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Midways Offer More than Indigestion

Posted on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

When it comes to events, one group tips the creativity scale every year: State Fairs.

kidballoonsFAIRFrom their culinary experiments to their carnival-meets-x-games activities to their bizarre contests, State Fairs regularly push the mail truck in their over-the-top originality.

Start with the menus. While you will likely find such staples as corn dogs, funnel cakes and elephant ears at just about every State Fair, the Michelangelos of some midways are also concocting wonders like deep-fried kool-aid, chicken-fried bacon, deep-fried Snickers bars, fried spaghetti and meatball on a stick, wine-glazed deep-fried meatloaf and deep-fried avocado bites.

For those avoiding fried foods, these, too, are actual State Fair fare: hot beef sundae, chocolate-covered bacon, pulled-pork parfait, kool-aid marinated pickles and pretzel curds. And if you happen to be at the Texas State Fair, you can wash it all down with funnel cake ale.

Not to be outdone, State Fairs supplement their livestock shows, county exhibits, rides and entertainment with unusual activities, some that become popular and featured at many of the annual events. For instance, at many fairs, pig races feature little porkers racing around a circuit (usually chasing Oreos or some other treat) several times a day. Young humans take part in “mutton-bustin,’” trying their luck riding sheep rodeo-style. And several fairs are graced with trained bears looking dangerously cute while putting on a mini-circus act.

And then there are the daredevils – acrobats, acrobats on bicycles, even acrobats on motorcycles usually jumping things. Or maybe you’ll catch the guy who dives – okay, purposely belly-flops – from more than 40 feet into a kids’ swimming pool filled with about two feet of water.

State Fairs have always cultivated a core audience with their many contests, from the heaviest pumpkin to the largest cow to the best country ham, apple pie, watercolor painting, photograph, aquarium – you name it. They also generate a lot of interest and media attention with their not-so-traditional contests. Here are a few of the more creative examples:

  • Ugliest lamp contest (KY) – This started as a display of awful looking lamps and morphed into a design contest of “uglifying” existing lamps or building hideous lamps from scratch.
  • Beard and mustache competition (OH) – This competition, which has a female category, features some amazing facial-hairdos.
  • Rotten sneaker contest (UT) – Judges actually must smell the entrants to determine the winner.
  • Mooing contest (WI) – Anyone can say “moo,” right? Not exactly like this.
  • Super Farmer contest (MO) – Among the events to determine the winner of this competition are tossing a cotton bale, carrying a hay bale, hanging a gate, gathering eggs, an obstacle course and more.
  • Old Cow Lick contest (MT) – Participants decorate old cow licks or shave them into sculptures… it’s a Big Sky thing.
  • Redneck Relay race (ND) – This competition challenges teams to race through such activities as eating through a pile of whipped cream, tossing corn ears into a bucket, and carrying a greased watermelon.
  • Mother-daughter look-alike (MS) and twins look-alike (IA) contests – Genetics, attire and makeup are put to the test in these competitions.
  • Outhouse races (IA) – These “port-o-potties” are homemade and feature racing wheels, pushers and a driver.
  • Hay bale decoration (NE), llama costume (MN) and butter sculpture (IA) – Something about dressing up stuff that you normally wouldn’t resonates with State Fairs.

A lot of innovation such as that detailed above enables State Fairs to continue to draw large audiences even against demographic trends that diminish their typically rural, core audience. State Fairs also do their research, and borrow heavily from ideas that work at other fairs.

Those are some of the more obvious lessons anyone in the events industry can pull from the State Fair experience. These mega events encourage you to think outside the box. They demonstrate the value of creating activities that engage just about anyone. They tell you to have fun. And maybe they suggest you consider a deep fryer.

As always, if you have anything you would like to share about something awesome or peculiar about State Fairs, post away in the Comments section below.

If you want to know more about State Fairs, your best bet is to visit one. If you want to know more about registration software and ABC Signup, please contact us by e-mail or phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0).

Topics: event marketing, events

10 Back-to-School Tips to Ace Your Registration Software

Posted on Tue, Aug 05, 2014 @ 13:08 PM

backtoschoolIt’s August, which to most of us means one thing – National Goat Cheese Month.

