I'm sure you've heard of the saying, "it's not what you know, it's who you know." That may be true in some cases, but in the world of promoting events, it can also be about what your friends and connections know. In this article, we'll talk about how to improve your event's attendance without paying for ads by building an audience online. We'll explore ways to invite your most engaged attendees via email, plus how to get speakers and partners involved in promoting your event (and why they should). Plus we'll discuss a few more tips for getting people excited about attending an event: make it simple for them to share on social media; offer up something valuable as an incentive; customize the email invite to show off its awesomeness—and more!
There are lots of ways to build an audience without shelling out for ads
Email your most engaged attendees
Invite speakers and partners to promote the event
Create a photo booth. This is one of the most effective ways to get people talking about your event, especially if it's an unusual or inventive one. If you're planning an outdoor festival, for instance, have fun with it by setting up a photo booth where people can take photos with props (think: sunglasses and hats) or in silly poses like sitting on a bench. Share those photos on social media—and make sure to mention that the photos were taken at the event!
Make it simple for attendees to talk about you. This could mean offering free swag or giving away tickets in exchange for posting about the event on social media; whatever strategy works best for you should be explored so that people know how they'll benefit from attending your next party/event/gathering/etc.
Use your local connections: "I remember when…" is still a great way of getting people excited about attending an event—whether you're telling stories about previous events' successes or failures (but don't dwell too much on the latter). If possible, try making those stories personal by sharing anecdotes that showcase why YOU care so much about this particular cause (or how YOU became interested in it). It helps build rapport between potential supporters and current ones–and who doesn't want more friends?
Use email to invite your most engaged attendees
Email is one of the best ways to reach out to your most engaged attendees. Often, these are people who have already signed up for your newsletter or requested an email reminder about your event. When you send an email inviting them personally, they’re more likely to say yes than if you sent a generic message that went out to everyone on your list.
In addition, email is a great way to get people down to the event itself. If there's something special going on at this particular show (a guest appearance by their favorite band, a big announcement), then it makes sense that they should be there in person! But if no such thing is happening, then consider sending out another invitation through social media instead—or offer discounted pre-sale tickets if possible!
Submit your event on event listing sites
Event listing sites are one of the most important sources of event promotion. And, whether you’re organizing a large or small event, promoting it across the web is critical for optimizing your reach. You can use EventBoost to promote your events on 100+ event listing sites and events calendars.
- Submitting your event to 100+ online event listings sites by hand would take weeks, maybe months… This is where EventBoost can help you. It allows you to submit your event to all the best event listing sites and events directories with a few clicks.
- A global reach. Your event will be submitted to free and paid event listing websites, event calendars, and blogs.
- Get more exposure. The syndication network reaches millions of targeted visitors every month.
Invite your speakers to promote the event
- Inviting your speakers and partners to promote the event can help you get more people in attendance.
- Ask them to promote the event on their personal social media accounts, such as Instagram or Facebook.
- Recommend they share it with their networks, too: friends, family members, or coworkers who might be interested in attending your event — even if they're not necessarily active on Twitter or LinkedIn themselves!
Create a photo booth
If your event is a concert or party, consider renting a photo booth. People love to take photos and share them on social media. A photo booth will give people something fun to do at your event, but it also gives you the opportunity for engagement between attendees and sponsors. Make sure your sponsors are visible in the background of all photos taken in the photo booth so that attendees can see their brand name on display!
Make a competition of it
If you want to increase attendance at your event, create a competition. A competition will get people excited and it will give them something to look forward to. You can have a competition for the best costume or team name, or even the best photo booth picture.
You can also create a competition around the theme of your event. If you’re having an exhibition about cats, then let people know that they should dress up as their favorite cat and compete in the “best dressed cat” category. This type of contest is perfect for events where everyone is expected to dress up anyway (like Halloween parties).
Another way to encourage attendees is by offering prizes for the best team photo or team name. For example: if you have an annual event where all attendees come dressed up in pink tutus with flowers on their headbands, then award prizes for both teams whose names rhyme with “flower” (Flowers By Necessity) or those who take pictures together using only pink props (the Pink Pistols).
