Organizations and small businesses of all sorts have many reasons that they might decide to host an event. Maybe it’s a small get-together for potential clients, a large conference gathering, or an educational course for select individuals.
No matter what type of event your small business was planning this year, chances are that it got derailed by COVID-19. The global pandemic threw our whole world for a loop and everyone’s strategies were changed dramatically.
COVID-19 changed the way we put on events. Due to the changes in society regarding the virus, we’ve learned some new approaches on how to put on virtual events, what kind of event works best, and tips that can still work on the virtual level even when in-person gatherings are allowed again.
Registration is a key aspect of the new approach to events as it is where the online engagement process begins. Plus, according to this article, 90% of event attendees prefer registering online and an average of 60 hours each month are spent on registration-related tasks.
Therefore, optimizing your registration process is an integral part of your organization’s event. We recommend the following best practices as you craft your online registration page:
- Make it Easy to Pay
- Customize the Registration Flow
- Maintain Consistent Branding
- Find a Registration System for Multiple Event Types
A successful registration process sets up your entire event for success. Read on to learn how to make the most of this part of the event engagement process.
1. Make it Easy to Pay
When potential attendees arrive on your registration page, they should see information about the event itself (detailing what it is, where it will occur, when attendees can get involved, etc.). However, that’s just to drive them to the main part of the form: where they input their information and actually register for the event.
The last step of the registration process typically requires the attendee to submit payment information to cover the registration fee. This is a critical time in the process because attendees can still second-guess their resolution to attend and fail to submit their form.
Therefore, the payment process should be as easy as possible for the registrant, including offering payment options and payment plans for them to choose from. When you invest in registration software, be sure to look for solutions that offer several methods of payment options for your attendee to choose what’s most comfortable for them. For instance:
- Credit/Debit card payments
- ACH payments
- Payment plans for large ticket items
If you’re hosting a large and potentially expensive event, financing options make the payment process much more approachable, allowing your attendees to pay in increments rather than all at once. This is an especially important approach to payment during such difficult times.
Another option that you may consider when it comes to the payment process is offering discount codes and coupons for your event. This is an attractive incentive, especially if you’re struggling to obtain the number of attendees you need to support your ideal virtual event. Your registration software should make it easy to automate this, both by accepting coupon codes that automatically apply to the cart and by automatically applying additional discounts on selections (like 10% off when 2+ dinner tickets are purchased).
Finally, if you’re looking to boost your revenue for your organization’s events, selling add-on items is a great option. For instance, you might present offerings such as t-shirts, donations, raffle tickets, and other items for registrants to add to their order. Make sure these offerings can be added to their cart of what they’re already paying for to make an easy and seamless checkout process.
2. Customize the Registration Flow
The flow of the registration process should be as unique as any of your event attendees. As we said before, the registration process is the first engagement point for your attendees when it comes to your virtual or hybrid event. Creating a custom experience makes engagement even more effective for attendees.
This is a similar concept to the adaptive technology used by AI-enhanced chatbots on websites. As attendees work through the registration process, the questions they’re met depend on the answer they had provided previously.
If you consider this from a large-scale perspective, the process uses a flow chart to answer questions. If one person answers “yes” to a question, they’re led to another specific question. However, if they answer “no” to a question, they’re led to a different next question. This is known as “conditional logic.”
Conditional logic creates a personalized registration process for your attendees so that they provide exactly the right information that will be most relevant to their own experiences at the event.
Consider the following line of questioning:
- Are you interested in our summer programming or year-round?
- If summer is selected, the attendee is led to a list of potential summer programs.
- If year-round is selected, the attendee is led to another question about which seasons they’re interested in.
These types of questions are especially handy for asking the right questions to attendees, but also presenting the right items for purchase and ensuring the right forms are completed depending on their selection, age, or any other criteria that is important to your organization.
Be sure to look for this type of setup to be sure that your attendee’s experience starts off on the right foot. Plus, it helps ensure your organization receives the most relevant information about attendees that they can be added to the correct email lists and reached out to in relevant contexts.
3. Maintain Consistent Branding
Your attendees don’t just stumble on your event registration page by guessing the right URL in their internet browser. Rather, they find the event from one of your many event promotional materials.
Let’s say a potential attendee finds out about your educational course event from their Facebook feed. They’re intrigued and, therefore, click through to your website to learn more about your organization and about the event itself. After deciding it’s a worthwhile event, they navigate to your registration page to submit their registration.
The above is a multi-channel outreach strategy. All of the marketing channels work together to ultimately lead the supporter to your target action for them (registering for the event). However, this means that attendees are also running into your organization’s materials in multiple different locations (email, social media, your website, digital flyers, etc.) before they reach your registration page.
All of your event promotional materials and registration should maintain the same branding to ensure attendees have a seamless experience from one information source to another.
We recommend using the same branding from your organization’s website. Therefore, be sure to maintain consistency with the following visual elements:
- Brand colors
- Fonts and typeface
- Types of images used
- Organization logo
Not only should you maintain the same branding, but try to limit the number of times that attendees will leave one browser window for another. This is especially important once the prospect is on your registration page. Make sure to, embed your online registration form directly to your website for the best results.
This both makes it easier for your organization to brand the registration page and it makes the registration process smoother for attendees. In fact, this Regpack guide explains that an embedded registration form can boost your conversion rate by 27%!
4. Find a Registration System for Multiple Event Types
If your small business offers several different types of events each year, your best bet will be to invest in a solution that will serve your registration needs for any event you might host. There are several benefits to this strategy:
- It saves you time. When you have a single event registration system, your organization doesn’t need to take the time to research and train staff to use a number of solutions. Instead, you can focus all of your time and efforts on a single one.
- It saves you money. Investing in a different software solution for each event adds up over time! Instead, invest in a single, comprehensive system with everything you need for each and every event.
- It creates consistency for attendees. Different registration systems look slightly different from one another. Using the same one for each of your different types of events is key to maintain a single consistent experience from event to event.
- It helps keep your data organized. Your organization collects important information from your consumers on your registration page. In order to maintain consistency in your data collection and formatting, using the same type of system with a standard reporting format will be key.
No matter what type of event your organization hosts, the registration process should create a streamlined and positive experience for attendees. It may not seem like a big deal, but the effectiveness of your registration process is what determines whether or not attendees will convert and actually attend.
Especially during a time when so much occurs online, virtual event registration has become more important than ever. Your event’s registration process is the first time an attendee will engage with your event. A poor process can turn them off from the entire event altogether!
Don’t let that happen. Make sure your business implements the necessary strategies and best practices to ensure attendees have the best experience possible. Good luck!
Asaf Darash, Founder and CEO of Regpack, has extensive experience as an entrepreneur and investor. Asaf has built 3 successful companies to date, all with an exit plan or that have stayed in profitability and are still functional. Asaf specializes in product development for the web, team building and in bringing a company from concept to an actualized unit that is profitable.