Event Types: A Guide to User Conferences
You’ve spent years growing your company and making your product a cornerstone in more and more people’s lives. To fortify your brand, strengthen your community, and develop even stronger relationships with your customers, you’ve finally decided to put on your inaugural user conference. That’s great news!
But at the same time, user conferences are a massive undertaking, requiring a lot of planning and precision.
Keep reading to learn more about user conferences, why companies hold them, tips for user conference planning, real-world examples of impressive conferences, and how event management software can help you plan and execute your next conference.
What is a user conference?
A user conference is designed to excite and educate clients and prospects on your product’s latest features, your company’s future roadmap, and industry trends. These events — which can be held in person or as hybrid and virtual events — typically cater to external audiences and enable attendees to network with other like-minded individuals who use the same products as loyally as they do.
Typically, companies host user conferences once they have achieved the following milestones:
- Built a community of engaged users
- Established a customer success team
- Seen that users want to uplevel their product skills or knowledge
- Planned exciting announcements (e.g., new products or significant new features) that they can unveil during the conference
- Decided that strengthening the company brand is a key priority
Who goes to user conferences?
All sorts of people attend user conferences, including the following:
- Power users
- Casual users
- Business leaders
- Customer success managers
- Hiring managers
- Business development reps
What is the organizer’s objective?
When companies host user conferences, they are typically interested in increasing customer retention by educating their users on making the most out of their platform. Companies can make their products stickier while building stronger customer relationships by hosting a large-scale event that introduces users to new features and gets them next to other users who can share tips and tricks.
What is the attendee’s objective?
People attend user conferences for two primary reasons. For starters, users go to these conferences to learn more about the products and services they rely on to use them more effectively.
People also attend user conferences to network with other folks in their industry. For some, this might involve simply connecting with other people who use the same tools they do. For others, it might include identifying potential business partnerships, meeting prospective employees, or discovering sales opportunities.
Tips for User Conference Planning
Unfortunately, you can’t just decide to put on a user conference and automatically assume the event will be a game-changer for your organization. Successful user conferences require careful planning and a lot of attention to detail. As you begin thinking about hosting a user conference, here are some tips to keep in mind to increase the chances you reach your desired outcomes.
1. Develop an effective plan.
First things first: If you want to plan a user conference that delivers results, you need to ensure your schedule is jam-packed with content people are interested in. So, spend some time thinking about the topics your audience cares about, which speakers they’d most like to see, and which session formats are most conducive to a successful event.
2. Pick a smart location.
To drive attendance at your user conference, you need to select a location that’s easily accessible for a big chunk of your user base. If you pick an out-of-the-way place, you may alienate many users.
For the best results, consider the hybrid event format. That way, folks can attend in person if they’re able, and everyone else can participate online. You’ll also want to ensure the physical venue you choose is ADA-compliant and accessible via public transportation.
3. Engage your community in advance.
Every user conference won’t be well-attended just because. To build interest, you must take a proactive approach and market your event as much as possible.
Amy Rosenberg, a field marketing manager at Namely, suggests engaging your audience months before your user conference.
“For Namely, the conference really starts months before the actual event,” Rosenberg recently said. “We use our online community to provide opportunities for attendees to start getting to know other users, asking questions, suggesting things for the event. All of this pre-event momentum led us to receive twice as many registrations than expected.”
4. Consider sponsors and vendors.
One way to add more star power to your conference is by joining forces with the right sponsors and vendors. Instead of going it on your own, you can link up with complementary organizations that can help you attract attendees and offset some of your event costs.
5. Analyze your results.
No matter how good your next user conference is, you can always improve upon it. When you use powerful event management software to plan, organize, and execute your events, you can collect a wealth of insights and see what worked well and what could be improved upon for next time.
Examples of User Conferences
Now that you have a better idea of what user conferences are, why your company should consider hosting one, and how to ensure your next event is a success, let’s look at some real-world examples of successful user conferences.
Adobe MAX is a hybrid event highlighting the myriad ways folks use Adobe products to create impressive digital experiences. In 2021, the event included more than 400 sessions and hundreds of speakers who shared insights about improving design workflows in InDesign, using augmented reality to enhance work with Illustrator and Aero, and diversifying the creative industry.
Dreamforce is Salesforce’s annual user conference that caters to users of the popular customer relationship management solution. More than 100,000 attendees flock to this highly successful conference each year to listen to keynote speeches, learn about the future of technology, and discover how to unlock more value from Salesforce products. In 2021, Dreamforce was a hybrid event, with many attendees showing up in San Francisco and others joining in on the fun remotely.
Oracle CloudWorld is a user conference that brings Oracle’s users together to learn about new features in the company’s offerings, see demos of new products, and hear best practices from Oracle experts. The event also includes talks from Oracle users and solution experts.
How Bizzabo Makes User Conference Planning a Cinch
With so many moving parts to consider, running a user conference can be challenging, particularly when you don’t have the right tools in place. Hopefully, putting on an effective user conference becomes much easier with purpose-built event management software guiding you through the process.
Bizzabo gives event organizers the tools to run impactful conferences in person and online. With Bizzabo, managing large-scale events is a breeze since all necessary information is in one place, and attendees can access everything they need in just a few clicks. Plus, Bizzabo gives you access to robust data insights you can use to improve future events.
Ready to make the most out of your next user conference? Request a demo of Bizzabo today.