To others, August harkens the return of school, from the perspective of a parent, a student, a teacher, an administrator – or a combination thereof. And for many ABC Signup customers, back to school means planning, prepping and administrating a myriad of special events, training programs, workshops and more that complement the new school year.

These folks need to get their registration software ready for action, even if they are also busy buying number two pencils or sharpening lesson plans. To make the transition as painless as possible, we’ve got 10 back-to-ABC Signup tips to help customers get the most out of their registration software.

1. Review ‘What’s New’

On the admin site, second tab from the right, is a “What’s New” section that details all of the new features added to the software, including tips on how to make them work best for your programs and events. There have been a few items added over the summer, so take a look.

2. Clean up Your Database

Merge records where individuals have created more than one account. Delete bad accounts. Let us know if we can help.

3. Revisit Your Registration Form

When you first set up the registration form, you might have been in a rush to get the event posted with something that covered the basics. Now is a good time to review your forms and perhaps revise or add questions that might provide information that improves some aspect of your program, be it marketing, reporting, etc.

4. Watch Our New Video Tutorials

We spent summer break making videos that cover various aspects of using ABC Signup. We believe they will help users to better leverage the software, and we plan to make more. Take a look, and if there is some aspect of the software that you think could use a tutorial video, please let us know.

5. Invite the Right People

Perhaps while cleaning up your database, you noticed the list of potential invitees to your programs or events could use a boost. Upload additional contacts. They might be from another program or department, but with some simple formatting, uploading is a breeze.

6. Make Your Evaluation Form Valuable

Are you getting what you need from evaluation forms? The right questions can make a night and day difference on the feedback you get. And the feedback you get can make a similar difference on the impact and performance of your programs.

7. Give Your Events a Makeover

Perhaps now – before you become immersed in your events – is the best time to dabble with ABC Signup’s improved graphics tools to update the look and feel of your event pages and listings. There’s a tutorial video on that, and we’ll be glad to help, too.

8. Secure Your Data

By now, you are familiar with our security updates, new password requirements and our transition to only allowing access to ABC Signup’s software through our admin site. These steps help protect your data and our reputation. In the spirit of a new (school) year, maybe now is a good time to replace last year’s password with a new password.

9. Put Your Events on Mobile

We created a free tool, MeetingZilla, that enables you to post all of your event details and materials on a mobile site. It’s great for special events, conferences, conventions – any type of meeting with lots of attendees who would rather use their smartphone to view the agenda, read presenter bios, get directions, learn about the venue and so on. MeetingZilla is so easy to use there’s no training required.

10. Call With Questions

Finally, one of the best back to school tips we can offer ABC Signup customers is to virtually raise your hand and call us if you are stuck on something or have questions. You can reach us during normal business hours at our toll-free number, 866.791.8268 ext. 0, or e-mail us.

If you have some tips of your own you would like to share regarding getting up and running with ABC Signup, please use the Comments section below.

If you would like additional tips – or just want to know more about ABC Signup and registration software – e-mail or call (866.791.8268 ext. 0) us.

Topics: online registration software, registration software

A Newbie’s Guide to Social Media

Posted on Fri, Aug 01, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

No matter what your vocation – from event planner to physicist – someone is probably urging you to “get on the social media.”

socialmediausageAnd since billions of eyeballs and billions of dollars in marketing money have already made the leap, maybe it’s time you see what all of the hullabaloo is about. More than 70% of adult Internet users said they engaged in social media in 2012, compared to only 8% in 2005. You don’t want to be the last to budge – that guy who says “hash-brown selfie” – do you?

Below is an abbreviated guide to the most popular social media platforms and a look at how they are leveraged for free (many also offer paid advertising opportunities) to promote programs and events. If you are looking for a comprehensive look at social media and its key players, check out this outstanding overview.

Facebook

The most popular social network, with over 1 billion users, Facebook allows you to share just about anything with your social connections, those you “friend.” You post your ideas, links, photos and more, comment on others’ posts, “like” and “share” posts and so on. Facebook is ideal for sharing event links and info, inviting “friends” to your events, holding contests to generate interest, asking questions to gain intel and posting photos from the venue.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. Individuals use it to do things like posting their CVs, connecting with other professionals, congratulating connections on their new jobs, seeking new jobs and referencing others for certain skills. Companies can also create LinkedIn pages. Occasionally, event professionals send information about an upcoming event to their professional network in LinkedIn.

