In today’s marketing mix, no other tool has the same relevance for events and exhibitions as the event website. Throughout the entire customer journey, this is the place where a lot of things come together. Even during the event, the website has a vital role to play in enhancing the participants’ experience.
That’s reason enough to take the design and functionality of your event website pretty seriously. Here’s seven strategic features that powerful event and expo websites have in common:
1. Visitor focus
First and foremost, a good event website knows who it’s talking to. That may seem like a no-brainer, but in an industry that serves several masters, it can be tough to zero-in on the right messaging for your core audience. And who might that be for exhibition and event sites? Attendees.
It’s not that you should completely ignore exhibitors and sponsors. Far from it! But, at the end of the day, these users aren’t looking for messaging that is tailored to them – they are searching for platforms that are focused on their customers!
Unfortunately, knowing that you need to focus on attendees and knowing how to focus on attendees are two different animals altogether. One good way to help you figure out exactly who this demographic is and what they want is to spend some time crafting prototypical buyer personas.
2. Experience design
No man is an island and neither is your event website. It is but one touch-point during the customer journey of your audience. The big picture emerges from your other digital channels: social media, newsletters, platforms like Conferize & Storify, your notification messages during the registration process, print material, the on-site event design AND your event website.
When your website is the lead medium – which it should be – all other channels work together to create a holistic event experience, carrying the same design elements and the same core messaging.
It’s simple math: No emotion = no impact. Some of the major reasons for attending an event these days are all about the feels: being part of a community, fear of missing out (FOMO), proximity to a movement. One look at your website should have your customers’ pulse racing!
Here’s an example of an event that excels at this.
Usability has become one of the key factors for search engine rankings. While Google may change the algorithms of their search engine twice a day, they are kind enough to drop breadcrumbs in the form of tools that can help determine how your site performs against what they think is important.
The best one is probably PageSpeed Insights. This tool tells you not only what Google thinks about the usability of your page, it also provides advice on how to improve performance and, thus, ranking. With mobile usage surging, it goes without saying that good UX includes responsive design.
5. Excellent content
The role that content marketing plays in extending the life of conferences, events and exhibitions online cannot be underestimated. That applies particularly to the content on your website. I’m of the opinion that for these purposes, blogging is where it’s at.
A great example of someone who’s doing this well is Online Marketing Rockstars. Starting as a newsletter and blog with one post per day, the major source of revenue for the guys from Hamburg these days are the events they organize. This is a benchmark for targeted, attractive content used to propel event promotion.
6. Transaction and conversion
Traffic is great. But it’s worth nothing without conversions! What are the conversions you want on your event website? There are soft conversions that bring your target customers closer to you, e.g. newsletter subscriptions, fan page likes, blog subscriptions, etc. And then there are “hard” conversions, mainly registrations to your event.
There may even be commercial transactions, following the model that UBM implements for their US fashion shows.
Either way, completing conversions has to be as simple as possible on your site. Think prominent call-to-action buttons, experience-oriented, hassle-free processes and clear business objectives.
Last but not least, an event webpage should offer interactive elements for attendees. There is a wide range of features that can be added to extend the time on page. Beginning with simple polls, calls-for-papers, matchmaking, personalized login, people-to-meet suggestions up through gamification elements.
A nice example is the leader board created for the Gamification Congress 2015 in Barcelona. It is a ranking of attendees based on the twitter activities and impact, motivating participants to actively contribute and, thus, climb to the top of the leader board.
This blog article has been exclusively written by Michael Heipel for the Ungerboeck blog.
Does your event website measure up?
Moving through this list, how does your site compare? If you feel like there’s room for improvement, contact us today to see how we might be able to help you close the gap.