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Attendee retention rate is one of the most important event KPIs. When event planners measure how many attendees have attended their events before, they are getting insights into attendee loyalty. And as we know, loyalty is one of the most important qualities; not only in our attendees, but also in our employees, partners, friends, and family members.

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So, how can event organizers measure and increase attendee retention? The answer is to lean on analytics. Registration analytics will show how many guests are returning, while session, engagement, and content analytics offer insights into attendee behavior. The happier the attendees, the more likely they’ll be returning. Now, let’s explore how to achieve a higher retention rate and therefore increase your event ROI through six actionable steps.

Ask For Feedback, Then Act On It

If you want to increase attendee retention, you need to figure out what makes your audience come back. The best way to do that is to ask them for feedback at strategic points before, during, and after the event.

  • Pre-event surveys: find out what attendees are looking forward to the most, which sessions they’re interested in, and how familiar are they with the event, including the venue or event platform.
  • Send push notifications during the event to find out instantly what they thought of certain exhibitors, sessions, networking experiences, etc.
  • Check social media platforms to see what your attendees like most about your event.
  • Crowdsourcing: if you intend on implementing open discussions, Q&A, polling, or upvoting comments, let the attendees know in advance and let them know how they can contribute to your event.

Additionally, diversify your data collection methods to cater to various demographic and psychographic groups at your event. You need to ensure you get everybody’s opinion, not just of those who are willing to share. For example, introverts might not appreciate somebody approaching them at an in-person event and asking them to voice their opinions on the spot. Others, however, would rather talk to event staff than fill out surveys on event platforms or event apps.

When you ask your attendees about their experience at your event, they will know that their opinion matters to you. Attendees who feel seen and appreciated will form a stronger connection to your brand, which is a common event goal.

Feedback alone can therefore increase your retention rates a little bit, but it’s not enough. Collecting feedback is a mere prerequisite for attendee data analysis. Based on analytics reports, event planners can adjust their event strategy in the most optimal way to ensure higher attendee retention in the future.

attendee retentionBoost Attendee Retention With Gamification

Attendees who are highly engaged at your event and have fun are more likely to continuously return in the future. Event gamification is one of the best tactics in event planners’ arsenal to achieve their event goals, including higher audience engagement and attendee retention.

When attendees get to participate in gamified challenges and competitions, they are much more engaged and in a better mood. And once the event is done, they’ll look back on it with fond memories. There are many ways to gamify events, from collecting points for participation to participating in photo challenges. Each event planner should know what makes their particular audience tick and get competitive.

Start Promoting At The Event

Another great way to increase the loyalty rate of your attendees is to open registration for next year’s event at your current event. As Dustin Westling explained in a recent Event Brew episode, this creates a sense of urgency.

“When you have your audience in person and they’re excited – that is your time to start selling tickets. Create great incentives to sign up right there and then. For example, you buy at a regular price, but you get VIP.”

It’s the oldest trick in the book: if you want to see an increase in the desired behavior, you need to reward it. If event planners want to boost attendee retention, they should reward coming back to their next annual conference by offering discounts, early bird tickets, or VIP tickets for the price of a regular entry.

Content Delivery: Asynchronous & Data-Rich

Offer your attendees the flexibility and freedom to decide when, how, and how many times they want to watch sessions. Event platforms can track which speakers and sessions your attendees liked the most and which ones didn’t resonate. Such data can help you plan future events better and ensure your attendees continue getting the most out of your content.

Repurpose valuable event content, present it to your attendees, and get them excited all over again after the event. For example, you can show the best social media posts, write a whitepaper about the event, or offer sessions on-demand.

attendee retentionThe Power Of Personalized Communication

Personalization is key when it comes to attendee communication. You need to talk to your loyal attendees differently than you would to people who are yet to come to your event for the very first time. Do not simply send the same email to everybody; rather than thanking them for coming to your event, thank them for coming again. Little things like that add up and make customers feel seen.

More importantly, if you’ve noticed that certain individuals have particularly enjoyed your event and shouted it from the rooftops, reach out to them. Thank them for being your brand ambassador.

Community Model: The Ruler Of Attendee Retention

Attendee loyalty is the foundation upon which you can build your community as well as the most powerful force that will keep it alive. Keep your attendees engaged after the event by offering them a space to connect, watch on-demand content, access resources, and give you valuable feedback at every step of the way. Additionally, hosting smaller events throughout the year on your community platform can build anticipation for your big annual in-person event.

Overall, these assets all increase retention rates for your events. Event platforms are moving toward offering event planners annual subscriptions and planners are starting to see value in having all their audience communicating in one place.

Attendee Retention: Key Takeaways

As the events industry grows more digitalized, event planners can take more actionable steps toward attendee retention and measure their impact. We have covered six tips that can help planners achieve higher retention rates:

  • Ask for attendee feedback and implement it,
  • Add gamified challenges to your event to make it more fun and engaging,
  • Open registration at a strategic time, such as at your ongoing event,
  • Repurpose your best performing event content and discard the content that did not resonate,
  • Personalized communication is key: talk to returning attendees differently than you do to first-time visitors,
  • Keep the audience engaged and connected after the event and build a community.

And if you need any help or event management support, talk to Endless Events. We are a team of industry leaders who help planners embrace cutting-edge technology solutions, build multi-event strategies, and consistently reach their business goals. Reach out – we are here to help.

2022 Event Trends Guide

Anja Grcar

Author Anja Grcar

Anja, Senior Content Writer at Endless Events, aspires to educate and inspire event planners with the power of the written word.

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