Content Marketing For Associations

 

Article Contents:

 

Developing a plan to promote your event is a critical part of conference planning. Marketing can be expensive and time-consuming, and consumers are increasingly skeptical of traditional advertising. This is where content marketing comes into play.

Content marketing is the practice of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract and engage a target audience. This method goes hand-in-hand with your goal as an association: to educate industry professionals and association members.

Luckily, as an event planner, you have a secret weapon: you sit on a goldmine of valuable information. This allows you to:

  • Connect with professionals looking for industry-specific information
  • Remind members of the value your association provides year-round
  • Build awareness of your conference and other events
  • Extend the life of the materials you work hard to collect

These shiny knowledge-nuggets are not something you have to go mining for; they are already at your fingertips.

Why Content Marketing Works for Associations

Content marketing has become one of the most popular ways for organizations to promote themselves online. Associations have some unique advantages when it comes to content marketing:

  • You have existing material. The biggest barrier to content marketing is creating new material. Your existing library of content gives you a head start.
  • Your review process provides authority. You can be confident that your peer-reviewed materials are insightful. This can be especially handy if you are not a subject matter expert.
  • You have access to the latest thinking. Your conference is an industry leader in providing timely, relevant information, allowing you to continue your role as a thought leader throughout the year.
  • You get feedback from the industry. Your conference feedback can provide insight into which topics are most in-demand. Think of this as “focus group” input on the material in your collection.

Reusing your existing content allows you to give your content a second life and extend its use beyond your conference. Using actual event content gives potential attendees a glimpse of the kinds of material at your conference so they can see for themselves why yours is a “can’t miss” event.

Develop a Content Marketing Plan

The first step in launching a content marketing campaign is assessing your existing materials. Determine what kind of content you have available and where it will be located. Your association’s website may seem like a good idea at first, but as time goes on, content can get lost or buried as the site gets updated. It’s best to create a standalone digital conference library. This will give visitors an idea of the broad range of information they can rely on your conference for.

It’s also important to determine a schedule that you will be able to follow. Be realistic. Will you be able to consistently post two pieces of content each week? Or is one piece of content every two weeks more likely? The rate that you choose is less important than your ability to stay on schedule. Readers stay engaged with a blog or social media profile that is updated on a regular basis.

Now that you’ve identified the most relevant materials and decided on how much time you can devote to sharing content online, you’ll need to consider the best ways your association can reach its followers. How can you make your content clickable? One way to effectively grab your readers’ attention is by using images.

Create Images for Social Media

The web is becoming an increasingly visual medium. Adding visual elements to your posts is one of the most effective ways you can increase the impact of your messaging. In fact, posts that include images see 650% more engagement than posts with just text alone.

Here are three conference-specific scenarios where visuals would be an effective way to promote your event. For each scenario, there is an example of an online tool well-suited for creating attention-grabbing artwork with minimal effort.

Scenario #1 – Promote a session by a prominent speaker

The speakers at your conference are a major factor in drawing in attendees each year, so it should be no surprise that speakers make for effective promotional content.

Imagine you’ve just finished your speaker selection process and are ready to announce the keynote speaker. You could certainly type out a post listing their names and the topics they will be discussing (Borrrrrr-ingggg!). A much more engaging approach is to present the same information with a visual design to it.

The Tool #1: Pikiz

Pikiz is an image creator that is perfect for creating simple images that include text. Upload your own background image or choose from the images they have available. Then, double-click on the text box to add a customized message. Another great feature is that each social network has its own preset. This makes it super simple to post great-looking images to your favorite site.

 

Scenario #2 – Present research findings as an infographic

A presentation from last year’s conference coincides with some hot new research that is making the rounds. You know this is a great opportunity to join the conversation and promote your event. Since the presentation is available in your digital content library, it’s ready for people to see. But how do you make sure your post stands out from the crowd of others? Use the findings from the presentation and display it as an infographic!

