Online registration is the lifeblood of your event. Without it, your event is just an empty venue. Your speakers will have no audience, and no amount of fun or engaging activities will land if you don't have attendees with which to share them. To ensure that you get the word out and secure an audience for your event, you'll need to flex those creative, administrative, and marketing muscles to set your event up for success.
Hello, I'm Emily Brown, the Director of Business Systems & PMO here at Infinix. In this blog post, I want to explore both mobile usability and social media as far as how they can be leveraged into your online registration process. As you'll see, they are an ideal way to accomplish any number of requirements all at once. And who doesn't love multitasking?
With that in mind, here are some of the things you should consider when it comes to integrating an online mobile strategy into your event registration process.
Create an online presence
Offering online registration should go without saying, but creating a landing page for your attendees that is visually appealing, easy to use, and provides essential information all in one place is crucial to your guest's first impression.
If you're hosting a large annual conference, consider creating a separate website for the event. The website and/or landing page should include a registration form and online payment. It should also outline some important event details:
- Frequently asked questions (don't skip this — it's a biggie)
- Location information
- Sponsorship details
- Event contact information
- Business justification (it's a great way to sum up the description and purpose of your event while giving attendees the rationale they might need to convince their boss they should attend!)
An integrated online registration service like the one I've described here will allow your attendees to pay online and use promo codes if needed without — and this is important — leaving your website. Association management software or separate event management programs can handle this service for you. Some popular examples I've encountered in the past include: Cvent, Whova, Zoho, and several others. It's just a matter of finding one that has the functionality and utility that matches how you choose to operate.
Adopting a mobile-first mindset
Another thing to keep in mind: Most of the interactions you will have with your registrants will be through their phones or mobile devices. Knowing that, you'll want to make sure the user experience on your chosen platform is simple, clean, and intuitive. It also needs to translate to all screen sizes, because you don't know what device your audience will choose to use. Trust me, the last thing you want is for a potential participant to bow out because they're unable to navigate your platform.
The other major thing you'll need to consider here is the data privacy of your users. They need to have absolute confidence that their sensitive meta-data won't be sold to a third party and that any in-app purchases they make are 100% secure. After all, no one wants to get junk mail they didn't ask for or annoying ads on social media that won't go away.
Besides making sure that all is well on the back end of the software, you'll need to communicate the security measures in place to registrants so that they clearly understand how and why their data will be used.
Utilize social media
If you really want to spread the word of your event, make it easy for your attendees to share your information. Create custom share links such as "share on Facebook" so that your attendees can organically spread the news. Although your event is likely linked to a calendar on your website, adding it as an "event" on Facebook will make it visible to a much wider audience. Also, forming a Facebook group is an effective way to create buzz and discussion ahead of time and keep some level of attention after the event.
From Facebook, make sure you link back to your registration page. Additionally, all online marketing pieces, including the event landing page, should include social sharing widgets — Facebook's "like" and "share" buttons or LinkedIn's "send" feature. Creating a templated photo for people to share on LinkedIn after the event is also a good idea to start building hype for your next event.
Finally, having your speakers and sponsors share your event on their social media will also increase your reach since they almost certainly have established channels of their own. When done correctly and consistently, social media can absolutely be your most cost-efficient marketing tool.
Seriously, you need to follow-up
Let me say it again: follow up. Keeping the lines of communication open with registrants is a critical part of an event's success, and utilizing mobile notifications is the surest way to keep those points of contacts, both before and after the event. Your online registration system should include both an automated confirmation and reminder email. A "set it and forget it" mentality is a recipe for disaster, one that can be easily avoided with a little extra attention to detail.
Remember, the more complicated your event is, the more touch points you will need between sign-up and event day. Don't assume your registrants will check your website regularly for updates. Push notifications from your event app can really save the day. If timelines change, you can send registrants an instant notification. That way, you can make sure they have the latest agenda, contact information, transportation information, maps, and more, exactly when they need it most.
So, if your event uses a mobile app (and I highly encourage you to do so), be sure your registrants download it and know how to use it. Many paperless events depend on mobile technology to communicate with attendees through the life of an event and, perhaps of equal importance, drive engagement.
From online to onsite
Okay, so let's say that the day of your event has arrived. You're pumped and excited, right? Now it's time to close the loop from registration to check-in. This is a delicate moment of transition, so you want to make the process seamless. You'll want to be prepared with a user-friendly (or staff-run) process for check-in and name-badge retrieval.
Many online registration programs are integrated with badge printing and attendee check-in modules, so definitely take advantage of that. Tablets and/or touch-screen monitors are ideal for printing badges on demand. If you pre-print name badges ahead of time, just remember to always take a computer and printer as back-up for last minute changes, walk-ins, etc. You'll be glad you did.
As you can see, focusing on mobile usability and social media to facilitate registration, touch points, and follow up with your clients is a must-have in today's event-planning environment. Having an in-depth knowledge of the possibilities can be the determining factor in whether your event lands the way you envision it or not, give you a clear idea of your ROI, and identify areas of improvement for the next event. Each event is a chance to learn and improve in some way, so always take advantage of that.
Now, if you happen to be in the planning stages of your next event, Team Infinix is always happy to lend a hand. With our 30+ years of industry experience, we have the tools, talent, and technology to help you with mobile events and registration, or any other aspect of event planning or execution. Contact us today, and let's see what we can plan together.
All the best,