Twitter

Twitter is a social communication tool where people broadcast short messages, called “tweets,” that are limited to 140 characters in length. Tweets can be as inane as someone posting that they just brushed their teeth to breaking such news as the 2008 plane crash on the Hudson or Michael Jackson’s death. Popular tweets gain “followers” (others signed up on Twitter) and are “retweeted” (resending someone’s tweet from your account). The hashtag component on Twitter, e.g. “#eventplanning,” is a means of organizing tweets by topic by adding the tag plus topic. Most use Twitter to follow others (thought leaders, athletes, organizations, etc.). Events use it to send links to their latest offerings or create buzz about upcoming programs.

YouTube

YouTube is the most popular site for posting and sharing videos. Anything “filmed” shows up on YouTube, from keyboard-playing cats to marketing campaigns to a gazillion “how to guides” that help some of us change a headlight, pretend to be a gourmet chef or play guitar. Events leverage YouTube for promotion, testimonials, training supplements, event footage and much more.

Vimeo

Vimeo is another site for posting and sharing videos. It’s much smaller than YouTube in terms of videos uploaded and its “audience” (account holders and viewers), but also less cluttered and typically skews toward more professional videos. Event managers can create a channel on Vimeo to showcase training tutorials, excerpts from events, corporate videos and more.

Google+

This social network is a collection of different social products that leverage Google’s many services (Gmail, YouTube, Blogger, Adwords, etc.). Google+ features include Stream (a newsfeed), Sparks (a recommendation engine), Hangouts (a video chat service), Circles (a friend management service), Games and Photos and more. There are a number of ways events leverage Google + (e.g., live stream an event on Hangouts, blog about it via your Blogger blog, etc.).

Instagram

Instagram enables you to edit photos you have taken with your mobile device using built in tools and then share them with others. You can also post brief videos, search for content, view various feeds, view and add comments, 'like' photos/videos and share multimedia with your social networks. There is an obvious “share any memorable visuals” application for programs and events with Instagram.

Pinterest

Pinterest is an online site where you can save (pin) and organize images and videos into different groupings called boards. You can upload images and videos yourself, or you can add images and videos that you’ve found on other web sites. Pinterest recently launched a mobile app of its service that makes it a lot more like Instagram. Event folks might consider creating a “board” featuring their event-related images.

Tumblr

Tumblr is a micro-blogging tool – great for mobile devices – used to publish short posts of text, images, quotes, links, video, audio, and chats. Event applications might use Tumblr to post any kind of relevant multimedia content larger than Twitter’s 140-characters but not as long as say a blog.

Blogs

Several free platforms (e.g., Wordpress, Blogger) allow anyone to pen articles on everything under the sun. You don’t have to be a professional writer, subject matter expert or technology whiz to create and post to a blog. Events can and should use blogs for promotion, marketing, feedback, recognition and more.

The above platforms represent the most popular social media currently used in the U.S., and in some cases, the world.  That’s not to say that some won’t merge or go the way of MySpace. And there are dozens of up-and-coming social tools (e.g., Vine, Snapchat, Quora) that may need to be added to your list as you become a social media maven.

If you would like to share how and what social media you leverage for your event – or turn us on to a cool platform not mentioned above – please use the Comments section below.

If you want to know more about ABC Signup and registration software, feel free to e-mail or call (866.791.8268 ext. 0) at your convenience.

Topics: registration software, social media

When Murphy’s Law Strikes Your Events

Posted on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 @ 11:07 AM

custodianslippingWith events, anything that can go wrong will. It’s the nature of the business and part of life, from that misspelled name on the first birthday cake to the funeral programs that arrive a day late.

You can fight Murphy’s Law with over-preparation – but realize your efforts won’t always suffice. Below are a few ideas for dealing with the inevitable.

Lesson one: Plan a backup plan.

On the night of an annual meeting with 1,200 attendees a few years ago, the spotlight guy called in sick and another key person had a family emergency. No sweat. Each person with a role at the meeting also had a backup assignment, because our good event planners had set up contingencies that anticipated hiccups. In this case, Murphy’s Law was overruled.

