Do you have a formal engagement strategy in place? In the Digital Excellence 2019 report, MemberWise found that 70% of the 362 directors and managers surveyed did not have a formal engagement strategy in place, however member engagement was the number 1 priority for the 3rd year in a row. Considering the time and investment involved in planning events, it seems counter-intuitive not to have a clear strategy in place for event engagement. Creating valuable engagement could be the difference between your members staying or cancelling. Understanding how to keep your members engaged is key to keeping members happy and keep your revenue trickling in.
What is engagement?
In general terms, engagement can be defined as a member demonstrating an active interest and involvement in your organisation. However, engagement is something that needs to be specifically defined by each organisation. For some, it may mean the number of people buying tickets or attending an event, while others may be more focused on members reading and/or sharing content.
Emails can be read and dismissed or ignored in a matter of seconds. No matter how good your event may be, ineffective email marketing promoting it can sabotage this effort to engage your members. Active members are more likely to open and read your first email invite. Whereas, members who are less engaged may only respond after the 2nd or 3rd email prompt. The amount of people who read an email also suggests members who are responsive and engaged compared to those who ignore the email.
When it comes to getting people to attend your event, personalising your invite is an effective way to make members feel valued and as a result, are more likely to engage in the content. Avoid using generic emails that do not have an interesting subject line, graphic, and or focused, easy to read content, as they are more likely to go unread. Addressing your member by name and including a personalised subject in an email increases its chances to be opened. In addition, personalise the content of your email using data of what the member has enjoyed, such as inviting them to an event they previously enjoyed or similar content to what they have recently read during their online engagement. Adding an incentive, rewarding your members such as an early bird discount, is a great way to make your members sign up to an event and feel valued.
Pre and Post-event engagement
On the day of the event, engagement can refer to the number of people who attended compared to those who signed up, the number of people who stay for the whole event and those who actively participate. Engagement during an event is reliant on content, speakers, and relevance. If members are paying to attend an event they are expecting to learn and get value from it. Interesting content may include industry insights, relevant research, networking, and expert advice; allowing the audience choice allows them to pick the relevant content to their organisation. The most interesting content should be spread throughout the day, people are then more likely to stay throughout the event so they don’t feel as though they are missing out. Getting the audience involved is another way to make your members feel valued, such as including them as speakers or opening the floor to questions.
Meanwhile, post-event engagement may mean people who open post-event emails and share post-event content, are involved in social media or take action, such as contacting the company or buying a product. Post-event surveys are integral to grasping if people enjoyed an event and allow you to get improvements for the next one and keep your attendees feeling valued as you listen to their opinion. Creating an incentive to complete a survey, such as being entered into a prize draw, is an effective way to get feedback. Again, the email needs to be catchy before people consider answering the questions. The most important questions should always be at the top of your questionnaire as some people may quit halfway through. Analysing the feedback results allows you to create post-event content, such as blogs, based on what attendees enjoyed. This means your members are more likely to read relevant content if they were engaged in the session and are eager to learn more.
Using CRM technology to optimise engagement
According to a recent survey by MarketingProfs, 15% of marketers surveyed say their organisation still does not regularly review email opens and clicks. This low statistic may be due to a lack of technology being used by an organisation. Technology can automate personalised emails to each individual in your mailing list rather than an employee having to email all attendees individually. The correct solution would also track email engagement, including how many people opened an email, the time they spent reading and whether they clicked the link attached. Knowing if people are reading your emails provides an insight into whether your members are engaged. People are not likely to attend an event if they are not even opening your organisation’s emails.
Having effective data analysis in place provides an effective overview of your event experience; this could include the number of people who attended, analysing the post-event ROI, and feedback. Technology can reduce or eliminate the manual effort required with such analysis, an attendee list will no longer have to be written into an excel spreadsheet they will automatically be added when they sign up. Meanwhile, feedback percentages would be easily accessible to relay to your team and put actions in place to improve. CRM technology and event management platforms exist to make your marketing more engaging, insights easily available and effective engagement more achievable.