Research
8/13/2019 | 7 MINUTE READ

Your Event Website is Your First Impression: How to Make it a Good One

Your event’s website is a marketing engine with the potential to generate numerous connections between your exhibitors and their prospects while also driving attendance. It is critically important that you are utilizing your online opportunities most effectively.

Infographic stock image

It is vital that your event planning team thoroughly reviews your event website regularly, establishing goals that will determine a content strategy. They can then implement the necessary resources to deliver results that will continue to enhance the event for your existing attendees and exhibitors as well as your prospective ones. As you plan to evaluate your strategy, here are some best practices to guide you through your strategy implementation.

1. Understand how your attendees are using your event website.

While there are numerous options and services that can be offered through your website, it is important to understand your audience and why they’re visiting your site before you can properly address their needs. Help them identify how they would like to spend their time during the event. Survey a cross-section of attendees, evaluate their feedback, and then use those findings to define meaningful solutions that will work seamlessly within your website navigation and design while still delivering relevant, accurate, and timely results throughout your entire show cycle. Learn their preference for communication and keep in mind that each event is unique. What was successful for one event’s attendees may not apply for another’s.

2. Establish goals for your event website.

Infographic stock image

Whether your desire is to increase traffic to the site, promote sponsorships, or create a place for exhibitors and attendees to communicate, it is important to evaluate all the options made available to you when establishing goals for your event site. Understand what your internal event team can accomplish and what outside resources are needed to fulfill your requirements. As you proceed in the evaluation process, involve all the appropriate members of your team and together, make a united effort to find solutions that will meet each of your goals, as well as deliver efficiencies to your customers. Set a goal for a minimum number of website visits and filter traffic to increase your awareness of who is on the site. By doing so, you will enhance overall brand recognition in your market sector.

3. Visibility and timing are critical when it comes to taking your online exhibitor directory live.

Directory location on the event site is critical to the success of the event in the eyes of the exhibitor. Research shows that attendees want the exhibitor directory information to be easily accessible. By placing the directory in a visible location on the homepage you are creating more opportunity for exhibitors and attendees to connect.

We recommend you post your exhibitor directory no later than eight weeks prior to the event to maximize engagement. This can offer more outreach by providing exhibitors with additional time to plan ahead and promote their presence. It can also give the attendees more time to pre-plan by choosing the companies they would like to visit as well as set appointments in advance with exhibitors offering the opportunity. This will likely result in a more successful event overall.

4. Track and benchmark all directory usage to measure your success and identify trends in behavior over time.

Infographic stock image

Event website attendance is an important metric that can be used to measure the success of your event. By tracking all directory usage on your event site, you can easily account for each exhibitor’s activity thus providing the data necessary to measure the return on investment (ROI) your event website brings to the table. Some metrics monitor when an uptick in traffic to the event site occurs and track what areas of the site the attendees gravitate to, such as a product feature area, or exhibitor sponsorships. By benchmarking this data, an event planner can measure success over time, identify possible gaps and better evaluate the ROI when taking advantage of expansion opportunities. Make this process easier by using a data analytics tool such as Google Analytics to analyze your data. This tool will allow you to view trends in behavior over time and provide in-depth reports to illustrate where things can be improved on the site.

5. Empower your exhibitors with control of their own content.

By giving exhibitors the ability to review and easily update all relevant content that applies to them throughout the show cycle, your exhibitors will provide more detail, resulting in more valuable overall content for your online audience. If you utilize a printed directory for your show, offer a way to specify which content applies to the directory and clearly emphasize your print deadlines for updates. Minimize redundant processes and costly mistakes while saving precious production hours by streamlining your directory layout allowing you to repurpose your online directory content properly formatted for print.

6. Provide an online exhibitor services hub for your event.

Aggregate all of the tasks that your exhibitors need to address during your show cycle in one central password-protected extranet with a single sign-on, making it quick and easy to for your exhibitors to address all the steps that need to be completed in preparation for your event. This could include access to services such as registration, housing, show decorator services, exhibitor data maintenance, booth payments, sponsorship opportunities, networking opportunities, leads and appointment scheduling.

7. Propose sponsorship opportunities to generate additional revenue.

Do some research on your exhibitors for expanded content that might include product specifications, trade names, and import/export interests. Our internal research has shown that exhibitors who advertise gain two-thirds more traffic and leads over those using a basic listing. Decide which content should be offered to exhibitors as a part of their booth purchase versus enhanced, paid online content packages. Many exhibitors will approach your exhibit sales team first, seeking recommendations regarding their marketing options. Define online sponsorship packages that will allow these exhibitors the ability to creatively market their participation in your event by expanding their online showroom. Enhancements can include additional textual descriptions, photos, video presentations or even a free download, such as a white paper.

8. Educate your staff about the goals of the site and what it can provide.

Infographic stock image

Market your website services to your exhibitors to insure they are well aware of their opportunities for expanding their online presence through your event. Collaborate with your customer service and sales teams to review your goals and educate them on how the website can act as a tool for them. It is important that your sales team can effectively communicate these ideas. Make them aware of the various content opportunities that your website delivers for your exhibitors. This will enable your show team to feel well equipped to offer solutions and opportunities with the potential to enhance your exhibitors’ presence and ROI. Training webinars, exhibitor workshops, and email newsletters are effective tools to properly communicate your online offerings to your exhibitors.

9. Utilize social media to increase traffic to the site and encourage networking among exhibitors and attendees.

There are many options available related to event networking. Seize the opportunity to distribute your content pages virally in order to further build your audience reach. Within your online directory, be sure you can easily place links to the prominent social networking sites that your web audience may utilize. Encourage your attendees to follow your event site on social media and contribute to online discussion.

Summary

Creating a place for your exhibitors and attendees to interact and communicate efficiently is the key to your event’s success.

Your event’s website provides a place for the initial interactions to take place between your exhibitors and attendees. It is the place where the casual consumer learns about your event. The event website is the number one place that your next attendee comes from. The connections that are made here should help your sales team convert more prospects to exhibitors. It is vitally important that you audit your website on at least an annual basis and seek to improve your content assets, as well as the services that are delivering them. Use the reviewing process to know your resources and identify any possible expansions or current limitations. Organize data so that it can be found easily, accessed quickly, and delivered accurately. Remember, the experience you are delivering online will directly reflect what your audience will expect onsite.

Need more information?
Mandy Hull
Director of Marketing
Map Your Show, LLC
6915 Valley Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45244-3029
Phone: 513-527-8847 888-527-8822 513-527-8822
Fax: 513-527-8801

About the Author

Mandy Hull, Director of Marketing, Map Your Show

Mandy Hull

Mandy Hull is the Director of Marketing for Map Your Show. She leads the marketing efforts, including development and delivery, for all MYS products and services across several channels such as print and digital advertising, social media marketing and in-person events. Mandy also manages product education development and delivery strategies.

  

Comments are reviewed by moderators before they appear to ensure they meet Gardner Business Media’s submission guidelines.
blog comments powered by Disqus