails. Remind members of events they have registered for so they don’t forget to attend. You can also reach out to those who have started to sign up but haven’t finished, encouraging them to complete their registration.

Using the right AMS with integration capabilities can make your entire communication process smooth and seamless. Keep your records updated, and reach the appropriate members with information that’s relevant to them. From there, you’ll be able to successfully promote your events.

When aiming to catch the attention of your members with events they can benefit from, consider retargeting. Retargeting is a form of digital advertising that uses cookie data to target ads at members after they’ve left your website. 

You can use retargeting as a way to remind visitors of your event after they’ve left your website, but haven’t yet registered.

Best practices for retargeting include:

    • Segmenting your audience. Use the tools with your retargeting software to segment your audience into groups depending on what URL they visited. This can help you determine who is interested in attending, who may want to become an exhibitor, and more.
    • Using unique ads to target each segment. Based on the groups into which you’ve segmented your audience, create specific and unique ads for each. For example, attendees who may have clicked on your “Why Attend?” page might be incentivized by a discount code. 
    • Running your campaigns at the right time of day. Use the registration data you already have to determine when people are registering most frequently. Test those times of day, as well as others, and be sure to have different times of day set aside for your various segmented groups.
    • Targeting visitors who have already registered. If your registration process requires a second step, be sure to run a retargeting campaign that encourages registrants to continue with the next step if they’ve stopped after the first.

By directing your retargeting campaign to the appropriate groups of people, you can heighten your chances of securing more completed registrations and a higher attendance rate. Even more, you can use this method to promote last-chance offers for last-minute registrations. 

Just as you would personalize your email communication methods, retargeting is another personalized approach that can drive results.

Once you’ve begun to promote your event, there’s another important component to keep in mind: registration. This is the first official impression you’re making of your association’s event, so make it count. It should be easy for your members to register – not only to give off a positive first impression, but also to ensure the process is completed.

How can you ensure your registration process is functional and convenient? Use association management software that makes this process as smooth as possible.

Your AMS should allow you to:

  • Let members view the events they’ve registered for. Give your members the ability to view past and upcoming registrations so they can easily keep track of what events they will be attending and when.
  • Work with comprehensive ticket structures. Make sure your members see relevant registration questions and other content based on the information they provide. Create member and non-member ticket pricing, limit visibility to certain groups, and automatically send out confirmation messages. This is especially great for large events that have a variety of ticket structures.
  • Set a timeline and capacity. Determine how long you want your registration to run, and cap your attendance at the venue capacity.

You can also consider offering incentives for early registrations, such as discounts or free add-ons. If you invest in an AMS that allows you to do all of this, your registrations will be easy to track and manage, and you’ll ensure more registrations are seen through to completion.

Once your event planning process is up and running, there’s a step that may sometimes be overlooked: analyzing your data. Looking at data isn’t typically a fun part of planning an event, but it can offer interesting and useful insights into your performance. 

More specifically, leveraging data can boost your attendance rate by allowing you to evaluate your current and past events and determine how to improve them in the future.

There are many ways to effectively use your data in this manner, including:

  • Reporting features. According to Novi AMS’s guide to trade association management software, reporting features in your AMS will help you provide a better experience for your members with each event that you host. Look at registration data, attendance data, and other important metrics so you can see where you’re excelling and what needs improvement.
  • Email surveys. Use your email marketing platform to send out surveys following each event so you can get honest feedback about what attendees enjoyed and what needs your attention. The feedback from these surveys will help inform how you plan the following event and can even cover smaller issues like parking or food and beverage.
  • Looking at popular sessions. Did you have a particular speaker or session that was incredibly popular? Make note of this in your attendance data so you can plan similar sessions for next time.

If you focus on using data to improve your upcoming events, this can attract more attendees, especially if you offer similar sessions that have proven popular in the past. Word-of-mouth goes a long way, so be sure to host events that will have your members talking and promoting, as well.

While the other methods mentioned here are important and should be part of your promotion strategy, there needs to be a place to house all of this information. For that reason, be sure to manage your website effectively so all of the event information your members need is readily available.

How can you do this?

Use an AMS that features a content management system (CMS) so your association can create a great website to market your offerings, including events. When your AMS offers CMS capabilities, you won’t have to pay for another platform to create your website, and the information between your AMS and CMS will communicate seamlessly.

Here are some ways that creating an appealing and professional website can help you market your event:

  • Keep members updated about your events. Prominently feature your event registration page on your website so members can easily find information about it. Make sure your website is mobile responsive so that they can access your registration form from their mobile devices, as well.
  • Allow members to update their personal information via a portal. Give your members easy access to their profiles through the member portal on your website so they can keep their information updated. When their information is up to date, you’ll be able to reach them without hassle regarding information about your events.
  • Include clear calls to action on each page of your website. As you promote your event, be sure to include prominent calls to action on each page of your website so that members are encouraged to register.

Focusing on your website’s structure and the information it holds can help promote your event and keep your records organized for marketing purposes. If you’re looking for more insight into AMS-CMS package deals and marketing your event, check out Novi AMS’s guide to association websites.

Your event can prove valuable to your community of members, but it won’t go far if your attendance rates are low. Promote your event using the right AMS for your association (check out some top solutions here) – and you’ll be set up for success. 

pete zimek

Pete Zimek

Pete is the founder and CEO of Novi AMS, association management software built for associations using QuickBooks. He founded the company with the goal of helping associations create change in their industries, professions and communities. Before Novi, Pete founded aLS network, a collection of online apartment guides serving markets across the state of Florida.

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Novi AMS is a fundamentally different approach to association management software. Born out of the collaboration between association executives and a software development team with extensive experience serving as volunteer leaders within associations, the project has had one goal since the start – build an association management system that amplifies the change that associations create in their communities.

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