Lesson two: Go with the flow.

I once crafted what I thought was a Ted-level speech for the board chairman at our organization’s planning conference. The speech, as written, opened with a flourish, revealed our challenges, and went a bit “Knute Rockne” while explaining how we would ultimately overcome. The chair complimented the speech before explaining that her participation in the previous evening’s social events left her “under the weather” and made it impossible to give the speech its proper due. Her version, perhaps to everyone’s satisfaction, was much shorter and softer.

Lesson three: Improvise.

Another time, I managed media and financial communications around a huge company event 2,000 miles from our corporate offices. This involved crafting the press release and managing its dissemination (at the company’s only facility still using dial-up Internet), setting up the live press conference and webcast, and preparing remarks and Q&A. The sound system, successfully tested the day before, failed at connecting the online reporters and analysts. No one in the room could hear their questions. We had to relay the online questions to the CEO, which he repeated for everyone else. In hindsight, that extra step gave him a little more time to consider each response.

Lesson four: Know your equipment.

Anyone have a laptop battery die in mid-presentation? How about struggling to get the laptop to work with the conference room projector? Connect cables, hit fn + F# (depends on laptop model) to toggle to your screen, switch the projector to the right setting… Years ago, while presenting at a conference, a certain registration software company’s founder assisted a competitor who couldn’t work the technology to set up and give his presentation. Guess who won a bunch of business that day?

Lesson five: Mother Nature’s events often take precedence over yours.

Churchill Downs, in its quest to inexpensively add expensive seats for its Kentucky Derby weekend, merged two gigantic tents in the center of its infield area about a decade ago. Hundreds, dressed to the nines, enjoyed their semi-private party in the center of it all – until the thunderstorms came. One section of the tents – where the downpour pooled – collapsed, drenching a few tables of patrons (and racking up a huge dry cleaning bill in the process). As most of the former tent-guests decided to seek more secure shelter, some of the regulars in the non-sheltered Infield targeted them with mud. And when the head of security and general manager (also in suits) went out to put an end to the shenanigans, they, too, were greeted with mud.

Lesson six: Know when to shut it down.

I once worked a press event about a waterway cleanup effort that toward the end got hi-jacked by a reporter with an unfriendly agenda about an unrelated topic. That was my cue to end the event. Yours might be when attendees start slipping out, your watch says you are 30 minutes over or your presenter sits down after no one asks any questions.

Lesson seven: Don’t leave eggnog in your refrigerator past New Year’s. And don’t let ex-employees back in the building.

In the early years of “Thunder Over Louisville” – billed as North America’s largest fireworks show that annually kicks off the Kentucky Derby Festival – the family responsible for the pyrotechnics dined on the eve of the event in the first floor atrium area of a five-story building. In the late 1990s, an ex-employee of a building tenant happened to get to the fifth floor, find old eggnog in a refrigerator (in April), and mindlessly pour it over the balcony. Some of it reached those dining below, who thought they had been vomited upon. The Thunder event went on without a hitch the next evening, but some say the real fireworks occurred the night before, in what was informally dubbed “Chunder Over Louisville.”

Most of this collection of anecdotal event stories is meant to enforce lessons related to event planning and management. We’d also like you to view this article as an invite to share some of your “favorite” event experiences (removing names to protect the innocent, of course), lessons or not. The Comments section below is just waiting to become an awesome repository of Murphy’s Law/events lore.

If you don’t care to comment but would like to know more about online registration software and ABC Signup, please contact us by e-mail or phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0).

Topics: registration software, event planning

Could SMART Goals Enlighten Your Events?

Posted on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 @ 15:07 PM

image of a woman composing a strategy in a meetingIf you’ve spent any time working in a corporate environment, you are probably aware of the “SMART” criteria for setting organizational goals often tied to your job responsibilities (and performance review).

The concept is widely credited to management guru Peter Drucker, first put to paper in 1981 by George Doran in Management Review and eagerly spread by HR departments everywhere. If it isn’t practiced in your neck of the woods, you might want to give it a look.

