How to Increase Event Attendance: 16 Tips for a Sold-Out Event

Ever felt the heartbreak of gazing into an almost empty venue after months of blood, sweat, and tears poured into planning an event? That gut-wrenching moment when the echo of the room drowns out the sparse applause. 

We get it. 

A scanty audience is like a vote of no confidence, sending ripples of doubt across your event’s reputation and, by extension, your brand.

However, it’s time to flip the script! Attendance figures, while not the be-all and end-all, significantly impact your event’s vibe, credibility, and overall success. Numerous reasons are behind these empty seats—be it ineffective marketing, a mismatch with your target audience’s interests, a calendar clash with other events, or the dreaded virtual event burnout.

But don’t despair; we’ve curated a list of 16 wild ways to have a sold-out event. Steal some ideas today!

1. Craft Irresistible Solutions to Your Audience’s Pain Points

If your event’s core value proposition isn’t hitting home, throw out that marketing playbook. Start by digging deep—unearth the pressing needs, desires, and pain points that keep your potential attendees up at night. 

Engage in market research or revisit your previous post-event survey to uncover:

  • What makes them tick? Their obstacles and desires. 
  • What irresistible way could the event information be consumed?
  • How will attending your event transform their lives for the better?

Armed with these insights, you’ll be equipped to craft an event experience so enticing and aligned with your audience’s core needs that attending becomes a no-brainer. 

If you have no time to research your market, you can purchase reports from websites such as MarketResearch, as shown below:

 

For example, if your audience craves knowledge and skill enhancement, consider organizing an educational workshop or seminar to bridge their knowledge gaps. Meanwhile, if you’re targeting businesses keen on expansion and networking, a bustling industry meet-up or a B2B networking event could be the golden ticket. 

Remember, your audience is considering investing their precious resources—time, money, and energy—in your event. Make it a mission to ensure they feel their investment will secure future dividends. 

2. Design a Magnetic Marketing Funnel Tailored to Each Type of Attendee

Gone are the days of blanket marketing approaches; our audience today is a tapestry of interests, backgrounds, and motivations. This is where we take a sharp turn towards customization—craft marketing funnels that resonate with each segment of your audience like they were made just for them!

This is where the AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) model reigns supreme. 

Kick things off with Attention—catch their gaze not with just another ad but with content so compelling that they can’t help but pause and consume it. 

Ditch the generic content that doesn’t grab them—think of vibrant infographics for LinkedIn professionals, snappy TikTok videos for Gen Z, or interesting casual contact ads for travelers. Align this perfectly with their hangouts.

Interest comes next; draw them in with stories that speak to their goals, turning your event into a must-experience milestone. Highlight how it fits into their aspirations, showcasing key attractions like top-tier speakers or unmatched networking opportunities. 

Then, boost their Desire by painting a picture of the transformation they’ll experience, backed by glowing testimonials. Make missing out unthinkable. 

Finally, simplify Actionmake attending the smoothest choice they’ll make today. We’re not just marketing; we’re connecting, making every prospect see your event as a key to their next giant leap. Personalization is the key. 

3. Create a Kick-Ass Referral Program with Incentives 

Do you want to find prospective eventgoers without breaking your wallet? Then, enter the realm of incentivized referral marketing programs. 

It’s not just a tactic; it’s your marketing arsenal’s secret weapon, proven to expand customer acquisition, ramp up satisfaction levels, and drive brand engagement through the roof.

Here’s how it works: When a friend recommends something, we listen—research shows that a whopping 90% of people trust these suggestions. Imagine tapping into this trust to pack your event. That’s where our clever referral strategy comes into play. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to score unique rewards for simply sharing a must-attend event? 

And here’s the kicker: Rewards don’t have to be cash. Think bigger. VIP access, exclusive meet-ups, discounts on future events, tiered pricing strategies to encourage quick buys… the sky’s the limit. You can be creative and test strategies, compare sweepstakes vs giveaway strategies, or try providing gifts to just the referrer or booth referral and referral, and more .

Use technology to track referrals easily and clearly as day for everyone involved. 

Whether you are brand new to referral marketing or a seasoned pro, our guide, 13 Best Practices in Using Referral Marketing for Events, will transform your event’s reach. 

Keep in mind that if amplifying your event’s attendance through the power of referral marketing is on your agenda, turning to established, reputable platforms like Viral Loops becomes a no-brainer. 

Viral Loops provides user-friendly campaign templates suitable for beginners and seasoned marketers and comprehensive analytics and customer insights. This empowers you to monitor your campaign’s effectiveness and pivot based on solid data.

