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Virtual Events: How To Increase Show Up Rates

Posted by Gary Henderson on Jul 8, 2021 11:45:00 AM

Love them or hate them, virtual events aren’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

While I love in-person events, I’m a big fan of online events too. I think they can be a great way to reach a large audience and generate more revenue without all the hassle of in-person events.

But one aspect of virtual events that so many entrepreneurs struggle with is…  how do you get people to show up? 

When in-person events hit pause last year, more and more people shifted online.

At the beginning of the pandemic, people were showing up to these events like never before. Since most people were sitting at home without anywhere else to go, it was a time like never before.

Now, as virtual events become more popular, show-up rates have decreased.

Whether you’re running webinars, challenges, or workshops, getting people to show up isn’t easy. And if they do show up, how do you get people to not multitask and actually pay attention?

In this post, we’ll break down the top strategies so you can increase your show-up rates, which should lead to more revenue!

These tips will work with free webinars, paid workshops, virtual challenges, and more. 

How To 10X Show Up Rates For Virtual Events 

1. Focus On Authority Seeding  

Before diving into all the little hacks and tricks to get more people to show up to your event, let’s think of the big picture.

Show-up rates are important, but there’s a second part to that metric called stick factor.

Stick factor basically means how long people will stick around and stay engaged in your event.

If they show up but then leave after 5 or 10 minutes, they might as well have even shown up.

As the host, it’s your job to both get people to show up and provide enough value to keep them entertained from start to finish. 

One of the main reasons that people leave early is they don’t know who you are or how you can help them.

Think about how the audience is coming into a webinar or challenge…  

If they don’t know you yet, they’ll likely show up but leave quickly. But the people that know who you are and how you can help will show up and stick around.

So how do you increase show-up rates and make sure they stick around? 

Seed your authority from the moment they interact with your free piece of content or paid ad to register to attend.

Think about it, people who attend don’t want to waste time!

They want to know that you’re the person who can solve their problems and help provide them the transformation they want. 

Here are five ways to do that… 

Registration Page

The registration page might be the first time they’ve ever heard about you and your brand.

So it’s up to you to make sure that you show your expert status in your niche and share your background during your first interaction.

A few easy ways to make a positive first impression on the registration page are: 

  • Show testimonials and screenshots from past attendees/clients.

  • Have a “Featured In” section where you can add logos from top websites and news outlets where you/your work has been featured. 

Here's an example of a registration page that my team created for one of my virtual events. 

Example of a registration page for a virtual event

Thank You Page  

Once someone registers to attend, you want to keep seeding authority on the thank you page too (regardless of its warm or cold traffic).

Here are some easy ways to do it:

  • Display results from past attendees, clients, and case studies. These could be screenshots or even links to podcast interviews or case study videos. 

  • What to expect from the event. Highlight with bullet points some of the biggest things they will learn and gain from showing up. 

  • A short video. Record a short video congratulating them for signing up and talk more about how attending will help solve their biggest problems. 

Countdown Page 

Another sneaky way to seed your authority is on the event countdown page.

Instead of a generic timer, get creative so you stand out from the competition. One successful business, Foundr.com, does this beautifully.

On their countdown page for webinars, they display a kind of testimonial highlight reel of people who have had results after working with them.

This is a great way to share social proof and get new attendees hyped for the upcoming event. 

Pre-Event Emails 

After someone registers for your event, make sure there is some sort of automated email sequence that follows up the confirmation email.

With these pre-event emails, make sure:

  • To nail your messaging and speak their language. This will make them feel heard and increase the chances of them showing up.

  • Share personal details about how you got to this point so they can relate with you. If they know that you’ve been in their shoes and found a solution, people will be more likely to show up and learn more. 

  • Share your best content (podcast episodes, blog posts, YouTube videos, etc.) so they can get some quick wins before the event. 

Promote Accordingly 

Finally, you need to promote your event accordingly to get the most people to show up.

Timing is everything when it comes to promoting a virtual event. 

If you promote it too far in advance, your show-up rates will likely take a hit. Conversely, if you promote it only a few days before the event, you won’t get enough people to register.

I’ve found that the sweet spot for getting people to register and show up is between 7-14 days before the event.

Of course, test out different time windows to see what resonates with your audience the best. 

In general, the people who register closer to the event are the ones that show up. 

But the ones who register early might get a better welcome sequence (with authority seeding) and may stick around longer during the event. 

2. Send Tons of Reminders

How to send out email reminders for a virtual event

People are busy and often need tons of reminders when it comes to getting them to show up for an event.

As this blog from Socio said, “If you consistently engage them with pre-event messaging that adds value, you’ll increase the odds of excited, engaged attendees showing up at your event. That’s why event reminder emails and text messages are critical for engaging attendees pre-event.”

Here are some of the best ways to utilize reminders to ensure that people don’t miss out. 

Email Reminders

Once someone registers for your event, they should get multiple automated email reminders.

Specifically, you want to have these reminders: 

  • A confirmation email that goes out right after someone registers.

  • An email 24 hours in advance that builds up hype and excitement.

  • A final email right before the event is about to go live (5-10 minutes before).  

But as email open rates have declined, it’s important to diversify your reminders so more people show up.

Here’s how… 

Text Messages

Another great option to help with show-up rates is text message reminders.

When someone registers for your event, add a field on the page that allows them to enter their phone number.

This will give you one additional touchpoint to interact with your audience. 

When you automate your text reminders, make sure to follow these three rules:

  1. Use their name in the text. You’ll already have this from the registration page and it’ll help add a personalized touch to your message.

