Association events are one of the benefits of membership. These conferences and meetings bring everyone together in the spirit of learning and collaboration. Whether your members are all in the same town or spread across the globe, having an easy-to-use, strategically designed event website that brings them together is critical. Here are eight tips to make that magic happen.
Sure, you know your members are visiting the site to register and get info about your annual conference, but what about people who are interested in membership? Annual events and learning conferences are great places to grow your association. Think about not only what kind of information your members need for the event itself but also what prospective members might be interested in knowing. This might include:
This piques the interest of new members and also gives current members a renewed sense of purpose (and a heads-up for upcoming events). You can also offer incentives for members who sign up for the event on the website plus any other event during the year.
Make sure your logo and colors are used throughout your website. It should be easy to connect your association’s homepage and the one-off event website.
This type of branding is easy to overlook, but when used consistently it makes your organization more memorable.
You’ll need pertinent details of the event, but go one step further and add engaging content that keeps site visitors looking around for longer. Because research shows that a website visitor who stays on the site for a long time is more likely to make a purchase, you want to offer a variety of opportunities for clicking and exploring.
So how do you make that magic happen? Add a blog. Blogs are the perfect opportunity to start the dialog with your members by providing useful content. Presenters and leaders of breakout sessions can provide their own content for the site, too.
Ask anyone. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the difference between someone clicking on your event website and the site dropping off into the abyss of the internet.
The goal is to get Google (one of the top ways people with find your association event) to decide that your event is important enough to feature on the first page of search results. How? By offering a well-organized, compelling event website that is clear and takes advantage of solid keyword research and a basic understanding of SEO.
Start with simple SEO best practices such as:
Because more people are likely to visit a website on their mobile device than their desktop, it makes sense to ensure that your event website is optimized for both. This includes testing for speed as well as how it looks on the screen.
Even if desktop users are more likely to convert (meaning: buy a ticket to your event), chances are good they originally found your event website on a mobile device. So make sure your website is fast and responsive no matter where it’s being viewed.
We’ve all been on websites that make no sense. Too many graphics are smashed together, the menu is hard to read, and you aren't sure where you're supposed to go next.
Don’t let that be you. Your event website should be clean and uncluttered, with great media and a clear path to purchase. What does this mean?
And don’t forget to include a call-to-action (CTA) in at least one place on each page (better to have two), and if you have only one, direct website visitors to purchase tickets. If you have more than one, help them explore the event virtually, guiding them through your engaging content that will make them want to learn more.
You can have the fanciest, fastest event website, but if it doesn’t have the details it’s dead in the water. Make sure to include:
Bonus points if you're looking to drive revenue for your association, be sure to include information for sponsors and (potential) exhibitors.
Finally, consider pairing your optimized, well-organized, perfectly detailed event website with an app. While this is not strictly necessary, apps are a great way to encourage interaction among attendees and presenters and can build a spirit of relationship and collaboration.
An unbeatable association event website – one that’s well designed, user-friendly, and aimed at creating a better experience for your attendees – is a key to your event’s success. It adds to your already-powerful presence online and provides critical information, capitalizing on good design and engaging content. It could be the difference between an event that goes well and one that takes off.
Suzannah Kolbeck writes, paints, and rides horses in Baltimore, MD. She is the author of Healing Where You Are: An Introduction to Urban Foraging.
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