We often think of the event lifecycle in three stages: pre-, during and post-event. But what’s an event planner to do to keep attendees engaged during that long, several month stretch after they have gone home and before registration opens for the following year?
While you can definitely take a break to reevaluate and analyze ROI metrics once your event has concluded, there's no reason to slow down your efforts to engage current and prospective attendees. When you provide fresh content on your event website and social media channels year-round, it not only gets people excited about your next event, but, more importantly, it turns your organization into a thought leader in your respective industry.
The best part about creating this engaging content in between events is that it's usually easy and low cost, if not free; all you need is a little creativity. Here are some simple ideas to implement while you’re winding down from this year’s event and gearing up for the next:
Maintain a blog
Along with sharing the latest industry news articles online, take time to share your organization's own take on the top trends and insights via a blog on your event website. Quick tips, listicles, reviews and other topics make for easy to digest content that you can create once week or even just a couple times a month. By actively engaging attendees throughout the year with your own content, you’ll be seen as a dynamic, committed thought leader in your industry.
Create more video
It's no secret that video is an extremely powerful marketing tool. In fact, companies that use video enjoy 41% more web traffic from search than non-users. Whether it’s giving your attendees a behind the scenes look at planning for next year's event, or an interview with your exciting keynote speaker for the next, video is a very engaging tool that helps develop a more personal connection to your event. Live streaming is also incredibly popular as it allows you to engage with your audience in real time.
Share aggregated content on social media
Instead of being a source of inspiration and ideas one week out of the year while onsite, become a resource that your attendees look toward everyday. Along with your standard event promotion, take a little time each day to share 2-3 news stories going on in your industry on your social media accounts. This is also a great opportunity to track what content your followers are interested in most, which can help generate ideas for your own event content.
Contests and discounts
Get your attendees’ attention with many opportunities to participate in contests to earn registration and accommodation discounts, VIP statuses, invitations to special events and other perks. Have these contests be interactive and/or feedback driven to get the most out of their participation. For example, you could have attendees enter to win by filling out brief surveys, answer Twitter polls, like/follow all of your social media accounts, share photos, etc.
Get inspired by your data
Your survey, demographic and attendance data collected by your event management software can be the foundation for excellent content to create and share during your event’s quiet months. From small shareable graphics and larger infographics, to fact sheets and white papers, use any compelling data that may pique your attendees’ interests. It could be used in an Instagram post to encourage registration for the following year (i.e. "90% of attendees would recommend ABC Conference to their colleagues! Learn why by clicking the link in our bio.") or simply act as a useful industry resource (i.e. "Check out what technology ABC Conference attendees love most in our latest white paper!").
Keep your app updated
Just because you’re not onsite doesn’t mean your event mobile app should go dormant. A week or so after your event ends, take down outdated content and leave placeholders and post information for the following year. While it’s best to not overdo it during the off-months, the occasional push notification reminder, alert or special offer is a great way to keep the app updated and your attendees informed. It's also a great place to encourage attendees to continue networking with each before and after your event.
Don’t forget about email
Though not the fanciest or newest of communication tools, it’s still important to send good, old reliable emails to your attendees. Instead of constant reminders to make early bird registration, build a newsletter that showcases all the engaging new content and resources you create each month, as well as the latest information and announcements about your event.
At the end of the day, even if you choose to implement just one or two of these initiatives during your event’s in-between months, you’ll be doing yourself and your attendees a huge favor! Not only will your attendees feel more engaged and informed, but it will also lead to higher attendance rates and will create a stronger community surrounding your event.
What do you do to keep your attendees engaged during your event's downtime? What do you respond to most as an attendee? Share in the comments below.
This post was originally published in 2017 and was revised by Aventri for relevance.