As event planners continue navigating online settings, many are thinking about how to increase virtual event attendance. According to data from Markletic, 35% of virtual event attendees are no-shows.

Virtual events allow people to connect more than ever, with everything from webinars and conferences to concerts and fitness classes. We’ll cover some success strategies you can employ throughout the lifecycle of your virtual event to drive attendance.

Table of Contents

The benefits of high attendance

Attracting participants to a virtual event

8 strategies to improve attendance at online events

The benefits of high attendance

When it comes to the success of your event, the more the merrier. Online conferences offer more networking, virtual fundraisers see more donors, and packed social events keep people coming back. Your event deserves all of the attention it can get.

Attracting participants to a virtual event

It all starts with marketing. Event promotion sets the stage for a successful event by driving ticket sales and attendance. Hone in on the benefits of the online format and create offers that can’t be ignored.

Understand your audience and their goals

Think about what your audience wouldn’t miss out on for the world. Advertise within your demographic and attract them with the services they care about. Invite recruiters to attend your online job fair. Arrange guest appearances for your virtual convention.

Promote your event while it’s happening

Attracting participants doesn’t have to stop when the event starts. Encourage people to join after an online event has started with live links or Instagrams and tweets from attendees. This is especially useful for virtual events that last hours or even days. Our Event Marketing Guide describes how to drive attendance to virtual events and gives more tips for a viral event.

Reward registrations

Get people excited to register and follow through. Offer meal delivery or send a goodie bag to everyone who participates. Looking for more cost-effective ideas? Share ingredients for a shared happy hour or provide vouchers from a sponsor. Encourage registration with rewards that pay off at the event.

Get help from speakers

Speakers offer the insight or entertainment people are signing on for. Why not draw on their following? Ask your speakers to advertise the event on their social pages. This increases their professional credibility and gives your event a stronger following of certified fans.

Put your event in front of the right attendees

Have a clear promotional strategy and attract the people who care. Constructing a target audience profile gives you an idea of who will be interested in your virtual event and where you can reach them. Use targeted event emails to contact the kind of people who will do a double-take when they see your offer. If email isn’t their preferred medium, determine which social media platforms grab their attention. Eventbrite Boost helps you hone in on these audiences with automated tools.

What’s going to make your potential attendees click? Resources are available to help you write catchy, unmissable content. Check out these free social media ad copy templates to start getting the word out.

Let participants attend on their own time

One of the greatest advantages of virtual events is their accessibility; people with scheduling conflicts or in different time zones can enjoy attending them. Publicize that you’ll record the event — this gives more people the opportunity to register.

8 strategies to improve attendance at online events

Once you’ve attracted attendees, it’s time to gain their commitment. Incorporating exciting techniques keeps their interest through to the end. Adapt each of the strategies below to suit your unique online event.

1. Customize your event’s format

Can your event be more than a video conference? Even the format of informational sessions like webinars or classes can be reimagined.

Virtual tours can be exciting experiences for informational and social events. Use round table discussions and breakout groups to create natural discussions at e-conferences. Excite guests and keep them engaged with original virtual event ideas and formats.

2. Connect on a simple software

An overly-complicated setup can scare away virtual event-goers. Use simple software so everyone interested can connect with ease. There are plenty of video hosting platforms to choose from. Find the right balance between what the software offers and what your attendees will find approachable.

3. Work breaks into your schedule

Event creators tend to forget that people need pauses during virtual events. Give attendees a clear idea of when they’ll have a coffee break or a chance to use the restroom. This encourages them to stick around until the break.

Get creative when planning pauses. Let attendees decide on a schedule at the beginning of the event. Use downtime to send snacks to everyone or design a meditation breakout room. More interaction will draw a deeper commitment.

4. Make engagement a priority

Create an environment that makes people want to participate. According to Forrester, 61% of event professionals say that maintaining audience engagement is the biggest challenge for virtual event hosts. Our guide to hosting a virtual event or webinar describes how to keep people interested from beginning to end.

Before your event starts, set a theme that gets everyone relaxed and involved. Decide on a playful dress code or create a pet spotlight. During the event, incorporate Q&A sessions, polls, and leaderboards to keep people on their toes. Follow up with a questionnaire that gives you insight, engages your audience after the fact, and gets them excited for the next event.

5. Add elements of fun

Games and challenges make your event more engaging, improving attendance. Reward the top scorers, the most creative, the best dressed, or whatever applies to your event. Enter guests into a drawing when they sign up, and present the winners at the event. To go the extra mile, showcase a live performance by a musician, magician, or comedian. Don’t forget to advertise these elements beforehand.

6. Charge a registration fee for more turnout

People follow through with things they pay for. You may be hesitant to charge for virtual events, but according to Statista, 68% of creators already do so. Not only is it normal to charge a registration fee for an event, online or otherwise, but doing so can drive attendance.

There are several ways to incorporate registration fees. Depending on the type of event, opt for a donations-only registration or split payments. Of course, it helps if attendees feel they get something in return. Use part of your budget to thank them with goodie bags, special offers, or free entry to a future event.

7. Send reminder emails

Send an email to your guest list a day or two before the event. Use this as an opportunity to describe all the updates and exciting aspects of your online event. Using punchy wording to grab their attention with the help of these free email copy templates.

8. Encourage attendees to spread the word

Give your attendees some of the responsibility for marketing by asking them to invite friends and colleagues. Not only will this drive registration, but attendees will feel they have a part in the event’s success. Ask them to share social media posts and give them access to email copy. Incentivize their participation by offering a reward for every five people they get to register.

Start increasing attendance at virtual events

Don’t let the fear of low attendance hold you back — your virtual event has something unique to offer. The trick is getting the attention of attendees and keeping it. Promoting your virtual event in the right spaces, making it too good to pass up, and applying engaging elements throughout will have event-goers returning for more.

There are so many creative ways to improve online attendance. Get started on the most powerful online platform and host a one-of-a-kind virtual event experience.