Getting people to register for an eventDrive registrations and attendance through email and social media marketing

With any event, be it a class, seminar, open house, fundraising gala, or something in between, the ultimate goal is to get as many people as possible to attend. There's no point in planning a free or fee-based event if no one shows up.

To get the most out of your event efforts, here are five ways to maximize registration and increase attendance:

1. Save the date
People are busy and calendars fill fast, so you want to make sure your event is on your intended attendees' calendars as early as possible. Once you have the basic logistics (when and where) nailed down for your event, let all your desired attendees know with a save the date email. For invitation-only events, send an email and/or mail a save-the-date postcard to the future guest list to get on their calendars.

If your event is open to the public, you can and should add social media marketing to the mix by posting the date and details to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts -- essentially, to any social media network where you connect with members and customers. When using social media marketing, particularly Twitter, it is recommended that you link to an event homepage so those thinking about attending can find out additional information beyond what you can fit in 140 characters. You can host the event homepage on your own site or build one using Event Marketing. For the latter, remove the registration button from the homepage until you're ready to start accepting them.

2. Send an email invitation
About six to eight weeks prior to your event, send out an official invitation to your contact or target guest list. A personalized invitation makes the recipient feel wanted and can help compel him or her to register for your event. The invite should clearly outline the key event details and explain the benefits of attending from the recipient's point of view. Keep the invitation itself short and to the point. To provide additional information about your event, link to an event homepage.

At this point in the event planning process, registration for your event should be open and ready to accept guests.

3. Promote your event through social media
For events that are open to the public, use social media marketing to spread word to customers and members as soon as your invitations go out. Using social media allows you to promote your event multiple times a week, which you can't do with email. Change up your wording a bit for each pitch to your social networks so it doesn't look like you're constantly posting the exact same thing. And, like with your save-the-date email, link to an event homepage to give would-be attendees more information.

One variation on this idea: You could offer limited-time exclusive access to your event to email subscribers -- providing a benefit to your most loyal customers and members -- and hold off on the social media marketing until the exclusivity window has passed.

4. Send follow-up reminders to non-registrants and registrants
Within a few days of the event, send a follow-up email invitation to those on your original invitation list who have yet to register. Change the subject line to add a sense of urgency, such as "Only 2 days left to register" or "5 seats left -- register now."

For those who have registered, you can send them an email reminder that the event is coming up shortly and provide any last minute details that they may need to know. For free events, this helpful reminder can help drive attendance and lower the no-show rate.

5. Ask your attendees for a little promotional help
Word-of-mouth referrals are the Holy Grail of marketing, so why not get a few referrals for your event? Ask attendees to tell their social media friends and followers that they are attending your event. Make it easy by giving them the text and a pre-shortened link to your event homepage or registration page that they can copy and paste to Twitter and Facebook. For Twitter users, add a hashtag (a # sign followed by a word or phrase, i.e. #homeshow2018) to brand individual tweets about your event. This lets Twitter users (and you) easily see who else is tweeting about the event.

Planning an event is a time-consuming process. Use these five tips to ensure all that hard work pays off by using every promotional channel available to you to maximize attendance at you gathering.