How to Drive Real-Time Attendance to Webinars & Virtual Events in a Digitally-Distracted World

virtual events

When COVID forced companies to double down on digital channels, virtual events and webinars exploded in popularity.

This introduced a unique challenge for marketers: How do you stand out in such a digitally-distracted world?

While physical events force people to step away from their computers, virtual events and webinars do not. And because most of these experiences are free (and include on-demand recordings), it’s easy to dismiss live opportunities during a busy workday.

To help you grab your audiences’ attention, grow real-time attendance, and drive more value from your virtual experiences, I’m sharing some best practices from the Drift Marketing team.

Let’s get started!

Make Virtual Registration Easy, Interactive & Integrated

In a report from PathFactory, only 27% of marketers said their company was effective at generating event registrations.

By replacing long forms with a chatbot, companies make registration easier for everyone. Not only can marketers greet visitors by name, but answer any questions about the event or webinar visitors have.

Learn how Celonis drove seven times more attendance to their flagship virtual conference with Drift here.

Once someone gives their business email, a chatbot can share calendar links and trigger a more detailed registration email:

Virtual event registration

But how does this get people to not just register, but attend your webinar or virtual event in real-time? Here are some helpful tips:

  • Give registration emails some personality: Make your webinar or virtual event stand out by creating wow moments – especially in mundane touchpoints like a registration email. Customize registration email templates to add more personality and personalization. Like, getting one of your speakers to pose in front of a gong:
    This will get registrants more excited about the experience and keep it top of mind.
  • Track calendar links: Most marketers use calendar links in their registration emails. Yet, few track how many people click those links. Track these links, and as you get closer to the big day, set up an automatic email to remind people to add the event or webinar to their calendar. This small step has a huge impact.
  • Make it easy for people to register their peers: Encourage registrants to invite their co-workers. They’ll be more likely to attend in real-time if their team is joining as well. You can even give them prompts to convince their co-workers to sign up. For example, “Here’s why your SDR manager might want to attend too…”
  • Ask for participation and suggestions: Leaving time for Q&As at the end of sessions or webinars is great. But why not push for participation earlier? In the registration email, ask people to submit questions and answer polls to entice them to attend live.

Personalize Your Promotion & Experiences

You’ve buttoned down your registration experience. Now keep the momentum going.

Sure, you could do the typical speaker updates and announcement emails. But this tactic assumes your audiences are motivated by the same things. Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach, focus on segmenting your outreach. Personalize and segment emails by:

  • Persona: Share agenda items and session information most relevant to particular personas.
  • Conversion: How many people converted from a specific speaker announcement or social post? Segment those registrants and personalize their emails with teasers and details around the speakers and sessions that compelled them to register.
  • ABM: If people from your target accounts are attending the event, give them the white glove treatment. Create personalized emails for those companies and have sales reach out and share updates leading up to the big day.

According to Uberflip CMO, Randy Frisch, this level of personalization is what sets great marketing apart:

virtual event personalization

Learn how marketers can create more conversions through personalized experiences here.

Don’t Discount the Power of Reminders

I’m not a forgetful person. But I wasn’t born this way.

One look at the Reminders app on my iPhone and you’ll see it’s true (I’ve cut off the 50 other things to spare you from my obsessiveness):

Life throws a lot of distractions at us. Reminders help relieve some of that burden and help you focus on what matters.

Here’s how to use “reminders” to keep registrants engaged:

  • Day-before reminders: Schedule day-before reminder emails with suggestions for attendees to get more out of your event. Something like, “sign up for this Discord group to network with other attendees!”
  • Five-minute reminders: How many times have you received a reminder, swiped it away, and then…forgotten about it. Yeah, me too. That’s why Drift started sending an email reminder five minutes before our webinars started. The result? Attendance increased by 20%.
  • Morning-of social teasers: FOMO is a real thing, and if your attendees see their peers excited about the event, they won’t want to miss out either. Post across your accounts with your event hashtag throughout the day and encourage attendees to do the same.

Create More Compelling Reasons for Real-Time Attendance

Webinars and virtual events should be as entertaining as they are educational.

And while you could claim that the value of a business webinar or event comes down to the teachings people will take away – that’s what your competitors are saying too.

Give people reasons why they need to be there NOW vs. watching the recordings later. Here are a few ideas to do just that:

  • Invest in virtual raffles: Think about using a virtual raffle as part of a small, VIP event with decision-makers, and give proceeds to a good cause.
  • Live certifications: Have instructors teach in real-time and help attendees walk away with a new certification and addition to their resume.
  • Create competitions: Virtual scavenger hunts have become popular recently as events shifted online. How can you use a similar format during your virtual events or webinars? What can you do to encourage participation?
  • Provide live entertainment: People can’t be expected to sit and stare at a screen all day. During RevGrowth we’ve had DJ battles, guided meditations, and heart-pumping workouts. Try and find ways to get people moving.

Final Thoughts

Real-time attendance is the key to driving conversions from virtual events and webinars. With Drift’s RevGrowth events, our conversion rates for demos are more than double for attendees vs. no-shows.

We hope the insights here help you deliver bigger and better virtual events and webinars this year. Here’s one more thing before you go:

We’re launching a brand new Virtual Events Certification. Led by virtual events experts, this certification offers a strategic framework to help you drive more pipeline and new business from your next virtual event. Pre-register here to access study materials and be the first to know when the certification launches.

virtual event certification