We preach on this blog that repeats attendees are the ultimate goal for any successful event planner. Why? Because it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing customer. Attendees who come back to your event are also more likely to bring others with them and spend more money at subsequent events. So, it’s critical that you keep your existing guests engaged in your brand, even when there is no event on the horizon. How can you do this? Here are some simple strategies to try.
Keep the Conversation Going
Events are great sources for networking or connecting with colleagues and partners. But life can get in the way once the event is over and those connections may be lost. Assist your guests in keeping those conversations going by setting up message boards on your website or in your event app where attendees can continue to connect and converse after your event. Or, set up a Slack channel and invite attendees to join the conversation there. Create public channels or boards based on industry topics and issues and make private channels available for guests to take advantage of. This platform will also make an ideal marketing tool when you are ready to promote your next event.
Offer Extra Relevant Content Regularly
Leverage the content created at your event as well as extra content supplied by your speakers or other industry leaders as a customer retention strategy. The strategy is to offer useful information that would be valuable to your attendees. Create a monthly or quarterly e-newsletter that offers downloadable whitepapers, studies, checklists, or infographics. Embed interesting video or podcast snippets. Always include a note about the next event and a strong call to action to follow you on social media or visit your website.
Aggregate Industry Information and News
Create a blog on your website and link relevant industry information and news. Supplement these articles with your own exclusive content. Answer any comments that you receive from readers. Try to post at least once per week so that there is always fresh content to read. Promote your blog on your social media accounts. Always make sure to completely credit articles that you do not write. The goal is to become known as a thought leader in your industry.
The Content Marketing Institute does a great job with their blog. It engages not only repeat guests from their Content Marketing World event but also assists to generate new event leads with useful and impactful content.
Plan a Pop-Up
If you have the ability to plan a smaller version of your event in a location where most of your past attendees can travel to, this is an effective way to keep engagement high. A pop-up event can be as simple as an informal breakfast networking event, a lunch and learn, or a happy hour and vendor demo. Invite past guests and ask them to bring colleagues. This is an effective way to promote your next event with a Save the Date takeaway or ticket raffle.
Ask for Help
When you start planning your next event, ask repeat attendees for ideas or run your ideas past them! They are your best resource for ensuring that you are planning speakers, meals, and activities that your guests will love. Send out a survey via an email or invite a group or two to a focus group. Offer an incentive to participate such as a discount on tickets or an invitation to a VIP reception. Also, credit your contributors for their great ideas at your next event. What a way to inspire loyalty!
Listen and Respond on Social
If you have email addresses for your past attendees, match those email addresses to their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn account and then follow them. Keep track of the content they post and interact with them when appropriate. Like and share their posts. Offer solutions to problems they complain about or reading materials to learn something new. Use clues from their social posts to create new content that is relevant to them. Keep your interactions to just the topics or parameters of your event. Don’t overstep into their personal lives or topics that you are not familiar with.
The event doesn’t end when everyone goes home. It’s just the beginning. Think of your relationship with guests in terms of a lifetime. Each event is a year in the life of your guests. How can you make each year more fulfilling than the last? When you think of your event planning in that way, you can make decisions that will bring your guests back year after year.