Tag: event websites

How to Choose the Right Payment Gateway for Your Events

So you’ve taken the decision to charge people attending your events. You need a payment gateway that will allow you to process payments on your event website but aren’t sure where to start. Or perhaps you are hosting an international event and the payment gateway you are currently using doesn’t support the currency of the country many of your delegates are coming from. Or maybe you’re just not happy with your current provider and would like to make a change.

There are many different options for you to choose from when looking at payment gateways. The big names include the likes of Sage Pay, Worldpay, PayPal and Stripe but there are dozens of possibilities out there. So how do you know which is the best fit for your organisation?  The decision, more often than not, is something that is usually headed up by finance teams.  It is worth noting, however, that there are a number of important factors that need to be taken into consideration when choosing a payment method around your events. And the role of the event planner is key to ensure these requirements are met.

Have a look below at some of the top things you need to think about when selecting a payment gateway around your events:

1. Is Your Organisation Already Using a Payment Gateway?

The first thing to do is to find out if your organisation is already using a particular payment gateway for other parts of the business.  You may be required to use the same one as part of your company policy. Payment gateways can take time to set up and will be subject to security checks and audits from your bank. There may also be different levels of bureaucracy and hierarchy regarding approvals within your own organisation.  Going through this timely (often complex) process may not be worthwhile if there is already an existing deal with a gateway that your organisation is happy with.

Payment gateways aren’t the only thing you need to think about. You also have to think about the merchant accounts, which is essentially where your attendee payments go into (different from your regular business accounts). Some payment gateway providers offer just a payment gateway and require you to have your own merchant account. Other payment providers such as PayPal offer a combined payment gateway and merchant account. What you decide on really depends on what kind of existing arrangements your organisation may already have in place.

2. Can the Payment Gateway Be Used with Your Registration System?

The next thing would be to check which payment gateways are supported by your current registration or event management software.  This can significantly narrow down your choices. Choosing one that already integrates with the system makes it a lot more convenient and saves you time – it also means you may not have to spend additional money on development time.  Ask your event tech provider what they recommend – they have a lot of experience in this and can provide good advice on which gateways are better suited for certain types of events.

Like we mentioned above, your organisation may want you to work with a specific gateway solution.  In which case, you will have to work with your event tech provider in building the right type of integration between the two systems in exchange for a fee. Each gateway solution has different versions of the product – with different features and functionalities. Bear in mind that each one of these will have their own type of integration. For example, your organisation may use the ‘Worldpay Corporate’ integration, but your event software may only support ‘Worldpay Business’. Again, this will require additional investment in development time, so make sure you factor all these things in when making a decision.


Are your events ready for GDPR?  Get your copy of ‘The Event Planner’s Guide to GDPR Compliance’, and learn what impact Europe’s new data protection regulation will have on event marketing, data management and event technology – as well as what steps to take NOW to get ready for the May 2018 deadline.


3. How Does Your Event Management/Registration System Manage Payments?

The other thing you need to take into account is how your registration systems takes payments details from your event attendees.  There are two options here.  Does your system support non-hosted payment payment gateways? This is when your attendees are able to enter their card details without leaving your event website. Though it is the smoothest check out experience for your attendees, it is also the least secure. To take payments onsite you typically need an SSL certificate and you will also have to comply with PCI-DSS requirements. It’s worth taking a look at this article that gives good information on PCI-DSS compliance and what it means when dealing with delegate card payments. The fines for non-compliance can be hefty!

The alternative is to use a hosted payment gateway which redirects users to a ‘hosted’ payment page.  Once a payment has been made then your attendee will be returned to your website and the payment will be confirmed. It will likely be the case that your event tech provider may only support these ‘hosted’ payment gateways so that they don’t have to take responsibility for PCI-DSS compliance.

4. How Quickly Do You Need It Up and Running?

Setting up a merchant account and payment gateway can typically take anywhere around 3-4 weeks – although providers like PayPal and Stripe let you sign up without a merchant account so you can get started straight away. On the other hand, set up can also be a long and complex process – particularly if you’re a new or ‘high-risk’ business.  For example, banks can sometimes be reluctant to approve merchant accounts to event organisations because of the ‘interval’ between the time delegates make a payment and the event itself. In which case, you may be requested to provide detailed application forms so that the bank gets a better understanding of your business.  This isn’t a big issue but you need to bear it in mind and find a gateway that can support your specific needs, as well as meet your event deadlines.

5. Don’t Forget About Your Cash Flow

Once a delegate payment has been processed, it typically takes a few days for that payment to be settled into your bank account.  However, these payment timings can vary significantly from one provider to another. Gateways that are also merchant accounts generally sit on your money for a lot longer. This can slow down your cash flow and has a real impact on small businesses (think about the payments you need to make to venues, caterers and other suppliers).  Other providers on the other hand can settle your funds as quickly as the next day, while some may also only pay out funds on set days. Ideally, look for a provider that pays out every day.

6. The Kind of Events You Run Will Determine the Fees

The fees you pay for the payment gateway and merchant accounts can include monthly fees, fixed fees per transaction (whatever you are charging attendees for), variable fees based on a percentage of transactions, as well as other fees for things like payments from international cards.  So an organisation running one major international event can have complete different requirements to one that hosts several local events with a greater number of attendees.

Make sure you get a good overview of fees and ask to see a full schedule of charges before committing to one provider. Don’t forget some payment providers (not all) have been known to lock organisations into lengthy contracts – so make sure you understand what you’re signing up for.

