Increasing audience engagement is important for continuously hosting successful events. According to David Saef, EVP of Marketworks, “Events are a critical component of any brand’s marketing strategy because face-to-face is the best way to engage a brand’s current and prospective customers.” That said, audience engagement makes your event interactive, fun, and enables brand growth and awareness. Ensuring that your audience is consistently engaged not only improves attendee experience but also allows marketers to collect rich attendee data from over 300 different touchpoints.
Attendee engagement doesn’t necessarily start at the event itself. It begins long before and continues well after the event ends! So what are ways you can increase audience engagement? Here are 20 tips that can increase your attendee’s engagement sevenfold!
Publish a Blog Post
Promote a future event by blogging about it. Your company’s blog is a great way to kickstart audience engagement at an event because it allows marketers to learn about critical event information i.e. sessions and keynotes, booth exhibitors, parties, lunches or dinners, etc. With a blog, you can create pre-event buzz. Not only that, link your event registration landing page to your blog to increase traffic and attendee numbers. It’s a win-win!
Create and Promote a Twitter Hashtag
Creating a unique twitter hashtag specifically for your event is a great thing to do pre-event also. This way, marketers can promote their event and start filling up their event hashtag with content. Tweets with hashtags receive 2x more engagement, meaning that if you promote your event with a unique hashtag, you can be sure that engagement will skyrocket. You’ll have people talking about your event and even tweeting about it. For event hashtag tips, see Brand24’s blog post
Hashtags are also a great way to engage with attendees during the event and after the event. Even though I put it in the Pre-event section, keep this in mind during your actual event to reach out and engage with attendees throughout the event, and continue the conversation after it’s over.
Plan the Room Design
Designing and diagramming a room is the cornerstone of meeting planning. By organizing the room strategically, you can ensure peak audience engagement and interaction.
“By literally positioning attendees in a seat and/or at a table that enhances their cognitive engagement, you are framing their ability to make better decisions, engage with your programming, and remember the content that they are learning” (Socialtables)
Know Your Attendees
Before the event starts, it is important to understand your audience. By knowing all you can about who will be attending the event, you can prepare and execute it even better, ultimately increasing engagement.
Know what company they come from, their position in the company, what their company does, and how you can help them. By understanding this and preparing for all types of attendees’ needs, you can make the event relevant, fun, and interesting for your audience. When an event is fun, attendees will want to interact with anything and everything in front of them.
During the Event
Make It Fun
Making your event fun is truly the very first step in increasing audience engagement. Attendees go to events to learn, discover market trends, and have a good time. By adopting the following tips, you can be sure your attendees will have a great time during your event.
During the event, it is important to reach out and engage with Influencers in particular. Influencers have a wider reach and are more powerful on social media. You’re not only engaging with your attendees but by doing so with an influencer, you can spark a larger conversation that can incorporate hundreds of other attendees.
Be sure to make it known to the Influencers how much you appreciate their involvement and continue to engage in discussion with them during and after the event.
Plan Compelling Sessions and Speakers
What good is an event without some first class speakers and sessions? After all, people are attending the event to learn, network, and share experiences, tips, or information. They don’t want to go to an event that doesn’t have anything to offer them. So, make sure you have ready compelling and informative sessions and well-known speakers. This way, attendees will want to come to your event. The more people you have at your event, the more engaging the event becomes. Sessions and keynotes are also great ways to engage even further with audiences and that leads into my next point:
Have Live Polls
During a session or keynote, have the speakers integrate a live poll. Not only does it make the session more interactive, it also allows marketers to collect data, which can then be leveraged for future events to make them more relevant and helpful to attendees.
Provide a Game or Competition
Preparing competitions, awards, or games is a great way to increase audience engagement. For example, during Marketing Nation Online this year we created a “scavenger hunt” for those who attended the virtual event. We offered attendees the chance to win fantastic prizes such as an AirBnB Vacation, airline tickets, or lift tickets to your favorite ski resort! To be entered to win these prizes, attendees had to visit our “booth” and the more booth they visited the higher the chances were of winning. To check out how we gamified Marketing Nation Online click here.
By creating a fun scavenger hunt for all attendees (who registered) to participate in, we were able to engage with the community and enabled interesting conversations and relationship building.
If content marketing is all about the need to engage the audience through storytelling, interactive content makes the user the narrator of the story. By utilizing gamification, you can make your audience the narrator of a story, they have the control over how they play, engage, or win. Also, gamification allows for attendees to not only engage with you but also their peers who are participating in the game. Isn’t that the purpose of an event? To provide a platform to promote not only your brand but also networking amongst attendees? If you’re the company that can do it, you will be the talk of the town.
Use a Mobile App
Exercising the use of an event app is another great way to increase audience engagement. Now, I know that this isn’t something new and groundbreaking, mobile event apps have been around for awhile now, but they are very effective. With them, you can provide attendees with an easy and intuitive access to personal agendas and the ability to customize their event experience. This way, attendees can reach out to via the mobile app and ask questions, plan their day, and get alerted to personalized session alerts.
Alert Attendees About Sessions
Being able to alert your attendees about sessions is another surefire way to promote audience engagement. By customizing the event experience for your attendees, you can increase engagement and demonstrate to your attendees that you care about them.
You must be asking, “how can Event Automation do this?” Depending on what your attendees do, such as visit a booth, download a white paper, or view a demo, your systems can trigger notifications that alert attendees of relevant (based on their behavior) sessions that will be happening during the event.
So adopt marketing and Event Automation so you can increase audience engagement and provide an event that covers every need of every attendee.
