How to Use SMS Marketing to Increase Event Attendance

How to Use SMS Marketing to Increase Event Attendance

Events are a powerful way to connect customers to your brand and build a lasting network. That is...if you can get people to actually show up.

With the massive amount of virtual and in-person events taking place every single day, that's easier said than done. Your audience is busy - and we all know how easy it is to sign up for an event, but how hard it can be to attend. It's easy to forget, get distracted or just decide it isn't worth the effort.

SMS marketing is an effective tool to cut through the noise and help increase event attendance - if used correctly. Used wrong, it's just another distraction that will get blocked out by your audience (figuratively or literally). Done well, thoughtful messaging can effectively convert "I'll show up if I remember" into "I can't miss this."

How to Use SMS Marketing to Increase Event Attendance

Before the Event: Early Bird Offers and Exclusives

Engage your existing audience with special deals just for them. Offering an Early Bird deal to your existing contacts can boost ticket sales and encourage early registrations. Early Bird offers can be as simple as a discount on ticket prices or a special promotion/add-on.

Additionally, you can segment your audience and send exclusive registration perks to reward customer loyalty. Existing customers who register using your SMS link could get a goodie bag of free swag, or an invite to a customers-only networking group. 

Before the Event: Confirmation and Reminders

Once someone signs up for your event, SMS is a powerful way to ensure they don't forget to attend. Texts often command attention far better than email, so you want to use SMS strategically to capture their attention but not create irritation.

I recommend keeping it simple with 3 texts: a confirmation text once they register, a reminder the day before and a reminder the day of the event. This will keep your event top of mind, without overwhelming registrants.

When you send that final day-of reminder text, you can also send vital information attendees may need. For virtual events, include a link to the webinar (or remind them to check their inbox). For in-person events, include parking and venue information. This way, you're not just reminding someone to attend - you're also providing value. This will make your audience more likely to remain subscribed to your SMS communications.

During the Event: Schedule Reminders

You can also use SMS during your event to help keep attendees engaged, in the loop and on schedule. A word of caution for this section: this is the area where it's easiest to cross over from "helpful" to "annoying" and start seeing unsubscribes. I recommend utilizing SMS marketing during events only for events that last longer than 1-2 hours and involve multiple speakers and/or sessions. A typical 30-minute webinar doesn't benefit from SMS marketing during the event - it often only serves as a distraction.

For longer events, try SMS marketing to let people know when sessions are changing, which speakers are coming up and where attendees need to go. The immediate nature of SMS makes this a better option than email for that instant communication. You can also send polls or surveys in-between sessions to gauge interest and keep your audience engaged. Time your texts so you're sending them in between sessions and not while speakers are presenting (and of course, only send to attendees who have given permission to receive notifications).

After the Event: Useful Content and Future Events

After the event, you can use SMS marketing to get feedback, show appreciation and promote your next event. After your event, send a thank you text to attendees - you can include a link to a feedback survey or relevant downloads. For those who registered but didn't attend, you can send a "sorry we missed you" text with a link to watch the recording of the webinar (or a link to an upcoming event).

Pro tip: stick to one link per text. You want to keep messages streamlined with only one action for someone to take.

A few days after the event, you can send a follow-up text with an invite to register for your next event. This is close enough that your event is still fresh in their memory but not so close that you're sending multiple texts in one day.

SMS marketing can be a fantastic tool for promoting your event and following up with registrants to increase attendance. Use these tips to ensure you're striking the perfect balance of the right message and the right time—and not overwhelming your audience so they unsubscribe. 

Recorded Webinar: SMS Marketing Options with HubSpot

Ask nearly anyone how they prefer to communicate today, and they’ll immediately reply “just send me a text.” In fact, people now text more than they use voice calls, and 89% of consumers say they’d prefer texting over any other form of communication (source). But how can you integrate SMS into your business? SMS is now commonly tapped for confirming and reminding appointments, sending customer surveys, updating expired credit card details, providing purchase and shipping notifications, and yes, marketing too, We’ll show you how to streamline your operations with automated texting from HubSpot and get your messages read 98% of the time with our partners Message IQ. 

Our expert for this webinar is Tim Ritchie, CEO and Data Strategist at Message IQ. With a laser focus on always finding a way, Tim relishes empowering businesses by connecting data sources and leveraging resulting insights to make better decisions and take more effective actions. Having previously built two software companies, he helps clients identify and execute solutions to data challenges. 

BizzyWeb is a Minneapolis-based digital marketing and web design agency that helps companies get the high-quality leads they need to grow and thrive. Our tactics include inbound marketing, SEO, advertising, web design, content creation and sales automation. We are an accredited HubSpot Platinum Partner and we offer full-service HubSpot onboarding, enablement and strategy for new and current users.

Dave Meyer
Author: Dave Meyer
Dave Meyer is President of BizzyWeb. Dave has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and communications and has presented digital marketing topics to thousands of people across the US and Canada.