The Tool #2: Infogr.am

Creating an infographic is a simple three-step process with infogr.am. Choose a design template, enter your data into their spreadsheet viewer and click share. That’s it! The program will create a shareable link to the social media site of your choice. You can also upload your own images or choose different fonts if you want a more customized design.

 

Scenario #3 – Call for award nominations using your own branded graphic

Part of your annual pre-event strategy is to ask for award nominations. You could do what you’ve always done: copy and paste the same text on the same social media networks and get the same results. Or, you can take it to the next level by creating a completely custom design (no designer needed)!

Tool #3: Canva

Canva is like working with a design pro that has dozens of designs ready for you to choose from (but doesn’t charge by the hour). Once you log in to Canva, you’ll see dozens of customizable templates sorted by format. Whether you are looking to create an image for social media, your blog or a poster, Canva has a file ready for you to start designing with. It’s also flexible enough to work with your existing elements. Just add your association logo, a picture of the award and text asking for nominations. You then have the option to share online or download.

 

Catch Their Eye

A well-designed image is critical in catching the attention of busy professionals, so having a visual presence online these days is essential. Presenting your existing content visually is a great way to keep your event in front of the attendees you want to attract.

Thankfully, the web is full of fast and intuitive ways to create custom graphics. With little effort, you can create designs that convey your message in an interesting and engaging way, and most importantly, in a way your audience enjoys seeing.

The next step is sharing those images and other content on platforms that will help you build and connect with your audience.

Promote Your Event on Social Media

Social media platforms are great hosts for content marketing pieces, particularly visuals. The best part about social media is that it’s not only for sharing content—it’s also great for building communities of like-minded people, just like your association! Each platform has its own strengths, so it’s important to assess these and plan content accordingly when designing a content marketing strategy. Below are a few of the most popular social media platforms to get you started.

Instagram

Another platform that’s useful for engaging members is Instagram, a photo and video-sharing social media app. Instagram is great for sharing eye-catching graphics and photos to promote your event and attract potential attendees. Users can accompany their photos with captions and hashtags, which help the posts be seen by non-followers.

Instagram is popular with your youngest members, making it the ideal platform for appealing to Millennials and Generation Z. By sharing posts on Instagram, you have a much higher chance of attracting and engaging a younger demographic to your conferences than on other platforms like Facebook. The most important aspect to Instagram is to make sure your posts are visually appealing and include appropriate hashtags to make sure they are seen.

Twitter

Twitter can be a fantastic tool for event professionals. Its design works well for promoting a conference or creating year-round awareness of your association. Being active on Twitter lets you connect with industry thought-leaders and attendees on a platform that they prefer.

Using original and industry hashtags, retweeting interesting industry sources and sharing quotes and links to your association’s content can transform your Twitter feed into a hub of relevant, valuable industry information. This way, you can keep current members engaged while attracting future members from other parts of the industry.

Twitter is also a great place for personal engagement with industry experts, your conference speakers and your members. Mention speakers in tweets; follow and retweet thought leaders; and like, retweet and reply to your follower’s tweets to create a sense of community while spreading the word about your event.

 

Snapchat

To reach younger members, try using Snapchat to promote your next conference. Snapchat is a particularly useful social media platform during your event, but can also be used before the conference to build anticipation. Snapchats stories, which last for 24 hours, allow you to share behind-the-scenes photos and videos of event set-up. Your speakers can also “take over” your stories to share some insider information about their presentations or industry topics.

A branded Geofilter can be designed specifically for your event and applied the day of the conference, so your attendees can use it when sending snapchats to their friends or story throughout the day. Not only will the Geofilter feel exclusive due to its limited availability, helping engage your attendees, but it can help spread the word about your association.

 

Facebook

Facebook is one of the most-used social media platforms across all age groups, which makes it the perfect place to provide event information and promote the sharing of your conference. Create a Facebook Page for your association where you can post conference information and other content.

You can also create a Facebook Event for your conference and invite current members, encouraging them to invite people who may be interested, as well. This is a free and easy way to spread the word and potentially reach new members through current advocates of your association.

 

Discover Your Audience’s Interests

Now you know that using conference content as a marketing tool is a great way for your audience to learn about your event and the value it provides.

