The days of slapping up an event website and calling it good as long as the color scheme matches the brand guidelines and all of the who, what, when, where, and why information is in place are over. The technology is available and the potential is huge for converting the “floating brochure” of yesterday into a responsive, lead-generating, community-building conversion machine. You’ll have to cover a few bases in the process.
Analytics. Whether it’s Google Analytics or a more sophisticated platform, event managers need to be able to understand who is visiting the website, where visitors come from, what they’re clicking on, and whether they’re converting. Different analytics platforms deliver different levels of information, but user data can provide important insight about what event features visitors are interested in and what content helps them to convert.
Up-to-date information. More and more organizers launch event websites before the full conference agenda or exhibitor list is complete. Then, as new sessions, speakers, and exhibitors come on board, they manually update the site. The problem is that updates can fall by the wayside, as event managers get deeper into planning mode. To address that pain point, website developers can connect the user interface to the event schedule and exhibitor databases so that any changes made on the back end automatically appear on the website front end.
Social media integration. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (not to mention Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube) have become important outlets to aid event producers in community building and marketing. With a strategy behind them, they can use the event website as a hub to help expand the audience (giving visitors access to the event’s social media pages) and distribute content (using sharing tools) over social media channels.
Content management. Search engines use content to understand whether a website is relevant to user inquiries. More and better content helps a website appear higher up on search engine results pages. Many event organizers use blogs, articles, white papers, videos and other assets to give their websites authority. But, with that added burden, they have to organize the content creation and distribution. Event websites integrated with content publishing platforms can make the job easier.
Marketing automation. An entire industry has emerged to help companies automate, email, and track prospect interactions. Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms are at the heart of those initiatives. To avoid having to re-enter information gleaned from website inquiries into the organization’s CRM tool, event managers can integrate the website interface with the CRM platform and give the sales team immediate access to leads.
Responsive design. While numbers vary, it’s safe to say that at least half of the visitors to an event website will do so using a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device. That fact makes it imperative that event websites be designed so content can be easily viewed (screen sizes, proportions, and layouts changed) no matter which device the visitor uses.
While the look and feel of the event website is crucial, more is required from web developers to give websites the power to reduce workloads, attract visitors, and convert customers. By recording visitor interactions on the front end (through clicks, forms, and downloads) simultaneously in the back end, event organizers can convert their event websites into workhorses that empower sales, marketing, and operations staff to be more productive and efficient.