10 tips for conference websites

28 03 2011

I recently attended a webinar called “Converting Website Viewers to Event Attendees” run by ICEEM and presented by Joyce McKee @letstalktradeshows and Christoper Justice @sparksight. Unfortunately Chris and Joyce had a few technical difficulties which make the webinar a little disjointed, but the content was generally very good, it’s more focused on tradeshows than conferences but had some good take aways. You can download it here or read my summary below… 

One of the best parts of the webinar is the overview of the industry from the perspectives of delegates, speakers and sponsors:

  • Delegates – Want more for less, they want discounts (partially trained by event organizers in my opinion), and they must have a strong reason to attend. So your value proposition needs to be very strong.
  • Speakers – They are your greatest promotional channel. Make sure your record them! Get them involved, ask them to blog, tweet or spread the word.
  • Sponsors – They want detailed demographics of who will attend or who has attended in the past, they also want to know how you are reaching the audience and new ways to interact with them.

Chris also points out the nature of the saturated information levels of the market, with so much free information flying at people and so many messages, advertising is diluted. The only way around that is to engage your audience through content, pull marketing. He also highlights some interesting math that states one free attendee is worth five paid! But only if the leverage their attendance by telling people about it. So choose your guests carefully and use the same tactics as you do with speaker marketing to help them promote your event!

Here’s my take on the top 10 tips from the webinar:

  1. Mobile first – I agree mobile is important, but not sure it needs to come first…He also mentioned Go Daddy having a cheap and fast mobile solution.
  2. Simplify registration – Keep the forms and process quick, if you need more information for demographics, go back and get it later!
  3. Event archives – Capture everything at your event and use it post event as part of your content marketing. Publish it online for SEO benefits (linking by the way more than keyword). It will also become your most valuable conversion tool for delegates who are thinking of attending – it’s a powerful demonstration of the value of attending. I would add make it easy to share it via social media.
  4. Affiliate marketing – Not enough events do this.
  5. Contests and Awards – Good point, but I think some of the nuances to this strategy where missed, like the badging for SEO and the gamefication aspects if you get the community involved.
  6. Inbound linking – Again this is the most basic aspect of online marketing – but always the least done! Chris recommends 100 inbound links from bloggers, conference directors, white papers, speakers, sponsors etc… I have ranted about this before!
  7. Video – A picture paints a thousand words. Chris paints a good image of how the constant torrent of information has made us all illiterate (really what I think he means is to busy to read everything), but yet we will always press that little play button in a player.
  8. Syndication – Chris shared some insight into the power of RSS on search.
  9. Tech is easy content is not – This is critical, too many people focus on the technology or design when content is king! Not just the copy on the site, but also your content marketing strategy.
  10. Chris also gave some good examples of sites he likes, including; NAB, BlackBerry Devcon, and How Design Conference.

Great webinar, but for me the number one thing online is to engage influencers…Chris mentions it a few times, but next to links and content, finding those influencers and getting them involved is key! Chris also produced this great download 100 Best Practices for Event Websites. Worth a read…

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The SEO rap

28 03 2011

Pretty much covers all you need to know:





“Forget the quotation marks”

21 03 2011

I want to rant about testimonials and the power of sharing in conference marketing. I blogged a while ago about FREE, and the powerful effect it had on TED conferences, but really it was about sharing ideas, this is a well documented story. I also think sharing in and of itself is the best testimonial anyone can ask for, we like our testimonials in conference marketing, but they tend to be more quotes from happy sponsors or speakers, as opposed to people sharing the power of your event, which is much more powerful than quotation marks.

I recently came across three incredible ideas that essentially revolve around testimonials and sharing that all conferences could use:

1) The testimonial video: We all love video, and one can doubt the power of it as a medium for sharing and spreading the word for your event. But I have seen so many rubbish testimonial videos, so here is how you do a testimonial video:  (Please note there is some swearing)

Why? It speaks directly to it’s audience, it’s fun, it’s got inside jokes, and it will spread… other people in the relevant audience will “get it” and want in! The early bird offer on this event has already sold out.

2) The post event ebook: This is a great idea from Seth Godin and the Domino project, put together an ebook on people who attended your event and made a dramatic positive change in their business or life as a result of attending your event. Here’s the Domino Projects ebook from SXSW:

Why? This will be the ultimate testimonial for anyone wanting to attend SXSW. It’s already a huge event, hard to define but full of resonance with the community and an event that will only grow as a result of this ebook.

