As an event organizer or planner, you’ve probably been in one of these situations before.
- A presenter cancelled at the last minute, so now your printed literature has incorrect information, which will cause confusion.
- You had to change a presentation’s room, now you’re afraid people will miss the beginning of the talk.
- At the last minute, you secured an awesome exhibit, but it’s not mentioned in your marketing materials, so you’re afraid no one will show up.
- A safety rule had to be amended, but there’s no way to notify your attendees, so now you’re worried about liability.
Event organizers deal with these types of problems all the time. It is notoriously difficult to communicate with your attendees before and during your event, especially if you have a lot of them.
However, things change. Rooms get reassigned, schedules get moved, and new features are added. Maybe the social hour was extended to two, or the dining room was able to offer a vegetarian dish after all. You’ll want to tell your attendees about these little titbits.
Keeping your attendees notified is an important part of keeping them engaged. You need to be able to connect with them before and during your event.
Only send the content and notifications that matter
Most pre-event communication happens by email. You rarely need your attendees to know something right now, so email is the least obtrusive method. Social media can be useful, but there’s no guarantee that your posts will reach your audience.
But just because email is reliable and useful it doesn’t mean that you should send any type of content.
Have you ever been spammed by a person, organization or business? Even if you volunteered your contact information to receive content, it’s still frustrating when someone bombards your inbox every day. After a while, you unsubscribe or block them so you don’t have to deal with the notifications.
Your event attendees are the same way. They won’t cancel their registration if you bother them too much, but they may stop communicating with you. So you have to communicate smartly.
1. Segment your updates appropriately.
There’s no reason to tell your entire contact list that the Database Disaster Recovery presentation has moved to room 302. Similarly, people who haven’t registered yet don’t care about the overflow in the parking lot on the next block. Save those details for people who have already committed to attending, and don’t bother anyone else.
On the other hand, the committed attendees don’t need to get those “Registration closes in 12 hours” emails. These reminders are just junk in their inbox once they’ve already signed up.
That said, some details matter. If your buffet lunch has been upgraded to a Hawaiian Pig Roast, you should absolutely tell everyone. Your committed attendees will love the bonus and it might help you attract more people.
2. Only send information relevant to your event.
You may be a human resources expert organizing a human resources conference, but your attendees didn’t subscribe or download your event app for HR content. If it doesn’t pertain to the event, don’t bother your contacts.
Bad example: “The new HR workflow template from ABC Company is incredible. Check it out!”
Good example: “Joe Smith from ABC Company has signed up to speak about their new HR workflow template and how you can streamline your process.”
3. Send more value; less promotion.
Once you have some people on your email list, it can be tempting to push more promotions and sales opportunities on them. Sure, they may want to spend an extra $200 on a VIP table or a guaranteed seat at the headlining lecture, but if you push too hard you’re just as likely to dissuade people from attending at all.
Follow the 80/20 content rule. UpContent explains it well: “The rule states that 80% of the content you put out should be educational and interesting to your audience, but non-promotional. 20% of your content should be promotional: linking back to your website, talking about your specials or deals, or promoting new content you’ve published.”Keeping your attendees notified is an important part of keeping them engaged. Click To Tweet
Push notifications through a dedicated app
When your attendees are at your event (or at least on their way), you need a stronger method of communication than email or social media pages. Since they’re at your event, they won’t feel interrupted or intruded upon when they get a notification about the event.
You need a custom app that puts your event right into your attendees’ pockets so you can push them a notification whenever you need to. It’s important to have this capability, because according to a study by American Express Meetings & Events Division, nearly every attendee uses a mobile device throughout an event.
(Disclaimer: Superevent is a service that creates engaging, feature-rich apps for individual events. Apps created by Superevent make your event more successful by helping you manage and engage your attendees. We’re a little biased on this topic, but helping event organizers engage attendees is one of the core reasons we built Superevent.)
An event app keeps your attendees notified for a number of reasons.
1. Push notifications are interruptive.
Updates sent over email or through social media profiles don’t alert the app user. A person may get dozens of emails and social notifications each day. They don’t check them one at a time as they come in, but in a larger batch a few times per hour. Many people only check their email once per day. If you sent anything time-sensitive by email or social media, your attendees are almost guaranteed to miss it.
A custom app, however, can display your messages in a separate alert, and even display the text right in their phone’s interface (as opposed to email or social media where the user would have to log into their app to get the information).
2. Event apps can house dynamic information.
Let’s say that you’ve put out a schedule of presenters, but one of them has to change. Without an event app, you would have to email everyone and/or announce it over a loudspeaker. But there’s still a paper copy of that schedule floating around to confuse people.
That AMEX study we mentioned earlier learned that 79% of event attendees feel that access to a schedule is extremely important, so you’ve got to get this part right.
An event app includes a schedule you can edit any time. If a time slot had to change, you could quickly edit the schedule (for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet) and push a message to notify anyone who had already planned to attend. Pretty simple, right? Everyone is notified and no one is confused.
3. Attendees can socialize and communicate with one another.
The 2016 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report uncovered that the primary reason people join membership organizations or attend paid events is to network with their peers. They come to meet each other more so than they come to experience your event.
An effective way to keep your attendees notified about what’s going on is to let them help each other. Often it’s easier to let the crowd do the heavy lifting. Since they came to network, they are already inclined to communicate with one another anyway.
Through an event app, attendees can communicate through special social features. If an attendee asks a question, another attendee can provide support, which improves everyone’s experience (even yours).
When it comes to communicating, don’t be shy
Keeping your attendees informed is critical if you want them to be engaged with your event. A well-informed audience is key to a positive experience. Don’t be afraid to communicate with your attendees if you have something valuable to say.
For help keeping your attendees informed, try Superevent. Get started for free.