Conference Spotlight: How to make conference attendees come back for more

June 6 2019


How to reach new customers and gain more clients, is always a hot topic to talk about, yet what is usually forgotten is that if we focus on our current clients, we are much more likely to get higher conversions and, most importantly, at a lower cost.

The facts and numbers

Did you know… that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one?

Yet 44% of companies are still focusing on customer acquisition, with a mere 18% caring about retention.

If that wasn’t convincing enough for you to change your strategy, here are a few more facts and numbers:

  • By increasing your spend on customer retention by only 5%, you can increase profits by 25-95%
  • The probability of selling successfully to a new customer is 5-20%, however, this percentage jumps to 60-70% with existing customers
  • Your existing customers are 50% more likely to try a new product from you and will spend 31% more when compared to new customers

We can thus see that although advertising to gain awareness is important, we need to put a lot more effort into getting our current cheerleaders to click on our event.

Here’s how:

Get your customers in the mood

Have you ever gone to buy something and then somehow ended up with two of the item, because there was a sale and, you know, you need to stock up on it while you can?

Well, you can use the same technique here: catch them in the moment by offering guests that just bought a ticket to your event, your next program. Offer a discount, or further incentivise the product by making it a limited time deal.

Reminiscing about the good times is another way to inspire your past guests to click the purchase button again.

Throw together a competition and ask the attendees what their wildest experience was at your last event, or if it’s a more tame event, then perhaps a reflection on an inspiring speaker or trick they learnt.

Doing this on social media will allow others to see the benefit of joining you this time. It will also give you a nice list of prospects for the current event as well as facilitate for the organic growth of visits to your page. More formal event planners may choose to display the received responses in a special newsletter.

Whatsapp and other messaging platforms are another great way to reach your customers, with a study showing that SMS texts are typically answered within 90 seconds and have an almost 100% open rate. Just make sure that you have your customer’s permission to contact them via text first.

The trick here is to not make phone messaging the new email blast and just send everyone on your list an ad, but to actually text them something that they will click on and respond to.

Think about it, who are you more likely to respond to, a friend or a robot? Robots can be cool, but they won’t make you feel as bad as your friend for not replying.

So make it somewhat personal (even though it may go out to thousands of people) and don’t forget to ask them to reply or give them a reason to click on your link - do you have something special in store specifically for them?


Be here now

Bring your event to the forefront by keeping your page active and not something that may pop up again the day before you are meant to go live.

Best practice is to be able to respond to what is happening in your field now. Don’t just fill your guests with generic tips and tricks, but offer them a platform for discussion on what is currently trending.

For business events, LinkedIn is a great place to publish an opinion piece on industry news, whilst more social events can take advantage of platforms that utilise hashtags.

By adding your two cents on current events, you show guests that you are still relevant to them and are up to date with their interests. People are also more likely to respond to those that they know, so by investing in news pieces, you will be able to help grow your community, which will naturally expand as more and more people interact.


Collaborate and listen

If you know your customers well then you know where their hang out spots are online. Whether you found this information out through surveys or by tracking the source which led them to your webpage or registration page, you should be able to make a connection between that site and your brand.

So why not be friends?

If you see that your traffic drivers are reputable sources, reach out to them and offer to write a guest blog. This one is a win-win situation because your new partner gets some free content and you get the customers that you already know love you - this is no longer an ROI guessing game.

You can also flip it and reverse it by asking any special guests that you may have at your event, to write their own post or share a unique piece of content on your social media platforms. Have them share it with their audience afterwards and drive their fans aka current customers/ consumers, to your event.

Personalise the experience even further by creating a unique landing page with your special guest as the star. Because, let’s be honest if you are hosting a line up of people, most likely your attendees only care about one or two of them, so why not create a landing page that highlights what is interesting to them, rather than point out the fact that they are only a small part of your event.

In other words, convert using your star’s popularity with your current clients, and not necessarily what you can do to make their life better, because new can be… you know… scary… or uninteresting if they don’t get the gravity of the innovation.

In summary

So there you have it, even a 90s hip hop artist couldn’t have put it better himself:

  • Retention is easier, quicker and cheaper than acquisition Get your past guests talking - both to you and to each other, to help increase the hype
  • Don’t be shy about commenting on current trends and events; everyone else has an opinion, so why not join them!
  • Make friends with who you know will bring in the crowds
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