But did you know that it can also be a great way for you to learn about your audience?

By analyzing the data from your content marketing posts, you can learn a number of important things about your audience. First, you can see what parts of the world your visitors come from; this can help you find speakers from those particular regions to boost attendance at your annual event. You can also identify which sites or platforms best connect you with your members, helping you tune your messages on the most critical platforms moving forward.

Most importantly, you’ll be able to identify which types of content your visitors prefer. This feedback can guide future conference planning as well as future content marketing efforts to best connect you with your audience.

Content marketing can also inform you about your own content. By recognizing what messaging is most effective with your audience, you will be better prepared for conference promotion techniques. Additionally, analytics can teach you which topics generate the most interest among your followers; consider including these topics in your next conference event.

Use the information you gain from your content marketing plan to inform future events, connect with key members and create a more successful content marketing strategy overall.

Make Your Content Work Year-Round

The whole point of content marketing is to show your followers you have value to offer with tangible pieces of content you’ve worked hard to collect. Choose the platforms that best connect with your audience and help your association achieve goals, whether that includes your website, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat or one of the many others available online. Most of the content you share can be used across multiple platforms, giving you lots of opportunities to reach new people and prove the value of your event all year long.

If you’re interested in how to take your association’s content marketing strategy to the next level, download our free whitepaper, “Promote Your Event With Conference Content Marketing.”

Three Benefits of Online Conference Proceedings

 

How often do you overhear conference attendees gush, “I never go anywhere without my giant, 10lb three-ring binder of annual conference proceedings”?

Technology has given your attendees easy, quick, 24/7 access to anything they want… And it fits in their pocket, purse and handbag without giving them back pain. The advancement of smartphones and tablets has exploded in the meetings industry. As an event planner, it’s important to make sure your annual conference is staying up to date with technological trends. It’s time to reap the benefits of online conference proceedings!

But it’s more than just staying on top of the trends. Taking your proceedings online brings a lot of benefits not only for you as a meeting planner, but also for attendees, sponsors and speakers alike:

Extend Engagement

Attendee engagement is an important part of a successful conference. Online conference proceedings provide an effective way to increase engagement before and after your annual meeting. Providing detailed session and speaker information online before your annual meeting will help attendees choose which sessions are right for them. And reviewing the materials beforehand will allow them to be more engaged during the actual session. Additionally, hosting presentations and papers online after the event will help continue the learning that began at the conference.

Control Access

The greatest source of value the annual conference provides is its educational content. So it makes sense that meeting planners, associations and speakers are interested in controlling how this information is accessed. Does someone with a certain membership level get unlimited access? Are attendees the only people who can view online content for the first 30 days after your annual meeting? That wouldn’t be possible with printed proceedings or conference flash drives, but with an online conference library, you are able to control access.

Enhance Search Capabilities

Typically, the conference proceedings for your annual meeting encompass a large amount of content, including session handouts, presentation outlines and technical papers. Instead of thumbing back and forth between the table of contents and specific documents, attendees can simply type the session number, name or speaker (depending on how your content is organized) into the search box and be taken straight to the technical paper they are looking for.

Does your association put conference proceedings online? What benefits do you enjoy the most?

Sharing Conference Materials After an Event… Missed Opportunity?

 

The chairs are folded. The hum of the fluorescent lights has come to a halt. Attendees, sponsors and speakers have gone back to their associations and offices. And just like that, your conference is over.

Nothing remains of the conference which took so long to prepare for…except all of the content you spent months collecting!

Are you missing an opportunity here?

What is your association doing with your valuable conference materials after an event? Many organizations fail to repurpose event content and thus, miss a major opportunity to keep the event at the forefront of attendees’ minds.

Don’t let your content fall to the side. Here are four creative ways you can share conference materials AFTER the event.

House material on a searchable website

In addition to handing out conference materials to each attendee at the event, it’s good practice to upload the materials online where all attendees can access it after the fact. Putting your content online allows attendees easy access to whatever materials you’d like to share, whether that’s this year’s materials or all event materials from the past.