Make it simple for people to talk about you
One of the easiest ways to improve your event's attendance is by making it easy for people to spread the word. For example, if you're planning a birthday party or other social gathering, consider having a sign-in sheet at the door. When people arrive they can check in with their name and phone number and you can text them later with details about the party—like where you'll eating dinner afterwards or where the afterparty will be. If a guest doesn't have their own phone but wants to attend (and isn't bringing someone else who does), make sure there's some way for them to leave contact information when they arrive so that you can follow up with an invitation later on.
Another way to make it easy for attendees is by sharing links that allow them to share events directly from your website or social media pages (e.g., Facebook Event tab). This will not only help increase attendance simply because it’s easier than copying/pasting into emails or texting all those friends individually, but also because more people are likely going through their newsfeeds on Facebook and seeing these posts instead of having them buried in messaging apps.
Use your local connections
Another way to spread the word about your event is to ask for help from local connections. The more people you have on board, the more likely it is that someone will share your event with others, thus increasing attendance.
Start with your friends and family first. Ask them to share the event with their friends and family by posting it on social media and telling them about it in person. If they are interested, they may even volunteer at the event themselves!
Next, consider reaching out to local businesses who may want help promoting their business through sponsorship opportunities or special offers during your next big event. You can also reach out directly to influencers who could share information about what's happening in their community via social media channels as well as news outlets that might be interested in covering an upcoming community event (especially if there are other events going on nearby).
Give away something valuable
One way to encourage people to attend your event is by giving away a prize to people who RSVP, share their attendance on social media, or post pictures of themselves at the event. You can use a website like Prizeo that specializes in charitable raffles and giveaways, or you can set up your own raffle by purchasing tickets from a local printing company (or even printing them yourself) and handing them out at the event.
Customize the email invite
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it's important to customize your event's invitation emails. The first step is to make sure you have all the information before you send out an email blast. You should include:
Attendees' names, as well as yours if you're a speaker or organizer.
The name of your event, how long it's been going on for, and where it will be held.
The event's date, time and location. If possible, use an address instead of just a city name because people may Google "New York City" and get different results than they'd expect—it could be Manhattan vs Brooklyn; 42nd street vs 14th street; etc.
A description of what sort of things attendees can expect at your event (the theme) and who will be speaking at it (if known).
Send out an email reminder the day before the event
The day before your event, send out an email reminder to all those who have RSVPed. The goal of this email is to get them excited about attending and remind people that tickets are still available. Your email should include the following:
A personalized subject line that will grab people's attention
A link to the event page
An image relevant to the topic or theme of your event (this could be a picture of you, an image from a previous event that was well-received, or even just something fun like a meme)
Improve attendance at your events by having a good social media presence and making it easy to spread the word
To make it easy for people to spread the word, you’ll want to include links to your social media accounts. Be sure that these links are easy to find and prominent on your website. You can also use hashtags on Twitter or Instagram so that people who are searching for your event will be able to find you more easily.
Make sure that it is easy for visitors of your site (and especially new visitors) to share content with their friends. Provide buttons or plugins that will allow them do so right off their browser without having to leave or open another tab or window in the browser first. If they have difficulty sharing content this way, they may not bother trying again later on—so make it as simple as possible!
Reach out to influencers ahead of time, including bloggers and podcasters with relevant audiences
To increase attendance without spending money on ads, reach out to influencers. Influencers are individuals who have large followings and/or influence over their audience. Examples include bloggers and podcasters who write about a topic relevant to your event, as well as industry leaders with large social media followings.
Include your event on their blog posts or podcast episodes where applicable. If the blogger or podcaster has an email list that matches your target audience, consider sending them a personalized email asking for their feedback on the event's topics and speakers. This is another way of showing potential attendees that they can expect good content at the conference and will help build relationships before the conference even starts – which can lead to increased ticket sales later down the line!