How to Sell Out Your Next Event [+Tips From INBOUND Marketers]

How to Sell Out Your Next Event in 2023: Proven Strategies for Maxing Out Registrations

As an event organizer, selling out your event is the ultimate goal. A sold-out event not only maximizes revenue and fills every seat in the house, but also generates buzz, enhances the attendee experience and establishes your brand as a leader in the space.

However, consistently selling out events is easier said than done. With increasing competition in the events industry and audiences suffering from webinar fatigue, event marketers need to get creative and strategic to drive registrations.

In this guide, we‘ll share proven tactics used by leading brands and organizers to sell out both in-person and virtual events. From early bird promotions to accessibility best practices, you‘ll learn how to build hype, mobilize your community and optimize your marketing to max out attendance at your next event. Let‘s dive in!

  1. Start Promoting Early to Build Momentum

When it comes to driving event registrations, the early bird gets the worm. Successful event organizers start promoting at least 3-4 months in advance to capture interest early and establish their event as a can‘t-miss occasion for the year.

First, announce event dates, venue, theme and initial speaker/session details to your previous attendees and email subscriber list. These early supporters will not only be the first to register, but can also help spread the word and build initial excitement.

To encourage early sign-ups, implement early bird discounts and time-based pricing tiers, such as:

  • Super Early Bird – 40% off for first 100 tickets
  • Early Bird – 25% off before specific date
  • Regular Pricing – Full price leading up to the event
  • Last Chance – 10% off week of the event for final push

Clearly communicate when each pricing tier will sell out or expire to add scarcity and urgency. Early registrants get rewarded with the best prices, which incentivizes them to reserve their spots and commit to attending.

Beyond announcing to your own audience, mobilize partners, sponsors, speakers, and passionate community members to promote the event to their networks. Provide them with shareable social media assets, email copy, and unique tracking links to expand your promotional reach from the start. You can even ask them to write blog posts or record videos previewing their sessions to help hype their appearances.

  1. Craft Compelling Event Branding and Content

Your event branding and content need to give people a reason to register and attend. A unique theme, identity and set of speakers/sessions will help your event stand out and stick in people‘s minds leading up to the big day.

Start by developing a memorable event name and visual brand including logos, colors, fonts and designs that will be used consistently across all promotional channels. Hire a professional designer to create high-quality assets that communicate the value and vibe of your event.

Next, start highlighting the speakers, influencers, and thought leaders who will be presenting at your event. Publish their bios and headshots on the event website and share quotes/clips to generate excitement. A diverse, relevant speaker lineup shows the audience that your event features important voices they need to hear.

To get people even more excited to attend, provide sneak previews and teasers of the valuable content and experiences you‘ll be offering, such as:

  • Keynotes on trending industry topics from sought-after experts
  • Breakout sessions and workshops for hands-on learning
  • Panels and fireside chats with influential speakers
  • Entertaining performances, games and challenges
  • Networking opportunities and fun social events

By gradually revealing your best content and features, you‘ll give people more and more reasons to claim their spot and look forward to attending. Just make sure the actual sessions and content deliver on the value and quality you‘ve promised in your promotion.

  1. Execute a Cross-Channel Digital Marketing Plan

With your event brand and programming in place, it‘s time to get the word out through digital marketing. A cross-channel, full-funnel strategy will help you capture interest, engage potential attendees, and drive registrations leading up to the event.

Targeted social media advertising on platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter will help you reach new relevant audiences likely to attend. Develop ad copy and creative focused on the value proposition for attendees, and direct clicks to an optimized event landing page.

In addition to paid ads, post organic social content frequently in the months before the event. Share speaker announcements, session previews, behind-the-scenes content, attendee interviews, and giveaways to engage your followers and stay top of mind. Make sure to use your event hashtag consistently to increase visibility!

Email marketing is another essential channel for promoting your event to your database of contacts. Segment your list based on factors like previous event attendance, job title, and industry to deliver the most relevant messaging.

Then create an automated email drip campaign to nurture registrations with compelling invitations, earlybird offers, agenda highlights, FAQ answers, and reminders leading up to the event. Experiment with persuasive subject lines and calls-to-action to boost your open and conversion rates.

Throughout your digital marketing, always direct traffic to a conversion-optimized event website and landing page. Place bold registration buttons and forms above the fold, showcase key event info with clean designs, and feature glowing attendee testimonials to establish proof. Reduce any friction in the registration process to make converting as quick and easy as possible.