7. Do You Need to Support Multiple Currencies for Your International Delegates?

If you are hosting events across different countries and need to take international payments or have a large number of international delegates – you should check whether the payment gateway offers international and multi-currency payments or even an interface with multiple languages. The APAC region, for example, only accepts payments through specific gateways and some global systems like Worldpay aren’t actually accepted all over the world. You should also check whether there are any additional fees for accepting multi-currency payments or payments from other countries and whether you will need to have a merchant account in a specific country.

8. Your Events Can’t Afford Downtime.  How Important is Reputation?

The short answer is very.  If you are processing payments from your attendees, you’ll want to work with a provider who has a good reputation in the industry and one that won’t let you down if things go wrong. Some payment gateways have had problems with outages and others have blocked merchants’ money unexpectedly without cause. Look at providers who take PCI-DSS compliance seriously and who provide a good level of support.  Find out how responsive their support service is, where their support team is based and whether or not they work the same hours as you. Do you need to pay extra for this support? Be sure you to do your research thoroughly before signing up with one.  Read reviews and get recommendations from organisations you can trust and use comparison sites which highlight the key features of each gateway.

Eventsforce offers quick and easy integrations with a number of major payment gateway providers, including Sage Pay, Worldpay, PayPal and many others.  If you’d like to have a chat about which gateway is best for your events, please get in touch here.


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Top 2017 Blog Posts on EventTech Talk

Tech is always pushing the boundaries of how we plan and run events – and 2017 was certainly no exception.  Almost every week, we’ve come across a new start-up, solution or gadget that promises to make planning easier and events more exciting.  And yet despite all this innovation, many are finding it hard to keep up – a recent industry poll by Eventsforce found that 65% of event planners find it difficult to stay up to date with the constantly evolving world of event tech.  And yet, not keeping up is no longer an option.

We launched the EventTech Talk blog a couple of years ago and have since seen a tremendous growth in a community of tech-savvy event planners who want to learn more about the latest technology development shaping the industry today. With regular polls and research studies, we’ve also been able to get good insight on uptake and trends, as well as varying opinions from well-known event experts on issues like data management, GDPR and AI-enabled technology.

With that in mind, we thought we’d share the top technology stories that really hit the mark with our readers over the past year.  Based on unique page views and social media shares, take a look at our top ten blog posts from 2017:

#1 What Event Planners Need to Know about Europe’s New Data Protection Law

GDPR is coming into effect in May 2018 and will apply to ANY event collecting and processing the personal information of European attendees – regardless of location.  This article explains what the new regulation actually means for our industry and how non-compliance, compared to current data protection regulation,s can bring serious financial consequences to event organisations worldwide. Read here.


Are your events ready for GDPR? Get your FREE eBook: ‘The Event Planner’s Guide to GDPR Compliance’, and learn what impact Europe’s new data protection regulation will have on event marketing, data management and event technology – as well as what steps event planners need to take now to get ready for the May 2018 deadline.


# 2 Ask the Experts: The Next Big Thing in Event Tech 2018

This past year was definitely an interesting one in the fast-evolving world of event technology with the arrival of AI-enabled chatbots, new data analytics tools and some practical developments in AR and VR technology.  EventTech Talk spoke to some of the industry’s top tech experts to find out what stood out in 2017 and what tech trends we should expect for the next year. Read here.

#3 10 Easy Tips for Designing Great Event Websites

Websites are still one of the most powerful marketing tools for events today. But if your website has too much information, doesn’t look appealing and more importantly, doesn’t create a sense of excitement around your event, then chances are people are going to go elsewhere. EventTech Talk had a chat with web designer, Dan Auty, who has worked on event websites for companies like Peugeot, BP and The Law Society, to discuss some of the latest trends in web design and look at some of the key things organisers need to think about when building websites for their events. Read here.

#4 How On-Site Apps Can Help You Run Better Events

Knowing exactly who turned up at your event and what sessions they attended is something that every event planner wants to know. The information helps us figure out popular topics and sessions. It helps us profile attendees.  It is also one of the many ways we measure event success.  Yet having this information at the end of the event is a bit of a lost opportunity.  Find out how using on-site apps can improve your attendees’ event experience and bring you important insight on the day of your event.  Read here.

#5 How to Collect Valuable Data from Events

Event tech systems help organisations collect important data around their events (registration forms, surveys, apps) and create all sorts of reports that help in measuring event success. The problem, however, is that the amount of data generated around an event is often overwhelming and figuring out what tools you need to measure the data that matters is not as simple as one would hope. Have a look at this list of some of the most effective event data collection tools based on feedback from more than 120 event organisers. Read here.

#6 How to Engage Attendees with Gamification

From the humble ice-breaker through to complex team-building activities, gamification solutions such as quizzes and scavenger hunts have gained considerable popularity around events over the past year.  And yet, one of the biggest complaints or criticisms around gamification is that people don’t engage and the return is low.   EventTech Talk spoke to Callum Gill, head of insight and innovation at leading creative experience agency, drp Group, to see what steps organisers need to take to put together a successful gamification strategy around their events. Read here.

#7 Infographic: The Power of Event Invitations

Regardless of whether you’re hosting a meeting, a networking event or a multi-day conference, we all know the importance of the event invite. It sets the tone of your event and is one of the first opportunities to make a good impression with potential attendees. It is also what convinces most people to take action and sign up.  But what are the latest trends around managing event invitations and how are event planners measuring success? Read here.

