Just a moment ago you were making budgets, ordering printed garments and sending out invitations, but in the blink of an eye, everyone has gone home and you’re left with the feeling of something that might have been great – but you’re not sure if it really happened.
Events tend to do that. Like the climax of a good movie, it takes a lot of time to build up, but when it’s finally here, the action is fast-paced and everything is over before you know it.
Post-event engagement can be challenging and often overlooked, despite its demonstrable potential to support your long-term event strategy. Your attendees are leaving the meeting or event excited and energized, while your team likely wants nothing more than a few uninterrupted days of sleep! J
That’s why it’s important to make a plan for post-event engagement before your event begins. As we’ve shared throughout our “Stages of an Event” series, you don’t need to unveil significant or costly initiatives to make a big impact with your attendees.
Just in case you’re caught up in the what-just-happened moment, I’ll give you a list of fifteen things to keep in mind after an event is over.
Instead, start with the following three tactics that will help your attendees feel appreciated and connected.
One note: you can use these ideas for both recurring and one-off events and meetings. Simply tweak the messaging to fit the logistics of your particular event (we’ll give some examples below).
Send a personalized thank you –
Saying “thank you” is a simple but meaningful gesture that can make a big impression on your attendees. If you have a smaller group of attendees, consider handwritten notes to thank them for their attendance and involvement.
For larger audiences, it’s fine to go the digital route, but personalize the message and address attendees by their first names. Look for other small yet meaningful ways to personalize the message, maybe with a closing line like “We hope you made it safely back to [home city].”
You could also include a thank you note with a small parting gift that ties into your larger event theme and experience. Perhaps the city or town in which your even took place is known for a particular food item or souvenir or you could offer attendees a gift that enables them to get a firsthand look at how you put together your events.
If you go this route, just be careful as to how you do this and proceed with caution. If your budget allows, you could also send the gift and note to each attendee so that they have a surprise waiting for them when they return to the office.
Encourage action –
Refer back to your initial event or meeting strategy:
- What do you want attendees to do once the event is over?
- What information or ideas do you want them to take away?
Then, you can craft your post-event messaging around those goals.
Here’s a great place to start: encourage feedback! Send a link to a quick survey or form so that attendees can share their thoughts on the event or meeting.
What other types of actions can you help your attendees complete? Maybe there’s a way they could get involved with a particular initiative that you are heading up.
For example or perhaps your event, meeting or conference provided a place to begin discussions and you’d like to see that dialogue continued in the weeks to come.
Whatever those action steps are, you’ll first want to articulate them internally and ensure they align with your larger event strategy.
Then, create an email campaign so that you can periodically touch base with attendees and give them ways to continue their involvement. That way, attendees feel like they have a larger stake in not only the events themselves, but also the outcomes.
Prove value with targeted content –
We’re betting that your event team and attendees create a veritable mountain of content during the event or meeting. Don’t let all of that incredible information go to waste!
Instead, assess what you’ve gathered and see what content you can send to attendees to show them exactly what sort of value your event provides.
Sending out presentation slide decks (PowerPoint presentations) is a common starting point. But before you send out an email filled with links, re-examine what decks you want to send out.
Can you package each of them in a short yet valuable email that features a compelling pull quote from the presentation, along with 1-3 supplemental links that give attendees more information and context about the topic and presenter?
Look for other types of content, too, beyond presentation decks.
Maybe you have some short video interviews with presenters or attendees. Did you distribute any collateral that you could easily repurpose into a single-page PDF or, better yet, an infographic? or do presenters have any materials such as previously published blogs or papers that you could distribute to attendees?
Think of it this way. You’ve invested a significant amount of time and money into crafting a thoughtful, strategic event experience. And that experience doesn’t have to end when the event does.
Instead, look for ways you can evoke similar feelings and reactions in the weeks that follow your event or meeting.
Another tip, especially for sending out content – Allow for breathing room between the messages.
There’s no reason you need to flood your attendees’ inboxes with an avalanche of content in the days immediately following your event.
Instead, look at what resources you have and what you want to send, and then make a brief editorial calendar that will keep you on schedule.
You may also want to write some blog posts that summarize key event takeaways or showcase some of the content created at the event.
No matter your event specifics, the goal here is simply to provide value to your attendees. This not only reaffirms their decision to attend and invest in your event, but also demonstrates why it’s important for them to continue their relationship with your event planning brand and, if applicable, attend future events.
Plus, by showcasing insightful event content on your social media channels, you can also entice prospective attendees to join you at your next event or meeting.
There’s nothing like a little FOMO (fear of missing out) to show people why they don’t want to miss out on another event.
It’s frustrating to go to a social media channel and see an announcement for a cool event — that already happened two weeks ago. Clean up your online presence to make it clear that the event is over.
You can still re-use a lot of the content. Just change things to past tense, or add a line at the beginning saying something like “Thanks to everybody for making Such-and-Such Event a success! Can’t wait to see you next year.”
Nobody likes an ungrateful host. Thank everyone from the person who mopped the floors to the biggest influencer. Everyone helped in making your event a success and therefore deserve your gratitude.
