What’s more awesome than your new computer, tablet or smart phone, right?
The machine does everything you need. It’s super-fast, not “buggy,” and all of a sudden you’re cruising in the fast lane of productivity. But as you get to warp speed with its programs and applications, something happens to rub some of that shine off your new toy. “Progress.”
It might be a software or application update. It could be a new operating system. An “upgrade” is ready for some component on your machine, and you need to upload and install it. For every several that go smoothly, there’s one that doesn’t. You either find your machine no longer in the fast lane (e.g., Java issues), or worse (like an iPhone 4 trying to run ios7.0X, software so demanding for the hardware that it makes one think that Apple is trying to make that model obsolete).
Wouldn’t it be great if that software update just happens automatically, without a need to upload and install anything, restart a computer, downgrade to an older (but working) version or buy new hardware?
That’s the beauty of most software-as-a-service (SaaS), web-based software and platforms. You don’t buy them in a box off a shelf or ever have to mess with downloads, uploads, installs or re-boots.
You’ve likely experienced the ease of these SaaS tools firsthand. Perhaps you participated in a webinar (GoToMeeting), posted or sought a career opportunity (Oracle’s Taleo), used your organization’s CRM system (Salesforce) or filed your taxes online (Intuit’s TurboTax). Or, maybe you manage registrations for your programs or events with a certain registration software (ABC Signup).
With any of these tools, the latest, most up-to-date version will be at your fingertips the next time you use it. Each will typically notify you of any advancements made since the last time you deployed the software. And, other than periodic password changes for security, the new and improved version will be accessible without you ever needing to do a thing.
One of the beauties of the Internet is the many resources it links to create opportunities for things like “cloud-based” delivery and software-as-a-service. All you need is a good connection to access the latest, greatest versions of the tools you use.
If you would like to know more about ABC Signup, our registration software or software-as-a-service in general, please contact us by e-mail or phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0). Use the Comments section below to add your thoughts on this blog.
“Paperless” is an awesome concept. But, it only occurs when the economics work.
Take any number of conferences or events that provide participants with presentations, background materials, venue information, floor maps, details on local attractions and so on. More often than not, that information is printed, copied and bound as part of the registration packet provided at sign in.
Such events can generate thousands – even tens of thousands – sheets of paper, plus a lot of time and energy spent collating and packaging the materials. There’s also an inconvenience factor for participants associated with lugging around a binder from one conference session to the next.
Why not go paperless, you ask? This event material was likely either created by computer or pulled from an online site. So, why couldn’t someone just make the information accessible via participants’ mobile devices?
They can, for a price. Solutions that allow administrators to compile the information and package it in an easily accessible mobile location are available today. Unfortunately, they can cost anywhere from $5,000 to more than $20,000 – economics that keep many events in paper. Some of these solutions are really cool “apps” – well, cool until some participants on site haven’t installed the app or uploaded the most recent upgrade.
Like any innovation, ultimately prices will come down, functionality will be tweaked and more solutions will appear on the market. That change, coupled with the saturation of mobile devices, will eventually cut out event binders – not trees.
If you would like to know more about registration software or ABC Signup, please contact us by e-mail or phone. Use the Comments section below to add your thoughts on this blog.
Sometime in your career, your normal day will abruptly be disrupted by the Internet’s most-dreaded word-number combination, “System 404.”
Whether you discover it yourself or learn about it from an angry customer, that System 404 message – on a blank page where your home page should be – means your website is down. This virtual power outage demands immediate attention. Here are a few things you should and should not do.
Expect to hear from several people that your site is down. The next round of communiqués will ask when it will be back up. If you get to round three, well, it may sound like an angry mob. Some may be hysterical. Not you.
Find the source of the problem and throw as many resources at it as possible. If the issue is with a third-party host, contact them immediately and stress the gravity of the situation (and the money you might be losing with your virtual storefront unexpectedly closed). Take steps to ensure a long-term fix.
Most likely, this is an accident, a glitch, a completely unintentional occurrence. If not – say, for instance, you’ve been hacked – get mad. But otherwise, a calm approach is the right approach. There will be time to express displeasure, define the impact and get assurances of improvements going forward – after you get the site back up and running.
Get the word out
One way to save yourself from being inundated with calls is to let your organization know the situation. Whether or not you need to extend the same courtesy to your customers depends upon a number of factors specific to each organization.
Do not assume the parties responsible for whatever caused the site to crash are aware that it is down. A third party host could manage thousands of sites and not know your site has an issue until you make them aware of it.
Switch to your backup site
If you’ve got it, flaunt it. If you have a backup site that you can switch on (and seamlessly switch off when your regular site is back online), do it. That’s what it’s there for.
Find silver linings
“Well, it wasn’t us, it was a third party” or “Hey, it’s not as bad as the ACA website” do little or nothing to reassure folks in your organization or your customers. Find the cause so you can do everything you can to prevent it from occurring again.
