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Madison ShepherdJul 8, 2024 3:55:37 PM5 min read

How to Drive Early Conference Registrations

How to Drive Early Conference Registrations
7:21

Looking for ways to drive early registrations before your next conference? 

You’re not alone. 

Over 50% of first-time attendees register within four weeks of the event, leaving many businesses frustrated. 

Last-minute sign-ups can create logistical nightmares, especially when 1,000 people register the night before your event.

To help you avoid these challenges, here are some effective strategies to build buzz around your conference and encourage early registrations.

group of attendees networking at a conference

Build Hype Before the Announcement

Before announcing your event, it’s important to generate excitement and anticipation. 

It’s easier to do if you have already been building a loyal following or community of people who are interested in your industry or niche. 

While this approach requires months, if not years, of preparation, it can significantly increase your early conference registration numbers.

Here's how you can build hype before your event announcement:

Create Engaging Pre-Event Content

Share teasers, behind-the-scenes looks, and sneak peeks of what’s to come. 

Use social media, blogs, and email newsletters to keep your audience interested and more likely to complete your registration form. 

Engage with Your Audience

Host webinars, Q&A sessions, or live chats to interact with potential attendees. 

Building a relationship with your audience makes them more likely to register early when the event is announced. 

Leverage Influencers and Thought Leaders

Have you considered collaborating with industry influencers to promote your upcoming event?

Their endorsement can help build credibility and excitement for your upcoming conference.

Check out our article for more marketing strategies to boost attendance at your next corporate event.

conference employees working the front desk check-in and registration booth

Instill a Sense of Urgency

One of the biggest challenges is getting people to register early rather than waiting until the last minute. 

To achieve this, you need to instill a sense of urgency in your audience. 

Here are some effective strategies:

Rethink the “Early Bird” Approach

The term "early bird" has been overused and no longer creates the sense of urgency it once did among your audience. 

Instead, aim to induce FOMO (fear of missing out) in your attendees. 

Make them regret missing your event by emphasizing limited ticket availability or exclusive benefits for early registrants.

Exclusive Newsletters

Offer access to an exclusive newsletter filled with insights, tips, and content from industry experts that is only available to those who register early. 

This adds value and makes early registration more appealing.

Appealing Swag Bags

Provide an exclusive swag bag with items that attendees will actually want.

This could include high-quality merchandise, useful tools, or unique items related to your event’s theme.

For more ideas, check out our article on 10 must-have swag bag ideas that won’t end up in the trash. 

Limited-Time Offers

Give away free shirts, hats, or other merchandise to the first 100 people who sign up. 

Will more than 100 people probably sign up? Yes, that’s the goal! 

Limited-time offers create a sense of urgency and encourage quick action.

group of attendees listening to a event presentation

Understand Your Audience

To effectively encourage early registration, it’s important to put yourself in your attendee's shoes.

Ask yourself what would make you register early for an event. Consider factors such as:

Value

What exclusive benefits or content can you offer to early registrants?

Offering exclusive benefits or content to early registrants is a powerful way to incentivize early sign-ups.

Here are some ways to provide added value that will encourage attendees to register early:

Exclusive Benefits

  • Special Workshops or Masterclasses: Offer early registrants access to exclusive workshops or masterclasses that are not available to general attendees. These sessions can be led by industry experts and provide deep dives into niche topics
  • One-on-One Consultations: Provide early registrants the opportunity for one-on-one consultations with keynote speakers or industry leaders. This interaction can be enticing to attendees looking to gain insights and advice specific to their goals.

Exclusive Content

  • Pre-Event Webinars: Provide access to a series of pre-event webinars featuring discussions on key topics related to your conference. These webinars can offer valuable content and set the stage for the main event.

  • Exclusive Interviews: Share exclusive interviews with keynote speakers and other key figures in your industry. Early registrants can gain unique insights and perspectives that are not available to others.

Convenience

Is your registration process easy and straightforward?

Consider using an event registration platform to simplify your planning and make it easier for your attendees.

Check out our list of the top 7 event registration software programs and how to use them effectively.

Incentives

Incentives play a big role in motivating potential attendees to register early for your conference. 

What rewards can you offer to those who commit early?

Both tangible and intangible rewards can be highly effective in driving early sign-ups. 

Tangible Rewards

  • Special Swag Bags: As we mentioned earlier, swag bags are a great way to incentivize attendees. Offer a special swag bag filled with branded merchandise like T-shirts, hats, notebooks, and tech gadgets, as well as useful tools related to your event’s theme.

  • Discounted Rates: One of the most popular early registration strategies is to offer discounts to those who sign up early. For instance, providing a 20% discount to the first 50 registrants.

  • VIP Access: Grant early registrants exclusive access to VIP areas, special sessions, or meet-and-greet opportunities with keynote speakers. This added value can make early registration more appealing.

  • Gift Cards: Offer gift cards for popular retailers or restaurants as a reward to encourage quick action. Because who doesn’t love an Amazon or Chipotle gift card?

Intangible Rewards

  • Exclusive Content: Provide early registrants with access to exclusive content, such as webinars, e-books, or interviews with industry experts. This can create a sense of added value and exclusivity.

  • Priority Seating: Offer priority seating at keynotes and other popular sessions. Knowing they will have the best seats can motivate some attendees to register early.

  • Networking Opportunities: Give early registrants exclusive access to special networking events or pre-conference mixers. The opportunity to connect with industry leaders and peers before the main event can be a strong incentive.

group of attendees networking at an event

Summary

By focusing on these points and using the suggested strategies, you can increase early sign-ups for your conference and prevent a last-minute scramble. 

Creating a well-thought-out plan that builds excitement before your event, creates a sense of urgency, and understands what drives your audience will set you up for success.

Make Your Event Registration Process Shine with GoGather

Ready to plan your most successful event yet? Let's discuss your goals and explore innovative strategies to boost attendee registrations.

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Madison Shepherd

Madison Shepherd is a Marketing Specialist at GoGather. When she's not writing blogs or sending out social media posts, she enjoys hiking, traveling, or reading at one of the many beautiful beaches in San Diego.

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