Association Congress

Monday, 17 October 2011

How to turn your website visitor to an event booker

It’s time for the industry to fight back. If we are seeing a 10%+ drop off in conference attendance and a similar in trade show visits in the UK in the last twelve months, we have to do something about it. We can’t sit back and blame the economic climate. Of course that’s a concern, but not all industries do badly in a downturn; some even do better. So lets’ not just assume that the events world has to one of the sinkers and not the swimmers.
So feeling refreshed with this thought in mind I did a quick call round of some of my past clients and a few others in the industry. I wanted to see what hit rates on their websites had been recently. I asked them one specific question: “Have you seen a 10%+ drop off in page views over the last 12 months?” The answer was a refreshing and dare I say uplifting “No”. They are all still seeing similar hits on their sites. But some, not all, (they of course include a few ex clients who of course have seen their attendance increase!) had seen a lack of people being turned from visitors to bookers.
Content, price, location, perceived value, timing, and the score or more things that help people make up their mind to attend your event will still be a factor in their attending, but could something much more basic be a reason? Could it be that visitors couldn’t actually find the information on the events they were actually after? Or even, they couldn’t actually find the events at all?
If you are seeing a drop off in attendance and you use your website as a way to generate and / or process bookings, I’ve come up with a few things you should check out and consider changing right now! Let’s start the fight back: it starts at home (well as the first point says) or at least the Home Page.  
1.       Your main event page/s have a clear link from your home page                
2.       You segment your events to help people find the type of events they are after (for example conferences / dinners / training)                           
3.       Your event lists are truly searchable (i.e. you don’t need to know the name or the date to find it)                            
4.       You can search your events by price and location                             
5.       You separate your events from other events which you may list on your website                             
6.       You separate events which are run by smaller parts of the organisation e.g. ‘regional’ from your big national events                                
7.       You have microsites (or all the functionality you need on your own website) for your large events                           
8.       Delegates are able to book online                           
9.       Delegates are able to pay online                              
10.   You offer a telephone line for bookings or a number if bookers experience difficulties                  
11.   You update your event pages 3 – 5 (at a minimum) times with new information over the course of an event                      
12.   Your web pages have more detail than your marketing emails                   
13.   You have a ‘tweet this’ and or ‘like this facebook’ links from all your event pages                             
14.   You have a link to your organisation’s Twitter account / facebook page                 
15.   You set up your web pages early and allow bookings as soon as you have some information available, i.e. price, general content and general location, you don’t wait for all the details                  
16.   You ‘cross sell’ your events from pages with relevant articles / sections on your website
17.   Use contextual marketing for your events on your website. See below!
I hope this helps. And if you want more practical tips like this then consider my events marketing training.

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