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Ask any marketer what is one of their biggest challenges and they will probably say “content”.

Why? Because creating content that is engaging, fresh, on brand and, perhaps most importantly, useful is very difficult. None more so than when what you are selling is a free event, including the topics discussed and the networking (loved by some, feared by others). If the speakers are particularly in demand or if the venue is nice this helps. But your main asset is the hot topic being discussed and the speaker names (oh, and perhaps the free lunch; everyone likes a free lunch right?).

It’s all in the story

As Sarah Gaffney from UBM explained in a recent interview, keeping an audience engaged through storytelling has worked significantly well for them in attracting registrations and engagement up to attending the event.

Sarah says “Storytelling is a way of keeping your audience engaged over time, and event marketers can use it to good effect in a number of ways. You can pick out a key feature, conference session, or overall benefit of your event and use this to craft a story over time, or if your event has a theme then you’re in a great position.”

How can storytelling techniques help with conversion?

With event marketing, getting people engaged enough to register is easily achievable – particularly if it is a free event – once you have the right data and the right channels in play. The challenge comes in getting them to covert to actual visitors. UBM used storytelling in the Sleep event to keep their pre-registered audience engaged through a series of automated emails and teaser campaigns. These weaved a story towards the show and culminated in the final piece of the story once there.

So all I need is a good story, some data and to fire out some emails?

Well, no actually. As every marketer knows, a good dollop of pragmatism is needed too. Using automation to ensure that communications following registration are sent in a timely way is essential. Sending information on travel and hotels soon after registration means that visitors have more time to make the necessary bookings, increasing commitment to turning up on the day.

UBM has plans to make attendance through storytelling just as successful for future events. You can read more about their results with Sleep in the full case study.