"Should we extend the earlybird deadline?" We get asked this all the time. And I'm sorry, but the answer is, "No!"
If you are finding that your marketing tactics are not drawing in registrations as fast as you hoped before the earlybird deadline, don't panic. We have some tried and true tactics that can get your registrations to that sold out scenario.
These tactics are best used after the earlybird deadline. I recommend you include a discount code that reverts registrations back to earlybird pricing. This way, you can track it in your budget easily and no one will ever pay less than the lowest public price. You just have to denote that the discount code is only applicable on regular pricing. The use of codes offers an incentive for delegates but is also a way to track the effectiveness of each campaign. It's a win/win!
Click Through Target Email
Pull your latest email/newsletter analytics and review who has clicked the “Register Now” button. You can cross reference this list with current registrants and contact those who have not yet registered. Offer them a discount to revert back to earlybird pricing since they missed it. This is cost effective and offers a push in the right direction for those who are on the fence about registering. The best way to execute this is through a personal email account instead of an email blast. It offers a more personal touch and you'd be surprised how many people respond with questions they have about the program, conference, or registration. You become their go-to source of information and they are more likely to registe when they receive personalized customer service.
Past Attendee Campaign
Send a specific email to your past attendees and invite them to attend again. Depending on your event, you probably will not have the man power to send 300+ past attendee emails so it's okay to send this as an email blast. If possible, use a merge tag function to customize the email to them. (ie. Hi Jane, Thanks for supporting us in the past… etc.) Design it to look like a personal email rather than a newsletter – this will make potential delegates more comfortable reaching out if they have questions about the conference. Adding a personal touch also makes them feel a little more special and shows that we know they have attended in the past and are grateful for their continued support. Spin any offer your provide them as a result of their loyalty - feeling loyal will make them want to stay loyal.
Reach out to prominent industry associations, councils, and member-based groups for cross-promotion opportunities. Gauge your audience – if they want something in return, offer them a feature in your newsletter or recognition on your website. In return, they may be able to send an email about the event to their mailing list, provide promo postcards at an upcoming event, or present a PowerPoint slide at an upcoming meeting. Provide each partner with a custom code for their network so you can see which group is most interested in your event. Gathering this data will help you market a better event for years to come and can potentially lead to an event sponsorship.
If there is an Advisory Board or Committee, it is important to leverage their networks and influence in the industry. Create a simple one-pager which highlights selling points of the conference, and include a unique code for each Board Member. Encourage them to invite their colleagues, peers, etc. to attend the event at an exclusive discounted rate. They most likely will have the strongest networks because of their experience and involvement in the community. If they are competitive, you can offer an incentive and hold a contest to see who gets the most registrants with their code.
*BONUS TIP: Consider running a similar campaign for Conference Speakers too! As subject matter experts, they are connected with others who are like-minded and may have an interest in seeing them speak.
Research other communication channels, popular blogs, online publications, or associations – most of them have calendar listings which feature upcoming events. Submit your event as an entry and include a graphic and promo code. Most people who are looking to network will look through event listings on blogs or association pages so they can meet others in the industry. If you start to notice that a code is being used more frequently from this campaign, consider paying for a digital ad on their website or social media account. Even if the ad is short-term, you can increase your reach with an audience who is interested in the event.