#8 Quick Email Marketing Tips for Event Success

Email still remains as the top most effective marketing tools for events today. Unlike websites or event apps, the email you send to attendees is a controlled experience where you can decide exactly what it looks like, what time it shows up, what call to action to use and what kind of personalised content it should include.  And best of all, it’s measurable. But with more than 20 percent of legitimate marketing emails never reaching a recipient’s inbox, what steps should event planners take to ensure the successful delivery of their email campaigns? Read here.

#9 Infographic: The ROI of Event Personalisation

Personalisation is seen as one of the hottest trends in the events industry as attendees increasingly expect both the communication of the event and the live experience to be tailored to them in some way. But is personalisation actually worth the time and effort? Are we doing anything useful with all the personalisation data we’re gathering from attendees or are we collecting too much?  Are there any data collection tools that are more effective than others? Take a look at the results of the latest research study from Eventsforce on the ROI of personalisation. Read here.

#10 Top Mistakes to Avoid When Using Facebook Live

The ability to record live videos using nothing more than a Smartphone is opening up all sorts of opportunities for the events industry – from improving engagement with attendees to reaching out to new audiences all over the world. But as with anything live, things can always go wrong.  The feed might cut off.  Your speaker might mess up or some crisis might unfold…and the whole thing gets broadcasted on the Internet.  So, needless to say, it helps being prepared. Have a look at some of the most common mistakes you need to avoid when using live-streaming apps like Facebook Live at events. Read here.


Want to be a tech savvy event planner? Get weekly updates from our blog and learn about the latest technology trends, discussions and debates shaping our industry today.  Click here to join EventTech Talk today.

 

 

How to Make Sure Your Events Show Up on Google Search

If showing up on Google is vital to your event’s success, then ranking well on the search results and understanding how your potential attendees are searching for events like yours is something you need to do. But how do you make sure your events are found easily online?  And what are the latest criteria that Google is using to rank pages on search results?

What is SEO?

Google today acts as both the main gateway and gatekeeper to the Internet.  It controls seven out of every ten searches on the Internet.  It also organises and ranks the links of various websites according to certain criteria –  and this is where SEO comes in.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) refers to how search engines determine which links are shown first to users. And if you want people to find your event when searching for events like yours, then investing time on your site’s SEO optimisation is definitely something you need to do.   Some may argue that it’s an IT thing or a job for the SEO specialists.  However, if Google search is an important source of registrations for your events, then it’s far from ideal to just hand over SEO to IT and expect things to simply work out.

Google SEO Top Tips for Event Planners

SEO with Google Search has changed so much the last few years, that many marketers aren’t sure what’s outdated, what’s important, what will make a difference and what is simply wasted effort. The reason for a lot of the changes to Google’s search algorithms is user experience.  If Google sends you to a website, they want to make sure you have a good experience on that page. They are after all a business and want to make their customers happy. From their point of view, they didn’t create the webpage but they are endorsing it.  They need to make sure that people have a good experience on that page to keep people coming back to Google. Which isn’t so different in the way we run events.

Let’s take a look at how Google is ranking pages in 2017 and what planners need to do to ensure their event websites rank well in search results:

1. Content is King – It wasn’t long ago when marketers could use SEO tactics like link building, keywords, and title tags to make their websites do better on search rankings, regardless of content quality.  But that is no longer the case.  Good, original and engaging content is key for SEO – and publishing content on a regular basis is even better.  A good example of this is a blog.  You can get your speakers to contribute with previews of their presentations.  Get them to ask attendees what questions they want addressed during their session or include their Twitter handles and invite people to engage with speakers directly in the run up to the event.   Putting together original content that people want to share, link to and write about is simply put the easiest path to organic SEO.

2. Keyword Magic – Having a good understanding of the keywords that your attendees, sponsors and exhibitors are using to search for events like yours will help you come up with the right type of content, headlines and anchor text (more on that later) that will convince people to click on a link and check out your website.  So you’ve got to find the keywords that best describe your event.  For example: if your next London event is about Europe’s new data protection legislation (GDPR), then your keywords will be: GDPR, seminar, EU data protection legislation, London. If you know that people are searching for ‘seminars on GDPR in London’ then these long-tail keywords should also be included in your content’s SEO strategy. To create solid keyword lists for your events, use free keyword tools like Ubersuggest and Google AdWords Keyword Planner.

A word of caution, however. Keywords are a great way of optimising your search rankings and having them appear regularly across your website and the content you publish online is definitely something you should do.  But you’ve got to make sure that your use of keywords is always relevant – too much of it risks your content being seen as spam.  In fact, keyword ‘stuffing’ is 100% against Google’s guidelines and is likely going to get your website penalised.

3. Be Clever with Headlines –  Boring headlines are not going to do you any favours. Neither are misleading racy headlines that bring in short-term traffic volume (especially on social media) because after the initial clicks fade away, Google will no longer see the point in driving traffic to your content. The goal of your headlines should always be to inform your reader, not the search engine.  There’s nothing worse than having a headline that’s awkwardly framed around one keyword or one that forcibly repeats a keyword phrase.

While creating strong headlines is a good ranking tactic, subheads you use on your web pages have a slightly different function.  Rather than saying pretty much what you said in the headline which is more focused on engaging your readers and telling them quickly what the page is about, subheads should focus on the keywords you want people to use to find your website.

