5 Ways to Cultivate Lasting Relationships With Attendees All Year Long
So, you’ve decided to run your event for another year?
This probably means that your last time through went off with a bang. You probably had a great response from attendees, left knowing it could be a positive business endeavor, and feeling great about your overall experience — not every event is so lucky, you should be proud.
Unfortunately, just because you’ve decided to plan your event again, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook trying to find attendees for it. While there will still be a good bit of marketing leg work you need to do — the good news however, is if you work on customer retention you can end up spending significantly less time on it than you did the first time around.
And this is what we’ll be discussing today. We’ll be highlighting 5 simple strategies you can begin to use, quickly, that will help attendees stay excited about your event and ready to come again next year.
#1 — Promote early
Even if the planning for this year’s event hasn’t started, the work to stay top of mind has really just begun.
There is a lot that you can do to lay the foundation for attendees, in the days preceding your event (and even during) so that they will continue to remember you, keep in contact with you, and stay excited to come back, throughout the whole year long.
This is why it’s so important that you begin promoting next year’s event sooner rather than later.
While oftentimes, event organizers will wait until after the event is over to let their attendees know they’ll be back for another year, they miss out on the opportunity to reach their existing audience DURING the event.
Once attendees leave an event, it becomes increasingly difficult to reach them. Click To Tweet Likewise, as time goes on the impact of being at the event will have lessened.
With the right level of planning and coordination, you can announce that you’ll be running your event in the upcoming year, while most of your current attendees can hear your message and have something to latch onto and look forward to — they can think about the experiences they’re having now, and project the fun they’ll have when they return.
Likewise, the fond memories they leave the event with will help solidify their urge to return for another year once tickets go on sale months later.
#2 — Utilize newsletters / broadcasts
Once your event is over, and your attendees go back home, email is the best way to stay top of mind with the people who’ve been attending your events because it allows you to make contact in a way that is fun, helpful, and relevant to what they want to receive.
If you plan to run your event annually, sending an email once or twice a month can do a lot to help build up anticipation and nurture your attendees so that they can feel even more strongly about attending for another year.
You can stay engaged with your attendees even sooner by using email to reach them right after they’ve come to your event with a quick and easy thank you email and a survey to help you get a clearer idea of what worked and what didn’t in your most recent event, then continue to share throughout the year.
As you get closer and closer to your event’s dates, you can also use email to:
- Promote early bird ticket sales to drive more early sales.
- Showcase what’s happened in previous years so that it reminds them of the joy they had the last time they attended.
- Slowly release videos of last year’s speaker presentations.
- List this year’s speakers
- Talk about any changes that have happened since last year (location, venue, policy, etc.), and what sort of new services, offers, or speakers are you having this year.
#3 — Use social media to stay connected
Along with email, social media platforms are a great way to connect and stay relevant to your past attendees.
Picking the one that is right for you can depend on the type of event you currently run, where you’d like to advertise, and the type of engagement and audience you currently have built up on any given platform — but it’s important that when you do decide you choose the one that has the greatest impact for you.
Regardless of which platform you choose to use, though, there are plenty of different strategies you can use to help build attendee retention, such as:
- Sharing regular Instagram stories of what happened last year and what’s new this year.
- Doing a Facebook Live to announce that your tickets are on sale or that an Early Bird promotion has started or is closing soon.
- Hosting a Twitter chat or Live between yourself and some of this or last year’s speakers.
- Connecting with other people involved and having them share their experiences.
- Using like and retweet to build organic shares.
- Encouraging past attendees to engage by sharing what they loved about the event out to their organic audience, and so on.
But remember, while social media is an incredibly powerful tool, the key is always to monitor engagement. If you’re shouting out the exciting things about your event but no one is engaging with you, your time could very well be spent on another platform, or with another one of these strategies.
#4 — Host smaller or regional events throughout the year
Depending on the style and size of the event you run, hosting smaller or regional events throughout the year can be a great way to build anticipation for the real thing to come.
For example, if you host a recurring, nationwide event where many of the participants travel to attend — hosting a regional event can be a great way to help give a smaller subset of your community the information they want from you, while allowing them to make connections with other people, and keep the conversation going all year long, all without having to travel far from home.
#5 — Capitalize on content
If you’re choosing to run your event for another year, the odds are your event solves a problem that is really pertinent to your attendees.
In this case, forming a solid blog strategy in the months leading up to your event and using traditional marketing platforms to promote it out to your list of previous attendees, can be a really simple strategy for becoming the leading source in your industry, and staying relevant to their issues.
Likewise, If you can make your site the place to go for answers to problems, the attendees will be bound to see when tickets do go on sale, Click To Tweet and they’ll be more inclined to attend again.
After you’ve run your event once, returning attendees can be a huge asset in the coming years. Luckily since you’ve done the hard work of getting them through your doors the first time, you don’t have to do the same level of work the next time if you’re able to stay top of mind, throughout the year.
And remember, maintaining a consistent presence can seem daunting but it’ll be so worth it in the end when attendees return to your event again and again.