It's every summit host's worst nightmare.
You've done the work, you've landed the speakers, you've opened the doors...and...crickets.
I truly hope you never experience it, but the truth is, it can happen.
We are in the second part of a four-episode series that is breaking down the most common points in the summit-hosting process where things go wrong. If you're in the thick of it, you'll find some tips you can implement right away and if you have a summit coming up, you'll be able to keep it all in mind to hopefully avoid any issues.
Each episode is focusing on a different part of the process, and in the last episode, we covered why you're struggling to land speakers and our next episodes cover why no one bought your all-access pass and why you didn't make any course sales.
Today, we'll take it to the next step and talk about why no one signed up (or is signing up) for your summit.
I know this is a terrible feeling! If you're experiencing it right now, my heart goes out to you. You feel powerless and just want to sit in a bowl of ice cream. (Maybe that's just me?)
You might be wondering if there is anything you can do to turn things around at this point. Really, it depends on how far into the promotion period you are. If you have time to take action, make changes, send some emails, and encourage your speakers, then there are some things worth trying.
If you're beyond that point, or you've dealt with it before, what I want you to look at is the fact that you have got incredible data, and a really great experience to go off to make the next event a whole lot more successful.
Even if you're thinking, "This was a total failure!", look at it as a learning experience instead.
The Beyond One and Done workshop walks you through how to do this, how to take your first summit or previous summits, whether they were flops or raging successes, and make the most of it. You’ll look at how you can make the next one bigger and better and how you can see better numbers and make it a better experience.
For now, let’s dive into why no one signed up for your summit.
Prefer to listen to this post instead? Use the links below to listen on your preferred podcast player:
First, I want you to consider what you think the problem could be. In this post, I'll tell you about the most common issues I see, but you're the one the the feedback, data and experience. Start there first and do some problem-solving based on what comes up for you.
A lot of times, I hear someone say something that essentially translates into, “I hosted a summit, it didn't work so summits don't work.”
If that's where your line of thinking is going, here are a couple other episodes for you to check out:
But really, I get it. Blaming the strategy definitely helps to deflect some of the emotions and potential embarrassment. But instead of blaming the strategy, let's dive into what's really going on.
#1: Your event positioning was off
The number one reason that a summit flops is because the positioning was off. Meaning the audience and topic didn't speak to people the way that it needed to.
The truth is, no one wants to go to a vague summit that doesn't actually promise anything they want.
In your mind, when you're writing that summit tagline and copy, you're picturing something specific. You're picturing this huge important transformation. But, your audience can't read your mind, they can't see that vision, and they're not going to take the time to paint the picture for themselves. When they're skimming something they ran across online, a promo email someone sent, or when they see an ad pop up in their feed, you have seconds to catch their attention in a very strong way and solid positioning is what does that.
So overall, poor event positioning is the number one reason you'll struggle to get signups. It needs to be attention-grabbing and it needs to give a specific idea of a transformation someone wants.
Need some help with your positioning? Check out these episodes:
For the rest of this post, let's assume your positioning was spot on, and people still didn't sign up. What else could it be? A lot of times, it's positioning plus some other pieces.
#2: Poor Speaker Selection
The second reason you may struggle to get attendees signed up for your summit is poor speaker selection. You can listen to the episode about Choosing Speakers That Will Get You (And Them) The Best Results, but for the point of this episode, we'll talk about two things that go wrong here.
We do have episodes around The Problem With Requiring Speaker Promotion + How To Do It Right and Your Speakers' Role in Promotion and Pressuring Them to Promote, but overall it’s your responsibility to create a great event that people want to share.
#3: Ineffective Copy
The next issue that can have a big part to play with your summit registrations is the copy you're using to promote and talk about your event.
Let’s assume you have a really targeted audience, a great topic, your speakers are wonderful, but something just isn't landing right with your registration page and promotion efforts. Here are a few things that tend to go into that:
To share an example, a while back I read an email from someone who was promoting a summit, and I could tell that the promo email was written using my template. I excitedly clicked on it, was going to sign up, and scrolled down to the speaker list to see if I wanted to watch any of the presentations. I was SO bummed to see that there was no information on what presentations were actually being covered and I ended up leaving the page without signing up. I'm not gonna sign up for something if I don't even know if there's anything I want to learn about.
Make sure people can see what your presentations are and that they have compelling titles. (If you have our programs, you have our registration page copy template and website template. We have a spot for you to do this in there!)
#4: Unprofessional Design
The next one related to your copy is the way that copy is displayed through the design of your registration page. I wish I could say that design doesn't matter, but that's just not the case.
People will get their first impression of your summit based on the design. It's someone's first idea of how well the event is put together and it needs to show that you're a professional, that you put thought into the event, and that you're worthy of their trust and their time by signing up.
#5: Complicated Registration Process
The next issue that can destroy your registration conversion rate is a complicated registration process. Luckily, I don't see this one a ton, but it does come up here and there.
Something I see commonly is a process where a potential attendee clicks the “Get My Ticket” button, and it redirects them to another page with an opt-in form, or even worse, a checkout page.
I don't want people being sent to a checkout form to sign up for your free summit. They should enter their email address and their name and be registered for this free event. Don't make it more complicated than it needs to be. Don't make it look like they're making a purchase, even if it clearly states $0. It will definitely have an effect on your conversion rates and people signing up.
Ideally, someone should click a button on the registration page, enter their name and email address in a pop-up form, and be on their way.
#6: No One Saw the Registration Page
The next issue is a big one, and that is that no one saw the registration page. Someone can't register for your summit if they don't know that your summit exists!
You can check this by looking at your registration page conversion rate. Is the problem that people are landing on the registration page and not signing up? Or is the problem that no one is making it to the registration page?
You need to make sure you have a plan to get traffic to your event.
If you have our programs, you have the full strategy for this and everything you need, including scripts, templates, graphics, and copy. You need to make sure you have a solid promo plan.
#7: Paid Ticket
And lastly, one of the biggest reasons that no one signed up for your virtual summit, is that you had a paid ticket. This is the one where people like to get sassy with me. If you want to hear more about my take on this, you can listen to the episode where I fully broke down the difference in free versus paid events, based on experience.
This is not just me giving advice and speaking with zero experience. Last year, we hosted both a paid conference and a free virtual summit just so I could test these things.
A paid event is not a list-building strategy. It's more of a conversion strategy - converting your existing audience. Your conversion rates are going to be way, way lower with a paid ticket.
Even if it's a $1 ticket, people think a lot harder about buying that ticket than they think about registering for something that's free. (And don't come at me about how you think free summits attract low-quality leads. I’ve talked about why that is not true.)
If you’re hosting a summit as a list-building event, you need to have a free ticket.
Put What You Learned Into Practice
If you’ve been through the heartache of no one signing up for your event, give yourself some time before you try to go and troubleshoot it. Give yourself space to feel the emotions then come back here.
If you tried to host a summit totally on your own, these 7 reasons are the most common things people get wrong. It’s why I try so hard to teach everyone about virtual summits. It’s why we have our programs. I don’t want anyone to go through the work of hosting a summit to have no one sign up for it.
So put these things into practice and see what you can find.
In the next episode, we're going to take this a step further and talk about why no one bought your all-access pass, so stay tuned for that!
And to really break down the results of a previous event, step-by-step, learn what conversion rates should be, and make a plan to improve them next time, check out our Beyond One and Done workshop series!
Learn how much time to set aside for planning and launching your profitable, stress-free online summit and use my calculator to set the due dates for you.