Registration is the first real introduction attendees have to your event. A smooth and efficient registration process builds the foundation for a positive event experience, but a poor experience can often lead to a negative first impression, sour attendees' expectations, and ultimately impact ticket sales.
Using the right registration technology to its fullest potential can enhance the attendee experience beyond their expectations. Event managers need to leverage best practices when implementing registration software – not just for a successful conference – but to push the envelope and keep those ‘wow’ moments coming, even when it comes to something like registration.
How do we achieve this?
Hint: It begins with personalizing the experience to fit the audience.
We’re going to look at 18+ ways the right event registration software can keep your conference attendees feeling like honored guests.
Ace Your Next Conference Registration
There are several components to registration that can significantly impact your conference attendees. Things to consider:
- Event website or microsite
- Registration software, including data collection and shopping cart experience
- Integrated payment processing
- Post registration actions
We’re going to examine best practices and processes for conferences, summits, and flagship events with 200+ attendees.
Registration Website/Microsite: Your Promotion Machine
Creating an amazing conference website or microsite is essential to strong tickets sales. It’s the first in-depth touchpoint potential attendees have with you. Your event website should:
- Be visually appealing and consistently branded
- Contain all necessary information without feeling crowded or overwhelming
- Include a strong call-to-action and clear paths to register
- Be focused on what’s in it for the attendee, not why you think they should be there
- Speak to the factors that differentiate your events from the rest
When attendees are on the website, you want to give them a reason to register at that moment. Conference ticket purchases are often an emotional buy, ensure your site is set up to accommodate that fact. You want to convince potential attendees to buy right away with early bird pricing and/or promotional codes. Use scarcity by publishing how many tickets are left. Engender a fear of missing out by featuring testimonials and anecdotes from past attendees, or highlight sponsoring or attending companies that people might want to connect with. However, if site visitors don’t buy right away, you want to make sure your site is set up for retargeting.
Bonus: Include social share buttons. People are more apt to sign up with a friend or peer.
Registration Software: Your Engagement and Organization Tool
After the potential attendee finds the information they need on the conference website/microsite and responds to the call-to-action, they’ll find themselves one step further down your registration funnel. This can be the most precarious part of the experience. While your copy and visuals may have convinced them your summit is the kind of event they want to be a part of, if your registration process is long and cumbersome, they may change their minds and drop out. Streamline checkout part as much as possible and optimize it to eliminate friction.
10 Tips for a Smooth Online Registration Process
- Employ registration software and/or a registration app that is user-friendly and visually appealing to keep visitors progressing to the end.
- Only request the information you need. The more fields you request the more likely visitors will drop off.
- If you need a lot of information, group form questions into three to four fields per screen. It seems shorter when similar information requests are grouped together. Similarly, show progress as they go from screen to screen so they don’t have to wonder how many are left.
- Use a system that allows for form autofills instead of reentering the same information over and over. Shortened sequences and fun fill-ins also yield data in a way that makes the event registration process more appealing. Ask the right questions to get the most useful data. Along those lines...
- Allow one person to register for a group without forcing them to re-enter everything. To encourage more group registrations, consider a group discount for those who register at the same time or by a certain date.
- Create paths and permissions based on the kind of attendee who is registering, such as a student, a sponsor, or an exhibitor. That way the content and registration process speaks directly to them – more about this in the customization section below.
- Facilitate networking early. Many people come to conferences to network and the earlier you can help get that started the better. You can accomplish this by encouraging matchmaking through the event app and allowing people to set up meetings ahead of time.
- Enable social shares after registration. When someone signs up to attend, allow them to share the information easily with their tribe through a click of a button. This is a great referral marketing tactic.
- Send exciting reminders in a drip marketing campaign after they’ve registered. Not only do these serve as reminders of the event and reminders to make travel arrangements, but you can also use them to impart valuable information, like packing checklists, things to enjoy in the host city, and other content that will improve their experience and get them excited for your conference.
- Link online registration and check-in. One of the biggest value propositions of an integrated registration platform is the improvements it brings to the onsite check-in process. For example, attendees can use QR codes at self-service kiosks to check themselves in, saving your team valuable time. Photos can be uploaded during registration to power facial recognition onsite, further expediting the check-in process. There are many ways to ensure the data collected during registration smooths the path for check-in.
Pro Tip: Keep in mind that not everyone who comes to your conference website or hits the Register Now button will make it to the credit card charge step. Because of this, there are two things you should focus on:
- Measuring the abandoned cart rate, making a note of how many people fail to check out and where it happens. Implementing a tracking pixel can allow you to retarget the individual with advertisements to keep your event top-of-mind.
- Request an email address as early in the process as possible. That way if the visitor abandons their cart, you can place them on an email nurture campaign and eventually convert them.