4. Easy Site Navigation – Clean simplicity and no unnecessary clutter is what you should aim for.  You want your event website pages to get to the point – especially on your home page. You want your visitors to understand the purpose of your event in seconds – you want them to feel satisfied with the information, not overwhelmed or underwhelmed and definitely not confused.

Read:  10 Easy Tips for Designing Great Event Websites

Make sure you also use strong call-to-actions at the end of each page to point readers to other relevant pages.  For example, your agenda page can have a CTA button that says ‘Meet the Speakers’, leading them to the speakers’ bio page.   By getting your site visitors spend more time on your website, you will help raise the authority of your site which will have a positive impact on your SEO ranking.

5. Use Text with Images and Videos – Google can’t see images on websites, so it’s important to give any images you use on your event website an alt text and relevant file name to ensure Google knows what the image is about. If you don’t do this, you risk losing the opportunity to be as visible as possible online. It helps Google if the text on the page where the image is located mentions the image too.  Have it close to the image, using keywords similar to the alt text/file name. Google also recommends providing descriptive titles and captions for your images. Name your image file something that describes what it is, rather than something like IMG1234.jpg. And in terms of format, stick to BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WebP and SVG image types – otherwise, Google won’t be able to index them.  The same applies to videos.  Have a transcript or summary of the video content on the same page so that Google can read the text and have it come up in search results.

6. Be Wary of Pop-Ups – Many event planners use pop-ups on their websites to promote early bird discounts or other offers that will entice people to register for an event.  The misuse of pop-ups however has led to a lot of controversy over whether marketers should use them or not. Google last year announced that they would begin to penalise websites that use ‘intrusive interstitials’ (bad pop-ups).  And intrusive is the key word here.  Google doesn’t penalise all pop-ups, just the ones that get in the way of someone’s ability to access the content on the page when they’re searching on a mobile device.  So pop-ups that users have to dismiss before being able to access the main content of the page will get you in trouble with Google. On the other hand, a pop-up that uses a reasonable amount of screen space and doesn’t disrupt the mobile user’s experience has no implications on SEO.

7. Use Attractive Anchor Text – We mentioned earlier anchor-text – also referred to as meta description. This is the piece of text commonly used as a preview snippet that appears in Google’s search results, right under the title and URL of your event website.   Google no longer uses anchor text for ranking, but they’re still important for SEO as they affect click-through rates.  

Anchor text present a major opportunity to separate your event from others and convince searchers that your event is worth looking into. So make sure to include your keywords as part of the text and more importantly, make it appealing and use a strong call-to-action that will prompt people to click on the link and come to your site. Having a relevant and compelling description about your event can be the difference between someone clicking through to your page and one who clicks elsewhere.

8. Have Credible Backlinks – Backlinks are basically the sites that refer to your event website. Let’s say your event sponsor creates a link on their website to your event registration page.  That’s a backlink.  Backlinks that come from high-authority websites or websites that experience a lot of traffic show Google that your website has value and authority which has a positive impact on your SEO.  Consider doing some guest blogs around your event on these high authority sites (ex. industry news sites/blogs) as this will increase your backlinks – just make sure you don’t do it at the expense of quality, because, again this will cancel out your SEO efforts.

Keep a close eye on your link profile, analytics and be on the lookout for misuse. If you think your event site is being harmed by low-quality links you do not control, you should put every effort in cleaning them up. You can also ask Google to not take them into account when assessing rankings for your site by disavowing them.

9. Think SEO with Social Media – A strong social media presence can also help your search rankings as it provides ‘social proof’ to your event website. Google sees social media as an increasingly powerful sign of influence and authority. So when people use their social channels to share, like, engage with and link to pages on your event website, it tells Google that those pages are ones people want to see. Some things you can do in the run-up to your event is include picking keyword-relevant handles (ex. @GDPRLondon17), adding keywords to tweets and thinking about SEO with regards to the names of the videos and images being shared.

Conclusion

Having a good understanding of Google’s SEO criteria can help a lot with your event’s Google ranking. Just remember that more than anything else, SEO is about the user experience.  Your site visitor’s user experience. And that experience starts from the minute they type in their search query into Google. The better their experience, the better your SEO.

Do you want your event websites to make more of an impact? Eventsforce can help you create branded mobile-responsive event websites in minutes using its simple content editing interface.  Find out more by getting in touch here.


Sources:
Hubspot: 18 SEO Myths You Should Leave Behind in 2017
Contently: 7 Keys to Great SEO for Content Marketers

 

10 Easy Tips for Designing Great Event Websites

Untitled design (84)

Websites are still one of the most powerful marketing tools for events today. They provide people with information.  They educate.  They entertain.  Ultimately, they get people to sign up to your event.  But if your website has too much information, doesn’t look appealing and more importantly, doesn’t create a sense of excitement around your event, then chances are people are going to go elsewhere.

Thanks to recent advancements in technology, you no longer need to be an expert in web design to put together a great looking site for your event.  Most event management solutions these days offer web design tools that have an abundant choice of templates that make the whole process a whole lot easier.  But speed and convenience isn’t everything.   People make conclusions about an event very quickly through its website and it’s important to make a good impression from the start.

We had a chat with web designer, Dan Auty, who has worked on event websites for companies like Peugeot, BP and The Law Society, to discuss some of the latest trends in web design and look at some of the key things organisations need to think about when building websites for their events:

Untitled design (79)1) Get to the Point!

