Fostering Attendee Engagement at Your Next Event

Every event planner worth his or her salt knows attendees at any and all events love to network with each other. It’s a great benefit to many, affording opportunities to learn from their peers, find and make new contacts for potential business and/or just cement new or existing relationships with execs in the event industry.

How you actually structure your event or conference has a significant impact on the networking that you attendees are able to do. Remember many attendees get bored watching yet another powerpoint presentation. They welcome an opportunity to interact with others, which in turn breaks up some of the potential monotony. So you might need to upgrade your event app for better engagement.

Here are ten ideas that should help you keep your attendees engaged at your next event.

1. Setup your table seating so those who are in similar industries or organizations can sit together – it’s great to encourage groups of people that come together to break up and sit with some new faces, which in turn fosters more networking.

2. Make sure your attendees are aware of the allocated time during or after an event that will enable them to network with each others. Keep them posted with you mobile conference app.

3. Think about using Facebook and Twitter as virtual water coolers for your attendees. Assign hashtags to your event ahead of time. Enable attendees to easily connect with and engage via social media with others. This will also help to drive greater visibility for your event.

4. Set up group break out sessions or chats during your event that are tailored for specific types of attendees that are attending your event. This helps to foster discussion and engagement and a lot more focused networking opportunities for your attendees. Use the best event app features like notifications and games to keep the ettandees engagaed.

5. Build in R&R time and breaks in your events on a regular basis – these help to keep your attendees interested in the event and some “down time” that lets them network with others, or not, depending on their interests and objectives for your event. Some may just want to take a break and off time helps to keep them refreshed and engaged with the event.

6. Use Q&A Sessions during your conferenc that will also help to drive deeper engagement with your attendees and let them get some sense of others around them (depending on the size of your event). Remember some peer to peer interaction amongst your attendees is a good thing. You event planning app will help you maintaining the database and give people share contacts.

7. Build in social time into your event – with refreshments served on a regular basis. Allow an informal meal or sit down dinner that has no fixed agenda for it and no speaker presentations during the meal.

8. Be aware of the type of space you have selected for your event – if you have a large conference or event set up some informal break out areas that let your attendees gather in smaller groups, which in turn drives networking opportunities.

9. Mix up your presentations and speakers so the event is at a varied pace, giving attendees the opportunity to listen and learn, with frequent breaks that let them relax and again network with others.

10. Have a meaningful mobile device strategy so that attendees with mobile event app. Update then to know when to use their mobile devices and when not to. You want them paying attention to your presentations and networking when/wherever possible.

If you follow these ten basic steps is should help to foster more networking for your attendees and also improve the overall value of your event – keeping your attendees refreshed, engaged and ready to come back to your next scheduled event.

Event Success is Much More than Just Attendance!

Many event professionals and marketers just measure and think about whether or not an Event was successful in terms of specific metrics with a great deal of focus on attendance. There are a tremendous number of variables that go into making an Event successful. There are multiple ways in which you use your mobile conference app to analyse event asuucess. Here is a short list of some of the most strategic issues you should review and carefully analyze to drive downstream success.

Event success measurement strategy :

  • Did you have the right Speakers and how was their presentation in terms of receptivity and enthusiasm from your attendees?
  • Did you have the right agenda and where or how could it have been improved?
  • Were the topics/subject matter covered in your events the right ones?
  • Which partner did a good job co-promoting the Event and would you want to work with them again?
  • Did you front end lead generation for attendance convert and was the budget right for a specific event?
  • Will you use event app analyze the back end feedback from your attendees and do you have the right metrics identified for improving the Event?
  • Which of your marketing channels and methods deliver the best marketing ROI for your Event?
  • Was the venue right for your Event and did you get the right kind of support and assistance from the staff?
  • Was the time of the Event right and the duration? Did you have sufficient space between speakers to give your attendees time to catch their breath?
  • During the Event what kind of attention and engagement did your Event generate via Social Media Channels? and what can you do to improve this metric moving forward?
  •  During the Event did you utilize Twitter to engage with and drive attendee engagement?
  • Was your staffing right for the size of the Event and were they able to coordiate using your mobile event app?
  • What kind of feedback did you get from the Speakers and Sponsors in terms of what worked and more importantly, what didn’t work?
  • If it was a virtual Event, how did the Event Platform work for you? Did the technology work for the attendees? and did you have the ability to poll them during the Event to make it more interactive?
  • What was the feedback from your staff using some kind of a formal debriefing after the Event?

