If your business is specializing in events and conferences and you don’t have a website, you are missing out on a lot of leads and prospective bookings that come directly from search engine referrals or direct traffic. The same fact is true if you have a website that is outdated or doesn’t provide a great user experience for visitors.
When people are hosting or overseeing an event, it is a major deal for them. After all, it is their name and/or their company’s name associated with the success of the event. We’ve put together a list of some of the top challenges facing the event industry as well as the top ways to build a successful website that will directly increase leads and gain your event company new bookings.
Marketing Challenges of the Event Industry
The modern event industry is facing many new challenges as well as continuing to struggle with established challenges. Eventbrite conducted a 2019 Event Industry Trends study of 1,200 industry experts and found the following to be the biggest challenges currently:
- Insufficient budgets to meet the event host’s vision
- Lack of social media promotion
- Lack of budget for advertising
- No strong strategy to capture emails of attendees to provide important information and reminders
- Not establishing key performance indicators to gauge the success of the event
- Team members forgetting to note and track changes in budget or schedule
- Lack of a backup plan or alternate venue for bad weather harming the overall perception of event success
- Leaving too little time for set up, leading to rushing
- Having more guests/attendees than were originally planned for/event capacity issues
- Lack of marketing priority for simpler events, such as networking functions
- No real plan for attendee engagement or programming too much into an event schedule (the latter occurring more at day-long or weekend-long events)
- No take-home message
- Lack of vision from decision-makers
10 Essentials for a Best-In-Class Website
1. Avoid Being Overly Wordy
Site visitors want to get to the point. Your website’s main goal as an event company is to show them you are professional, experienced, creative, and to showcase the value to your visitor to choose your company.
2. Use a Blog to Position your Business as the Industry Experts
This is also called generating thought leadership in your industry. While you don’t want to be too wordy on your top-level pages, a blog is a great way to make sure that you have a good deal of strong content to rank well in relevant searches. This is where a blog comes in. You and key team members can position your event company as the leading experts in the industry. This positioning will lead to more inquiries and leads, inevitably leading to an increase in bookings. You can utilize this blog content idea strategy by using blog posts such as “Top Event Trends of 2020,” “Top Reasons you Need Professional Event Planning,” or “Top Secrets Only Professional Event Planners Know.” You can also include blog posts that detail specific events that your company has overseen with much success or highlight noteworthy clients.
3. Make the Website Design Image-Centric
A study conducted by Google found that it takes the average user just between 50 milliseconds and 500 seconds to make a judgment about a business based on its website. This is under a single second to make a good impression. The same study found that 94% of that decision was based solely on design. This is why the design of your website is so important. Cluttering up your site with too much content can leave site visitors feeling overwhelmed, especially if they are visiting from a mobile device, which is nearly 50% of all web traffic.
Key tip: invest in professional photography via a photoshoot or see if you can have the event photographer take photos that meet your website needs. If you should turn to stock photos, make sure to use high-quality stock images that aren’t dated. There’s nothing more cringe-worthy when it comes to photos on a website than cheesy stock photos or images that aren’t high resolution. Don’t forget to have anyone pictures sign a release. Remember that videos are also a great tool to up the wow factor for your talents.
4. Include Reviews
This is a necessary step. A strong, positive online reputation generates trust for your business and services. They also transition searchers into site visitors and site visitors into leads. As a bonus, a study conducted by BrightLocal proved that including reviews boosts your search rankings for relevant searches. If you are able, get a photo from your past client to accompany the review. A photo of a great person draws the eye much more than a test-only review or quote.
Send an email to customers you work with after the event asking them for feedback utilizing a series of questions as well as a blank space for additional comments. Thanking them genuinely for their business will also help increase the number of people that complete the review. Additionally, you may be hesitant to include a blank box asking for comments on how you can improve or anything they were unsatisfied by. However, the only way to improve is to learn what isn’t working. Don’t forget to ask for them to click yes or no as to whether they can feature their review on your website, using just a first name or initials, of course, never a full name. You can use a well-rated widget to share good reviews automatically on your social media (when you choose to).
5. Prominently Showcase your Services and Specialties
One of the very first things visitors to your site will be wondering and looking for is what type of events you plan. Do you exclusively plan weddings? Government-related events? Corporate events? Charity Functions? You will then want to get specific about the services you provide people who look to your expertise for their events. Don’t forget to include the term “full service” if your company is. Make this as all-inclusive as possible; you never know how hands-off a potential lead may wish to be. This is also the place where you need to note whether or not your services are all-inclusive or if they can pick and choose. Some people may want to be hands-on as well. Keep your service descriptions short and sweet.
6. Add Contact Info Above the Fold
Many websites often bury the click-to-call button or the click-to-contact button. As an event company, you are in a very nice industry. This means that people don’t likely accidentally stumble onto your website, there is already a desire there. Also, add your contact info in hyperlinked text at the bottom and a separate page dedicated to contacting you.
7. Use a Tone That Conveys Success and Professionalism
When it comes to content, your tone is just as important as the content itself. Establish a tone that conveys your team’s experience and wealth of satisfied past customers. You should come off with an air of elegance, while also establishing your team as dedicated professionals that will always go the extra mile (or hundred) for people who choose to partner with them and use their services. For example, using phrasing such as, “we would love to earn the honor of your business,” rather than “work with us!” “Let us show you how we can make your event a night to remember,” instead of “call us” or “choose us to plan your event.” These are examples of how tone can turn site visitors into leads, leads into bookings, and bookings into satisfied customers that will become advocates for your business through referrals.
8. Don’t Be Overly-Salesy or Promotional
There’s nothing that turns people off more than feeling a company is being too pushy with them. Using content that is overly-promotional or having too many sales buttons splashed all over your website does just that. You should gently nudge site visitors and invite them to learn more about your services or speak to an event professional today to gain more information.
9. Focus on Creating a Partnership, Not Gaining a New “Client”
When looking to gain new leads or more bookings for your “client.” You should use content on your website that speaks to building a partnership with the person responsible for that event and with their business. Remember, satisfied customers that feel valued are more likely to become repeat customers. They are also much more likely to give you and your company word-of-mouth referrals, which are worth their weight in gold and 10X more likely to garner new leads than even the best, biggest advertising campaigns.
10. Launch a Retargeting Campaign
While this doesn’t specifically address the actual design process of your website, your business put all that time and energy into creating a wonderful website, why not attract people back to it? A retargeting campaign provides that gentle nudge that reminds past visitors that didn’t become concrete leads to come back to your website and learn more. Booking an event company is a major commitment. There are also typically multiple parties involved in the decision of what company to partner with. It’s no wonder why they may browse your site without becoming an active lead prior. Hopefully, upon returning to your website you can turn past site visitors into leads that eventually transition into new business and booking for you.
These are the top steps to take in creating an event company website that will garner you an influx of leads and new bookings. These are also the top marketing issues facing the event industry that can be easily avoided. Remember, your company has something unique to offer that no other event company does. Don’t be afraid to highlight what makes your company special. When hiring an event company, the lead is asking you to make their life easier and provide value. Be upfront about telling them how you and your team can do exactly that.