As increasing numbers of people search for information on the Internet, it becomes more imperative to have a compelling Website to promote and support your meetings.
Here is my list of "The Seven Most Important Things You can do Online":
1. Identify all your Online Markets
But many other types of visitor may find your site, and it's important to consider whether they're important to you, how you want to engage them, and what outcomes you'd like to achieve with them.
Visitors to your meetings Website might include:
* past / potential attendees
"Content seekers" is the term I use for members of the public who may not be regular customers or members of your organization, but who find you through a keyword search because they're interested in the content of your meeting. If you admit the public to your events, this is an important audience who might require different communications from your regular participants.
If you're looking for publicity, don't forget the importance of a press center. This should be very easy to find, and should contain all the information that a reporter would need to cover your event—they're usually under tight deadlines and will really appreciate this.
I include "competition" in this list because many people have asked me whether it's dangerous to put too much good information on your Website "in case the competition sees it". My (somewhat obvious) answer? "If your competition can't see it, neither can the people you're looking to attract!"
2. Set your Goals
Also consider the expenses of the site against any potential savings—for instance, if you're implementing online registration, you want to be satisfied that your system can replace (and hopefully improve on) your real-world processes in a cost-effective manner.
3. Make it About Them, not You
Include some testimonials from previous attendees giving clear examples of how they've benefited from this event in the past. Third party endorsements are worth far more than your own promotional text. They should be spread throughout your site, not relegated to a separate page (because few visitors will go to it).
4. Make it Easy to do Business With You
* Site search engines that return "no results found", making the
visitor feel foolish. Clearly they're looking for something, so
offer to have a representative call them—or provide further
help with your search process
5. Every Page of your Site should Have a Strategy
So, at the appropriate place in each page (or at several points in the page), include a link to the appropriate form—"register for this meeting", "ask for an exhibitor packet"—or whatever invitation may be relevant.
6. Practice Multi-Channel Integrated Marketing
Don't rely on search engines to bring traffic to you—there are many other ways to create online buzz:
* paid advertising—e-zine sponsorship / banners / pay-per-
7. Measure your Success
These reports can be daunting—a mass of figures, graphs and URL's. But I'd strongly suggest that someone in your organization should understand them. Otherwise, you're shooting in the dark with your Web investment.
Philippa Gamse, CyberSpeaker, is a Web strategy consultant and professional speaker. Check out her free tipsheet for 23 ideas to promote your Website: http://www.CyberSpeaker.com/tipsheet.html. Philippa can be reached at (831) 465-0317.
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