It’s time to seal the deal.
Your online and offline marketing has attracted an attendee to your website, they’ve seen the speakers and the schedule. They’re in.
So they hit the registration button and begin the process… but at some point they drop out. What happened? Don’t blame the attendee for not embracing your wonderful event concept, your conference registration process could be the underlying cause. Have a critical look at your registration process and make sure you’re doing everything necessary to prevent drop-outs and ensure that everyone who wants to register can make it through to the end.
Here's what you need to do to make a compelling registration process with a higher conversion rate:
There’s no better time to collect a potential attendee’s email than the first step in the conference registration process and there’s one huge benefit. You will need the attendee’s email in order to send necessary conference information like the attendee’s registration confirmation, however, there’s a chance that the attendee will drop out before then.
As relayed by Constant Contact, research indicates that capturing emails and email marketing is 40x more effective than advertising on Facebook and Twitter at acquiring new customers.
In terms of e-commerce, Campaign Monitor’s 2016 survey of its clients found a 4400% ROI on email marketing. For every $1 spent on email marketing, it brought in $44.
So collecting their email in the first step will let you email them to remind them to register later in case they are having some hesitation the first time around. This is your best opportunity to capture a potential conference attendee, so don’t waste it!
So your conference registration process now has the email form right up front and that’s great. What’s next? If you’re doing things right, there’s a form submission button that lets you collect that email soon after. You don’t want to have your crucial email step followed by a long series of questions that aren’t very important (or are marked as optional).
If your potential attendee doesn’t hit the submit button, you might not be collecting the information they’ve inputted so far. So make your first page short, collect the email, and then put more details in the following pages or steps.
According to Hubspot, "multi-step forms are proven to result in more conversions than single-step forms. For example, in one experiment, a single-step form experienced an increase in conversions of 59.2% after it was converted into a multi-step form."
Before we start, it’s important to ask your sponsorship and marketing department what information they use to create the sponsorship package and describe who attends. The registration process is an extremely useful way to collect that information.
With that disclaimer out of the way: Cut anything you can from the conference registration form. For an attendee, there’s nothing worse than getting hyped up for an event and then seeing that you need to do extensive research to fill out the questionnaire to come. If your event is collecting information that you’re not actually using, like the attendee’s address then you need to stop. Make it painless for people to register for your event and they will be more likely to go through with it.
Web development agency 99 Robots found that adding one anxiety-inducing form field, the telephone number, reduced conversion rate significantly. "In a study of 40,000 landing pages, forms with a telephone field reduced submissions by 5%. Another study found that the telephone field caused 37% abandonment, but labelling the telephone field “optional” doubled their form conversions.”
If your event has many optional streams, ticket types and parties, you may have a hard time including them all on one screen - especially on mobile. It’s time well spent to strategize about your ticket types, prices and add-ons so that you’re not overwhelming your potential attendee and you’re achieving your optimal attendee mix. A simple point-form list can achieve what many paragraphs of text cannot. You can also take advantage of ticket add-ons so that each attendee can pick what they like and spend what they like to get their preferred event experience.
Crazy Egg has a good rule of thumb for pricing:
“For many shoppers, the price is the primary driver in terms of whether or not they’ll purchase. If they can’t easily find the price, they’ll probably become wary and shop somewhere else. Put the price in a prominent place, and if you offer a discount, strikethrough the old price. This is a classic tactic used by Amazon and is one of the reasons they convert at such a high rate.”
There are many e-commerce tools out there that are meant to capture emails, and the exit intent pop-up is the last-ditch effort to accomplish that goal. Exit intent pop-ups are triggered when the user moves their mouse cursor to the top or sides of the screen in order to leave the website. Many users won’t mind a pop-up if it provides useful information or value; in the conference registration process, that could mean a ticket discount if they apply a code right away.
Exit intent pop-ups have been shown to substantially increase subscription rates on blog and e-commerce websites when compared to more passive email capture techniques.
If you don’t have the user’s email address, this could be your last opportunity to capture that information - it’s also far more powerful than any remarketing ads they might be presented with later.
If you can learn one simple lesson from Amazon, let it be the progress bar. When you begin the checkout process, a progress bar appears to let you know that you’re at step 2 of 4 for ordering that sweet new Baby Yoda doll. Amazon also tries to play another trick on you: it removes the standard site navigation button so you’re not inclined to re-check whether this doll can talk.
These pages are meant to give you confidence that you’re just minutes away from your order being on its way to you. Does your conference registration process instill that kind of confidence? Or does it just present a series of forms?
The progress bar is meant to encourage a person to finish the purchase process by showing that they're already partly done. As Zapier described on its blog, “The endowed progress effect makes people think they have a head start toward completing a goal. It reduces the amount of perceived work, which makes them more likely to put in the effort.”
Timers might be the oldest trick in the book for adding urgency to the conference registration process. It’s a good way to keep a person focused on completing their task, which should lead to an increased conversion rate.
Online retail giant Amazon uses two urgency-producing techniques: Alerts on the product page will tell the buyer if there are limited quantities remaining, and a countdown that reminds you that you could receive the item sooner if you order today. Amazon also uses positive re-inforcement such as rating “#1 sellers” and “best seller” products and places product reviews on product pages to let a purchaser know that they can trust the seller and the quality of the product.
Each step of the conversion funnel has a slightly different objective, so observing where potential attendees drop out is crucial information about how you need to improve your registration process. If attendees are dropping out at the first (email capture) step, you need to do a better job descibing why they NEED to attend your conference. If your users are exiting at the payment stage, you may need to review how your cart shows the grand total and what payments you’re accepting.
The most important thing is to start tracking your funnel as soon as possible!
One case study by Outbrain found remarketing ads to result in a 66% higher conversion rate than their regular display ads with a dramatic drop in effective cost-per-click.
Your event marketing could be the most effective and outstanding ever seen in the industry, but if your registration system isn't able to seal the deal, you won't reap the benefits. Some of the above idea will pay off immediately while others will need some time for analysis and systematic implementation. The most important thing is to pick one way to improve your registration process and get started.