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Event Marketing
12 April 2019 

Event Promo Codes: How to Boost Event Registrations

Jacob Thomas
Event Promo Codes: How to Boost Event Registrations

Event promo codes are an incredibly useful tool in any event marketer’s tool belt. Keep reading to learn how and when to use them to drive your promotional strategy.

When it comes to event marketing, few techniques will help you boost event registrations more than event promo codes. After all, who doesn’t love a good deal? In this article, we’ll look at what event promo codes are and how to use them. Then we’ll explore the different kinds of event promo codes out there. Let’s dive in!

What Are Event Promo Codes?

Event promo codes are discount codes that event planners can offer their audience in an attempt to learn more about them and boost registration numbers.

For example, some events offer attendees discounted rates if they purchase their tickets many months in advance. This is known as an “early bird special” and massive get-togethers like Adobe Max and HubSpot’s INBOUND use the tactic. Not only does the “early bird” incentivize people to buy now rather than later, it also gives event teams insight into their target audience and what makes them tick.

There are many other kinds of promo codes your events can use as well. We’ll dive into what they are later in this article. But first, we need to talk about how these event promo codes can be used.

How to Use Event Promo Codes

Now that we understand what event promo codes are, how should we use them? There are four main ways we want to discuss.

Track Your Tribe

Promo codes allow event planners to accurately track registrations and understand which promotional channels are actually working. Armed with this information, they can then invest heavily in effective tactics while pulling back on those that don’t produce as well.

The key to accurate tracking is assigning different codes to different marketing initiatives. For instance, an events team may create specific promo codes for each of their company’s socials, its blog, and its email list. Then it will be able to see which channel produces the most registrations.

Boost Promotion

The most obvious way to use event promo codes is as a promotional tactic. You’ll increase signups by offering your audience a discounted rate for a limited time. But why stop there? Event promo codes can also be shared with bloggers and other influencers. These folks can then share your codes with their audiences as well, exploding your reach.

One of the biggest challenges when promoting any kind of event is overcoming customer procrastination. An expiring promo code is a great way to nip this problem in the bud. Potential attendees will be much more inclined to buy now if it will save them cold, hard cash.

Use Invisible Tickets

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a magician to use this strategy. Invisible tickets are simply private tickets offered to partners and VIP guests only. Other folks won’t even be able to see them when they register for your event.

How can your company use this strategy? Include an invisible event promo code in your email communication with your special guests. Then they can easily register at their discounted rate and you won’t have to worry about the private tickets being exposed to the general public. Win!

Group Promo Codes

TechConf - Event Promo Codes

Lastly, we have group promo codes. These are exactly what they sound like: event promo codes offered to groups instead of individuals. This use case can be combined with any of the above three. For example, you could offer invisible group promo codes to a team of VIPs. Or you could promote a special group rate and track how well it performs. It’s completely up to you.

Different Types of Event Promo Codes

Let’s talk about the different types of promo codes your event can use. There are eight of them and each has its place in a proper event promotion strategy.

Early Bird Specials

We briefly mentioned the early bird special in a previous section. To recap, this event promo code allows potential attendees to register for your event at a discounted rate, provided they do so before a specific date. The purpose is to entice signups and build momentum for your event by securing as many registrations as possible, as quickly as possible. And it really works! According to the Event Manager Blog, 51.3% of event planners consider early bird specials to be the best ticket sales strategy.

Some events, Consensus by CoinDesk, for example, take this idea a step further and offer “ultra early bird” discounts. These coupon codes are offered to current event attendees and allow them to register for the next year’s gathering at the lowest price possible. These special deals usually expire once the conference is over. Take a look at how CoinDesk pulled this off:

CoinDesk Consensus - Event Promo Codes

Note: Early bird prices could also be issued with a unique ticket type.

Partner Promotions

A partner promotion is a joint venture of sorts. Basically, your company joins forces with a separate business, they help market your event to their following, and you reward them for their service in some way — usually with free tickets to your gatherings or a discounted sponsorship package.

These can be very successful! Why? Because it allows your event to piggyback off of the trust your partner has already built with their audience. Instead of you approaching cold leads and asking them to spend their hard-earned money on an event they may have never heard of, your partner can contact their tribe of red-hot leads and endorse you.

The only way to effectively use this tactic is by using event promotion codes. How else will you be able to easily track registrations produced by your partners? Simply give them a unique coupon code to use in their marketing. Then analyze the results.

The following event email marketing content from CloserIQ’s Women in Sales Series is a good example of how to approach potential partners and what to provide them with.

CloserIQ - Event Promo Codes

Another great opportunity for leveraging promo codes is in your ABM strategy. Learn how:

Free VIP Codes

Free VIP codes are event promo codes given to VIPs that allow them to register for your gathering free of charge. Why would you ever want to give away free tickets? Events cost money to put on. Ticket sales help to cover these costs. Free tickets reduce event ROI, right?

There are a few different situations where you’ll want to use free VIP codes. Distribute them to:

  • Speakers and Event Staff:

You’d never ask someone to deliver a keynote speech at your event and then expect them to pay for their ticket in, right? Similarly, it would be ridiculous to ask your staff working the event to also buy a ticket. But all these folks still need to be accounted for. Just offer them a free VIP code and you’ll be good to go.

  • The Afterparty Entertainment:

Looking to throw a legendary event afterparty? You’re not alone. Some of the greatest events in the world are great because their post-conference soirees are so entertaining. So go ahead and book that band, DJ, or comedian. Just don’t make them pay for their ticket in. Offer them a free VIP code instead.

