Recently, I attended a conference in Seattle, WA called MozCon. Now in its 10th consecutive year, MozCon is a digital marketing conference hosted by SEO software company Moz that attracts attendees from all over the world. During the three days that I attended, I met peers from India, New Zealand, Australia and Europe. Some of whom have attended MozCon all ten years!
Although it was my first one, I can now see why MozCon has built such a loyal following — it is more than just a conference; it’s a community. By creating a sense of community, MozCon mastered attendee retention, and you can too by drawing inspiration from their conference.
Have Industry-Leading Speakers
It’s rare to attend a conference where you get value out of every single speaker, but it happened at MozCon. The lineup of speakers was incredible, with digital marketing legends such as Will Reynolds, Cindy Krum and the Wizard of Moz himself. Each speaker had a wide range of skills and knowledge that appealed to the entire audience. In addition, MozCon made it evident that having just as many female speakers as male speakers was a huge priority to them, and as a female marketer, that meant a lot to me personally.
The takeaway: Ultimately, people are coming to your conference to learn something. Having speakers that are leaders in their industry is extremely important. As an event planner, you need to build up the reputation that you have the best speakers at your conference in order to skyrocket attendee retention.
Serve Good Food
First of all, I have never eaten as much in my life as I did at MozCon. The conference provided so much food that I was never hungry at any point during the conference. Each day, a buffet style breakfast and lunch was served, and during the breaks, there was always an abundance of snacks. Each day highlighted a ‘Seattle only’ snack, showcasing the best food Seattle had to offer. From specialty donuts to gourmet popcorn, the food was a definite hit, though my scale disagrees. I should also mention that there was something for everyone, with a variety of vegetarian options.
In addition to that, there was no shortage of beverages. Water was available at all times for attendees, as well as a selection of soda and juice. For those of you like me who need a slight boost in the morning, afternoon and evening (ok I may have a problem), MozCon kept attendees well-caffeinated thanks to actual Starbucks baristas being on site providing us with whatever highly caffeinated beverage our hearts desired.
The takeaway: Food can be a big point of contention. If the event experience was amazing but the food bombed, attendees will likely remember that more than the positives (think bad wedding food – we’ve all had it). Because of this, it’s important to have good food to leave a good impression and improve attendee retention.
Plan Fun Activities
During the conference, there was plenty of time for fun. During the breaks, attendees could enjoy a break-dancing show, write marketing advice on the chalk wall, join a round table discussion, indulge in [more] delicious snacks or get a photo with the famous Roger Bot.
MozCon also did a great job of providing attendees with many different activities to do after the conference. On day one, there was a pub crawl in various bars throughout Seattle, really giving attendees a chance to see as much of Seattle as possible in a short time. And on day two, there was a fun networking event called MozIgnite, where attendees could go up on stage and speak to their peers about anything non-work related, giving attendees the chance to better get to know one another. Finally, on day three there was a huge party called MozBash held in a giant warehouse that had karaoke, bowling, pool and of course, more food. Although these events weren’t ‘business’ related or mandatory, these are the events that attendees from previous years raved about — the events they remembered the most. Many attendees said that in all the years they come to MozCon, they look forward to the post-conference events most because they get to see friends they’ve made from previous years.
The takeaway: The goal of any event is networking. MozCon took networking a step further by creating the opportunity for attendees to make friends. Many of the repeat attendees came back specifically to see their MozCon friends at the post-conference events, thus building that sense of community. As an event planner, provide ample opportunity for attendees to network and have fun so that your attendee retention grows.
After attending my first MozCon, it is clear to me why they’ve mastered the art of attendee retention. I got to see some of the most insightful speakers to date, eat incredible food and meet some awesome people that I will continue to stay in touch with for years to come. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be back again next year, as another retained attendee.