Sharing conference materials online also increases the chances of someone discovering your association. Google searches can pull up your content, meaning more people will have the ability to find out about your organization. Even if your content is gated with a password, potential members and attendees looking for industry-specific information will come to know that your association is the place to look and may even join to gain access to it.

Use content to promote your conference on social media

Many of your attendees, speakers and potential members are active on social media, providing you with easy-to-use, free platforms to keep them engaged. The possibilities for sharing conference content on social media are nearly endless; you can summarize key points or interesting facts, provide eye-catching graphics and share links to content hosted online to remind attendees of your content and keep them interested.

If you want to learn more about sharing conference content on social media, our whitepaper,  “Promote Your Event with Conference Content Marketing,” has many more tips and concrete ways to use these platforms.

Repurpose event content on a blog

If your association hosts a blog, it can be the perfect place to repurpose event content and keep the conversation going. Blogs can easily be used to post transcripts, video or audio of the conference, or even just takeaway points from the speakers. Blogging is great for marketing your event, as well. Those who didn’t attend can read about what happened to give them some insight on what they missed.

The content doesn’t just have to come from you, either. Invite industry experts to write a wrap-up of the event or to provide further information about a topic that they discussed.

Create a webinar based on popular themes from the event

A webinar or web series is a way to provide another layer of depth to a particular topic of interest from the event. Use feedback from event surveys to find out what topics your attendees were really interested in and create a webinar about how this topic applies to a current event in your industry or deep-dive into one specific aspect of the topic.

This is also a great way to expand your event’s reach. Your association can decide to offer the webinar or web series to a larger group than those who attended your event, meaning non-attendees can access it and hopefully become interested enough to attend next year.

Sharing conference materials extends your event

You spend months collecting and reviewing content to distribute at your annual event, but it doesn’t have to end once your conference does. Avoid missing an opportunity for engagement by repurposing your event content and sharing it with attendees and non-attendees alike.

5 Reasons Abstract Management is Everything

What is the most critical step in your conference content process? Preparing the printed program? Receiving the USBs that contains the conference’s complete abstracts? Setting your mobile app or content website live?

For these five reasons, abstract management—which includes your call for papers, submissions, review, and managing the process—is the most important piece of your conference content puzzle.

  1. The conference content is chosen. Cue the chorus of “duh”s. One of the most important aspects of your conference is deciding which topics to cover, which research to highlight, and which speakers will excite and inspire your attendees. It all starts with your call for papers. Your review team separates the wheat from the chaff, and your conference content starts to resemble the excellent industry resource it will become.
  2. The groundwork for your outputs is set. For best results, use the same provider for abstract management and your content outputs, whatever form it takes—printed program and/or proceedings, CDs or USBs, a conference content website, a mobile event app, or any combination of these. Your provider will help you set yourself to collect the content you need from the get-go, including not just the abstract, but other information, like release forms, bios, photos, A/V needs, metadata, and more.
  3. The schedule begins to take shape. Choose an abstract management system that allows you to build your conference schedule and you’ll be ahead of the game. As reviewers select presenters, you can take that information and begin to lay out your event.
  4. The elements of your conference content is collected. Abstracts, papers, final presentations, posters, keywords and other metadata for online posts, handouts, special requests, and more—whatever you’ll need from accepted speakers, get it up front. There’s no great harm in collecting information you may ultimately not need, but chasing down presenters for more information could prove challenging.
  5. The whole process is simplified when you do abstract management right. Your outputs consist of more information than a basic call for paper requires. For a smoother process from the initial submission to the final conference program or website, though, it makes sense to get everything you need from potential speakers from the very beginning.

Abstract management makes life easier for everyone involved.

  • Your accepted presenters can rest assured that all the information you needed is already in.
  • You don’t have to spend time hunting down speakers at the 11th hours for a CV or photo.
  • Your content provider can move forward toward your content outputs without delay.

We believe it’s true and hope that, given our five reasons, you agree: Abstract management is everything.

