How to Increase Attendance at Virtual Events

Vironica Babbar
May 19, 2021

No-shows from registered attendees can derail an entire event. No wonder a good attendance rate is one of the top priorities for event planners and organizers. Managing attendee experience from registration to attendance phase can be the difference between an average and a successful event.

We dissected why registered attendees don’t show up and what can be done to reduce drop-offs. The result is this 9-step guide you can follow to solve your low attendance rate problem.

1. Get industry experts & influencers as speakers

One of the most successful ways to increase event attendance is to get industry experts and influencers to speak at your event. These folks have an existing rapport with the target audience. They bring with themselves the expertise and the authenticity that audiences desire.

Attendees flock up to listen to an experienced and admired expert. Featuring such experts is a sure shot way to increase attendance. But booking time with these speakers is no cakewalk. So, as the first step, create your wishlist of speakers, approach them, and get confirmations as early as possible. If you’re planning on hosting an event in December 2021, now would be the perfect time to get going at it.

For Restart 2021, we got many expert speakers that our audience completely loved listening to.

2. Optimize event landing page for the attendee experience

First impressions matter. Your event landing page is where your potential attendees first learn about your event in detail. Dazzle them with a clean page UI, clear communication, and a crisp event offering.

We’re all fatigued by zoom invites and lengthy agendas with twisted jargon. Why not simplify the promise of your event and the value it offers right from the beginning? Give as many details about the event as possible in a simple, easy-to-understand way - what’s the idea & the purpose of the event, what problems does your event address, what to expect from various sessions, who to contact for more details, etc.

Check out an event we recently hosted where we put this practice into action.

3. Open the floor for pre-event Q&A

Put yourself in the shoes of your potential attendees. Would you love to get answers to questions you have about an event you’re thinking of investing your time and energy in, wouldn’t you? Give your attendees a chance to ask questions to their favorite speakers or to the organizing team pre-event.

Consider having a real-time Q&A section or a chatbot on your event website. Virtual event platforms make doing this pretty easy. You can create an open as well as a moderated Q&A section from the organizer dashboard.

Confused between Cvent & Hubilo for your virtual event? Let's get the facts straight and help you decide

4. Leverage email marketing campaigns

Plan your email marketing campaigns for event promotion to a tee. Sending the right email, at the right time, with the right content and tone is crucial to keep registered people interested and engaged with your event.

Read and Learn: How to Add Energy, Impact, and Results at Every Stage of Your Webinar

A few quick tips to crack this:

  • Send exciting and interactive content that attendees would want to share with others.
  • Keep sharing important session and speaker details at regular intervals.
  • Remind them about exciting offers, contests, and discussions to participate in.
  • Use relevant, personalized CTAs.
  • Ensure good readability on desktops, tablets, and especially mobiles.
  • Analyze your campaign regularly to know which attendees are most engaged, what content is getting the most attention and which CTAs are working best.

Here's a snippet of one such email we crafted.

5. Give a sneak peek of your star speakers’ event prep

There are always a few star speakers at events who are most attractive to attendees. Work with them to create a pre-event session snippet. A few quotes about the event or about their session topic, a sneak peek into their talk, or the presentation they are going to use - anything that will get attendees excited.

Put this up on social media, send this as a personalized message, or make this a part of your email campaigns.

6. Start conversations with speakers on social media

You must tap into your speakers’ network on all social media channels. It is a great place to attract more attendees to your event and an awesome way to create content to share with registered audiences.

Engage with your speaker on the social media channels they are most active on. Start a conversation, welcome them to the event, ask them what they are most excited about for your event, or tag them in relevant posts that talk about the event.

You can also work with them to create personalized ticket discount coupons, offer a limited-access networking opportunity at the event, or do a pre-event Livestream.

7. Encourage & reward attendees to bring a plus one

Think about how referral campaigns work. If attendees refer more attendees for your event, they get rewarded. Encourage attendees to get more like-minded people to the hood - it could be a colleague, a friend, a mentor, or even a whole community they are a part of. Rewards could range from an Amazon gift card to a new mobile phone.

Plan a referral and reward program and let attendees know of it. As soon as someone adds a plus one to their registration or even shares information about your event publicly asking more people to join, show them your gratitude and send them a reward.

8. Share behind the scenes exclusives with registered attendees

All of us love a quick laugh or a run down a memory lane, don’t we? If you put together some interesting footage from your previous events or a joke your speaker/panelists shared during a briefing call, it will generate curiosity and excitement in your audience. You can even share short clips of the organizing team working hard to put the event together.  

Use video marketing to the best of your ability here. Putting together a couple of memes, time-lapse videos, and candid clippings, under 30 seconds, can work like a charm.

9. Consider charging a caution fee for no-shows

Many event organizers charge a no-show fee from attendees. This is quite similar to a security deposit. If you plan to do this, you must inform attendees about it beforehand with full transparency.  Let attendees know why you are charging this nominal fee, and that they will get a full refund after they attend the event. Also, share that this fee will not be refunded only if the attendee doesn’t show up.

You can also send attendees an assured voucher of the same (or higher) amount you charge as a caution fee. When the attendees show up at the event, they get a passcode that lets them use this voucher. You can also turn this into a good cross-branding or partnership opportunity with your event exhibitors and sponsors.

Implement some of these strategies and say goodbye to your low attendance worries. We make implementing some of these pre-event, and many more during & post-event strategies super quick and easy to include in your event plan. Check out how we do it here.

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Vironica Babbar

Vironica is a content creator, blogger, and strategist. She loves researching, reading, and writing about new-age media and technology. She is a storyteller who always has a gag up her sleeve, and likes to translate her humour through everyday metaphors. You can always give her a buzz about a historical fact or drop a song in her messenger to get the conversation going.

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