If you can measure something that means you can improve it. The importance of event evaluation is identified with the effective analysis of your performance as an event planner, as well as the estimation of attendance, onsite engagement, operational efficiency, and several further aspects.
Before setting up the measuring stick, explore the target points and pick the right tools that can bear fruit for your event’s success
What makes an event successful?
To determine the ingredients of your event’s success, it’s a good strategy to use an event checklist.
Assign “a success goal” to each stage of event preparation, setting up the requirements for operational and administrative efficiency, and teamwork and attendance benchmarks. Based on this framework, you can create a custom recipe for effective events and learn which points have to be improved in the future.
Why do you need to evaluate the success of an event?
The use of event success metrics helps event planners see the whole picture and track the general performance of their events. Therefore, a comprehensive event evaluation process has numerous advantages:
- Checking the completion of long-term and short-term event goals.
- Tracking the engagement of attendees to understand which activities work best for your target audience.
- Monitoring team success
- Finding ways to increase the event revenue in the future.
How to evaluate the success of your event
In a world where everyone is pressed for time, attending an event should have a good reason behind it. If you manage to understand the value of attendance through the use of effective event evaluation methods, you maximize the chances for enriching your client base in the future.
Check out the essential aspects of event organization (below) which you should measure to understand the performance of your strategy:
Attendee satisfaction –
The most meaningful feedback that you can get comes from the people attending your event. You can leverage post-event surveys and email communications to find out how the attendees respond to your event.
Try to embed only short and comprehensive questions which capture honest responses and demonstrate how your event guests really feel about the event. If possible, offer numeric options for responses to minimize the time spent on filling out the surveys.
To catch the moods of attendees during the event, it’s also good planning to employ digital discussion boards, emotion cards, and live streaming.
Monetary outcomes –
The efficiency of planning your event is also dependent on how the budget that you spent on event organization relates to the generated revenue. To measure your monetary outcomes, calculate anticipated cost vs. anticipated revenue at the stage of event planning, as well as actual cost vs. actual revenue after the event.
This way you get the necessary data for the analysis of your budgeting strategy. Still, keep in mind that monetary revenue isn’t always the principal indicator of event success. For instance, if your primary focus is maximizing sign ups, some budget uncertainties can be allowed if they help attain the key goal.
Registration numbers –
The level of actual attendance is a fundamental aspect of event efficiency. The comparison of the number of registrations with the actual check-in rates helps identify the performance of your marketing strategy.
The estimation of the preferred payment methods shows the key payment channels you should use for ticketing.
The analyses of check-in choices – demonstrate the optimal registration setups for your events.
Media hits –
Public recognition and media coverage define the success and importance of an event. From small events to epic meetings, the organizing parts usually require attention from media and any type of press to make the highest impact.
Event coverage is also a great metric for measuring event recognition. Monitor media feedback to your meeting by checking the local press, as well as the press platforms leveraged by your partners to find out what the public notice is. To automate the process, you can employ a monitoring service like Google Alerts.
Social media mentions –
When social media is talking, it means your target audience is kept tuned in. Set up pre-event online contests and make riveting announcements to build anticipation before the event.
After the event, stretch the dialogue on social media by posting video interviews, recounting the funniest moments and providing statistics. By tracking the content that other users spread about your event, you get first-hand views that can help you sharpen your strategy.
The best tips for event evaluation
To get the most out of your event evaluation process, use the following tips:
No surprise effects: To provide the most reasonable feedback, event attendees have to be prepared.
Spread the word about the use of discussion boards or live polling during the event, as well as communicate the importance of post-event surveys in the initial stages of event organization.
Serve it hot: Whether you want to monitor social media mentions or collect post-event surveys, evaluation is a dish that has to be served hot.
Remember that the best ways of evaluating an event are those launched early. For the most objective evaluations, set up push notifications in event apps and encourage people to send their concerns or questions to your team immediately while at the event.
Don’t annoy: Use an automated event management platform that syncs all the data from registration and email marketing to avoid asking the same questions in surveys. This can annoy your guests and skew the outcome of evaluation.
Use smart event evaluation forms: Short and comprehensive questions, available scoring and response options, as well as timely delivery, maximize the chances for high response rates and objective evaluation. To make the forms personalized, use automated survey platforms that allow setting up custom fields based on your event’s specifics.
Knowing how to evaluate an event in the right way accounts for avoiding recurring errors in the future. You have now come full circle in the event management cycle.
Hopefully, the experience left you with new insights, better understanding of what works, more knowledge about your attendees, and great ideas about what to do next. Start putting all of that to good use and begin jotting down ideas for your next fantastic event. You can fix what was broken, do more of what worked well, fine-tune your promotional efforts, and try out new things.
Send out a teaser to your past attendees to hint at the future event. This will help you gauge the mood and test your new marketing messages.
It’s time to do it all over again. And isn’t that what makes events so exciting?
Give yourself a pat on the back — you did it! Take some time to relax and recoup. After all, the next project is probably just around the corner…
And that concludes our three-part “Stages of an Event “series! We hope you have plenty of ideas to boost attendee engagement before, during and after your event. If you get stuck, we’re just an email or comment away.
Reach out to us and let us know how we can help make your attendee engagement strategy as effective as possible.