There is an old adage that says “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink”. The equivalent saying for event planners might be “You can tell folks about your event, but you can’t make them buy.” There will always be people who show interest in your event, but do not actually buy a ticket and attend. It is true that you cannot convert every single registrant into an attendee, but you CAN drastically improve your event registration conversion rate by following these 3 steps:
Step One: Keep It Simple, Sweetie.
One of the major issues that stops a potential attendee from committing to your event (aka buying a ticket) is that they are confused. Confused people do not commit. Confused people keep scrolling. Your job is to make it as easy as possible for those who are interested in your event, to actually purchase their ticket and arrive.
Achieving this simplicity requires that planners take a look at:
- Calls To Action - All of your CTA’s should be crystal clear, and frequent. Once attendees have registered, there should be several ways for them to move deeper into your engagement funnel. Know exactly what steps you want your attendees to take. Do you want them to sign up for your mailing list? Do you want them to take part in a social media campaign? Do you want them to buy a ticket? Pick one or two actions you want your attendees to take, and make some bold calls to action that are clear and concise.
- Surveys and Forms - You are battling for more than just your audience’s money- you also are struggling to capture their time and attention. Be considerate, and only ask your attendees questions that are both important and simple to answer. Do you NEED to know attendees birthday at sign up, or will just a name and email suffice?
- Payment - It’s hard for people to part with their hard earned money. With this in mind, it is important to make sure that it is easy for customers to actually pay for your event ticket. Consider having tiered packages at different price points. This will help attendees who are at various stages of financial stability to be able to attend your events (tiered packages are a hit amongst millennials, especially). Also make sure that you accept multiple forms of payment- think PayPal, Debit and Credit at the very least, and look into “one click” payment options.
Think Personal, Rather Than Promotional.
I am not telling you not to promote your event. Quite the contrary, in fact. You should absolutely have a dedicated marketing and promotional campaign in place for your event. However, we have moved past the point in our relationships with consumers where blatant and direct salesmanship is the most effective method of turning prospects into buyers.
Attendees want to feel catered to. They want to feel special - as though your event were tailor made for someone like them. You can snip the sleaze factor from your promotions by:
- Customizing Your Emails - Slapping a “Dear [First Name]” at the top of your email sequence is not enough to make that email feel personal. You have to make sure that your emails are directly aligned with the pain point of your audience. Why might your ideal attendee be hesitant about paying you for a ticket? Set up a sequence of emails that are specifically designed to assuage the potential fears of your customers, and convince them of the value of your event.
- Getting Social - There is a reason huge companies like Walmart and Pepsi have taken to social media. It is because consumers like to feel as though they are spending their money with real people, and not the faceless giant that is Big Business. Social media has the ability to humanize your event and your brand if used properly. Consider starting a social media campaign on whatever platform your audience frequents the most. Be sure to use language that is appropriate for your event and brand, in addition to the platform itself. You should be marketing differently on LinkedIn than you would on Instagram.
Remember when I mentioned that confused people don’t commit? Well, people with questions don’t commit either. Your registrants will be much more likely to take the jump and become a paying attendee, if they feel as though they don’t have any questions about your event. The last ingredient in improving your conversion rate, is to get into the mind of your attendee, and make sure all your details are clear and transparent.
- Consider Crowdsourcing - Crowdsourcing is the act of drawing your attendees into the decision making process of your event. Consider asking your registrants directly who they would like to hear as a speaker and what kind of entertainment they like. Do a poll about food and beverage choices, or booth suggestions if possible. Crowdsourcing is a great way to make attendees feel engaged long before your event happens. And what questions can a person pose about an event whose itinerary they voted on?
- Create A Channel For Networking - One of the biggest advantages for attending events is the opportunity to network. Let your attendees know who will be coming to your event by publicizing your attendee list. This will help people to feel as though they won’t be the only one in attendance. It will also begin the FOMO (which stands for Fear of Missing Out) effect- which is a great trigger to buy. Consider taking things a step further, and creating a dedicated backchannel via your event app, or another third party service like Slack to virtually introduce your audience members to each other before the event. This will help your attendees to see who they want to meet, and will create a further incentive to actually purchase a ticket.
- Keep Key Details At The Forefront - This seems pretty obvious, but make sure that attendees do not have to hunt for simple event details. I very recently signed up to attend a prestigious networking event that takes place later this month. When I received my confirmation email, I was stressed to find that there was no date or address included. If your attendees have to hunt to find the answer to when or where your event is, or other simple details - they probably won’t buy.
There is no way to make it so that every person who bookmarks your event page actually buys a ticket. However, if you try to answer your attendees questions before they ask them, engage with them personally, rather than in a generic way, and keep the process simple and seamless, you’ll convert many more registrants into attendees.