Convert Event Guests into Paying Members with WildApricot

    About the Instructor

    His dapper manner and polished style have earned Farhad Chikhliwala, our Marketing Project Manager, the nickname “Professor”. Since joining WildApricot in early 2015, he’s been integral to many initiatives including our blog, podcasts, and expert webinars.


    WildApricot has hundreds of features specifically designed to help manage small membership organizations. But, are you using WildApricot’s functionality to its full potential? We want to help you use WildApricot to its full capability. This mini-courses is part of a series focusing on our features to help you harness some of WildApricot's features in order to grow your membership.

    Let’s start with Events.

    Events tend to be places where your members can meet, mingle and network. They can also be a unique selling point when it comes down to gaining new, paying members.

    Simply hosting a fancy dinner, or a swanky fundraiser is often not enough. Events need to be thought of as strategic growth opportunities. A well thought out event strategy can grow your membership, increase your revenue, and provide more value to your members.

    None of this is possible without the power of WildApricot’s newly released event module features.

    That's what this mini-course will help accomplish. 

    We’ve come up with a novel strategy that uses the existing functionality of WildApricot to pursue non-members who register themselves as guests at your events.

    Strategy: Follow-up with event Guests to convert them into Paying Members.

    Event guests are prime candidates to become paying members—if they are approached the right way.

    By attending your event, guests have already shown interest in your organization. They are putting their hands up and saying “Hey! You're organization looks interesting, I'm going to check it out!” 

    WildApricot's Version 5.5 release includes a new feature that allows you to automatically add guest contact information into your database. You can then follow-up with them to introduce the idea of membership.

    This has huge implications!

    After saving guest information in your database and flagging them as "guests", WildApricot allows you to easily follow up with these people. The idea is to send guests a sequence of emails to convince them of the benefits of joining your organization.

    Learning how to do this is simple! Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use this feature to convert guests into paying members.

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    Step 1: Change Guest Registration Settings

    When you are setting up your new event listing (navigate to the Events tab in your Admin view), scroll down to the bottom and change the setting under Guest registration to: Add new guests to contacts list only if email entered.

    This will automatically add guests who enter their email address when registering as new prospects in your contact database.

    Why is this crucial? You want to email these people after the event with more information on your organization.

    If guests decide to show up unannounced, you can also register them at the door using our Smartphone app. The app automatically links to your database, so it’s always up to date.

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    Step 2: Write Two Follow Up Emails

    The whole point of adding guests into your database is so you could reach out to them afterwards.

    We recommend creating a sequence of two emails to excite guests about your organization and future events.  

    Click the Emails tab in your Admin view. Click Compose Email. Now you'll be able to select a template that suits your organization.

    I chose Newsletter Plain Blue, and started composing my first message.

    newsletter plain blue

    Email #1: "Thanks for attending!"

    Write a simple “thank you for attending” email. It should convey your gratitude for your guest's attendance. You can even ask them for comments or feedback.

    Email #2: Perks of being a member + Call to action

    This email is the big one! You need to succinctly convey the benefits of joining your organization. Keep in mind that you are sending this email to people who have already attended an event—they are somewhat familiar with your organization.

    Focus on messaging that will excite your recipients. Think of this email as a sales letter. Here's an example:

    Don't forget to include a link to your website's registration page in multiple places, so that the recipient can join your organization on the spot. You can see where I did this in the blue, underlined text in my email.

    Remember to save both these emails as templates, so you can easily locate and send them in the future.

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    Step 3: Search for Guests in Your Database 

    Now that you’ve changed the event registration settings, and written two emails, it’s time to find your guests and email them!

    After the event concludes, go into your database and create a contact list to find people who registered as a guest for that event.

    With the Version 5.5 update, a new search criteria was added to the advanced search function. It's this new criteria that lets you target guests. 

    Here's how it works:

    1. Under Contacts > Advanced search, select Add criteria.

    2. Scroll down to the bottom and click Registered for specific event(s) and Registered as and click OK

     3. Now choose the event you are looking for—in this case, “Annual Conference 2015”. Click Select... in the Registered for specific event(s) field and choose the desired event. Now check Guest in the Registered as field.

     4. Next, save the search. This way you can quickly retrieve this list at any time. For this example let’s save this search as “Guests at Annual Conference”.

    Registered as lets you select those who registered as guests, while Registered for specific event(s) lets you look only at your chosen event. Combined, we're able to find guests from any particular event!

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    Step 4: Email the guests

    Now that you’ve retrieved your list of guests, it's time to send them the emails.

    Click Email contacts, which allows you to view the list of new guests from your event.

    Now, select your saved email template and click Next. You'll be taken to a preview of your email where you can add any last minute changes. Click Preview & send, review your email one last time and then click Send. That’s it!

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    Make sure that after your next event is over, you implement these 4 simple steps to convert guests into paying members. 

    Here's a recap of this course:

    • Guests are non-members who register for events.
    • Guests are ideal candidates to become paying members—they've already shown serious interest in your organization by registering for your event.
    • When creating an event listing, change the “Guest registration” settings to add guests who register with their email address into your contact database. This way you’ll be able to search for them later.
    • Write two emails: One that quickly thanks guests for attending, and another that goes into more detail about why they should join your organization. Don't forget to add a call to action that links to your online application from.
    • After the event, find guests by conducting an advanced search in your database.
    • Send out the two emails to your list of guests and watch as they decide to join.

    Good luck using WildApricot’s events module to recruit new members!

    Stay tuned for more mini-courses that teach you how to leverage the power of WildApricot membership software to grow your organization.

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