Help Attendees Plan Ahead with a Mobile Event App & More

When members plan to attend your annual meeting, they’ve got sessions on their minds. What will I learn this year? Which sessions should I attend to come back to the office with the most takeaways and practical, apply-it-on-Monday tips? Would it be better to catch more big-picture, philosophical discussions? Or is it best to try for a mix of sessions to gain perspectives on both?

To help attendees answer these questions and more, you deliver session information ahead of time. The program information can be delivered in many ways: an advance program, an event website, and a mobile event app.

An advance program works well as a marketing tool, offering potential attendees a glimpse of the great event in the not-too-distant future. Your members will enjoy flipping through the program, previewing the annual meeting and visualizing themselves enjoying a rewarding experience.

An event website offers much of the same information as the advance program, in a convenient online format. Not only does this give members an opportunity to connect with your association when the program isn’t nearby, it also makes the session information available to search engines, expanding the reach of your event.

A mobile event app allows potential attendees to take a more active role in planning their experience at your conference. In addition to complete program information, the mobile event app lets users set up a personal itinerary and even set alerts to remind them to attend important sessions.

The convenience of the mobile event app is even more apparent during the event itself. Attendees appreciate having a personal itinerary available at their fingertips, on the devices that is almost always within arm’s reach.

Each content delivery method you use prior to your event will increase attendee anticipation and excitement. Used in combination, an advance program, event website, and mobile event app will make your annual meeting the can’t-miss professional development event of the year for your industry.

Should the Call for Papers Sound No More?

How does your association decide on presenters for its annual meeting? Is there a traditional call for papers, followed by rounds of submission and review? Or do you invite speakers, forgoing the call for proposals altogether? Does your process incorporate elements of each approach?

In an article last fall, Associations Now deputy editor Samantha Whitehorne mused on the pros and cons of the practice so familiar—or, some might argue, so tired—to association professionals. One group mentioned in the article (A Call to End the Call for Proposals?) divorced itself from the call for papers altogether, opting instead to invite speakers with experience in subjects that their membership wanted to learn more about.

The world didn’t end. The conference happened and people enjoyed the experience.

Many associations continue to sound the call, and there are many good reasons to do so. For example, submitting a proposal is one way to engage current members and spark interest in potential ones as well. Even if their proposal is not accepted, simply the act of preparing one is a step forward in one’s career. The belief that you, as a professional in your field, has something to offer others like you represents a changing paradigm and a shift toward self-assurance that can open new doors.

Yet there are dangers to relying only on an open call to choose the content that defines your industry and your association. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of relying on the same topics, perhaps even featuring the same speakers, for many years. Some potential speakers might be dissuaded by a complicated submission process and decide not to put their hat in the ring. Another potential downside to the traditional method comes into play: What’s the best way to advertise your call for papers beyond your membership?

According to the article, which cites a report released by Tagoras and Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, most organizations (62%) accept 40% or more of the submissions they receive. One has to wonder: Are all of these proposals worthy of the audience that comes to your annual meeting? Or were they simply what was easily available, and not bad?

Of course, the best course of action will depend on many factors and probably lies somewhere between the traditional approach (call for papers, come what may) and the novel one (by invitation only). There should be flexibility in your collection process, and that means your abstract collection and speaker management system shouldn’t be carved in stone, either. The fluidity of a new process or a modified one means that in order to keep things simple, your system should be ready to evolve as your collection needs do.

No matter how you choose to find your presenters for your annual meeting, Omnipress’ abstract collection and speaker management system can help simplify the process. Papers can be submitted by professionals who want to speak at your event as well as those who have been invited to do so. Using the system for final collection helps to keep the materials organized; the scheduling feature makes it easy to move forward to the planning stages and set up schedules and content for use in a printed program, event content website, or mobile event app.

To see the abstract collection and speaker management system in action, try the demo!

Striking the Right Balance with your Event Content Website

As an active freelance musician (see the photographic evidence to the right), I am often asked to play “background music.” The coordinator of an event—a fundraiser, a party, a wedding—contacts the French horn choir I’m in and asks if we could come play for an hour or two, to add to the ambience.