 The goal is to work smarter through cutting-edge tools and analytics, transforming effort into impact without breaking a sweat.

4. Leverage Cutting-Edge Technologies to Amplify Your Event’s Impact

Stepping into avant-garde event technology is like unlocking a treasure trove of endless possibilities. Imagine propelling your event’s promotional strategies, streamlining management processes, and curating an immersive experience for your attendees. Integrating state-of-the-art tech isn’t just an upgrade; it’s a revolution. 

There are multiple touchpoints for integration you should consider: 

Marketing

Unlock a universe of potential by broadening your marketing horizons. There are several options for digital advertising today, such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and more—use them to the fullest. These allow you to reach your targeted audience fast. 

For those looking to optimize pricing strategies and keep a close eye on the competition, tools such as Dealavo and Brandly360 emerge as game-changers. 

And you’ll be utilizing referral marketing as we mentioned in the previous item, then best use referral marketing tools readily available. These tools allow you to create effective referral campaigns and track their success.

Registration

Streamline the entry to your event with a frictionless experience on your website and registration process. This isn’t merely a formality—it’s the first real engagement your attendees have with your event. Make it as smooth and intuitive as possible, setting the tone for what’s to come.

Networking & Information Exchange

Consider investing in an event app to transform your event into a dynamic ecosystem of opportunities for engagement and growth. Your app could be a powerful tool for attendees to connect and expand their networks, exchange ideas, and schedule meet-ups. EventMobi and CVent are possible options for creating such apps.

Channels

Think beyond the physical venue. By incorporating technology, you could do a hybrid model, combining in-person with live-streamed or on-demand content. This way, your event transcends geographical limitations. This approach doesn’t just add another channel—it multiplies your event’s reach and impact.

Sessions

Elevate the core of your event—the session/s—into something truly memorable. Whether it’s a concert, networking event, or conference, incorporating technology could elevate the experience. 

Picture this: armed with QR technology, your event app simplifies check-ins and onsite registration and is a dynamic hub for seamlessly exchanging contact information. But why stop there? Delve deeper into the next item for more innovative ideas to supercharge your sessions. 

Whether it’s through groundbreaking apps or awe-inspiring interactive sessions, make technology the backbone of your event for a truly transformative impact. 

5. Bring Stories to Life with Interactive Sessions

Imagine your event not just as a gathering but as an adventure that begins well before the first check-in and resonates long after the last farewell. Transform ordinary events into immersive journeys. 

By leveraging cutting-edge technology such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), you can offer previews of the excitement to come or transport attendees to a completely new world without leaving their homes. 

Consider the magic of wearable tech at concerts, where the rhythm is heard and felt, or the convenience of digital floor plans. Wearable tech such as RFID wristbands enable automated check-ins that smooth out those first moments of arrival, such as those utilized in The Music Run by AIA.

And then, there’s projection mapping, turning every surface into a story. These aren’t just tools; they’re your canvas for crafting unforgettable experiences that stick with your attendees, creating moments that matter. 

Push the boundaries of what an event can be, making it truly yours and theirs. These are moments that last a lifetime. 

6. Roll-Out the Red Carpet for Returning Guests: Exclusive Perks

If this isn’t your debut event rodeo, you’re sitting on a goldmine of opportunity with your past attendees. Transform those who’ve already walked through your doors into your most ardent supporters by offering them exclusive, tailored rewards. 

Such perks could include:

  • Access to an exclusive VIP lounge, after-party, or networking session
  • Exclusive early bird pricing and ticket access for future events
  • Discounted or complimentary upgrades in event packages
  • Personalized gifts or swag bags upon arrival 

These special benefits make returning guests feel valued and incentivize them to continue attending and spreading the word about your event.

7. Team Up with Stellar Sponsors and Key Influencers

Securing partnerships with premier sponsors and influential figures is more than a financial and marketing strategy; it’s a powerful endorsement of your event’s value and credibility. 

When these titan brands and personalities align with your vision, it sends potential attendees a resounding message of trust and quality. Imagine the impact of integrating their reach and reputation with yours — it’s not just about adding credibility but creating an irresistible magnetism for your event. Their involvement acts as a seal of approval, making your event seen and sought after.

Remember, while the galaxy of key influencers and sponsorships sparkles with potential, it’s crucial to steer your ship wisely through these starry seas. 