No one really looks at a web page for more than 10 seconds, so focus on your event’s key message.  Make sure that anyone coming to the landing page of your site can quickly scan it, understand what the event is about, find out when and where it’s happening and how they can register.  Stick to one paragraph and avoid long-winded introductions – chances are people are not going to read it, especially if they already have an idea about your event through the invitation link that led them to the site in the first place. Make sure that the date, location and your CTA button (ex. ‘Register Now’), are positioned above the fold and that they’re available on each page of your site.  If you make it difficult for visitors to find this information, they will leave.

2) Showcase Your Main Selling Points

Make sure your landing page has something that grabs the visitor’s attention. You can feature a well-known guest speaker or even testimonials from celebrities or high-profile attendees that came to your last event. If your venue is in an attractive location like Las Vegas or the Caribbean, then use large colourful location shots that get people excited about the experience they’ll have around the event.  Las Vegas at night is an attractive image to a lot of people, regardless of what the event is about.

Untitled design (83)3) Use Strong Visuals

Over the last few years, websites are putting a lot more emphasis on the use of visuals like images, graphics and videos. Think about the visual draw of your event that isn’t necessarily the subject matter. You can use pictures of your event location or venue – exterior and interior shots of fancy or well-known facilities usually work well.  Or you can use images of your guest speakers or the cocktail party you had at your last event.

What you want to avoid is pictures of people speaking at podiums or attendees sitting in dingy seminar rooms.  Also, try to avoid using generic stock photos of people having meetings in boardrooms etc. –  instead, use real images from your previous events. And if you can’t find the right photo, try using illustrations in your visual mix.  You can easily say a lot through a well-designed graphic.

4) Video is a Big Deal

Video content marketing has been gaining a lot of momentum over the last few years. In fact, a recent industry poll from Eventsforce revealed that 84% of event planners are using video as part of their marketing efforts to promote their events. Videos gives attendees the opportunity to learn more about your event and they do a good job of conveying the personality of your organisation. They also are a lot more engaging than text –  Forrester Research claims that a minute of video can be equivalent to 1.8 million words!

 Videos that automatically play in the background can add a lot to a page but try and limit the ones that play with sound as it can be off-putting for some visitors.  There are many other ways of using videos on your event website – from save-the-date-videos and highlights from your last event to video testimonials, interviews with keynote speakers and informal blog-style videos that can feature tours of your venue. Have a look at this article here for more ideas on using video on your event websites.


Want to be a tech savvy event planner? Sign up to the weekly EventTech Talk newsletter here and get updates on all the latest technology trends, discussions and debates shaping the events industry today.


Untitled design (81)5) Don’t Forget About Fonts

Many event websites use a particular font or typography that follow the organiser’s corporate guidelines but there are also many out there that choose their own. If you have that choice, then make sure you have think about  it carefully as the typography you decide on can indicate subtle hints about the personality of your event or organisation. Is it a fun event or a serious one?  Is it educational or inspirational?

Web designers used to be limited to certain font types to ensure that it would be supported by common browsers and devices, but this is no longer the case.  There is a large selection of fonts you can choose from – though if you’re stuck, ‘Arial’ is still a popular one as it look good on all types of screens.  You can also look at Google’s range of fonts here, which are all free to use.

6) Colour Schemes

Research from QuickSprout shows that 90% of all product assessments have to do with color. In fact, colour is 85% of the reason you purchase a specific product. So, it’s a no-brainer for any website that colour affects conversions. But colour can be a tricky thing – you have to use it in the right way, at the right time with the right audience.

Again, you may be constrained by your organisation’s branding guidelines but as a general rule, stick to dark coloured text on light backgrounds.  It looks good, gets better engagement and helps in conversions. It also has the added advantage for those site visitors with visual impairments. Sites with low contrast are difficult on the eye for most people but can be especially difficult for people with low vision – bad combinations include blue links on black backgrounds or red text on green.  There is no hard and fast rule as to how much contrast is enough, but it usually isn’t too hard to figure out when certain colour combinations don’t contrast well together.

Untitled design (80)7) Make Site Navigation Easy

Think about the user journey and try and make the path from one page to the next as smooth as possible. Avoid using a lot of drop down menus as they tend to look messy and can take up valuable space on your site.  A lot of people will be looking at your site through mobile devices, so you need to think about how it’s going to look and work on different screens.  Recent research by Tech Crunch, for example, shows that there is a new trend in using top bar menus for mobile instead of the traditional hamburger menu layouts.

Learn from your past events. Have a look at how visitors previously engaged with your event websites using Google Analytics  – it can show you the exact journey visitors took throughout the site, as well as give you some valuable insight on popular pages, conversion rates and the point at which people were abandoning their registrations for your event. It’s also worth testing the navigation of your site by someone who hasn’t been involved in building it to get an objective view on content, functionality and how easy it is to use.

8) Registration Needs to be Simple

The overall look and feel of your registration pages may depend on the kind of registration software you are using for your events. As a general rule, however, try and make your forms as clean and simple as possible. Don’t have too many boxes and don’t ask unnecessary questions. For example, don’t ask  attendees for their mailing addresses if you’re not going to end up using that information. Don’t forget, the more clicks it takes to close a sale, the more excuse your attendees have to walk away.

9) Make it Mobile Responsive

Most event websites today are mobile responsive and if they’re not, they should be. As well as giving your attendees a consistent user experience regardless of what device they view your site on, a responsive web design also helps with SEO.  Google favours mobile-optimised sites and as a result, ranks these sites higher in search results.  In fact, Google now penalises those sites that are not responsive – so all the valuable SEO your site currently has could all go to waste if it’s not viewable on a mobile device.