  1. Mobilize Your Community to Promote

Your most powerful event marketing asset is your community. Mobilizing your employees, partners, customers, and fans to spread the word will amplify your reach and lend invaluable social proof to your promotions.

Create a unique event hashtag and encourage all stakeholders to use it when posting about the event. A branded, memorable hashtag makes it easy to track engagement and join the conversation. You can even run a social media contest rewarding people who use the hashtag with free tickets or swag.

To give your community a place to connect before, during and after the event, set up a dedicated event group on Facebook or LinkedIn, or a private community on Slack or Geneva. Attendees can introduce themselves, ask questions, discuss sessions and even organize meetups, turning your event into an engaged community.

Gamify promotion by offering rewards and incentives for registrations. Give partners, sponsors, and speakers unique tracking links and discount codes so you can see who is driving the most sales. Provide ticket referral rewards for attendees who get friends and colleagues to register with their link. Recognize top promoters publicly and privately.

Finally, empower your own employees to be event ambassadors by giving them helpful promotional assets and messages to share on social media and via email. Getting your entire team bought in and spreading the word is the ultimate force multiplier for driving registrations.

  1. Prioritize Accessibility and Inclusion

Making your event welcoming and accessible to the widest audience possible is not only the right thing to do – it‘s also good business. Excluding people from your event means missing out on potential registrations and revenue.

First, offer different ticket types at varying price points to accommodate attendees‘ budgets and goals. For example, you can provide a virtual-only pass, single day pass, VIP pass, and full conference pass with increasing access and amenities. Enabling group registration with discounts incentivizes teams and companies to send multiple employees.

Next, make sure your event is fully accessible to people with disabilities. Choose an ADA-compliant venue with wheelchair ramps, braille signage, and designated seating. On your event website, registration forms, and landing pages, follow web accessibility guidelines for users with visual, hearing, cognitive and motor impairments.

To make your programming accessible, provide services like sign language interpretation, live captioning, and written transcripts for recorded sessions. Avoid jargon and slang in presentations, allow questions to be submitted in advance, and share presentation slides/handouts in alternative formats.

Finally, make diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) a core part of your event‘s brand values and promotions. Feature a diverse array of speakers and topics that represent your entire community. Share your code of conduct and anti-harassment policy prominently on your event website and onsite signage. Offer specialized tracks for underrepresented groups and provide need-based scholarships to reduce barriers to attending.

By taking these steps, you‘ll expand your prospective audience, enhance your brand reputation, and create a more impactful experience for all attendees. Accessibility and inclusion aren‘t just nice-to-haves anymore – they need to be key pillars of your event marketing and experience.

  1. Measure, Analyze and Optimize Performance

The only way to improve your ability to sell out events consistently is to measure what‘s working, what‘s not, and optimize accordingly. Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) and religiously tracking them will help you make better decisions and get more registrations for future events.

Some important metrics to track include:

  • Registration page conversion rate
  • Email open/click through rates
  • Social media engagement and click through rates
  • Number of registrations from each promotional channel/partner
  • Total registrations and revenue
  • Attendee feedback scores and net promoter score (NPS)

Use tools like Google Analytics, social media analytics, Salesforce campaigns, and event registration software to centralize your event data and KPIs in one dashboard. After the event ends, export the data to spreadsheets and create visualizations to more easily analyze trends and outliers.

Look for insights like which channels, messages, and offers drove the most registrations and revenue. See what times/days got the most engagement and conversions from emails and social posts. Identify top referring partners and speakers to double down on for future events.

To get qualitative insights, send post-event surveys to collect feedback from attendees on their experience, favorite parts, and areas for improvement. Read through open-ended responses to identify common themes and pain points to address next time. Compare survey results to quantitative data for a full picture.

By approaching event marketing as an iterative process of experimenting, measuring and optimizing, you‘ll improve your ROI and registration numbers over time. Never stop looking for opportunities to improve the attendee experience and promotional strategies based on hard data.

Selling Out Your Next Event Starts Now

Achieving a sold out event may seem daunting, but it‘s more than doable with the right strategies and mindset. By implementing these proven event marketing tactics, you can build buzz, mobilize your advocates, and boost registrations like never before.

The key principles are starting early, providing unique value, leveraging all channels, engaging your community, and continuously improving your approach. Don‘t underestimate the power of accessibility, creativity and data-driven optimization to get more people in the door.

Now that you‘re equipped with this event promotion playbook, it‘s time to get to work! Assemble your event marketing team, refine your brand and content, and start building your promotional assets ASAP. With focus and persistence, your next big event could reach sold out status sooner than you think.