Here’s the deal:

  • Alignment is Key: Picture this—you wouldn’t hire a romantic comedy lead in a horror flick, right? Ensure these high-profile partnerships resonate with your event’s core theme and objectives. This will craft an authentic and cohesive experience for your attendees. 
  • Consider Their Reputation: To maintain the integrity of your event, opt for partners with a solid, positive reputation. 
  • Explore Past Collaborations: Investigate previous partnerships and sponsorships to gauge their success and compatibility with events similar to yours. Assess their impact on prior engagements. Be a detective and uncover these stories.
  • Seek Mutual Benefit: Look for influencers or sponsors who seek a partnership, not just a transaction. Mutual benefit ensures a more passionate and effective promotion. Explore avenues where you can offer value in return, such as exclusive content or experiences for their audiences, amplifying your event’s visibility without breaking the bank. 

Remember that your successful voyage isn’t just in the names you attach to your event; it’s in the authentic engagement and enthusiasm these power players bring to your ship. 

Once you’ve decided to try this strategy, make sure you work with influencers through reliable platforms such as Collabstr and Modash.

When you pick brand partners who genuinely resonate with your voyage, they don’t just amplify your message—they believe in it, championing your event with their promotion, presence, and passion. 

8. Leverage Social Media for Maximum Visibility

In a stunning revelation from DataReportal’s April 2024 digest, we learn that a whopping 5.07 billion souls (yes, you read that right – that’s over half the planet!) are now weaving through the social media cosmos. 

And they aren’t just passing by; these digital voyagers are investing an average of 2 hours and 20 minutes daily. This begs the question, why would you look elsewhere to broadcast your event?

 

But here’s the rub: the digital landscape is saturated. How do you ensure your event doesn’t just add to the noise but cuts through it? 

Here’s a quick playbook: 

  • Elevate Your Game with top-notch Promo Content

Can’t muster the magic yourself? Consider investing in professionals. An ad agency or a savvy social media marketing team can turn your vision into scroll-stopping content.

  • Spin a Yarn

We’re creatures of narrative. Crafting your event’s story is not just about giving facts; it’s about building connections. Make them feel, make them care, and you’ll see them at your event.

  • Go Live with Passion

In social media, authenticity reigns supreme. Use live videos and stories where authentic voices from your event can be heard. Testimonials, sneak peeks behind the curtain, and shout-outs from your headline acts can fire up the excitement.

  • Increase Social Proof

Leverage the stories of your past attendees through testimonials and feedback. When people see other experiences and engagement with your brand, it increases the credibility of your event.

  • Trendspotting

What’s catching fire in the digital sphere? If you can tap into the trends that resonate with your audience, you’ve got the makings of a viral sensation that could help fill the seats!

  • Hashtags are Your Best Friend

Hashtags, keywords, and meta tags are the unsung heroes that help your event pop up on more screens more often.


  • Make Sharing Simple

Highlight your event’s hashtags, create easily shareable content, and offer incentives for social media shares. Harness the power of peer-to-peer sharing.

  • Know Your People

Different strokes for different folks, right? Whether it’s TikTok-loving Gen Z’ers or LinkedIn professionals, ensure you’re shouting into the right digital void. 

  • Prime the Pump

Imagine energizing your potential attendees with a challenge: “Hit share on this post to grab your golden ticket!” or “Drop a video telling us why our event is the highlight of your year, and score a VIP backstage pass!” You are building anticipation while your event is approaching, building social proof, and expanding your marketing reach. A triple win!

In essence, navigating the social media galaxy with purpose and precision isn’t just good marketing; it’s essential for ensuring your event not just lands but leaves a crater of impact.

But don’t forget: proper management is key. Use platforms like SocialPilot and SproutSocial to streamline social media management. These can help ensure your event captures the attention it deserves across various channels. 

9. Craft Strategic and Engaging Email Campaigns

In the vast digital marketing universe, email remains a stellar performer, poised to explode in value. Projections suggest a nearly threefold increase in revenue by 2032. 

Also, tradeshow statistics reveal that email ranks as the most favorite pre-event marketing tool among business exhibitors. This isn’t just impressive; it’s a clear signal that email marketing could broadcast your event’s narrative far and wide. 

However, the cosmos of email inboxes is a fiercely competitive frontier. To ensure your message doesn’t vanish into the void, consider these strategies:

  • Personalize

Nothing is like seeing your name in the digital wilderness. Personalized emails forge connections, transforming your message from a generic broadcast into a special invitation. 

Taking it a notch higher, segmenting your audience allows you to tailor your messages with laser precision, resonating with their interests and connecting them to appropriate touchpoints. 

  • Magnetic Subject Lines

Think of your subject line as the cover of your book. It’s what entices the reader to look inside. In the crowded inbox galaxy, a captivating subject line is the gravitational pull that draws your audience to open your email. 

  • Include a Clear Call-to-Action

Don’t leave your readers hanging at the end of your email! Ensure that you include a clear call-to-action that leads them to register or purchase tickets for your event. 