If you look at these different metrics and analyze them carefully with some kind of an operational plan. Measurement will help you understand where the holes were and how you can improve the next Event. Make methodical adjustments to the Event itself, front and back end marketing,  speaker and sponsor participation. Use event planning app and integrate you marketing plan to generate publicity and attendee registration.

How to Use Email Follow Ups after your Event

Your Email follow up should be written ahead of the actual event. Review your event synopsis, session descriptions, speaker presentations and blog posts so you have a good sense and understanding of the event, enabling you to create a compelling email message. Here are five email follow up tips:

1. Make sure you personalize your emails by including the name, company and/or other specifics (unique details) that will make your message stand out and resonate with the recipient. You want no more than 3-4 short paragraphs in your email with a clear call to action in the message (as below).

And, the signature in the email should be from the primary contact person within your organization who had the most interaction with your attendees; not from your CEO, as this will help to personalize the communication more.

2. The event follow up email should be sent in a timely manner behind the event – no more thank forty-eight hours after the event and if possible, sent out the same night the event concluded.

This will enable your message to reach the attendee when the event was still fresh in their minds. You may want to send out daily emails to attendees who have visited your both the same day and you can use this opportunity to invite them to an party you may be hosting during the actual event. You can allign the followups and contacts using your event planning app.

3. Include a compelling offer of some type in your email that you know will have impact on the recipient – this can be a product or service discount with a limited time offer, access to some kind of a White Paper, a contest or some type of a promotion.

4. Utilize A/B testing to see which email and offer resonated with the recipient. Testing is the best way to see what is working in terms of your offer and messaging format, text versus HTML formatting (plain text can be more compelling for some), the usage of graphics in the email, button placement, the actual Headers in the message, calls to action clickthroughs and registration for White Papers. Test and retest – it will help you to improve your downstream marketing ROI. And don`t forget to link it with your conference app, to promote downloads.

5. As your recipients to comment back on your Facebook page or Twitter account what they liked or didn’t like about your Event; or, any facet of your business. Many will do this whether you invite them to or not. So, being more aggressive with your social media customer relationship marketing may help to garner some great feedback and also more followers via your social media accounts.

If you get negative feedback about your event respond back to the sender via the social media platform as quickly as possible and ask them how you can offset any problems they may have had. These negative comments via social media can be turned into a positive if handled promptly and courteously. These people will also comment publicly in most cases about and how you addressed the problem, which can reflect positively on your company. Keep promoting you custom event app using all your social media channels.

Make sure you are monitoring your social media accounts and you may want to use a third party app for monitoring multiple social media accounts like HootSuite.

Promoting an Event via LinkedIn

LinkedIn now has over 675 million members and is growing rapidly. And, recent changes to the platform (status updates capabilities, more robust capabilities for connecting to other platforms) make it a much more dynamic platform to promote your event. Most importantly, this community can drive high quality traffic and registration for any event. Integrating linkedin with your conference app will expose your event with professionals who are highly targeted for any event, if your marketing is done properly.

Using the LinkedIn Company Page

Setup a company page that is informative (About Section, Products/Services, Careers). You can now add “status updates” to LinkedIn Company pages and you have to enable (authenticate) a staff member. Once this is done you can enable status updates to this page.

LinkedIn suggest that you use status updates for news and job postings, which are good to do. But, you can also use status updates to promote your event – don’t overdo this, post no more than 2-3 times a week and make sure you have other status updates that have good content that will inform your followers and connections.

Make sure all of your staff are connected to your company page on LinkedIn and ask them to promote your event via their individual pages – the more activity the better; again, assuming your staff are updating their personal pages on a regular basis with quality content. Event planning app can help you coordinate these activities in most efficient way.

Think of the new company page as an additional social network that allows and enables you to build connections and followers, which in turn help you to promote your company and events. Use LinkedIn’s Advanced search to follow companies in your market space, that are located geographically near you, companies you do business with and even competitors. You’ll build connections over time via LinkedIn and this will help you to promote your events and drive market awareness.