  2. Confirm details or changes. If you get a new speaker or have any new instructions about what they need to do, let them know. The more helpful your texts, the more likely they are to read to them in the future.

  3. Don’t spam them. Only text them when you absolutely need to. Each message should be intentional and informative for the attendee. 

Messenger Bots 

Messenger Bots on Facebook are another great strategy to help show up rates.

They have insanely high open rates and can help with more than just getting people to attend.

Since 1.3 billion people use Messenger every day, this is a great opportunity to reach attendees who don’t check email as often.

Using a bot like ManyChat, you can get started quickly and welcome new attendees, send content and schedule messages. 

While other bots like 42Chat can make the entire virtual event a much better experience.

Whether you’re going from a live event to virtual or creating a new one, this bot can help you and your team out.

Some features of this AI chatbot include:

  • Provide agenda, speakers, and more details to attendees.

  • Help attendees troubleshoot logging in and customer service issues. 

Social Media

The people that are signing up for your events are likely following you on social media as well.

Make sure to add posts and videos to your regular content schedule to keep your event top of mind as they scroll their feeds. 

Get Your Audience into a Discord Community or Facebook Group 

Related Post: How to use Discord

Aside from organic social media content, don't forget about building a Discord community or Facebook group too.

Top entrepreneurs like James Wedmore and Chris Winfield use these groups to create engagement, share content, and send reminders of upcoming events. 

Join Our Community on Discord

Calendar Invite

The final reminder idea is to make it easy to add the event into their calendar.

With most software, this is easy to do on the thank you page.

Simply add a widget that allows them to import your event data into the iCal or Gcal so they don’t miss out. 

Physical Gifts (Optional) 

While emails, texts, messengers, and everything else are great, a physical gift might be the all-time best reminder.

Logistically, it’s not the easiest to set up based on enrollment and doesn’t work with free offers, but if you have enough time… this can work wonders. 

3. Test Out Landing Pages

What’s a good way to increase your stick factor?

Vet your attendees in advance. 

Don’t worry, you don’t have to jump on a call with them or have them fill out a survey either.

For your registration page, use a long-form opt-in page instead of a short form page. With a long-form page, make it clear what the event is about, who should attend, and who should not attend. 

This strategy will help remove the people who are just happy clicking and also segment out who the event isn’t for.

A longer opt-in page will make it more of a process so they commit with time and money for the event. 

4. Keep Attendees Engaged and Excited

The days leading up to the event are key to increasing show-up rates.

Think of your event like a Hollywood movie and the days leading up to are like trailers and TV clips hyping the film.

Here are two ways to keep them engaged: 

Host a Pre-Party The Day Before 

Related post: 4 Types of parties on Clubhouse

The day before the big event, host a pre-party. Think of it like a meet-n-greet type of mixer to get everyone excited before the big show.

With a pre-party, keep it short and sweet, but make sure to have them: 

  • Block off time in their calendars. 

  • Enroll in text message reminders for event updates. 

  • Download and print any materials (workbooks, checklists, etc.) 

  • Have everyone whitelist your email so your invites and reminders don’t go to spam. 

Then, on the day of your event, send out a morning reminder with the same information.

Make sure to keep reselling them on why they should attend and what they will gain by showing up.

Finally, five minutes before you go live, make sure to send a final email and text. 

Pocket Coaching

If you’re hosting a multiple-day event, it’s also important to keep your audience engaged between days.

One way that a lot of coaches and creators do this is with pocket coaching.

This is a 3-minute or less audio message that you can record before, during, and after the day’s event and send to them.

The goal of this short message is to summarize some top points and give them a quick win. 

Oftentimes, with events, people get overwhelmed and might not want to show up the following day. But you can help them feel more successful with a short audio message.

Plus, you can also use pocket coaching to strengthen your offer after a pitch too. 

5. Stack Events 

The final strategy to get more people to show up is event stacking.

By running multiple events every week, month, or quarter, you increase the likelihood of people showing up. 

The main reason this is effective is that people are consistently coming to your events.

They get into a flow and start to build a relationship with you on a regular basis. This also works great in helping people turn into paying customers by speeding up the sales cycle. 

Because as I’m sure you know, no two people are the same when it comes to buying something.

Some people buy on a whim, while others need to sleep on it.

By constantly running events (even if it’s the exact same event), you are consistently getting in front of people with more offers. 

Remember, everyone has their own process to buy or invest in any type of program. But it’s all about getting more offers in front of more people, they’re more likely to invest. 

I’ve seen this strategy again and again inside Clubhouse too and it’s one of the main reasons I’ve grown so much on the platform.

I’ve logged over 1,500 hours on Clubhouse and get to have authentic conversations with the same people over and over again. Eventually, that leads to people joining my programs.  

You can do this in all sorts of ways… 

Some creators host a daily virtual event, while others focus on a weekly one.

Regardless of frequency, it’s a great way to stay top of mind, become a trusted expert, and eventually get more people to virtual events. 

Final Thoughts On Increasing Show Up Rates 

🚀Related Post: How to create an engaging virtual event

Show-up rates are one of the most important metrics when running online events.

You can have hundreds or thousands of people register, but if only a fraction of them show up, you are leaving revenue on the table. 

But don't forget part two of show-up rates, which includes stick factor.

You want to make sure that you do plenty in advance to ensure they show up and stick around throughout the virtual event. 

Authority seeding paired with the other strategies and tactics will set you up for success!