The SMART acronym stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable (or Assignable or Achievable)
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

In practice, applying those criteria while setting objectives results in meaningful, easy-to-track, quantifiable goals that – if achieved and aligned with the overall business strategy – bring value to the organization.

In the program and event world, the SMART approach can bring focus to basic goals such as “We are going to increase our number of programs offered” or “We are going to grow overall attendance” or “We are going to stay within budget.”

A SMART version of the “more programs” objective might read something like this: “Add four additional Introduction to Microsoft Windows 8.X courses by Winter of 2014. Ensure events reach at least 80% capacity.” This goal is specific and measurable, has a deadline, and we are going to assume it is attainable (definitely assignable) and realistic.

A smarter version of an attendance goal might be as simple as “increase program attendance by 5% in 2014” but the action items to achieve that goal might take a little work. But, if this goal supports the goals of the organization, those action items are likely going to be what you should be working on anyway, right?

You might wonder – aside from number of events, attendance and financials – what else makes sense to build SMART objectives around?

It certainly would be wise to create a goal that pushes you to improve the quality of your offerings. You can measure it by a post-event(s) evaluations. Shoot for a satisfaction metric you would like to achieve with your participants, or an increase of that metric from the year prior. Put in place action steps to improve your program/event, follow-through and evaluate.

Similarly, you might measure effectiveness by how participants do in a post-event testing (assuming it’s a course, certification or training-type program). Set a goal that X-percent achieve a certain grade or higher, or pass, or whatever.  You can do similar with CEUs awarded, childcare certifications completed, and so on.

Get as specific as you need to add value. If your programs or events perform below what you would expect with a certain demographic, make a goal to increase participation from the group and set action steps to bring them in the fold.

You can also develop SMART goals related to your marketing efforts. For instance, you might seek to increase your number of calls, direct mail, e-mails or e-mail response rates. A SMART goal can also be process related – perhaps you aim to reduce the number of unpaid registrations by a certain percentage and build or improve processes to ensure that happens.

Aside from the benefit to the organization, SMART goals bring focus to your responsibilities and quantify their impact. No doubt many of you managing programs and events devise goals in this manner to continue to improve your offerings and your performance. If you have some examples that work well for you – or just want to share your thoughts about the SMART methodology – feel free to post your insights in the Comments section below.

If you want to know more about online registration software and ABC Signup, please contact us by e-mail or phone (866.791.8268 ext.0) at your convenience.

 

Topics: event planning

Why You Need to Talk to Your Ex

Posted on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 @ 15:06 PM

While in the midst of our fourth annual survey, a couple revelations hit us in the head kind of like the guy who could have had a V-8. One, despite mostly lousy macro conditions (high unemployment, little economic growth, tight budgets, etc.), ABC Signup customers participating in our survey seem to be swimming upstream like uber-salmon. Two, such surveys would likely prove even more beneficial if they included ex-customers, small sample size or not.

image of a suggestion box by an exit door

We will divulge more on our survey in an upcoming blog and newsletter. This blog is going to focus on the oft-forgotten survey audience, your former customers.


There is a variety of rationale that leads us to neglect pushing a customer exit survey: your organization is small; you don’t have survey expertise; you don’t use survey tools; you have better uses of your time; you already know why they left; you don’t think you will learn anything new; you are not going to like what you hear, and; you aren’t going to win them back, so why bother.

First, you don’t need to be an ABC Signup customer (with our evaluation tools) to have the tools to pull this off – there are free survey tools available. Second, this doesn’t require a lot of time or expertise. And third, it is too important to your business not to do.

Among other things, understanding why you are losing customers can help you:

  • Improve your product or service and the customer service that supports it;
  • Ensure that you are as competitive as possible;
  • Better align your pricing;
  • Re-focus your marketing; and
  • Gain an advantage on your competitors.

Sure, you can expect to hear things you cannot change, and things that feel a bit personal. Your survey likely won’t regain any lost customers, either.

But you will hear things that you can change, and if you act upon them, you will have a better solution and a more competitive offering. We know a software company that built and improved its product over the years based on such feedback (though mostly from existing customer feedback).

So, what do you ask? Keep it very simple and direct, as an ex-customer likely isn’t going to want to spend too much time on your survey (unless they are peeved). Start with something like this:

What made you stop being a customer?

