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Event experience | 6 October 2016

Three Methods To Engage Attendees Before An Event

David Epstein

A great deal of “ink” has been spilled educating event marketers about how they can engage attendees during an event. From event networking apps, and high-quality speakers, to ibeacons, virtual reality and other strategies, organizers have a plethora of advice at their fingertips when it comes to engaging attendees during an event.

But less has been written about ways in which event organizers can engaging event attendees prior to an event. However, this lack of coverage doesn’t mean that connecting with attendees before an event isn’t important. Quite the contrary, ensuring that event attendees are engaged before arriving to an event is a great way to ensure that attendees will be ready to network with one another, and will be open to learning best-practices from event speakers.

This article will present event organizers with three strategies that can be employed to engage event attendees prior to event day.

Send Segmented Emails Based On Session Registration Data

By using an event management system that supports session registration, event organizers can email event attendees based on the sessions that attendees signed up to attend.

This is called email segmentation and as shown below in a study from email marketing company, Mailchimp, email segmentation can have a significant positive impact when it comes to engaging an audience.

Email Opens:

14.13% higher than non-segmented campaigns

Unique Opens:

10.22% higher than non-segmented campaigns


63.03% higher than non-segmented campaigns

Source: Mailchimp Email Segmentation Study

The contents of the email sent to registrants can include vary greatly. Some topics event organizers may want to cover in segmented pre-event emails to attendees can be seen below:

  • Pre-event educational content to prep session registrants in order to gain more from the session. Content created by the event speaker, or videos of presentations on similar topics from previous events may serve to excite and inform session registrants.
  • A special incentive for session registrants to invite friends or colleagues to attend the event. The copy of the email can be tailored to the specific session that the contact has signed up to attend – making it more effective and more pleasant for the recipient.
  • A recommendation to sign up for similar sessions happening at the same event. Attendees may be unaware that the same speaker or topic is being discussed at another time.
  • Relevant logistical information that attendees of the specific session need to know about.
  • Add-on items that session registrants may want to purchase, such as swag or books.

By sending segmented emails only to session registrants, event marketers will be able to share more relevant information with the right people, which has been proven to better engage contacts when compared to non-segmented email campaigns.

Create Hangouts Or Webinars Related To Event Sessions

In addition to sending attendees segmented emails prior to an event, organizers can host pre-event hangouts or webinars to educate event goers while also giving participants the opportunity to network with one another and with speakers.

Doing this is not only a great way to excite attendees prior to an event, it’s also a great marketing tactic that can bring together those who have already registered for an event, with those who are on the fence about joining. By providing those who have not yet registered with a chance to familiarize themselves with the caliber of attendees and speakers, it may provide the extra push needed to convert non-attendees, to attendees.

Sales Hacker regularly hosts webinars that provide their target audience with helpful resources while also showcasing event speakers prior to an event.

The example above showcases one of Sales Hacker’s webinars that both serves to position the brand as a thought leader in the B2B sales community, and also gives viewers a feel for the kind of speakers who lead the Sales Hacker’s many events.

Alternatively, event organizers can consider hosting a pre-event networking hangout. In the example below, the lead organizer of Social Media Marketing World hosted attendees prior to an event in order to share networking tips with attendees prior to event day.

Being savvy event marketers, the Social Media Marketing World team decided to upload a video recording of the Google Hangout to Youtube, thereby giving those who were unable to attend the ~40 minute hangout a chance to collect tips later.

Crowdsource Questions For Interviews And Round Tables

For event organizers who are planning interview or round table sessions, sourcing questions from the audience on the fly doesn’t always yield the most insightful questions.

Through a segmented email sent only to session registrants, event organizers can both engage attendees before an event while also collecting questions that can be used during the session. A simple survey tool can making sourcing great questions prior to the event a snap.

Once questions have been collected, session registrants can then be asked to vote on their favorite questions. This process both engages event goers prior to the event, and also allows the collective knowledge of event attendees to form more insightful interview and round table discussions.

Wrapping Up

For event organizers interested in creating the most successful event possible, engaging event goers prior to the event is an industry best-practice that can result in happier event attendees.
To get attendees engaged the best place to start is to implement a session registration tool, which allows organizers to tailor pre-event outreach to the right audiences. Once in place, event planners can turn to segmented emails and focused webinars or hangouts to inform and engage attendees. Organizers can also crowdsource potential questions for interviews and round tables, which both engages event goers and helps to create better better live event discussions.

For more information on how to design more engaging event experiences for attendees, click the button below to download a free design ebook that teaches readers how to create inspirational and engaging live event experiences.

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