Leveraging LinkedIn Groups to Promote an Event

There are several hundred thousand Groups that you can connect with via LinkedIn, although you are limited to approximately fifty groups that you can belong to at present. You want to join Groups within LinkedIn for event marketing purposes that comprise individuals who are part of your target market demographics.

These Groups are dynamic with a “water cooler” conversation component – don’t over promote yourself or your event. We’d suggest posting once a week to promote an event and start about two months ahead of your event and link to the registration page and use a URL shortener like Bit.Ly that will let you track clickthrough traffic via specific Groups – enabling you to understand which Group drove the most traffic. Use your event app sharing option for ease of use.

As your event gets close (say two weeks ahead of the event) you can post more frequently to your Groups – but don’t overwhelm the Group with posts. Also, message the Group Administrator and you might want to offer a free pass to your event to the Admin in exchange for their featuring your Event via posts to the group with a recommendation.

Use a Short and Compelling Title for your Event Promotion on LinkedIn that stands out – get creative with your Title and put a “what’s in it for me” component in the Title. Keep your Event post via Groups short and compelling – use capital letters for key words and make your post short and powerful. Use the best event app features and link all you emails with your linkedin ID.

To summarize: setup a Company Page that is complete and compelling (should resonate with your target market). Use LinkedIn Groups to generate visibility for your Business Page and to “gently” promote your Event. Make sure you do frequent status updates (2-3 every day) via your Company page – these should be informative and educational and resonate with individuals in your market. A white label event app is the best way to enhance you event promotion initives in the most efficient way.

Using Facebook to Promote an Event – Registration and Attendence

Facebook marketing is a great way to promote your event. Critical to create and build a dynamic business Page or Fan page (personal) for your company – meaning, you have to do some front end investing in your Facebook account(s) to leverage for event promotion.

Fan Page vs. Business Page

There are significant trade offs for Fan page versus a business page; the former has much more functionality but it’s “personal” and may not be the best way to build a brand for your business. But, if you and your staff have personal Fan pages you can blend your Facebook marketing to promote conference app that encompass both personal and business pages. Be forewarned, it can take much longer to build an audience of fans for a business page – requiring front end investment to build followers.

Don’t forget to “like” other business pages and “friend” fan pages of event companies or individuals who may be attendees or sponsors. Connections and engagement (recognizing those that “like” your page as an example) on Facebook help to build a “virtual community” – the more connections you have (as long as they are targeted) the more “reach” your messages will have via Facebook.

Leveraging Facebook for Front End Registration

We would recommend using status updates and promoted posts to drive front end registration for your event. Start marketing the event on Facebook 2-4 weeks ahead of your event and you might want to offer some kind of incentive in the updates and promoted events to drive a sense of urgency with your attendees.

You want to post the registration on a reoccurring basis but you don’t want to promote it so heavily that you turn off your Fans with boring repetitious “ads” for an event. If possible, try to create some kind of viral component for your event. Giving discounts to groups of people and compensating them by sharing the event planning app an individual for referring some number of her/his friends to register for your event.

Think Visual when Marketing on Facebook

Facebook is a visual platform – the vast majority of updates have some type of image associated with them. So, develop a high quality graphic to use on Facebook and your other social networks and don’t forget about adding this image to your Pinterest account and cross promoting via Twitter. You can make sure your mobile event app has links to share the images and videos.

Your graphic should be visually appealing and should incorporate the event information; i.e. date, time, web site, phone, location, hashtag for the event. Don’t just link to your home page in the graphic – link right to your registration page so your attendees can register easily.

Facebook is also a great place to post photos that are happening in real time (Twitter too) – make sure you use the hashtag associated with your event. Your attendees will enjoy seeing photos of themselves and the overall event – so, create an album of all pictures taken during the event and upload these to your primary Facebook account.

And, if you’ve taken videos during the event don’t forget to upload these to a YouTube account. Share these by pointing to them in a status update on Facebook and your Twitter account. And, you can and should also upload these videos or any images that you have taken during the event to a Pinterest Board that reflects the name of the event. Use your event app to make sure nothing is missed. You can then share the Board via your Facebook and Twitter accounts – which will drive post event engagement with your attendees!