If your site is mobile responsive,  then it’s easy to have two different websites for your desktop and mobile devices. The layout of your screen (including text and images) can change automatically based on the detected screen size of the user’s device. So if the browser detects a screen smaller than 480 pixels, for example, it will show the Smartphone layout of your site, which doesn’t include the Twitter feed you have on the desktop version. Having the flexibility to drop things in and out depending on the screen size ensures that people are getting the right kind of information as quickly as possible, regardless of the devices they use.

Untitled design (13)10) Have Multilingual Support

Multilingual websites are actually one of the most cost-effective ways of marketing your events. They help attract new attendees, build closer relationships and give your events an international outlook. We’ve seen a number of conferences doing this over the last couple of years for – it helps them stay ahead of the competition.  It also helps with SEO.

It doesn’t need to be a complicated process either. Most event management or registration software these days offer a multilingual module, which allows important pages on your event website including those for registration and agendas to be displayed in several popular world languages of your choice.  For more information on the topic, have a quick read of this article here.

Want your event website to make an impact? Eventsforce can help you create branded mobile-responsive event websites in minutes using its simple content editing interface.  Find out more by getting in touch here.

3 Tips for Calculating Social Marketing ROI for Event Management

Untitled design (56)Social media has become a critical tool for the successful promotion and execution of events. Justin Guinn, market researcher at software reviews site, Software Advice, believes that this is largely due to how social today has such a great impact on event awareness and enrollment. It also helps that most event management software options on the market offer various social tools and integrations.

Event managers are catching on to the benefits of social strategies, which explains why 40 percent of businesses are already using social media for event marketing, and 78 percent of event organisers plan to increase their use of social media in the future. But with the rise in social media usage, many event marketers are still falling short in one critical competency: calculating the ROI of their social media strategy.

According to the 2015 Gartner report How to Measure Social Marketing ROI (available for Gartner clients), only around 56 percent of social marketing leaders are calculating an ROI for their social programs.  And without proof that their social campaigns are contributing to the success of their events, social marketers will have a hard time making a case for additional resources down the line.

As such, proving an ROI on social marketing should be a priority for event management teams who market on social channels. That’s why we’re listing three tips to help you calculate the ROI of a social marketing for event planning. Follow these guidelines to build buy-in for your social strategy.

Untitled design (26)1. Track Attendance Driven by Social Engagement Campaigns

There’s no one right answer for how to track event enrollment via social channels. As a general rule, you should be tracking the number of times a visitor lands on your website from a social networking site and also the number of those visitors who convert into customers or attendees.

The most popular tracking method for social traffic to your site is to include UTM tracking codes on your hyperlinks. UTM codes are enabled by Google Analytics and require some knowledge of that platform. Google Analytics training, which Google offers for free, is a good place to start if you’re a UTM/Analytics novice.

The UTM codes themselves are attached to the end of the hyperlinks you include in social posts, and they work as identifiers for Analytics to track various valuable metrics. They offer an invaluable snapshot of traffic driven by each post.

As Michael Stancil of PracticalEcommerce explains: “You may be wondering, ‘Why do I need to know clicks and conversions if the Facebook ad dashboard tells me this?’ That’s a valid question. But with the data provided to you in Facebook’s ad dashboard, you’re only scratching the surface. You won’t see how that traffic actually interacts on your site. And if you’re concerned about other metrics (as you should be) —such as time on site, number of pages viewed and bounce rate—you won’t be able to find them.”

Regardless of how you go about it, accurately tracking the traffic your social campaigns are driving is hugely important. Proper tracking enables you to see just how much traffic each social post is driving, as well as how much money that traffic is generating. Monitoring these various metrics will make it more clear what works and what doesn’t, and enable you to steer your social strategy in the best direction for your business.

2. Recognise the Importance of Engagement and Social Listening

Tracking social-driven traffic and tying it directly to revenue is one of the most tangible ROI calculations you can provide. But there is plenty of other value that engagement on social channels can provide.

One important metric is social listening. Engagement through social listening manifests itself in many ways, but most often takes the form of responding to concerns and complaints launched by customers at your social accounts.

According to an event marketing-focused social media article from The Bizzabo Blog, there was an 800 percent increase in social media complaints about businesses in the U.K. over one year. Likewise, the Guardian reported that one in four social media users in the U.K. used social platforms to voice complaints in the first three months of 2015 alone.

Of course, you never want customers to complain about your business, brand, products, events etc. But there is a silver lining here—recurring complaints can signal trends that need to be addressed.

Even a single complaint has value, in that it organically opens the door for you to engage the customer and respond to their complaint. And if you’re going to respond, be timely about it. The Bizzabo Blog states that 40 percent of customers who complain on social media expect a response within one hour.

Your engagement, whether it’s to offer a solution, recompense or even simply acknowledge the complaint, is a successful social touch point that contributes to the overall customer advocacy of your organisation. In fact, Bizzabo found that when a complaint is answered by a business, it leads to a 25 percent increase in customer advocacy.

calc3. Leverage Social as a More Efficient Channel of Communication

The third metric for calculating the ROI of social media marketing for your events is the cost savings. Social marketing is incredibly efficient when compared to more traditional marketing channels.

Take, for example, the Kissmetrics Blog’s stat that around 77 percent of event marketers are leveraging social to engage with attendees and build hype and awareness prior to events. How else would that hype have been built, if not through social channels? Emails, phone calls, print campaigns, TV and radio advertisements? These are all lofty investments in terms of additional resources, labour hours and materials involved.

