Increasing attendance at your medical education conference is paramount to its success. Other than the obvious solution of offering CME credit, what else can you do? Here are 5 tested ways to increase attendance.
1. Improve your marketing
Think of your conference as a product to sell. To sell a product, you create a web page (also called a landing page) that promotes the product’s benefits. You also offer something to download that explains more about the product and continues to provide value. With the email addresses you collect, you provide even more useful information, so your prospective customer—your conference attendee—has received overwhelming evidence of value. Here is an example from Mayo Clinic that does this well.
2. Make everything clear and easy to understand
Make it easy for people to understand what your conference is about and what benefits they’ll receive. It doesn’t matter how intelligent a person is; humans respond to simplicity. Put the dates and location in multiple places. List the benefits in clear language using bullet points. Have only two actions to take—either register immediately or enter their email to receive a download that will help make their decision easier.
3. Engage early, often, and personally
If you personally invited someone you knew to your conference, do you think they would be more or less willing to attend? We all respond better to a personal invitation. If you have an email list, reach out to them first with a special offer if they register early. If you have phone numbers for prior attendees, call each one with a personal invitation. (This will take less time than you think, especially if you use a short script.) But don’t rely on one invitation, invite people over and over again if they haven’t registered. Most people will not be annoyed, but instead grateful for your reminders.
4. Encourage two-way interaction
Help people to engage with you, also. Give them fun things to do prior to your conference. For Mayo, we've added pre-conference multiple choice questions, webinars, and even a "free week" of online study materials. Engaging with your conference registrants keeps the dialog going and encourages them to chose you as their learning partner.
5. Make registration fast and easy
Many people will delay registering indefinitely if they perceive the registration process to be onerous. Make it as easy as possible. Use a system that stores credit cards so anyone who registered last year can register again with just a couple of clicks. If you don’t have a system like this in place, now is the time to do it. And don’t forget to mention your fast and easy registration process in your list of benefits.
6. Use conference planning resources and a conference registration system
You do not have to rely on outdated, cobbled-together software tools. There are all-in-one software tools available to make this entire process easier for you and your attendees. One of the most complete tools, LMS MedEd Manager, provides the following:
- Live note-taking capabilities
- Personalized certificates
- Manager access to all files and information
- Past, current, and future events and courses
- Detailed reports on registrants
- Payment statuses for registrants
- Attendance records
- Upload related course files - Uploadable related course files
- Build badges, labels, and table tents - Ability to build badges, labels and table tents
- Multiple payment methods
- Build task lists for staff and volunteers - Task lists for staff and volunteers
- Duplicate past events/courses or create recurring events - Easy duplication from past events/courses or create recurring events
- Est. different pricing options and discount codes - Flexibility to set different pricing options and add discount codes
- All information in one place One place to house all information