Microblogging during your event can also boost audience engagement. If you don’t know what microblogging is, I’ll explain. Microblogging is what is sounds like. It differs from traditional blogging where pieces of content are usually lengthy and dense, however, microblogging utilizes different mediums, like Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat, and provides content that is short, with real-time images.
Knowing this, microblogging becomes an important tool for increasing audience engagement. For all those attendees who follow you on social media, they can engage with you and share their similar ideas about the event that you both are attending. This provides a place where information can be passed between company and client, as well as a great place to provide others with valuable information and opinions about the event, especially if they can’t attend. Those who can’t attend can still be included and engage with you (your company), those who are attending, and learn something from the event.
There’s one thing, however. When microblogging, be sure to alert your followers that you will be doing so prior to starting. Provide them a the start time you will be actively blogging, a timeframe, and be sure to prepare a schedule so you aren’t tweeting or posting too actively. This allows those who are interested in this event to be present and prepared, while those who aren’t can prepare themselves for an onslaught of tweets or facebook posts.
Give Special Perks
What I mean by that is provide audiences with a chance to receive something in return for being at your event or visiting your booth. That can mean giving them a discount if they sign up for your product during the event, special or personalized swag, VIP status to after-parties or lunches, or even free consultations about your product. These perks interest attendees and force them to learn more about your product, interact with your floor team, and engage more at the event.
Provide Cool Swag
Interest people with awesome swag. At your booth, don’t just lay out brochures with information, lay out things such as branded socks, selfie-sticks, bottle openers, stickers, pens, etc. By having something free that catches the eye of attendees, you attract more people to your booth and increase engagement with your company. So think up some original swag, because I can assure you when I see interesting swag, I go up to exhibitors and hear what they have to say.
Have a Great Booth Design
Now this is an important one because getting people engaged and visiting booths can be very tricky. Creating a booth that drives engagement can be done in many ways. Event Manager Blog gives great examples of ways to make your booth intriguing for attendees. You can (as said above) gamify it by providing small games, giving out prizes, or having competitions, create a theme-based booth experience, or give out customized swag.
You also want your booth to look interesting and inviting. Set your booth up with interesting accessories. For example, at Dreamforce 2016, Slack’s booth stayed true to the theme of Trailblazing. They had green plants and wood and when I looked at their booth I felt like I was hitting the trails at my favorite hiking spot. This brought me to their booth and I was curious as to what else they had for me! That’s just one example, you can learn more about which booths were most successful at Dreamforce 2016 here.
So make your booth interesting, stick with a theme, make it intriguing. By doing so, you can increase audience engagement at your booth, and chat with potential clients.
Host an After-Party or Lunch
Piggybacking off of a big event is another great way to promote your company and increase audience engagement. Throw a party at the end of the day, plan a lunch and invite VIPs. Each of these are great ways to meet attendees and engage in conversation with them. A good example was our party we hosted at Temple nightclub in San Francisco during Dreamforce. We teamed up with DemandBase, Oracle Marketing Cloud, Full Circle Insights, Brightcove, ZoomInfo, and ThinkSmartOne and hosted the People Party, a night of drinking, dancing, and interacting. This was a great way to promote our brand and get the attendees of Dreamforce engaged with us, and each other.
And you can also! By doing so you increase brand awareness and audience engagement in a fun and exciting way.
Leverage Event Technology
There are numerous event technology applications that you can leverage to increase audience engagement during your event. A good example of this is Photoboxx. With Photoboxx, you can create a more interactive event and increase attendee engagement. When an attendee takes a photo and uses a hashtag when they upload it to a social media platform, like Instagram or Twitter, Photoboxx can monitor the hashtags and print out the photos for attendees to keep. It’s as easy as that! You can rent or lease a Photoboxx and place it around your venue! Check it out here!
So you literally have your attendees engaging with your event. These applications can help boost audience engagement in many different areas. It can drive traffic to your booth, it can help promote your already created hashtag, and it’s fun and provides attendees who use the Photoboxx something to take home with them, a prize (a picture of themselves!). This is an amazing way to increase engagement!
Another great example is PixxFly: PixxFly is a content distribution platform that allows marketers to schedule times to publish content such as press releases, blog posts, tweets, videos, images, on any social channel they want. It also comes with built-in analytics so you can better understand how your content is doing. If you need an all-in-one content scheduling application check PixxFly out!
So remember when I was talking about microblogging? Well, this is a good way to set up programmed-content distribution while you’re at the event. This doesn’t only help engagement during the event, it can help after the event also. By programming content to be published about the event a day or two after it’s over is a great way to continue engaging with attendees even after they have gone home. By reaching out and reminding them the details of what happened at the event you’ve set yourself up for some great conversations and engagement.
Host a Q&A
Host a Q&A during the event and promote it on social media. By having a place for attendees to come and get their questions addressed directly by you or your team, you’ll increase engagement and enable your team to increase brand awareness!
Send Out Surveys
After the event is over, you can run a survey asking questions like “Was this session helpful?” “Was it informative?” “What would you change about the event?” These are good questions to ask to improve events in the future and engage with attendees, showing them you care about their feedback.
Send Thank You Emails
Sending thank you emails is a great way to keep the engagement going with attendees even after the event is over. Send an email to those you engaged with and tell them how great it was to meet them and learn about what their needs were. Make the email personal and relevant. Talk directly about the event you met at, use the recipient’s first name, and overall be genuine.
By continuing the conversation after an event, you increase engagement with attendees by showing them that your company wants to help solve their problems. So send out those emails and make those connections.
Overall, there are many different ways you can increase audience engagement. From interesting booth design, customized swag, polls, and surveys, there is an endless amount of innovative actions you can take at an event to drive more engagement between prospects and your company. By taking with you these 20 tips on increasing audience engagement, you can have an epic event experience that benefits both you and the attendees.