  • Very Important People (VIPs):

Lastly, your event is sure to have a few very important people. Guests of honor that, though they might not be speaking, their presence alone boosts the prestige of your gathering. These folks also deserve a free VIP code.

The following promotion from Heinz Marketing illustrates the idea perfectly:

Webinar World - Event Promo Codes

Discounted VIP Codes

These are exactly the same as free VIP codes. Well, almost exactly. Instead of offering them to VIPs for free, you give them a discounted rate. When should discounted VIP codes be used? How about for:

  • Returning Guests: What if you offered a discounted VIP code to guests who have attended your event for three years in a row or more? This will build goodwill and entice attendees to keep attending, year after year.
  • Workshop Presenters: The folks presenting small workshops or leading breakout sessions may not deserve free tickets like your keynote speaker does. But what about discounted ones? Hook up your presenters and you’ll likely receive more applications next year.
  • Booth Presenters: Same goes for the companies presenting their products at your event’s expo. These organizations likely already paid to have a booth. Why not offer them discounted tickets to the actual event too?
  • Promotional Partners: Remember earlier when we mentioned partner promotions? These folks are prime candidates for discounted VIP codes. Treat your partners right and your relationship will flourish, giving you many more opportunities in the future.
  • Very Important People: Is there any person you’d love to attend your event? Someone who may not be qualified to speak but you know your attendees would get a kick out of seeing in the audience? Contact them with an offer of discounted VIP tickets.

Seasonal Promotions

Seasonal promotions are a great tactic for increasing ticket sales. They’re very easy to run too. Just offer special event discount codes centered around a specific holiday. For example, you could run a “Christmas Special” and offer tickets to your event for a discounted rate when purchased in December.

Many well-known events, like Totango (pictured below), have taken advantage of this strategy. Their Valentine’s Day promotion encouraged potential attendees to register for the event before the day ended in return for a whopping 50% discount on tickets!

Totango - Event Promo Codes

While holiday-centric event promo codes are the most popular, the same idea can be applied to other happenings. For example, you could also offer discounted ticket rates during March Madness (the popular college basketball tournament), the World Cup, or the Super Bowl.

Surprise Sales

Keep your fans on their toes and offer surprise event promo codes. These are just ticket deals that your audience isn’t expecting. They can boost registrations for two reasons:

  1. They take advantage of the scarcity principle. Things, event tickets included, automatically become more attractive and enticing when they are limited. If you offer special pricing on event tickets for just a few days, your audience will take advantage in large numbers.
  2. They can generate positive press. Want to get everyone talking about your event? Offer a surprise sale. When blogs in your niche get wind of it, they’ll likely blast the news out to their followers. People will probably spread the word on social media too. This is great, free publicity for your event.

This email from Optimizely is a perfect example of a surprise sale:

Optimizely - Event Promo Codes

Surprise sales work anytime your event needs a quick boost in registrations. We’ve seen this tactic used quite a bit, for instance, towards the end of the month when event sales teams need to reach their month’s sales goals.

Bundled Promo Codes

Bundled promo codes are a great way to increase the average spend of your attendees. Here’s how it works:

  1. First, your event offers a special promo code that gives attendees a discount for purchasing multiple tickets at one time.
  2. Next, your attendees think, “Well, if it costs X dollars for me to go to this event, and only X more for the whole office to attend, let’s just buy tickets for the whole office.”
  3. Then, your event team celebrates the increased number of ticket sales and revenue generated!

Bundled promo codes are a win/win for both your event and it’s attendees. You generate more revenue and they save money.

Viral Codes

Viral codes tap into the immense power of social media. What are they? They’re event codes that registered event attendees are encouraged to share with their personal followings on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. When their friends, family, and acquaintances use their unique code to purchase their own tickets at a discounted rate, the original sharer is rewarded by earning money back on their already purchased ticket.

These kinds of codes are VERY difficult to use without some kind of event software. Inside Bizzabo, the process is a piece of cake, though. We call this feature “Ticket Boost” and it’s already seamlessly integrated into our platform. Our users just have activate it, set the discount amount, encourage attendees to share their codes, and sit back and watch the extra signups roll in.

Bulk Promo Codes

Do you know where else event software really comes in handy? Creating bulk promo codes. Bulk promo codes are just discount codes that are generated in bulk. You could do this manually. But it would be incredibly tedious. Or you could use software like Bizzabo and generate a huge number of unique discount codes at the click of a button.

Once you’ve created your bulk of codes, you can then group them together to better segment your marketing efforts and gain crystal clear clarity into which creative event promotion ideas are working and which aren’t. Simply:

  1. Navigate to the “Promo Codes & Tracking Links” tab inside Bizzabo and click “Create a New Group.
  2. Next, fill in your group’s details like its name, and its type (tracking only, ticket discount, or invisible tickets.) When you’re finished, click “Done”.

Bizzabo - Event Promo Codes

Pretty simple, right?

Key Takeaways: Boost Your Event With Promo Codes

Event promo codes are a wonderful corporate event management tactic. They’ll allow you to boost registrations and goodwill with your attendees. They have to be used correctly, though. Here are a few keys to keep in mind before using any kind of discount code.

  1. Event promo codes have multiple purposes. They can be used to track your tribe and learn more about them, to boost registrations, and to offer discounts to VIPs without making it known to the general public.
  2. Discount codes can also be used in a variety of ways. Your event can offer early bird and/or holiday specials. It can give VIPs free or discounted tickets. You may even decide to partner with other brands and give them a unique code to send to their followers.
  3. Event software makes the use of event promo codes both possible and practical. Tools like Bizzabo take the hard work out of generating and offering discount codes.

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