And then maybe offer a follow-up or two that gets at specifics.

If it related to our product/our service/our pricing, etc., please tell us exactly how/where we fell short.

If you switched to a competitor, what do they do better?

Those questions should give you pretty specific information. While there will be some feedback from ex-customers you can file as “bad fits,” there will also be some eye-opening input that may be your road map to future success.

It’s in your best interest to follow-through wherever possible. Also, be sure to follow-up with the ex-customers’ whose input you are able to act upon. Again, don’t expect to win them back, but do expect to influence them. And in today’s viral world where a few opinions impact hundreds of thousands of opinions, you want to be in as good of standing as possible with your exes.

It is smart business to make exit surveys part of your process of closing out an ex-customer account. If you conduct an annual survey of customers, you might want to consider a similar exercise for ex-customers.

We would love to hear your thoughts or experiences regarding customer exit surveys. Feel free to post them in the Comments section below this blog.

If you would like to know more about using ABC Signup to create evaluations – or simply want to know more about ABC Signup and our awesome online registration software – please contact us by e-mail or phone (toll free: 866.791.8268 ext. 0).

Customers - Take Our Survey and Win

Posted on Tue, Jun 24, 2014 @ 11:06 AM

If we could always pin down what motivates people, we’d all be great leaders, inspired co-workers and we’d accomplish just about anything – heck, we could teach the world to sing. We’re strictly speaking of positive motivation, not threats of a Dutch oven, boarding school in Siberia or a visit from HR that includes a cardboard box and one-way directions.

So when it came to trying to motivate ABC Signup customers to take our annual customer survey, we factored in our budget, our perceptions of what customers want, and what we’d want if we were in their shoes. Maybe we put a little more weight on the latter. We came up with a drawing for an officialderbypie2014 Derby Pie.

And, to mark our fourth annual survey, we are giving away four pies this year. So, please take our survey. You will be done in less than two minutes. Your input will help us improve ABC Signup's registration software. And, you may win a delicious pie. Here’s the link again. Thanks!

Topics: registration software, Surveys

Why Some Events Should Befriend PayPal

Posted on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 @ 15:06 PM

Multiple online payment options often pose a challenging decision to program and event managers. Administrators could set up their own process by integrating their merchant account with a payment gateway or choose an all-in-one merchant account and payment gateway like PayPal.

Integration takes a little bit of work on the front end, but creates a professional solution well-suited for high-volume, long-term events and programs. The standard PayPal is easy to set up and ideal for single events, but falls a little short of an integrated system in a few areas.

ABC Signup typically recommends integrating the merchant account with a payment gateway for providers of multiple fee-based events with a large volume of attendees, based mostly on the economics for the event provider.

businesspeople_jumpingwPayPalSo when and why does it make sense to use PayPal standard (the no-frills version)?

With our customers’ experience in mind, we came with these five scenarios where PayPal might be the best solution and definitely worth consideration. (We invite readers to share additional situations in the Comments section below.)

1. When you’ve got to take payment today.

Setting up online payment with PayPal is simple (details here). The seller, per PayPal, needs about 15 minutes to sign up and integrate a PayPal payment form into their website. Your customers can pay with a credit card or with their PayPal account right through your online form. PayPal takes 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, but there are no set-up fees, no monthly fees, termination fees or hidden fees. You only pay (the fees above) when you get paid.

2. When you only do a single event a year.

Payment gateways typically charge a monthly fee (anywhere from free to $30/month) for their services. It probably wouldn’t make sense to pay those fees to keep an account open versus setting up PayPal for the single event.

3. When your program or event is just starting out.

You may want to test online payment a time or two before making the leap to a fully integrated payment gateway.

4. When you have a low volume of registrants who pay online.

No sense in paying through a third party system or integrating with a payment gateway when you don’t have a lot of registrants paying online, or most of your events don’t require payment save one or two.

5. When you conduct ecommerce with an existing PayPal account.

With PayPal standard, payment to your programs and events can be deposited directly into your existing PayPal account. You can also request an electronic transfer into your organization’s bank account or, for a fee, get payment by echeck.

Those five instances might make the simplicity of PayPal (standard) the right online payment solution for your events.