For the most part, the horn choir happily accepts these playing opportunities. A gig is a gig, and usually events like these pay their musicians pretty well. Besides, gaining exposure for the horn choir will help us get other gigs in the future, and potentially some new players, too.

In preparation for the performance, we work up some “great music to be ignored to,” because we understand our role. The goal is to play well enough to not cause irritation (a bunch of wrong notes or bad intonation will garner the wrong kind of attention), but not so well that the attendees are more interested in listening to us than, for example, donating to the cause. For that reason, we also can’t play too loud, as we brass players are sometimes wont to do.

Those principles guide our musical selections as well. We don’t want to play anything too familiar; that would be distracting. On the other hand, obscure modern music for horn ensemble can be difficult for the casual listener. So we pick nice enough music that’s not taxing to listen to and not overly familiar. These pieces aren’t hard to find; after all, musicians have been playing background music for hundreds of years.

Striking the right balance—being sufficiently present but not too in-your-face—also challenges associations as they plan their annual meetings. When thinking about how to approach marketing for your next event, how do you decide what tactics to take? How aggressive should your campaigns be?

You want to attract attendees; getting the membership to show up at events is part of what keeps your association relevant. If members don’t know what to expect from your event or why they should be there, you haven’t done a good job getting the message out.

It’s just as easy to err on the other side. How frequently can you send emails to your members before they get fed up and unsubscribe, cutting themselves off from all future marketing initiatives? How many tweets is too many? Try too hard and the push-back will be enough to knock you off your game, and prevent you from getting through the same audience in the future.

Just as it is with musicians, a gig is a gig. To continue the analogy, your gig also lies in finding the right balance between so negligible (background music played too poorly) to be ignored, and being so insistent (loud, for musicians) that what you’re doing wears on the nerves of your intended audience.

What does this balance look like in action? One example is an event content website that is streamlined and easy-to-use, but not filled with ads promoting the event, the association, sponsors, and exhibitors. Be informative, but not overbearing. Provide information, but not reasons for adverse reactions. (Pop-up ads qualify for most of us.)

Omnipress’ event content websites give potential attendees all the information they need to make an informed decision. Let the content speak for itself. Add a few friendly email reminders to drum up interest, but keep the distractions at bay. You may find that your version or playing “great music to be ignored to” leads to attendees who feel empowered and excited, not annoyed or distracted by “loud music” or aggressive marketing.

What do you think? How do you carry out a solid, effective marketing plan for your events? Could an easy-to-use event content website help?

BJSO_Horns

How Do Attendees View Your Event? 5 Options

Whether they’re looking for a quick dinner on the road or a different way to view your event’s sessions, people want choices. If they don’t have to work too hard to get them—two restaurants in the same block, for example, or five ways to look at the sessions on one website—even better.

Omnipress’ event content websites offer attendees choices on how to view sessions and plan their time at your association’s event.

  • Track: What constitutes a track? Whatever your association decides—job title, professional development focus, specialty, career stage, or something else entirely. However you want to categorize your events, we can make it work on your event content website.
  • Schedule (Chronological): Sometimes it helps attendees to see a straight-up chronological listing of sessions. Do two potentially-valuable sessions coincide? Is one of them, maybe a small-group workshop, repeated later in the day or the conference? Help attendees plan their days with a chronological list of events.
  • Session (Alphabetical): To decide which sessions to go to when, attendees may wish to toggle back and forth between the chronological listing and an alphabetical one. A list of sessions can also help attendees locate and read more about a must-see session.
  • Paper: Is there a specific area of research that interests some attendees? Are they interested in reading the latest studies and seeing the results presented by the team that prepared them? Start here. Some papers are interesting to read, while others raise questions in the attendee’s mind, which might inspire them to catch the session.
  • Author: Just as content is king for some attendees, people and presentation of the materials is more critical to others. In an attendee’s tenure in this career path, has there been one thought leader whose work they always enjoy? Is there a mentor or former professor they’d like to catch up with after they present a session? That attendees can look for that author or speaker first, and plan to attend those sessions.