How to use Twitter During an Event to Drive Attendee Engagement

Front end event marketing should be an integrated marketing process. Meaning, you should use Paid Promotional Services, PR and of course all social media accounts, with emphasis on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And, make sure you leverage the accounts of your presenters as well – ask them to promote your event and select a hashtag that is event specific.

During the Event whether its’ an online event, tradeshow or a standard event, a strong Twitter presence will help you to engage your attendees – make sure you have a dedicated individual who is monitoring comments (Tweets) about your Event. Though your event planning app gives you great access to socialising your event.

And, make sure you publicize a HashTag that is identified solely with your Event. This will enable you to monitor what is being said about your event in real time and you can also respond back to and/or ReTweet the Tweets to drive more engagement.

How to Leverage Twitter during the Event

  1. You will need to use some kind of social media platform to monitor what is being said and respond to these Tweets during the Event. HootSuite can be a great tool for monitoring the “conversation” during an event. It’s a low cost high value platform to utilize for all of your outbound social media marketing and/or content sharing.
  2. Make sure you respond back to questions and comments about your event. If something is interesting you should ReTweet it out immediately and may want to do this more than once during the event for emphasis. Your event app can be one point where you can ask people to share there tweets and analyse the tweets and shares ou had,
  3. Require and/or ask your staff who is attending the event to engage with your attendees by posting and sharing images of attendees before and after the event and ReTweeting their Tweets as well. This drives engagement with attendees during an event.
  4. Think about using a service like Visible Events during your Event – this provides real time tracking of your events for your attendees and can really drive engagement by motivating your attendees to jump into the virtual conversation during the event.
  5. Share the speaker’s presentation at the beginning of their session using your conference app – enabling attendees to follow the presentation and not have to worry about taking notes during the session. Make sure you have the presenter’s permission to do this prior to the event and upload their presentation before the event to Slideshare – this will also drive engagement with the speaker’s presentation after the event.
  6. Think about running Promoted Tweets during your event (there is an associated advertising costs of course). These can be a great way to expand the visibility of your event – make sure you use the event specific hashtag you have selected previously. And, make sure you have keywords integrated with the Tweets you are sending out.
  7. Recruit your vendors and attendees as part of your overall twitter marketing activities and ask them to mention our account and event specific hashtag. Ensure that you can add your vendors using the best event app features and alligned with your social media feed.

Think of Twitter as a broadcast channel held in the hands of many of your attendees. This is not an exaggeration, as 30% of status updates for Twitter are now done via smartphones. And, it’s critical to make sure you utilized a hashtag to identify your event and then use this for all Tweets about your event – ensuring attendees can follow the “virtual conversation.” The event app cost is best justified if you are able to utilise its full potential with sharing and analytics.

Using Public Relations for Event Marketing

Public Relations or PR can be a great way to publicize your event – it’s low cost, with $300-500 including outsourcing your PR creation and distribution of your Press Release.

Before you even start on your press release activities think about what your PR goals are – what are your goals for the event (leads, brand awareness) and metrics for PR success; i.e. web site visits, tracking event attendee form requests, event app downloads, 800 number calls, etc. And, how many Press Releases do you want to do for the event itself?

Noise level issues – if you are participating in a large event as one vendor you have to think about the noise level relating to the specific event itself. Your PR is probably competing with other Event Sponsorship companies and you need to come up with something that is unique and compelling that motivates attendees to attend your sessions and/or engage with your company during the even.

A great event focused Press Release typically has these elements:

