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August 4, 2020

Nurturing Nonmember Engagement from Virtual Events

By transforming in-person meetings into engaging virtual experiences, many organizations are ensuring seamless delivery of critical education in a safe and secure online format. To build off the interest sparked by online accessibility, associations must focus on nurturing nonmember engagement from virtual events.

With these necessary and swift transitions, many associations are seeing a drastic increase in participation from new contacts and nonmembers. This is particularly notable when the pricing for virtual events has been reduced or even eliminated. Through the rest of 2020 and beyond, associations are tasked with not only executing successful virtual events but looking ahead to hybrid solutions and maintaining satisfaction and loyalty from their new and existing contacts.

From the planning period through post-event follow-up, here are key questions to ask and actions to take to maximize your member conversion.

Light green box icon with a form in the middle.Is your virtual event registration set up for ease of access?

Planning how to effectively engage nonmember registrants or attendees should be part of your overall event promotion strategy. Before you launch your campaign, consider:

  • Is the meeting or event registration data synced with your customer relations management (CRM) and marketing tools?

    Having a process in place to integrate registration information with your database will help ensure nonmember engagement strategies can be implemented.

    • Keep in mind: Registrants will often use an alternate email address for an event that may not match their record in your database. To avoid duplicating a contact, be sure to rely on other data fields gathered during registration — i.e. first and last name, job title and/or employer. Then compare the roster with contacts in your existing nonmember database.
  • How much information is gathered about contacts during the registration process?

    You want to know enough to understand the contact’s role and general interests for personalization purposes but not so much that the registration process becomes burdensome or overly complicated. Prioritize which pieces of information will be most beneficial for segmentation.

  • Are digital tracking tools in place to understand where nonmember registrants are coming from?

    Leveraging analytics and UTM tracking will help you understand what marketing tactics are most effective at spreading your message and engaging new audiences.

Light green box icon with messenger icons in the center.How are you telling the organization’s story to registrants?

Don’t wait until after the event to engage with nonmember registrants. If your database is set up so registration information syncs with your CRM and email service provider, you’re in an ideal position to reach out and start a deeper conversation:

  • Send a welcome email to new contacts within a few days of registration.

    This is an opportunity to position your organization as a hub of information for the industry or profession, as well as introduce the value of membership. For nonmembers who register for an event but are not new to your database, consider a personalized outreach to learn more about them and guide them toward the professional development resources they need to advance their career — including membership!

  • Ask contacts how they learned about you and your event.

    Having insight into where new contacts are coming from will equip you to continue effective meeting promotions.

  • Whenever possible, segment your event marketing so nonmembers receive tailored messaging that includes membership as a secondary call to action.

    Introducing membership as a call to action for new contacts is nuanced. You want to do so gently and strategically so they don’t feel like they’re being sold a service before fully experiencing your virtual meeting and witnessing what your organization has to offer.

Light green icon with a bar graph in the center.How do we keep momentum going once the virtual event concludes?

While it may be your marquee offering or signature positioning in the market, make sure nonmember registrants know your organization is more than the virtual event. Avoid letting the final session of the conference or the conclusion of a workshop be the last they hear from you until the next event. Consider:

  • Following up within a day or two with a post-event survey to gain insights about their experience.

    Ask what they found to be most valuable, what they would like to see more of and if they have any feedback for improvements. Develop follow-up communications tailored to their response. Did they indicate a strong interest in your advocacy work? Make sure they know they can subscribe to weekly email updates to stay aware of the latest updates related to their interests. Lead them to their next engagement opportunity by understanding as much about them as possible.

  • Implement a segmented drip email marketing campaign to continue engaging nonmember contacts over the next few weeks or months.

    As we mentioned earlier, the step from virtual event attendance to membership may be too big for a new contact to take right away. Instead, offer them more manageable action items, such as attending a webinar, purchasing a report or publication, or joining an exclusive online community to continue meeting conversations. These actions will keep them engaged and deepen their relationship with your organization, bringing them closer to becoming a member.

Ensure your organization remains the place professionals in your field turn for networking, resources and cutting-edge information by nurturing nonmember engagement from virtual events.

Learn more about partnering with us to strengthen your member engagement.

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