Your attendees can plan their best-ever event when they can look at the sessions through different lenses. They want to get the most out of their time out of the office, and they want it to come easily. Omnipress’ event content website can do that, and we’d be happy to help your association give its attendees everything they need to get the most value out of your event.

Learn more about our online event services at Omnipress.com or contact us to schedule a demo!

Save Time & Frustration with a Better Website Experience

These days, it seems like everyone is time-crunched and overbooked. When we visit a website for information, we want an easy, streamlined experience. We want to find what we need and get on with our day.

When it comes to online event content, your attendees want the same thing. They are looking for information about your event—sessions, speakers, abstracts—and they don’t want to have to work too hard to find it. It can’t take forever to load, either, because no one has time for that.

Have you seen an Omnipress’ event website lately? After a recent update, the site looks better than ever and offers attendees everything they need to prepare for your event.

Sessions can be sorted many different ways: by track, chronologically, alphabetically by session title, and even by paper title. Speakers and sessions are connected, so attendees can look up a speaker and find the session that person will present, or find a session that looks promising and read more about the speaker.

The site is built to give the information the user needs, when they need it. Essential information like date, time, and location are always included, but some details aren’t needed at every step. Users can easily access other information like session descriptions, papers, and tracks, but the data isn’t loaded unless it is requested. This simple change can greatly enhance the usability of the site, especially when internet connectivity is spotty or slow, an all-too-common occurrence at events.

Plus: Everything you already loved about Omnipress’ event websites is still available:

  • Full-text and faceted search helps attendees find the information they seek.
  • Responsive design mean that your site looks just as great on tablets and smartphones as it does on a desktop.
  • Consistent branding keeps your event and your association top of mind, with the same look and feel your members have come to expect.
  • Limitless content capabilities allow you to include everything that can make your site valuable: not just abstracts and papers, but also posters, biographies, videos, webinars, and anything else you can dream up.
  • Complete integration with your existing AMS or registration software means no double entry and seamless access to content.
  • Google Analytics helps you assess the effectiveness of the site and pinpoint which pages attendees find most valuable.

To see the new site in action, you can visit our updated Online Event Services page on our website or reach out to an account manager for a full demo.

The Anatomy of an Easy-to-Use Website

Vitruvian ManMany companies say their websites are easy to use, but when the final product is done, it looks too cluttered. The navigation is confusing. Your association’s color is totally wrong and the site doesn’t look right on smartphones, which your members are using more than ever. You may be thinking, Remind me again what’s easy about this site?

This begs another question: What does easy actually look like? How can you tell how a website will actually turn out before it’s built? It’s worth looking into so you’re not sold a bill of “easy” goods that ends up being far less user-friendly than promised.

Websites should maintain a balance of function and image. No one wants a boring site, but how many bells and whistles does a site need before it becomes little more than noise?

A website with a clean look that’s branded to match your association and event website is the ultimate goal. To get a good idea of this balancing act, ask to see examples. Not just the demo, which will be polished within an inch of its life, but live sites the vendor has built. That will tell you the full story.

For even greater usability, a site could contain visual cues to help attendees navigate and understand the information presented. For example, anyone who has used the internet even briefly will recognize certain icons and interpret their meaning instantly:

  • Calendar = Date
  • Pin = Location
  • Clock = Time
  • Arrow on a collapsed item = Click to expand
  • Arrow on an expanded item = Click to collapse

Other cues, like a progress bar to show that an item is loading and color-coding to signify different tracks, help users find their way around a site, even (perhaps especially) if they’re not consciously aware of the help they are receiving. Also in the category of visual cues: social widgets, with links to the association or event pages for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and others.

The next time someone tells you their site is easy to use, apply a healthy dose of skepticism. Some sites deserve the label, and some fall far short. Insist on seeing it before you believe it.

In the spirit of sharing, we invite you to take a look at examples of Omnipress’ event websites, found in the Our Work section of our website.

What do you think? Do the words “clean” and “easy” come to mind when you take these sites for a spin? Let us know in the comments below! For more information on our updated event websites, contact an account manager!