  1. It’s succinct and provides some kind of value for the reader; i.e. “attending our event will enable your business to much more successful or better informed about topic(s) that will help your business. It’s called “WIFM” marketing – what’s in it for me.
  2. Should compel the reader to take some kind of action: pick up the phone, download conference app and call you to register for an event (if limited in size), clickthrough to your web site (with an embedded link to the registration page) – your call to action needs to be very specific.
  3. Includes something that’s newsworthy in the body of the PR – announcing your event is great but try to include something has implicit value in the actual PR itself.
  4. Has an integrated short About section about your event company that includes 2-3 sentences about the company, links to your web site and all Social Media Accounts, an email address and of course your phone number. Make sure this section is short and sweet – not 8-10 sentences long, with too many words.
  5. May or could have an embedded image or video – the latter might be a 1-2 minute introduction or overview about your event.
  6. Mentions Speakers or Special Guests that are being featured via your event and you may also want to integrate a quote form the Speaker or Guest in the body of the  press release to promote the event planning app.
  7. Incorporates and includes links and/or references to all of your social media accounts in the About Section.
  8. Has 1-3 backlinks to your site to drive search engine rankings – these links should be embedded with keywords that you want to optimize for, which are in turn consistent with your overall SEO marketing strategy.

Don’t forget about leveraging social media with your PR campaign or process.

Upload your Press Release to a page on your web site and publicize it via your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.

And, don’t just send out a Tweet about your PR one time – people are busy and may not see it. Rinse and repeat your social media marketing and you should even try to send a PR announcement out during an odd time (nights and week-ends as an example) to get the viewer’s attention and get your mobile event app downloads.

Using Paid Promotion Services for your Event

Paid promotions can of course help you cost effectively promote your next event. They are not only a way to drive event attendance but can also be used to help you build an attendee list – getting new names into your database that can be used over and over again. Here are some marketing platforms, event app and paid promotions ad networks and/or processes you may want to test for your next event.

Banner and Display advertising networks

These types of ads can be setup easily using Google’s PPC Ad Words Advertising or third party networks such as Buy and Sell Ads. Simply put, these types of ads enable you to either advertise via keywords using a Google Ad Words campaign (they also have a Content Network that enables you to select web sites) or buy a demographic target.

You may also want to consider Facebook paid sponsorship of posts ads

Which can be very targeted, especially if your event is local and/or LinkeIn’s network, which also has good targeting. Facebook Ads can be very cost effective and like Google, they have very robust reporting for your ads that lets you track your costs and understand who you are reaching.

Think “local” when using Google’s Ad Words

If your event is locally targeted by a specific area or region use keywords that have some type of local name; i.e. the city, county, or area where your event is located. Try to avoid very generic keywords, as these can be much more expensive.

A great tool that we recommend using to understand where your direct competitors are advertising and what keywords they are targeting is SpyFu.com – their low cost service (under $100. a month) lets you “spy” on your direct competitors – enabling you to generate a list of keywords they are using, what their media spend is (total costs) and even where they are advertising. You can promote your mobile event app through paid ads.

Listing and Advertising your Event Online

Can be a great way to drive attendance. Try Craig’s list ads – they are either free or low cost depending on your geographic area. But, be aware, you may have to keep uploading a new ad at least once a week or more frequently. Be sure to list your event web site, contact information and utilize a short 2-3 sentence description of your event that is informative and compelling.

Don’t forget to list your Event within your Facebook Business or Fan Page

You can also list your Event in your activity feed with LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the best ways to promote your conference app.  Facebook listing can drive significant traffic, depending on how engaged your Facebook presence is. And, you should also list your event with your local newspaper and make sure they give you a listing for the event via their web site.

Mobile or SMS Advertising is emerging

It is a great way to advertise an event. There are many mobile ad networks to choose from – make sure you have very good targeting capabilities with whoever you choose and they have some kind of integrated analytics that enable you to measure your media costs.

To summarize – there are a tremendous number of services to choose froto promote your event planning app. One of the most important marketing processes you should integrate with each is testing your marketing “return on investment.”  You may find significant differences from one platform or process versus another – stringent testing will save you marketing expenses!

Selecting Webinar Platforms for a Virtual Event

If you are weighing holding a virtual event via a Webinar you have four primary platforms to review for holding virtual events. Here is our review of the primary platforms below. Be forewarned each of these platforms has an associated learning curve – expect to spend some time (3-5 hours) just learning how to use the tools for each platform, understanding the user interface and working with “virtual attendees.”

WebEx Platform

WebEx has great collaboration tools that enable you to easily interact with your audience. The mobile event app can leverage the platform for meetings, online events, webinars, virtual meetings and it can also be used for online training. It can definitely be leveraged to help you improve your productivity and can also be used to via any Smartphone; they have a highly rated mobile app for: iPhone, Android, iPad and Blackberry.

