7 Steps to Hosting a Successful User Conference

Jill Anonson
Jill Anonson
Keynote speaker on stage at a user conference event

User conferences are an ideal way to build personal, meaningful connections that drive business forward. Attendees—regardless of their classification—benefit when they participate in a well-executed conference. And you have a chance to show (not just tell) your audience how much you value them with an unforgettable experience. These connections then pave the way for new sales leads and increased profitability.

Bring together the people who use, know and support your product. This will establish respect, loyalty and foster lifelong relationships. This means not only are you creating connections with your customers; you're also giving them the opportunity to network with other people using your products. User conferences help your customers understand the people behind the products they use, and help you understand the people in front of it. When you’re able to strengthen ties between clients, everyone benefits in the end.

No matter how sophisticated your event, there are several benchmarks that will drive your success. If you’re planning on diving in to the world of user conferences, here are some things to keep in mind to make it a success:

1. Identify Your Audience and Go After Them

From hands-on users to C-Suite executives to prospects trying to gain insights about your product or service, user conferences bring together a wide range of experts looking to make meaningful connections. Be proactive and make certain your content and structure accommodates the needs of those you’re trying to attract. Targeting specific customers and customer bases will help you develop customized content for the event and identify “must attends,” or those customers that will help you achieve your goal.

2. Develop a Relevant, Structured Agenda

It’s important to develop an intriguing and relevant agenda that aligns to your goal as early as possible, securing speakers and topics directly relevant to those in the room. When structuring your agenda consider these questions: Why would someone want to attend your user conference? How does it benefit them?

3. The Earlier You Can Get Your Plan Out the Better

A conference needs attendees to make an impact—a targeted, omni-channel communication plan is critical to getting the message out and making sure it resonates. Use advocates to promote the event as well as traditional marketing channels.

4. Create an Experience That Immerses Your Audience in the Brand

Immerse your audience in your brand from the moment they engage with the conference. Think about communication style, space design, theming, etc. Talk trends, innovations and what’s coming next. Include speakers who think big picture as well as those who can discuss your road map for getting there. Incorporating a demo hall and networking activities including an after party and an event app with gamification are great ways to increase attendee engagement.

Group of event attendees networking at a user conference

5. Take Advantage of Social Opportunities

Networking opportunities are the number one driver of attendee satisfaction. You will never hear that you have too many options—but you will definitely hear it if you don’t have enough. Look at technology enhancements, unique networking events and carefully crafted session designs to make sure your attendees get talking—not just trading business cards.

6. Leverage Your Network to Amplify Event Impact

How can you extend the impact of the event? Think about making the event virtual by live streaming, posting sessions and leveraging social media to make certain the event goes bigger, wider and deeper. You can even engage your virtual attendees by sending them something special like the welcome pack attendees receive at check-in.

7. Always Be Thinking About What Comes Next

Develop goals beyond the present year. What should the conference represent this year that can be expanded next year? When the event is finished, send out a survey with a prize for a random entry. Give people an incentive to tell you what they think. Find out what you can do better with the next one.

There’s nothing quite as effective as being face-to-face with your customers. By telling a cohesive story from start to finish, you are setting your business up to create connections with your customers that can improve your bottom line and you're also giving them the opportunity to ask questions about your offerings and network with other people using your products and services. It’s a win-win!

Ready to take your user conference to the next level? Find out how to drive up attendance at your next conference with our ebook, 7 Ways to Make Your Event More Strategic.

7 Ways to Make Your Event More Strategic

Jill Anonson

Jill Anonson

Jill Anonson has over 20 years of diverse experience in event management, incentive travel and sales strategy, and serves as the Events Strategy Advisor at ITA Group. Focused on continuous improvement and challenging standards, she consults clients and team members with impactful strategies and innovative ideas that deliver successful business outcomes. She is a Certified Engagement Practitioner, and certified through Pragmatic Marketing.