Click to get in touchDepending on your business’s size, you could potentially operate your social campaigns and manage customer/attendee questions and complaints through those channels with one dedicated employee.

The greater operational efficiency social offers can go a long way to winning greater buy-in and approval for even more resources from those in charge. Especially if you can turn a minimal-spend social strategy into an actual profit centre for your business. Even if it’s only a percentage of your total revenue, it’s coming at virtually no cost to the business.

 

Software Advice Bio PicJustin Guinn is a Market Researcher at Software Advice, a company that hosts research and reviews of event management and registration software comparisons, and software for small businesses and non-profits. His work has been cited in dozens of notable publications, including The New York Times, Forbes, The Huffington Post and TIME Magazine. His research explores the impacts of emerging software and technologies, and he has conducted primary research with both consumers and business owners to get a full picture of technology’s role in these markets today.

 

 

 

Why Video Is a Big Deal for Marketing Your Events – Part 2

Untitled design (43)We all know how important it is to create a feeling of excitement around your events as it makes it easier to convince people why they should attend in the first place. We know that if we do this successfully, people will share their experiences afterwards and come back year after year. And video is a great way of doing this.

Last week, we talked about why online video is one of the most practical uses of your marketing time and budget (Why Video is Becoming a Big Deal for Marketing Your Events – Part 1). In this post, we’ll focus on the key things you need to take into consideration when putting together a video strategy, as well as some creative ideas on how to use videos when promoting your events.

Get Your Video Strategy Right

Untitled design (42)Start by identifying your target audience(s) and the message you are trying to convey to them. The most common mistake is trying to cram too much in or making it too sales-y. Don’t try to target everyone, otherwise you risk losing them all. Set your key goals and identify how your video content is going to help you reach those objectives. So if you want to attract last year’s attendees, then maybe make them the focus of your video. If you want to attract more delegates from overseas, then focus your content on who they will meet and what they can do in the city you’re hosting your event in.  And never end the video with a blank screen – always provide some sort of call to action, whether that’s registration, an offer or links to related material or content.

Make sure your videos are mobile responsive.  According to Cisco, mobile video traffic accounted for 55 percent of total mobile data traffic in 2015.  This figure will increase 11-fold by 2020, accounting to 75 percent of total mobile data traffic, globally.  If you’re targeting millennials, this is even more important as they are three times more likely to watch videos on their mobile devices.

Distribution is another important thing to think about.  It used to be enough to make a video, post it on your website and YouTube and that would be the end of it.  But these days, you have to think about distribution across different social media sites that can help maximise your reach. Each platform has its own creative constraints and this may mean ‘tailoring’ your content for each site. Facebook, for example, supports any length of video, while Instagram has a limit of one minute.  On the other hand, both Facebook and Instagram can play videos silently in the timeline, so you may need to think about adding subtitles to ensure your message comes across. Also, don’t forget to share your video content with other third parties involved in the event so that they can use it for their own marketing and promotional activities.

Finally, don’t forget about tracking metrics.  The success of your video campaign can easily be measured – whether it is sent via email, posted on your event web page or on social media.  You can track all sorts of meaningful data including the time spent watching the video, time spent on the page, click through rates and the number of viewers who followed through with your intended action.

How to Use Videos Before Your Event

7 Practical Ideas to Use Videos to Promote Your EventsFor some practical ideas on how to use video content to promote your event, have a look at the list below:

1.Save-The-Date Videos: This can be a great way of letting people know about your upcoming event and mark it in their calendars.  Share the video via email with your delegates, post it on your event website and on social media.  Make it fun, short and snappy.  The video-sharing service, Vine, is a good tool for this as it allows you to easily record and edit short looping videos.

2.‘Event Highlight’ Videos: If you’ve hosted your event in the past, then you’ve most likely filmed it. Have a look at this one from last year’s Sports Technology Awards. It highlights what happened at their event with plenty of B-roll footage of people chatting and having a laugh. It also includes testimonials from the many different voices and personalities. Use old videos to make totally new videos. Swap out the soundtrack and voiceover, add some new stock footage and you may be surprised with how good it turns out!

3.Video Testimonials: Again, this assumes you’ve hosted the same event in the past. Collate testimonials from different people talking about why the event was valuable for them, including some from your speakers, volunteers and staff. Going back to our earlier millennial stats, almost 70% find video customer testimonials helpful when making a purchasing decision but two in three lose interest when a video is too promotional.  So keep it simple and don’t oversell.  Focus on your attendees’ experiences and make it fun and personable.

4.Video Conferences: These can be a good crowdsourcing tool to use in the run up to your event to connect with your attendees and do some research on the kind of things they would like to see or experience at your event. A study from Eventsforce found that 62% of event planners use crowdsourcing tools to determine things like agendas and session topics, speakers and dining preferences. Though it may be quicker to do this via registration forms or other crowdsourcing platforms, a face to face informal video discussion with a select group of delegates can create long-term loyalty around your events.

5.Video Ads: This is probably the most popular form of video content used around events. It highlights the key sessions, provides details about your speakers and focuses on what delegates should expect at your event, including things like transport and accommodation.   If you are going to feature your organisation, make sure the video presents someone who is actually going to be at the events as it makes the person more approachable on the day.

