This post is written by Dave Lutz and was influenced by his recent experience preparing for conferences including ASAE’s 2010 Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, CA.
Conference and show Websites need better user experience. “More cowbell” wouldn’t hurt either!
In my consulting biz, I look at a lot of major conference and trade show Web sites. I’m looking for what floorplan tool is being deployed. How the education program is laid out. How the show is selling and marketing their sponsorship and advertising opportunities. How they’re spinning the WIIFM (What’s In It for Me) to potential attendees. And how they’re integrating social media for attracting and engaging participants.
What I see more often than not, is a lack of relevance. What I mean is that attendees and exhibitors are having a hard time seeing through the Web site clutter to find what interests them most.
Here’s a few tips that succesful major events are implementing on their Web site to improve relevance and the user experience.
1. Exhibitor Search
Access to a real-time floorplan that allows attendees to search by keyword/phrase, primary product category, secondary product category, booth number or exhibitor name. The best shows are refining this list every year to make sure that they are keeping up with the times and delivering search results that match the requests. (Hint – by reviewing keyword searches, you can identify categories or sub-categories that should be added.) To improve engagement, some shows allow users to create a list of exhibitors to visit, the ability to schedule appointments and to request info.
2. Session Search
Similar to exhibitor search, session search allows attendees to search by day, time, speaker name, track and keyword/phrase. A single click allows users to review the session description and speaker’s bio, add a session to their personal schedule and even download the handouts. Conferences that offer exhibitor and session search, and itinerary planners via integrated Web site, mobile and onsite kiosk solutions are ahead of the pack.
3. Attendance Justification
The best shows and conferences identify a finite number of audience segments. They communicate the conference or show experience through their attendees’ segmented WIIFM lens. It’s hard work and pays off big time in moving from promoting the event to marketing it with a laser focus. Start with the top four to six audience segments and add others as needed. Why market this way? Many prospective attendee fence sitters need your help in selling the conference or show benefits to their superiors. Consider this strategy in your print and e-marketing campaigns to successfully increase your attendance.
What else would you recommend for improving relevance and user experience? How are you taking this important strategy to new levels?
This post originally appeared on TSNN.Com