By contrast, there are a few aspects of using PayPal standard that might steer you elsewhere. First, PayPal standard will take customers off of your site and to the PayPal site during “checkout.” In addition, the payment page can be confusing to some customers, making them feel like they have to set up a PayPal account of their own (to pay) when they can simply use their credit card.

PayPal fees are also typically higher than your merchant account fees, but you’d have to reach a certain threshold of volume before PayPal standard’s costs outstrip the combination of fees from your merchant account and a payment gateway.

If you have any questions about online payment, or just want to know more about ABC Signup and online registration software, please e-mail or call us (866.791.8268 ext. 0).

 

 

Topics: Online Payment

June Survey: A Pie for Your Thoughts

Posted on Mon, Jun 09, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

woman_pie_chartIn case you missed our June newsletter, we led with our annual plea to customers to complete our survey. We’re okay if you just skip to this survey link (or the one at the bottom of the page) and spend two minutes helping us make ABC Signup's registration software even better. Here is the article in full. 

Why take the time to complete our fourth annual survey? Here are four good reasons:

  1. Your input improves our (and your) product
  2. Your ideas might spawn altogether new products
  3. The survey only takes a couple of minutes to complete
  4. We are giving away delicious, official Derby Pies® to four lucky participants

Our survey doesn’t replace everyday customer feedback, and we can’t guarantee that we will accommodate every suggestion or trend offered. However, the intel we gather typically helps us improve our company and our software.

Since we published the 2013 survey, for instance, we’ve posted 24 enhancements or new features in the What’s New section of the ABC Signup admin site, and that doesn’t include dozens of tweaks here and there. Some improvements relate directly to customer feedback, some do not. Some, like the recent additions to our mobile site – or our free MeetingZilla product that allows you to build a mobile event site – respond to trends you’ve helped identify.

Let’s keep the conversation flowing. Help us identify changes in your marketplace and things we can do with our software to help you keep pace. Because your time and input mean a lot to us, we will assess and report back on the survey and your suggestions, and enter survey participants in drawings for free pies. We’ve upped the ante to give away pies to four participants for the fourth annual survey, so click the link below and complete the survey for your chance to win.

Please take our survey today. Thanks!

Topics: registration software, Surveys

View ABC Signup’s New Video Tutorials

Posted on Fri, Jun 06, 2014 @ 09:06 AM

librarian_viewing_computerWhen it comes to figuring out how to use software, most of us are visual learners. We actually need to be working with the tools and seeing what they do to put what we’ve learned into practice.

With that thought in mind, we began assembling a collection of video tutorials for ABC Signup’s registration software. You can find them on our website at the bottom of the Resources page.

We started with a brief demo (Meet ABC Signup) that shows how ABC Signup event pages and registration forms could appear to the registrant, and what it looks like behind the scenes when creating those pages with our software.

We devoted another video (Creating a Page Theme) to show how to use our relatively new design tools to build page themes based on pre-designed templates or your organization’s branding. It explores options for backgrounds, color schemes, fonts and more.

Another video (Creating ‘Linked’ Questions) looks at a specific feature of ABC Signup’s registration form capabilities – creating “linked” questions. This allows the administrator to create a sequence of follow-up questions based upon the answers to the previous question. If, for instance, a registrant checks a box to attend lunch, a follow-up question might ask the individual to select from lunch options.

Our fourth video (Creating Reports) demonstrates the many types of reports – in multiple formats – that can be pulled from ABC Signup. This powerful tool can help you track performance of individual events or look at macro results over a course of a year. You can track items related to attendance and financials, look at results from evaluations and likely discover useful trends.

The beauty of this video library is it’s free, easy to update and ready to expand. As you will notice, we are keeping our production efforts simple (our voice-over talent notwithstanding) so that we can be nimble.

Best of all, we take requests. Tell us what features of ABC Signup you would like to learn more about. Ask us for “step-by-step” instructions on some aspect of our software you would like to be able to work a little better. We want you to get the most value possible out of our expansive set of tools, so it only makes sense to provide as many visual guides as possible.

If you have any questions about our videos, or just want to know more about ABC Signup and registration software, please e-mail or call us (866.791.8268 ext. 0).

Topics: registration software, video tutorials