6.Video Blogs: Make your promotional videos more interesting by producing informal blog-style videos. This can be things like venue tours or a list of the top ten reasons why your event will NOT be a waste of their time. It can be a list of some of the best places to relax at the end of each day or even a list of quirky places they can visit at your event destination. Ask your suppliers and see what they can provide. By focusing on their event and personal experiences, you will establish more trust with your attendees from the start of your campaign.  And by having this trust, you are far more likely to get them to read all the other content you send their way.

Click to get in touch7.Speaker Videos: Video is also a useful tool to woo your speakers. Show them videos of your last event and speakers. Perhaps send them amusing thank you videos after they’ve accepted your invitation to speak. Give your viewers a ‘sneak-peek’ into your event by creating videos of your speakers talking about things they’ll be covering at the event and the sessions they’re interested in attending themselves.  Get them to ask viewers what topics they would like them to cover or ask them a few questions about recent trends that are relevant to your industry today.

 

 

 

 

Why Video Is a Big Deal for Marketing Your Events – Part One

Video Blog 2Let’s face it.  Video is a great tool for marketing your events. It gives your attendees the opportunity to learn more about your event and does a good job of conveying the personality of your organisation. It also is a lot more engaging than text.  Forrester Research claims that a minute of video can be equivalent to 1.8 million words1.  That, by the way, is the equivalent of 3,600 typical web pages. So if you write an average of one web page an hour, it would take you 150 days of writing to achieve the impact of one minute of video – assuming of course that your content is good in the first place!

It’s true that video content marketing has been gaining a lot of momentum over the last few years. The trend first started with publishers, then marketers and now we’re seeing it become a lot more prominent in the events industry. A poll last month by Eventsforce revealed that 84% of UK and US event planners are using video as part of their marketing strategies to promote their events. In fact, the overall pace at which digital video consumption is growing right now is really quite staggering.  By the time we reach 2019, it is said that video will make up around 80% of all consumer Internet traffic globally2.  We expect this kind of growth to be reflected across our own industry as organisations increasingly try to find new and creative ways of attracting people to attend their events.

The recent advancement of technology is a big contributing factor to its popularity.  Simple animation tools and Smartphones devices are allowing people to produce slick and professional looking videos without the need for the sizeable investment that was required not so long ago. The ease in which videos can be put together and uploaded on traditional platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo has also played a part.  So has the recent surge of new video offerings from social media platforms like Facebook and SnapChat that are helping video content go viral – did anyone not see this Chewbaca Mom video last month? It has broken the record as the most-watched Facebook Live video – ever.

The impact of video on your events can really be significant. It can be a great way to generate enthusiasm amongst your attendees and equally present a really good case for those who haven’t yet registered. So if you’re doing it already and doing it well, then you’re on the right track because it will become an integral part of any event marketing campaign over the coming few years. But if you’re still unconvinced and feel that it is something that can take a lot of effort with little gain, then read on.

 The Business Case for Video Content

Video BlogWe’ll be looking at the key considerations you need to take before putting together a video strategy, as well as some great ideas on how to use video prior to an event (more on that in our blog next week).  Before doing that, however, it is important to look at why online video is one of the most practical uses of your marketing time and budget:

  1. Video more engaging than text – Compared to text, video offers your attendees more of an enjoyable ‘sit back’ experience that promises to be short and interesting. From a psychological point of view, it is said that visual makes up around 90% of all the information our brains pick up and that we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.3 With this in mind, you can see how video can simplify your whole event communications process. It can also help overcome things like language barriers by allowing you to explain things to any number of people anywhere around the world.
  1. Return on Your Investment – Incorporating video into the digital marketing strategy of your event can be a really cost-effective way of reaching your target audience. A study has found that video converts better than other forms of digital content, with 71% of respondents indicating it performs better for them than text and images. The report also found that marketers are seeing very positive engagement rates from using video, with a majority indicating that video is a good vehicle for lead generation4.
  1. Improves Search Engine Optimisation – Video is good for your SEO ranking. Search engines lead people to your event website so the significance of this is quite important. Posting a video on YouTube moves up your search engine rankings due to Google’s high rank for YouTube. Posting a video on your event website will also help it move up the ranking pages – the advantage of this over YouTube of course is that the traffic coming in is likely to stay on your site. On YouTube, you risk attendees getting distracted by other videos instead of following your call to action – whether that’s registration or a sign up to your app. It’s best to use both methods at the same time, but it is recommended to vary your videos if you can.
  1. Expands Your Reach to Millennials – If your events target millennials, then you’ll find this interesting. A recent report from online video maker, Animoto, shows that 50% of millennials will read an email from a company if it includes a video – something worth thinking about when sending out your email invitations.  The study states that 76% of millennials follow companies or brands on YouTube and that they are three times more likely to watch a video on their mobile devices. The numbers speak for themselves.  If your attendees are millennials, then you can’t afford to ignore video.
  1. Click to get in touchIncreases Click-Through Rates – People tend to show more interest in an email or website if it contains video. According to one infographic on video marketing trends, using the word ‘video’ in an email subject line can boost open rates by 19%, click-through rates by 65% and reduce unsubscribes by 26%2. When done right, video also has the potential to boost landing page conversions by 80% – so a video on your event site encouraging people to register by promoting an early bird discount can have a significant impact on your numbers.

Next week: Top considerations when putting together a video content strategy along with some great ideas on how to use videos to promote your events

Sources:
1 Market Wired: A minute of video Is worth 1.8 Million words, according to Forrester Research
2 Cisco Visual Networking Index
3 iMedia: Why people respond to video more than text
4 Tubular Insights: 71% of marketers confirm video converts better than other content