What’s the biggest problem facing association events today?
Getting people to actually show up.
Tighter purse strings paired with a post-pandemic aversion to rubbing elbows has associations reporting in-person event attendance isn’t bouncing back to pre-pandemic numbers. For many, we hear in-person attendance has dropped as much as 30%. Although some associations are back to pre-pandemic levels, what about the other 50% of members who experienced your very best content during the pandemic virtually?
Whether it’s to watch the livestream from the comfort of their couch or skip the event entirely, members are staying home. This phenomenon has association staff scrambling for a way to regain that engagement and recoup crucial non-dues revenue.
Now, we’ve hit a fork in the road. Do you keep doing your virtual event and risk siphoning those members away from attending in-person? Or do you go full-bore back to physical events and risk losing those who engaged virtually during the pandemic?
If you’re facing that fork yourself, we’ve got a question that’ll cut through your conundrum like a knife.
Why are you ignoring member segmentation?
Hot take: Associations don’t need to blow $75,000 livestreaming their entire event to engage all their members – and in almost all cases they shouldn’t.
Some members care most about networking (they’ll want to attend in-person). Some members are there for content (however they can get it). Some are cost sensitive, and some are time sensitive, and still others are safety sensitive. When you understand who is going to your events and for what reasons, you can begin to understand the size of each segment and what you need to serve them.
This is member segmentation. By splitting your membership up into segments, you can look at your event differently:
- Which members should be targeted for in-person attendance?
- Who needs the content for accreditation for career purposes?
- Who would like the content but for non-accreditation purposes?
- And for each segment, what is the size and content consumption and networking requirements of each?
How do you know which members want what?
Collecting the data to build out your member segments is a combination of collecting both qualitative and quantitative data. Data collection forms on your website, member surveys through email and speaking with members in person or posing questions in your virtual-event chat are all great ways to find out what members want. And, of course, your analytics.
What are the hottest topics being consumed on your website? What content format works the best (video, podcast, articles, research reports, webinars) and what is the engagement time on this content?
This helps you identify how and why you’re capturing each session of your event based on the needs and constraints of your members. Who will spare no expense to come in person? Who will only come for the session if it is offered online? Who needs the entire session for the in-depth knowledge it provides? Who would prefer to watch a 3-minute summary of that subject in a micro-learning video?
Who doesn’t care at all?
Workshop with a CAE credit? Put it on your learning management system after your event. Keynotes with a ton of buzz? Make it an on-demand video on your website, perhaps with a few other sessions that align to a membership group, and charge a smaller but appropriate fee, or cut it up into summary micro-learning, supported by sponsorship to allow everyone to learn a part of what full attendance can provide.
Same content, different formats, for different use cases.
Now how you can use this as a revenue generator through sponsorships, as well as a motivator that produces fear of missing out for those who missed the in-person event? How do you use this content to increase attendance at future events, while driving traffic to your on-demand offerings?
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
For actionable tactics you can map onto your association, hit this link to watch the full webinar.