3) Publish the findings, actions or ideas from the event:

Why? Your event’s benefits should go beyond the conference hall it was held in. Through sharing the findings with the whole community more people will want to justify the time and expense to come next time, and the more likely your event will drive real progress, making a mark on it’s community that only makes marketing the event next time easier. It’s the ultimate testimonial, proof your event had an impact!

All conferences must create social objects that are worth sharing, they become testimonials for your event. The kind of testimonial that people share is more powerful than your quotation marks.





Lanyrd.com – Powers a conference marketing revolution…

14 03 2011

A new site called Lanyrd – The social conference directory (www.lanyrd.com) was recently launched that could potentially help event marketers promote their events and significantly help our delegates, speakers and sponsors not only choose events but enhance their networking at them. Not unlike events on LinkedIn or Facebook, it connects users of the site with an event, but with a twist.

How’s it work?

The site is relatively new but they are already being called “the IMDb of conferences”, except that the content is crowdsourced. Lanyrd users add conferences which leverage users twitter network to create links to events – It’s genius and simple.  

Lanyrd’s interface with twitter is crazy. Sign in with your Twitter handle, and you get a list of people and upcoming conferences drawn from your Twitter relationships. They know who spoke at a trade show or conference last month, or who will be speaking at an event in the future. The site already lists 6,000 plus crowdsourced conferences and 30,000 user profiles. So when you log in you see the events the people you follow are attending or speaking at. Because people likely follow the people they’d like to know or the speakers they’d like to see, it falls together nicely using twitters social graph. As a result, Potential delegates have already composed a list of the thought leaders they would like to network with at upcoming conferences and by using twitter, Lanyrd is well positioned to find the sessions of social relevance to potential delegates. Think influencer profiling via twitter….for your event.

It gets even more crazy…. Since users are encouraged to add speakers and their Twitter names to sessions, the speaker need not be a Lanyrd user to have a Lanyrd presence. On signing up, you may notice your conference history has already been charted for you by your Twitter followers, organizers or fellow attendees. And I suspect this is only the beginning. The email updates ae also an incredible piece of insight into related events in your area of expertise.

So….

If you haven’t already, I suggest you login to Lanyrd using your twitter name and add your conferences.

Once you have created the event, you need to add your topics, add some speakers using their powerful twitter search functionality or find the speakers company and add them, add some content via the coverage tab, add some session details and you’re away!





Infographic – Digital marketing trends in the Middle East from IQPC Dubai

13 03 2011

Very cool infographic created by the IQPC marketing team behind Click, shows some great insight into the impact digital marketing is having in the region and where marketers are focusing.

Click 5.0 The digital marketing event for the middle east





10,000 hours to be an expert marketer

13 03 2011
Lot’s of people are probably familiar with the 10,000 hour rule, one of the key premises of Malcolm Gladwells book Outliers.  If not you can read a little bit about it here, or here’s a slightly different view.
 
Basically, the 10,000 hour rule claims that the key to success in any field, apart from some external factors like when you were born, is more or less a matter of practicing a specific task for 10,000 hours. Malcolm claims success in most endeavours requires an enormous time investment, he sites the Beattles (who performed over 1,200 times in Germany before returning to London) and Bill Gates (because he had access to school computers at age 13) as two good examples.
 
Any way…. It made me start to think what does it take to be an excellent B2B conference marketer. So to put it in context 10,000 hours, is roughly 4.8 years (if you work a 40 hour week and work all 52 weeks in the year). But here’s the kicker, I think conference marketing contains multiple disciplines:
  • Online marketing skills (And I am being generous here grouping email, website design, content marketing, online advertising etc)
  • Social media skills (And I will be generous here and include blogging, social networking etc)
  • PR skills (Including radio, TV, print etc)
  • Direct mail skills (I think you can learn this in less than 10,000 hours, but I am getting side tracked).
  • Project management skills (Extremely generous here….this is a discipline in and of itself)
  • Communication skills (And I am being generous again here grouping copy writing, public speaking, securing team buy in etc)
So even with my generous approach, applying the 10,000 hour rule, it takes (at least) 28.8 years to become an expert conference marketer… if you never take a holiday!
 
You could look at that as a daunting mountain to climb, but that’s actually what makes it fun! The really good part about the role of conference marketer is that you are constantly learning! And learning is one of the key habits of highly effective marketers.