Best Practices in Customization
Now that you know how to facilitate an awesome online registration experience let’s talk about the pieces of the registration process that should be customized/personalized for maximum conference success.
Personalization not only streamlines the process, but it can also improve sales. According to Forbes, “Eighty-eight percent (of marketers) say they’ve realized a measurable lift in business results from their personalization campaigns.” To ensure an exceptionally successful process, it’s essential to take the time and add that personal touch to each event. To put it simply: one size does not fill all.
Here are a few ideas on how you can use customization and personalization in the registration process to improve the overall experience:
Evaluate and purchase event technology with specific events in mind. Some functionality works better for larger events and certain types of goals. For instance, if you have a large exhibit floor or are hosting a conference with several venues throughout the city, interactive maps and multiple ticket types might be critical features, while it would be overkill for smaller events. Ideally, you leverage a registration platform that is flexible enough to power events of all sizes.
Another example of aligning event registration to desired outcomes is developing goals that focus on generating revenue from the event. Think about the event as a marketing funnel, with registration as the tip-of-the-spear meant to drive the right attendees to the event. Then, consider instrumenting the event with a mobile app that can engage attendees, help them accomplish their goals, and ultimately provide you with the insights and data to personalize outreach post-event.
Customizing Content and Messaging
Know your ideal event stakeholders and what they find appealing. Mapping out the attendees' journey is a great way to understand all of the possible touch points you could have with them. Then, understanding what their motivations are can help you to tailor your offerings and messaging and deliver them at the right place and at the right time.
For example, during registration, it’s best to provide as much detail about the event experience so your attendees understand the value in registering. Then leveraging mobile event apps to create a two-way communication channel with the attendees can provide you the real-time feedback that can inform future outreach and event programming.
Enterprise-ready registration systems should allow for fully customized branding, including branded URLs and website domains, white-labeled account structures, and customized website templates. Brand control is critical, use this feature to create impactful experiences that resonate with the intended audience and is identifiable with your event.
Adjust/Select the User Interface (UI)
Some registration platforms allow for a customizable UI, while others offer a set look and feel. Customizable registration forms, hotel and room management, and other add-ons should be available to end-users. Planners of multi-day events may desire a different feature set and user interface than an event owner of a single event.
Attendee Type and Conditional Logic
As mentioned above, personalizing the registration approach to the type of attendee will improve signups. For example, no one wants to click ‘N/A’ as an option during a registration form fill; registrants only want to see what applies to them. Creating paths, forms, and applicable content based on registrant audiences will ensure they only see relevant information.
Another way to customize the registration process is through using conditional logic. For instance, if someone registers for the golf add-on as part of your conference, they would then be directed to ordering a shirt or reserving a golf cart. If they didn’t register for golf, they will never see those screens. Again, this makes it much more efficient for them.
Customize Your Tech to Their Media Needs
Be visible (and functional) on the device of choice. Is the audience predominantly using mobile? Then you should be using a mobile-friendly registration system. Are they split on devices? Then ensure your event website optimizes for both phones and tablets. Test so that you are sure the site and registration are available and functioning properly on the audience’s device of choice.
Post Registration Actions: How to Integrate Your Registration Experience into the Rest of the Event
You’ve created a fantastic registration experience and customized the data collection and attendee touches to your audience’s needs. Now, you want to use the gathered information to reduce friction in other areas of the event. For example, use data to populate attendee profiles and encourage people to adopt the event app before the event starts. Not requiring attendees to re-enter information drastically increases mobile app adoption. Make sure any modifications of attendee registration data populates all areas of data stores in real-time. You want to avoid having silos of information, which can cause issues with attendee check-in, app access, and session attendance. Leveraging a registration platform that seamlessly integrates with the mobile app and check-in tools will ensure you don’t have the siloed data problem.
Another use of registration data is incorporating the attendee data into automated communications. This type of personalization requires no additional time on the planner’s part. This can be a handy way to soften cancellation and refund confirmations, and generally, reduce friction in that process.
Finally, you want to show attendees a thoughtful use of the info they gave you by personalizing the onsite experience. Everything from transportation and hotel information, onsite ticketing, customized agendas, and more can be pre-configured without added effort.
You asked them for their data, now use it to ensure you’re helping your attendees accomplish their goals, whether it be meeting the right people, discovering the right content, or finding that next business opportunity.
Event registration and ticketing platforms can streamline the most important pre-event process: getting the right people in the door. To transform registration from an administrative chore into an enjoyable attendee experience, event managers must look beyond information collection and find ways to personalize it.
If you’d like to know more about personalizing the experience for attendees and branded ticketing possibilities, download our DoubleDutch Registration Overview document.