The work involved in creating event success doesn’t end when you pack up your event. Assuming the event just ended isn’t going to be your last, an event’s immediate aftermath is your chance to lock down continuing event success.
Here are a few of the things you should do after every event. All of it will pay off big time down the line.
1. Update your event website
The lifecycle of your event’s website doesn’t end with the event itself. If you’ve been thinking of your event sites that way, stop it. Now.
Unless you actively take it down (and please don’t do this), your event’s website will stay online and searchable. It’s inevitable that people considering future versions of your event are going to find it. What they see there will affect their decision making process. You can and should take advantage of this.
Immediately after your event, make the mental switch from thinking of your website as a promotional tool for the event just ended. Start thinking of the site as a promotional tool for your events overall. Shift the site’s tone and content from prospective to journalistic. If before, your site was all about “this event is going to be great,” it should now be “this event was great.”
This is easier to do than you think. Create a gallery of images and video that show what a great in-person experience your event was. (You did webcast your event, right?) Attendee feedback will likely reveal a few sessions that were particularly well-received. Post the presentations from those sessions on your site.
It doesn’t take a lot of work to transform your event website into a showcase for the quality of all the events you produce.
2. Start a dialogue. (Actually, start a bunch of them.)
Here’s another chance to start thinking of your event’s completion as the beginning of something rather than the end. Throwing a successful event is a great way to start a relationship. Now it’s up to you to keep the relationship going.
Send your attendees a thank you email right after your event. Include a link for downloading the content from your event. This is easy. Just create a Dropbox folder that contains your event’s presentations and other documents.
Your thank you email should also include a link to a spreadsheet containing the contact info for each of your event’s attendees. You can use Dropbox for this as well, although we recommend keeping it separate from your content-sharing folder and link.
Encourage your attendees to contact each other on topics related to your event. Even if no sophisticated networking tools were involved in your event, a simple spreadsheet is a great way to encourage community-building among your attendees. Even if only one new relationship gets “branded” with your event, that’s a big leg up in promoting repeat attendance.
Lastly, use your thank you email to set expectations about ongoing communication. Let attendees know that you’ll be contacting them whenever you have something of value to share. Be specific about the frequency of communication they should expect, and as always, give them a way to unsubscribe from further emails.
3. Collect feedback
Your next communication (at least a few days later) should be an email explaining that you value your attendees’ feedback, and that you’d appreciate their participation in a short survey.
Link to a short, but well-constructed online survey to learn more about your attendees’ content and experiential preferences. Was your agenda well-organized? Was there one session format that worked better than the others? Was there too little or too much networking time allowed? did they like the food? Answers to questions like these will help you produce a more highly valued event next time out.
(For information on creating a survey like this, check out our sister company Checkbox. Checkbox has been an online survey leader for over fifteen years. Like us, they’re all-in in their understanding of and passion for events.)
4. Promote your next event
Of course, everything in this post has been, to some extent, about promoting your next event. But here are a couple promotion-specific issues you should start thinking about as soon as your event ends.
Build your next website
Even if you don’t yet have calendar or venue details nailed down, you should still build the site for your next event. You can start using a new website to create awareness for your next event. Try some super-early bird discounts to get a head start on attendance… just don’t overdo it. Even a bare-bones site will be helpful to start, especially if you’ve made the previous-site updates discussed.
On that note, once your new website is live, your should make one last update to your old one. Add a prominent banner letting old-site visitors know they’re looking at a past event, and if they’d like to register for the current event, they can click through to the new site you just built.
Soon after soliciting online-survey feedback, shift your email focus to driving registration at your next event. Think of this as “pre-marketing” your event. It supplements your fuller event-marketing effort still to come. The idea here is striking while the iron is hot. If attendees are still excited about your event, there’s no better time to sell them on what’s up next.
At this early stage, we recommend keeping it to two emails. Unsubscribe requests aren’t worth the risk with your valuable prior-attendee segment. Remember, prior attendees who don’t respond after two emails will be included in the broader marketing effort that’s still to come.
There’s a ton to be said about creating effective marketing email. Here, we’ll just offer one basic tip. Create an offer strategy that reflects where you are in the event-marketing process. You need to get the attendance train moving, and you’re asking people to act on limited information to make that happen. That means dollars off.
Ideally, you’d create a two-stage escalating offer. This gives you just a bit more enticement to put in that second email, which may be exactly what you need to pull some stragglers over the line. For instance, if you can afford to offer 25% off overall, try a 20% offer in your first email, and a 30% offer in your second.
Keep it social
With so much going on, it’s easy to let social feeds go neglected. Don’t. Nothing is more important to the ongoing success of your events than the sense of community attendees feel from being part of it. And there’s no better every-day way of building community than by staying on top of your social media presence. Don’t let it fade away during your post-event transition.
True, you may never be able to source any big “community advancements” directly to what you do on social. You still keep this in mind. Being active on social media keeps you in your audience’s “everyday field of view.” The familiarity and trust this builds helps your other efforts at outreach get noticed and understood. And any good marketer will tell you, getting noticed and understood is the hardest thing there is.