  • Use Images

A boring email filled with text might give your audience the impression that your event will be the same—just as boring. Don’t be afraid to use images that perfectly reflect the event you are promoting. May it be an online or physical event, keep the energy high with great images or graphics that capture attention and interest, much like this one from Vooks:

Finally, plan out your email marketing strategy. It’s best to have multi-touch reminders instead of one-and-done blasts.

Now, when it comes to email marketing tools, Mailchimp, GetResponse, and Hubspot could help. These help you design eye-catching emails, manage subscription lists, and track the success of campaigns. 

10. Create Pre-Sale Sign-Ups and Early Bird Campaigns

Pre-sale sign-ups and early-bird promotions can change the game when it comes to promoting events. These tools don’t just sell tickets—they create buzz, build urgency, and can lead to that coveted “sold-out” status. By offering an exclusive pre-sale period, you tap into the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), pushing potential attendees to secure their spots early.

Take a page from Mustard Media’s playbook. This festival-savvy event company knows how to work the pre-sale magic. They typically roll out four-week signup campaigns designed to whip up excitement and collect eager participants. This window of anticipation is crucial—it gets people talking and builds a sense of exclusivity.

After this period of buildup, they drop the event lineup announcement—a strategic move to amplify the buzz. Shortly thereafter, tickets go on sale, but only for those who signed up during the pre-sale. 

This increases the anticipation of those who failed to sign-up while at the same time creating urgency for those who are on the pre-sale list. Early birds will usually grab the opportunity before either the ticket price or the demand increases.

This forward-thinking strategy has proven to be golden for Mustard Media. When executed with compelling marketing messages, they see impressive conversion rates from their signup list, sometimes hitting as high as 50%!

Read more about Mustard Media’s winning strategy.

11. Use The Art of Re-Engagement – Because “Maybe Later” Is Just a Fancy “Not Yet”

If you still have a bunch of folks who’ve flirted with the idea of attending your event but haven’t sealed the deal yet, they’re still a good target to market to! This is where you roll up your sleeves and dive into the fine art of re-engagement.

Let’s talk steps to getting them to go to your event (hint: you can combine the other tips in the list for this one):

Step 1: The Gentle Nudge

First off, a friendly reminder never hurt anyone. Send out an email that says, “Hey, we noticed you’re still on the fence. Why not join the fun?” Make it personal, make it appealing, and most importantly, make it hard to ignore.

Step 2: The Sweet Deal

Throw in a little incentive. Offer a limited-time discount or a special perk that’s just too good to pass up. People love feeling like they’re getting a VIP deal—even if it’s just a free drink!

Step 3: Increase Urgency

Now, it’s time to light a fire under those hesitant feet. Create a sense of urgency by highlighting limited availability or a countdown timer. Messages like “Only a few tickets left!” or “Sale ends in 24 hours!” can push people to act quickly. FOMO is a powerful motivator—use it to your advantage!

Step 4: Paid Retargeting Magic

Let’s talk about some marketing wizardry—paid retargeting. Use those fancy digital tools we mentioned in Tip # 4 to create ads that follow your almost buyers around the internet like a friendly ghost. 

These ads should be strategically designed to remind them why they were interested in the first place and gently guide them back to your ticketing page.

Step 5: Funnel Focus

Remember, these folks are already on a journey through your sales funnel. Respect that stage they’re in (remember Tip #2?). 

If they’ve been to your site but didn’t buy, hit them with ads or emails that acknowledge their previous interest and nudge them closer to that final purchase. It’s all about moving them seamlessly from “thinking about it” to “can’t wait to be there!”

12. Sprinkle Some Local Flavor – Include Your Host City’s Charm in Your Event

On top of the date and time of your event, choosing the right location influences registration. Think outside the box. What your event could offer to the audience goes beyond the walls of your venue. 

Why not turn your event into a love letter to your host city? Incorporate local charm to give attendees an experience they won’t forget.

You can do this through the following:

  • Local Partnerships

Team up with local businesses, restaurants, and artisans. Offer attendees exclusive deals at nearby hotspots or feature local vendors at your event. This not only boosts local economy but also makes your event more enticing.

  • Highlight Iconic Spots

Plan activities or side events that showcase the city’s iconic landmarks and hidden gems. Whether it’s a guided tour, a scenic hike, or a unique cultural experience, give attendees a taste of what makes your chosen location special.

  • Local Flavor

Incorporate the city’s culinary delights into your event. Feature dishes from well-known local chefs, have food trucks from popular spots, or even organize a tasting session that highlights regional specialties. Food is a great way to connect people to a place.

