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Let’s Get Digital: How To Drive Digital Event Registrations

by Briana Billingham on Jun 30, 2020

Welcome to our fourth installment in our Let’s Get Digital blog series where we’re covering all aspects of running a successful digital event. This week, our post is focused on how to drive registrations from the right attendees utilizing marketing tactics that will make an impression. 

Now that you’ve learned what it takes to create a successful digital event, determined the right platform for your event, and prepped your speakers for success — you need to drive registrations! We’re here to share our learnings around what works — and what doesn’t — in promoting your event to encourage registrations from the attendees that matter. We’ll walk you through our promotion process, and provide you with some tips we’ve learned along the way that draw big sign-ups, earning real ROI. 

Digital event promotion process prep

Our biggest learning in rejiggering our event promotion process for digital events was to just keep it simple. Digital events require a lot less of a ‘sell’ considering there isn’t travel involved, and price tags are either heavily discounted or removed altogether. This lowers the barrier to entry making it easier for attendees to participate, especially all over the globe. 

Before you start building out your promotion plan, make sure you have a reliable project management tool to create a robust timeline. We use Asana which allows us to build tasks and loop in other teams as needed. Leverage your project management tool to its fullest potential and be as detailed as possible, especially when assigning things to other teams you collaborate with responsible for elements of your promotion plan. A great way to make sure you aren’t missing any of these details is to create a template of the broader promotion plan task that can be copied — ensuring each step is accounted for and assigned to the right person. 

Content for your event promotions 

As a quick checklist, some marketing collateral that you could be leveraging in your event promotion includes: blog content, organic social, paid social, email promotion, individual invites, physical mailer invites and more. We’ll dig in a bit more into what each of these entails for equal promotion:

Email

We quickly learned for digital events that you don’t need to send out invites too far in advance. For example, we would typically send out initial invites for a physical event months before to allow time for planning and coordinating travel. For digital events, you only need a few weeks before the event is going to take place.

When drafting all your emails for promotion, try to do them all together — this makes it easier to schedule out your invitations and reminders, as well as keep your brand voice consistent. Leverage your knowledge of what types of invites have garnered high RSVPs in the past, and base your emails off of those templates. Make sure the valuable content (what they need to know about your event) is at the front of the email. For example, an email header with speaker’s headshots or titles in bolded copy directs the reader’s eyes straight to that section to spark interest. Or have the “register now” button or link to register in the first two to three sentences — making it easier for the potential attendee to apply right away without having to read the entire invite. 

These tactics will help you to combat email fatigue. By now, we’ve all probably received quite a few invites to digital events. So making your email as clean, straightforward, and accessible as possible helps ensure the highest potential number of registered attendees, and the least amount of unsubscribers. A tactic we’ve found helpful in combating unsubscribing from our emails altogether is by creating an “opt-in” option to learn about upcoming events. That way, if readers aren’t as interested in our events but still want to keep up on product updates, they’re still hearing from our company, but on the terms that they prefer. This is a feature that Hubspot, our email management tool, utilizes so we can keep different lists of potential attendees. This also gives us the opportunity to send personal 1:1 emails to those that don’t want to receive “email blasts” — making the invitation that much more impactful. 

Once you have these emails drafted and queued in your email marketing system, be sure to test each one. Pick a small group of people in your organization to receive an email before it goes out, and have them thoroughly QA it — clicking on each link and proofreading the text before it gets sent to your attendee lists. Be sure to link tracking from your digital event services (like Zoom Webinar or GotoWebinar) to know exactly where your RSVPs are coming from. 

Social media

Another great way to let potential attendees know about your digital event is through social media. We like to utilize a mix of both posting on our brand channels, and leveraging key spokespeople throughout the company to share on their personal channels. Sharing on a company social handle appeals to the larger market and brand followers. We make sure to have a clear and short message about the event for these posts. These large audience posts also have proven to drive a lot of RSVPs within the last week before a digital event. But be sure to be mindful of oversharing on your company’s behalf — strike the right balance so your followers remain informed and not overwhelmed. 

In contrast, personal posts from individuals that are part of your company, or are partners participating on the panel, can help drive valued attendees from a broader network scope. These personal posts also drive more RSVPs and engagement than those that are from our company handles. Often, the personal networks of these individuals are more focused on what we as a company do, with many key players in our market represented. In order to encourage these influential people in our company to post, we provide a template for them to utilize to draft and personalize their post, making it even easier to share with their network. These individuals tend to be from our sales and business development teams, and often have the most connections on social media with our clients. 

A final aspect of social media to explore is paid or promoted posts. These you can put a few dollars behind in order to massively increase the reach of your posts. These appeal to mass audiences, and have levers you can pull to better target your desired audience, like region or job title. This is a great way to drive attendance as well, especially to those that may not already be following your brand. Similar to regular brand posts, be thoughtful about how frequently you utilize paid social media ads.

Actually moving the needle

Smaller digital events

A great way that we started actually driving more attendees and more meaningful digital events: hosting smaller events that reached a specific subset of our clients. For AppLovin, a big portion of our audience is indie mobile game developers. So, we created an event tailored specifically to questions and things that this audience would like to learn about called Ask the Dev Live. Here, we bring a moderator from AppLovin paired with a developer to answer real questions and concerns that the developer community has today. For these events, we saw 50% more RSVPs within a week of the digital event, whereas with in-person events we normally had an event showcased on our events page or promoting first invites much earlier in advance. And the best part about these digital events is that the content has a life afterward too. We publish our recordings and send them to all who attended, so someone who registered has access to the content whether they saw it live or not. On one of our Ask the Dev Live sessions, we had 110 original attendees, and 37 of them accessed and watched this content later. We house all of these recordings on our website for easy access for attendees to watch and listen at their convenience. 

Larger Digital Events 

We host a larger events series called Connects that feature key learnings from bigger studios, on topics that apply to our broader audiences. We noticed that we tend to get the most RSVPs within a week before the date for this event. Interestingly, we saw a larger spike of these attendees viewing the recording that actually attended the event — 142% more views on the recording, than attendees tuning in live. While some might view this as a negative — we see quite the opposite. We had more than double the amount of planned attendees viewing our content! 

We’re still learning what is working and not working for our digital events, but these data points are helping steer us in the right direction. While you’re looking to build out promotion for your next event, remember to always keep them simple, and to leverage data tracking as much as possible to find out what’s resonating with your attendees. 

Join us for our next Ask the Developer Live by registering here. For more info on all our digital events, check them out here.

Briana Billingham is AppLovin’s global events manager.