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In today's fast-paced digital landscape, where screens have become our windows to the world, the need to boost your virtual presence has never been more crucial.

As the boundaries between physical and digital continue to blur, the success of any digital event hinges on its ability to capture and maintain the attention of a highly distracted audience.

The success of a virtual event depends not only on its content but also on the number of participants it can attract.

Whether you're an event organizer, marketer, or simply someone looking to make a lasting impact in the virtual realm, this blog is your gateway to unlocking the secrets of increasing attendance and engagement at digital events.

Let us explore the cutting-edge technologies that will not only elevate your virtual presence but also leave a lasting impression on your audience. The world of digital event transformation – where your virtual stage is set, and the spotlight is waiting to shine on you.

The current landscape

Before diving into strategies, let's take a quick look at the current landscape of virtual events.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift from in-person to online gatherings, and this trend is here to stay. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global virtual events market is expected to reach $404.45 billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.2%.

Despite the potential, many digital events struggle to engage their target audience effectively. To stand out and thrive in this competitive space, organizers must adopt innovative approaches.

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12 strategies to increase attendance at digital events

Here are 12 strategies to increase attendance at digital events.

1. Partnering with influencers

Partnering with influencers who have a significant online presence in your industry can dramatically increase the reach and attendance of your digital event.

These influencers already have a loyal following, and their endorsement can lend credibility and attract a targeted audience to your event.

Example: Adobe MAX and Partnering with Tyler Babin

Adobe MAX, an annual digital creativity conference, partnered with Tyler Babin, a popular filmmaker and content creator known for his work with brands like Nike and Apple.

Tyler was engaged to create teaser videos and promotional content for Adobe MAX, sharing them on his YouTube and social media channels. His videos generated excitement and anticipation for the event among his followers, many of whom were interested in design and creativity.

Tyler Babin's partnership with Adobe MAX significantly increased the event's visibility and attendance. His videos garnered millions of views and attracted a diverse audience of creative professionals to the event.

2. Offering early bird registration discounts

Providing early bird registration discounts is a time-tested strategy to incentivize attendees to sign up for digital events well in advance. It creates a sense of urgency and rewards proactive participants with cost savings, encouraging them to commit early.

Example: Web Summit and early bird discounts

Web Summit, one of the world's largest technology conferences, offers early bird registration discounts to attendees who book their tickets well in advance. These discounts can be substantial, with savings of several hundred dollars compared to regular ticket prices.

The early bird discount strategy employed by Web Summit encourages thousands of attendees to register early every year. This not only helps the event organizers plan more effectively but also ensures a healthy number of participants well before the event's start date.

3. Hosting pre-event webinars or workshops

Hosting pre-event webinars or workshops allows you to provide a taste of what attendees can expect at the main event. These smaller, free sessions can pique interest, showcase your event's value, and encourage people to register for the full event.

Example: Salesforce Trailhead Live and Pre-event Workshops

Salesforce, a leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform, hosts a series of free pre-event workshops called "Trailhead Live" before their annual Dreamforce conference. These workshops cover various aspects of Salesforce and provide valuable insights to attendees.
By offering these workshops for free, Salesforce attracts a large audience interested in their products and services, many of whom go on to register for Dreamforce.

Trailhead Live has proven to be a successful strategy for Salesforce, as it not only builds excitement for Dreamforce but also attracts a wide range of participants who may not have initially considered attending the main event.

4. Creating exclusive content and networking opportunities

Offer exclusive content and networking opportunities to registered attendees to make them feel special and valued. This creates a sense of exclusivity and encourages more people to sign up, knowing they'll gain access to unique experiences.

Example: TED Conferences and TED Connect

TED, known for its thought-provoking talks, offers a platform called TED Connect for registered attendees of their conferences.
This platform allows attendees to connect with speakers, interact with other attendees, access exclusive content, and continue discussions beyond the event. TED Connect enhances the overall event experience and motivates more people to register.

With exclusive content and networking opportunities through TED Connect, TED not only increases attendance but also fosters a strong community of like-minded individuals who remain engaged year-round.

5. Implementing a referral program

Encourage your existing attendees to become advocates by implementing a referral program. Reward them for referring friends, colleagues, or acquaintances to register for the event. This strategy harnesses the power of word-of-mouth marketing and personal networks.

Example: Dropbox and Dropbox Space Race

Dropbox, a cloud storage and file-sharing service, launched the "Dropbox Space Race" for university students. This referral program encouraged students to refer their classmates and friends to use Dropbox, with the incentive of earning additional storage space for themselves and their university. Dropbox saw a significant increase in user sign-ups as a result.

The Dropbox Space Race not only increased their user base but also generated buzz and excitement within the university community. A similar approach can be applied to digital events, where attendees can earn incentives like discounts or exclusive content for referring others to register.

6. Leveraging personalized email marketing

Utilize personalized email marketing campaigns to engage potential attendees. Tailor your email content based on their interests, past interactions with your events, and preferences. This approach helps nurture leads and convert them into registered participants.

Example: HubSpot's INBOUND Conference and personalized email campaigns

HubSpot, a leading inbound marketing and sales software company, hosts the annual INBOUND conference. They employ personalized email marketing campaigns to engage their audience. Attendees receive emails with tailored recommendations for sessions and activities based on their previous event interactions and interests.

HubSpot's personalized email campaigns have led to higher open rates, click-through rates, and ultimately, increased event registration. Attendees appreciate the relevant content and feel that the event organizers understand their needs and preferences.