  • Cultural Elements

Integrate local art, music, and traditions into your event. Have performances by local bands, display artwork from area artists, or include traditional crafts and activities. It creates a richer, more immersive experience for attendees.

  • Marketing with a Local Twist

Use your marketing materials to emphasize the unique aspects of your event’s location. Share fun facts, use local slang, or tell stories about the city’s history and culture. This not only builds excitement but also makes your event feel like a can’t-miss opportunity to explore a new place.

 

If it sounds like you’re being a lifestyle magazine, that’s because you are! Your goal is to create a buzz and make your event seem like the hottest ticket in town. So, don’t be afraid to infuse some local charm into your marketing strategy.

13. Be Flexible with Your Agenda and Add Surprise Elements 

When organizing an event, especially if it’s a conference, it’s crucial to have a flexible agenda. There are times when things don’t exactly go as planned, and when that happens, you should have something prepared to keep the momentum going.

Consider preparing backup activities or shorter sessions that can be seamlessly integrated as needed. These additional elements should align with the overall flow and atmosphere of your event to maintain consistency and engagement.

Think about having mini-games that engage the crowd or even raffle draws that not only keep the crowd interested but can also be an additional selling point of your event.

This flexibility helps keep your event running smoothly and maintains a positive experience for your attendees. By thinking ahead and planning for various scenarios, you ensure that your event remains dynamic and responsive to the needs of the moment.

14. Create Networking Goldmines for Meaningful Moments 

Unlock the full potential of your event by transforming it into a networking powerhouse, where every attendee, whether they’re consumers (B2C) or businesses (B2B), finds invaluable opportunities to connect, engage, and grow their networks. 

Carve out dedicated spaces and moments within your event for formal and informal networking to achieve this. Let your attendees have the option to choose which session to attend, who to meet, and where to go. 

Not only will you engage your attendees, they will also have unique experiences. And since they can’t go everywhere all at once, they’d likely go to your next event to experience other things they failed to try in the previous one.

Consider integrating these opportunities into your event’s app or online community, enabling connections to flourish both before, during, and after your event. 

It’s not just about bringing people together; it’s about creating a dynamic ecosystem where your audience and brand partners can forge meaningful relationships.

15. Keep the Momentum Going with Post-Event Engagement

Just because your event has wrapped up doesn’t mean it’s time to kick back and coast. The real magic happens in keeping the energy alive with your attendees long after the final bow. Remember that your post-event strategy is just as crucial as the event itself.

Start with heartfelt thank you messages and foster an online community where the conversation keeps buzzing. If possible, provide links to videos, media presentations, articles, and the like that highlight the best moments of your event. This not only keeps attendees engaged but also serves as a promotional tool for future events.

Don’t forget to send out surveys and gather feedback from attendees. This will help you understand what worked well and what could be improved upon for next time. It’s important to listen to your audience and use their insights to make your future events even better.

In addition, continue engaging with your attendees through social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Share photos and videos from the event, post updates about upcoming events or special offers, and keep the conversation going by tagging attendees and encouraging them to share their experiences.

Leaving your attendees in the lurch is a no-go, so make sure you keep in touch. These efforts build a lasting relationship that cements their loyalty and sets the stage for future events. 

When you continue to engage with previous attendees, you can increase your chances of getting them to join your pre-sale list (remember #10)!

16. Analyze and Optimize for Your Future Event’s Success

This is where everything comes full circle.

Remember the very first piece of advice we shared about pressing your audience’s pain point? After your event, ask yourself whether you were able to fulfill this. Then, dig deeper into what else you, as an event company, can do to improve on the next event. 

Did any new pain points arise that you did not identify the first time? Now is a good time to find out! That could be the main theme of your follow-up event. This will keep your copmany going, creating events that fill an endless loop of needs previously unidentified and unaddressed.

It’s crucial to arm yourself with insights, whether they’re gleaned from fresh market research or the priceless data from your past events. 

Post-event engagement is your moment to harness these insights to perfection. They’re not just information but the blueprint to refining your approach for the next big event and effectively marketing it. In this world, data isn’t just an ally; it’s your secret weapon.

Where Do We Go From Here? 

Increasing event attendance and achieving sold-out status is not just a dream—it’s within your grasp. By applying strategic tactics like early bird promotions, engaging marketing campaigns, and leveraging pre-sale sign-ups and waitlists, you can generate buzz and urgency that translate into ticket sales.

Remember, it’s all about creating a connection with your audience. When planning your strategies, be as excited as you hope attendees will be! Soon enough, you’ll be planning one sold-out event after another!

 

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