Event Websites: Updated with Your Needs in Mind!

Your event website is a potential attendee’s first encounter with your annual meeting, and you want it to be a positive one. After all, this initial impression sets the tone for the conference. What do you want your website to say about your event? About your organization?

Omnipress has a few ideas, and we’ve incorporated them into the updated, streamlined look of our new event website. We think your site should communicate an experience that is elegant in its simplicity.

Navigating the site is so easy, it almost seems innate. The grid used to display sessions has a clean look, with no extraneous information cluttering the view. If your members want to know more about the speaker, they can find that information quickly and easily. If they don’t, it’s not taking up space on the screen or adding to the site’s load time.

The website is not only easy to view on a desktop, but mobile-friendly, too. When viewed on a smartphone or tablet, the site appears correctly for the device, with a sidebar menu instead of a drop-down list, for example, and feels more finger-appropriate than mouse-appropriate.

What’s in it for you and other association staff members? For one, you get flexibility and variations on how you display your event information. Does track or topic make the most sense for your organization, or is yours an event where the basic chronological schedule is most helpful to potential attendees? Or would an alphabetical list of sessions work best? We can make the system work for you; we can even help you decide how to structure it.

A second benefit of the updated event website is branding. The Omnipress team has built many different sites with every color of the rainbow and logos for all types of events. Visit the Our Work section of our website to view examples.

Plus, you’ll work with a company that can help you provide content in other methods of event content delivery, including conference printing, mobile event apps, and USBs, as well as abstract collection and management.

The streamlined look of Omnipress’ new websites can represent not only your event, but also your new attitude towards content delivery. Now that I have Omnipress as a single-source partner, providing content to our members and attendees is easier.

For more about the updated event website, visit our website, read the press release, or contact an account manager!

Responsive Design 101: The Best Choice for Your Event Website

You probably visit dozens or even hundreds of websites a day. If you do all of your surfing on an office desktop, it doesn’t much matter how the sites look on mobile devices. But that’s not how the world works anymore. Office life is becoming less about location and more about availability.

When you’re on the go, reading websites on a smartphone or tablet, trying to make the site legible can be a challenge. The normal techniques—rotating the device or trying to pinch and zoom—will only get you so far. With all the advances being made in mobile technology, there has got to be a better way to deal with this. Right?

There is, in fact, an elegant solution to viewing websites on mobile devices, but making the change is left in the hands of the individual website providers. Responsive design is used to build sites that detect the user’s screen size and adjust the layout to fit the device.

If you view a responsive design website on a smartphone, for example, the menu might be hidden unless you touch the navigation (usually three parallel horizontal lines). The website’s text will look bigger on the phone and the design could be considered finger-appropriate.

View the same site on a 30-inch desktop monitor and the menus will remain across the top of the page, where you’d expect them to be, as mouse-appropriate navigation tools. Text will seem right-sized for the screen and the reading experience will be better for users.

Your event attendees struggle with these issues when reading your event website on mobile devices, too, which is why it’s important that you work with a provider that offers responsive design sites. Attendees will want to view this information at your event, and as you may have noticed, fewer of them are toting along laptops in recent years.

Responsive design is important before and after your event, too. People are moving at full-tilt to keep up with their busy lives, and they just might use the 10-minute breather in the doctor’s waiting room to visit your event website and decide whether the content is compelling enough to make the trip this year. If they have to fight hard to read the text, they may decide to return to it when at their desks the next day. Which they’ll probably forget to do. Then pre-registration will close and they’ll put off coming to your event until next year, and you’ve lost a registration.

After the event, reading through abstracts and handouts from sessions they attended, and those they didn’t, and these may also be skimmed on the go. It’s worth a little consideration to make sure that your event website presents itself well on mobile devices.

Responsive design won’t solve all of your problems, of course, but it can give potential attendees a better experience with your site, which means a positive feeling about your association, and that’s worth quite a lot.

Reach out to us if you’re looking for more from your event website. The Omnipress team is here to help!