7. Offering virtual swag bags

Provide virtual swag bags or digital goodies to registered attendees. These can include exclusive downloadable resources, discounts, e-books, or even access to premium content. Virtual swag bags add value to the event experience and incentivize registration.

Example: MozCon and Digital Swag Bag

Moz, a company specializing in SEO and online marketing, hosts an annual conference called MozCon. They offer a digital swag bag to attendees, which includes access to speaker slides, discounts on Moz products, and additional resources related to digital marketing. These offerings make attending MozCon more enticing.

The digital swag bag strategy not only encourages registration but also enhances the post-event experience by providing valuable resources and discounts that can benefit attendees in their professional endeavors.

8. Employing targeted ads and retargeting campaigns

Use targeted online advertising and retargeting campaigns to reach individuals who have shown interest in similar events, topics, or products. By showing them tailored ads, you can remind them of your event and encourage them to register.

Example: TEDx and Facebook Advertising

TEDx events often employ Facebook advertising to reach their target audience. They create custom audiences based on interests and behaviors related to their event topics. Through targeted ads, they remind potential attendees about upcoming TEDx talks and provide a direct link to registration.

Targeted advertising and retargeting campaigns help TEDx and similar events reach people who are likely to be interested in their content. This strategy maximizes the chances of converting interested individuals into registered attendees.

9. Hosting virtual networking sessions

Create virtual networking sessions or pre-event mixers that allow attendees to connect with one another before the main event. These sessions provide a platform for participants to meet peers, potential collaborators, and even speakers, making the event more appealing.

Example: SaaStr Annual and Virtual Happy Hours

SaaStr Annual, a renowned software as a service (SaaS) conference, hosts virtual happy hours before their main event. These casual gatherings provide an opportunity for attendees to network, socialize, and establish connections with fellow SaaS professionals and industry leaders.

Virtual networking sessions like these not only build excitement but also establish a sense of community among attendees. This camaraderie can lead to increased attendance, as participants want to be part of a like-minded group.

10. Incentivizing user-generated content

Encourage attendees to create user-generated content related to your event, such as blog posts, social media updates, or videos. Offer incentives or recognition for the best content, turning attendees into event advocates and promoters.

Example: Content Marketing World and #CMWorld Twitter Chat

Content Marketing World, a prominent content marketing conference, hosts a #CMWorld Twitter chat before their event. They encourage attendees and industry professionals to participate in discussions, share their insights, and use the hashtag. The most engaged participants are recognized and featured on the event's website and social media.

11. Implementing a loyalty program

Create a loyalty program that rewards repeat attendees for their continued participation in your digital events. Offer special perks, discounts, or exclusive content to those who have a history of attending your events.

Example: Dreamforce and Dreamforce Trailblazer Program

Salesforce's Dreamforce conference features the Dreamforce Trailblazer Program, which rewards loyal attendees. Participants who have attended multiple Dreamforce events receive recognition, exclusive access to sessions, and networking opportunities with top executives and influencers. This program encourages ongoing attendance.

The Dreamforce Trailblazer Program fosters a sense of community and loyalty among attendees, motivating them to return year after year. It also serves as an attractive incentive for new attendees who aspire to become part of this exclusive group.

12. Hosting virtual experiences or simulations

Enhance the event experience by incorporating virtual experiences or simulations that engage attendees in unique ways. These interactive elements can set your digital event apart and make it more memorable.

Example: Microsoft Build and Virtual Labs

Microsoft Build, an annual developer conference, offers virtual labs that allow attendees to get hands-on experience with Microsoft technologies. These labs are interactive and enable participants to test and learn in a practical, virtual environment.

Virtual labs and interactive experiences not only add value to the event but also provide a strong incentive for attendees to register. They offer practical skills and knowledge that participants can apply in their work, making the event more appealing and beneficial.

Adsyndicate, an independent advertising agency used Zapier & Xoxoday integration to automate and reward the participants attending their virtual events

Adsyndicate, an independent advertising agency, faced the challenge of organizing a virtual press launch for Sandisk's wireless digital charger due to the pandemic.

They sought an engaging solution and turned to Xoxoday, a digital reward platform, to create a unique virtual experience. They set up a virtual cafe and used Zapier to automate reward distribution.

Participants who interacted with the cafe received exclusive brand vouchers, with a reward value of INR 500 - 1000, redeemable from a vast selection of options. This approach resulted in over 100 unique rewards and ensured the success of the virtual press meet.

Sandisk praised Xoxoday's rewards for building meaningful relationships with attending reporters, and the technical integration with Zapier and Xoxoday enhanced interactivity.

Adsyndicate believes in the potential of virtual events to create memorable experiences and plans to work with Xoxoday for future events. They also emphasize the value of digital offerings in improving event metrics like registrations, engagement rates, and lead generation.

Overall, the collaboration with Xoxoday provided an impressive brand experience for digital events, leaving a positive impression on Adsyndicate's team.

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The virtual realm is your canvas, and increasing attendance at digital events is your masterpiece waiting to happen.

By embracing innovation, nurturing engagement, and understanding your audience's needs, you hold the keys to a thriving virtual presence.

Remember, it's not about just hosting events; it's about crafting experiences that leave an indelible mark.

So, go forth, be bold, and let your virtual presence shine brighter than ever before. Your digital stage is set, and the world is watching. Now, let's captivate them like never before!

Guest Contributor

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