ReadyTalk

ReadyTalk is a direct competitor to WebEx. They have a self-hosted (minimal support) version and price plans and features that let you select a full-service package or one with a dedicated operator to help you manage your virtual events or meetings. They also have an unlimited conferencing audio broadcast capability. We like their interface and service – they are clearly focused on providing a service with a minimal learning curve and that is easy to use. The event apps can integrate this app and similar features to enhance the user experience.

Adobe Connect

Adobe Connect has an integrated all in one platform that lends itself well to web conferencing and virtual events, with the ability to host very large events, with up to 1,500 participants in a virtual event. Their platform is geared for front end market analysis – you have the ability to collect registration information and then overlay this with behavior during an event. Giving you a good snapshot of the attendees that are participating in your online event. You can share the event link with you conference app before the event and keep the attendess posted with notifications.

Citrix

Citrix provides Go To Meeting and virtual webinar services. Their service can be used for small events, with just ten attendees or with groups up to 1,000 attendees. This is a pure web-based platform and it can also be used for training events. We like their unlimited usage fees with a flat monthly fee that make this service very cost effective. Their GoToMeeting conferencing software is integrated with the internet, audio and even HighDeffinition Video, with collaboration with up to twenty-five people.

Again, each of these virtual conference app platforms has an associated learning curve. Create an account and test it with a virtual meeting or event with your staff to make sure you are comfortable using the platform.

Making Sure Your Next Event Garner Mindshare with your Attendees

Sharing the purpose of an event can vary from fun and promotion to awareness and motivation. Many events are organized to support a fund or brand launches. Thus the methods of connecting with the attendees can vary depending on the reasons.

Following tips can be used for connecting with various type of events:

1) Encourage and motivate your attendees to share content via your Facebook Account. Ensure your event app has social media share buttons. You may want to stimulate them to do same with some kind of a contest that “rewards’ the best content with a prize or discount on another event. Be creative!

2) If you look at broadcast TV today you’ll see hashtags proliferating everywhere for just about any kind of product or service you can think of. Setup a hashtag for your event ahead of time and reference this in your marketing materials. Encourage your attendees to mention and reference this hashtag in their “social mentions” of your event. Ensuring you get maximum exposure for your event that isn’t diluted and that stays front and center with your attendees. You event planning app can help your attendees get access and share the most important happenings of the event.

2) Focus your attendee’s attention by making the most of the site lines in the room – what is the total square footage in the room and what percentage are your site lines of this square footage? Make the presenter podium or stage stand out by ensuring the site lines in the room are focused on the presenter and not other areas of the room.

Check out the site lines from every key table or area of the room – if the sites lines are bad then ask your vendor for a better room. And, don’t forget to use lighting to direct the attention of your attendees towards the speaker.

3) Give them something memorable to talk about socially (feature random attendees in the audience via your Facebook and Twitter accounts) and that they will share with co-workers, friends and family. Add event app gamification and link it to rewards. The more you can make your event go viral (via social sharing) the more digital mileage you will get for your event and you will also make a lasting impression that may drive attendance for your follow up events.

4) Use web based survey tools to (Web Monkey is great) with your attendees – these may drive more usage than surveys done with old fashioned pen and paper and they can be easily aggregated and understood for trends, complaints, high fives and open ended solicitations.

5) Give attendees something memorable to take home – this doesn’t have to be expensive, as long as it is catchy and cool. Some times the most memorable products that people collect at events are the simplest. Think about your location and incorporate something that connects with the location or a product that can be easily customized. We live in an age where people of all types love anything that reflects personalization. Upgrade your conference app where attandees as well as the speakers can create and share there experiences.

6) Over deliver on your Event. Add an extra speaker, extend the schedule by one hour or more (pre-announced in the morning) with a presentation or two that will be perceived as having significant value by your attendees. The payoffs can be significant – your attendees will be pleasantly surprised and the extra value will stand out in their minds, which in turn will drive more attendees for subsequent events.

Having a white label event app is one of the major factors that can help you connect with your attendees for a long time. It will not only give them a chance to stay connected but also leverage your brand.