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…