First-Time Attendees: A Key Metric of Success for WordPress Events

The Goals

The WordPress Project’s Big Picture Goals for 2024 highlight the crucial need to attract new users to WordPress; and the WordPress events program plays an important role in achieving this objective. As we progress through the second half of 2024 and beyond, a key measure of success for WordPress events is the percentage of first-time attendees – individuals who are participating in a WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. or Innovative WordPress Event for the first time ever (note: this does not apply to meetupMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook. events).

Our goal is to warmly welcome more first-time attendees at WordPress events, aiming for over 50% of our participants to be newcomers, while also celebrating our returning attendees. To achieve this, we encourage event organizers to make a concerted effort to attract new participants. This goal should inform event design, messaging, and marketing for your WordCamp or other WordPress event.

Of course, we also want all attendees to come away feeling like the event was time well-spent. So, we have an additional goal of 80%+ attendees responding that they are “Extremely Satisfied” or “Satisfied”, as measured through an automated post-event survey sent to all attendees. Currently, only Innovative WordPress Event attendees receive the post-event survey, though we plan to soon extend the survey to WordCamp attendees as well.

Why First-Time Attendees Matter

For WordPress and its events program to grow and thrive, attracting new attendees is essential. So far in 2024, our 29 events (WordCamps and Innovative WordPress Events) have averaged 41% first-time attendees. We believe we can increase this number and exceed our 50% target with your help. First-time attendee data is collected through the event registration form question that asks, “Will this be your first time attending a WordPress event?”

Screenshot of a question from the event registration form: "Will this be your first time attending a WordPress event?" Options: Yes / No / I don't know

In the Make Community blog post titled Current Challenges of WordPress Events, Shaping the Future, we shared data on the recent decline of first-time event attendees:

“The statistics show that while the number of events has increased significantly during our re-engagement project, the number of new attendees has also declined.”

This decline underscores the importance of intentionally attracting and welcoming first-time attendees. They bring fresh perspectives, new energy, and potential for long-term growth of the WordPress community and user base.

So far in 2024, some events stand out for their high percentage of first-time attendees (FTAs). As organizers, we can look to these events for inspiration and replication:

Notably, all of the top FTA events in 2024 are Innovative Events (non-WordCamps) with focused audiences. This trend highlights the potential of specialized and targeted events to attract new participants, which perfectly aligns with the 2024 Big Picture Goals:

“Our event series needs to grow past a ‘one size fits all’ strategy. With more advanced topics and more focused events, we can meet our community where it is – in a moment where time is valuable and joining an event should clearly help them reach their goals.”

The Path Forward: How You Can Help

To reverse the trend of declining first-time attendees and achieve our goal, we need the collective effort of the entire WordPress community.

Event MentorsEvent Supporter Event Supporter (formerly Mentor) is someone who has already organised a WordCamp and has time to meet with their assigned mentee every 2 weeks, they talk over where they should be in their timeline, help them to identify their issues, and also identify solutions for their issues.: Please ensure that your mentees (event organizers) are aware of these goals.

Event Organizers: Below are some practices that may help you attract first-time attendees.

  1. Thoughtful event design: Craft your events with first-time attendees in mind. Consider their needs, interests, and potential barriers to participation.
  2. Targeted messaging: Ensure your promotional materials highlight the benefits of attending. What new knowledge, skills, and professional connections will attendees come away with? Share success stories of past first-time attendees.
  3. Engaging outreach strategies: Experiment with a range of marketing channels to reach potential new attendees. Partner with local schools, organizations, and online communities who can help spread the word.

Program Managers: Let’s collaborate to monitor our progress and publish regular updates on the Make Community blog.

Do you have other ideas for reaching first-time attendees? Please share them in the comments!

Join the Conversation

In the coming weeks, we’ll invite members of the WordPress community, including event organizers, sponsors, and Community Team contributors, to join our scheduled calls. Your participation is valuable as we work together to strengthen this area of focus. Let’s ensure that WordPress events effectively attract and engage new attendees, especially those who are just starting their WordPress journey.

Thanks to @peiraisotta @nao and @st810amaze for contributing to this post and @nukaga and @_dorsvenabili for reviewing it.

#attendees, #first-timers, #kpi