Construct a better System 404 page
One way to somewhat disarm those disappointed in your non-functioning website is a System 404 page that says a little more than just “System 404.” It might include an apology, some humor, or just an acknowledgement that you are aware and working on it. Check out these clever examples.
The Internet is built upon layers and layers of technology, most of which are outside of your control. On the occasion that one broken link in the technology chain trips up your site, be prepared – and know it will be back up and running faster than you can say “System 404” eventually.
If you would like to know more about dealing with System 404 errors, or just want some additional information about ABC Signup and registration software, please contact us by e-mail or by phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0). If you would like to add your thoughts to this article – perhaps telling ways you get feedback from non-customers – please post below in the Comments section of this blog.
It’s one of the least sexy buzzwords still making the rounds of event and training “trend” forecasts. It seems too obvious to be viewed as anything new or game-changing, yet some of the experts cite it as one of the trends ready to rock the event and training sectors.
Why? Because each year, hundreds of billions of dollars change hands in the event and training industry, and today we have the technology in place to better determine whether we are getting value from either side of the transaction.
In event and training circles, accountability comes in several forms. There’s basic return on investment (ROI) type accountability, whereby the cost of staging the event or training is reconciled against the proceeds from registration fees, exhibitors, sponsorships, etc. There’s a secondary ROI that measures the impact of the event or training on participants, be it through evaluations that examine their satisfaction or testing that assesses their grasp of the content presented.
For organizations that receive government funding, accountability might relate to completing a certain number of trainings or reaching a minimum number of participants in an event. A childcare resource center, for instance, might need to keep providers under its umbrella up to date on certification requirements. A continuing education program might need to tabulate the number of CEUs awarded.
The bottom line: administrators of events and training programs – now more so than ever – are tasked with delivering data that in one form or another measures some aspect of their offerings (and a similar move is afoot for participants). For some, this growing accountability requirement can pose an unworkable challenge to their current registration and reporting process.
Thankfully, there are solutions available on the market. One of the advantages of a complete registration software solution, for instance, is tools that allow administrators to survey participants, monitor the budget for their events and programs, and track and record participation, CEUs, certifications and much more.
As an example, a customer using full-featured registration software for their conference can plug in expenses (venue, catering, audio-visual, etc.) and export a report at any time showing how costs compare with current revenues accrued as registrants, exhibitors and sponsors’ payments are processed. With some software, the customer can even export the data in chart and graph form and compare the most recent event’s revenues, attendees or other data points to prior years’ results.
Similarly, records can be exported and sent to participants’ organizations, regulatory bodies and others to verify attendance, course completion, etc. A practicing dentist, for instance, is typically required to accrue a certain number of continuing education credit hours over a specific time cycle. A training provider with a complete registration solution can pull that individual’s information in an instant.
In the broader education industry, a district or school might want to know how many of its teachers attended professional development workshops in 2013, and from what departments. Or, who signed up but didn’t show up? Or, who hasn’t met their CEU requirements? With the right system, that information is a click away.
A good system’s evaluation tools can also be used to survey participants about all facets of an event or training, test their understanding of the subject matter and get feedback on how to improve the offering. Again, that data can be compared over like events or trainings to identify trends.
If you would like to know more about the growing importance of accountability in events and training and how to track it – or just want some additional information about ABC Signup and registration software – please contact us by e-mail or by phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0). If you would like to add your thoughts to this article – perhaps offering ideas to improve accountability – please post them below in the Comments section of this blog.
The timing of your event posed a scheduling conflict for many.
Your venue is not easily accessible for certain constituents.
Your speaker just delivered a similar presentation elsewhere in the region.
Your subject matter leaves much to be desired.
These could all be reasons for NOT attending your program or event – reasons you might never be made aware of from your post-event, customer evaluations. After all, those who participated likely didn’t have an issue with scheduling, accessibility or the program’s content.
Feedback from you non-attendees, on the other hand, could alert you to these and other issues. You might discover easily correctable aspects of your program or event that currently prevent them from reaching full capacity.
That’s great, you think to yourself, but how do I get that kind of intelligence? I can’t talk to non-attendees or survey them if they aren’t participating in my programs.
Actually, you can – with the right tools.
First, you can use any of a number of survey products – including your ABC Signup evaluations, if you are a customer – to create questionnaires targeting non-attendees and non-customers. The most difficult part of such an endeavor is generating a list of contacts to target. Start with a list of past attendees who haven’t participated in one of your programs for over a certain period of time. Build a second list pulling contact data from organizations that you would consider your target audience.
Then, ask the questions that identify the barriers to their participation with the intent of helping you devise ways to overcome them.
Ask if they received info about the event (and if so, what?).
Create a list of reasons for not attending (time, location, cost, etc.) and ask them to rank them in order. Include an “other” option to cover reasons you might not have considered.
And, be sure to ask what would make them interested in attending.
Build something like this into your event plan just as you include an evaluation of participants. If you want to capture a quicker, but less-complete sample, simply call 5-10 random non-attendees in your database and ask questions similar to those listed above.
Another way to garner non-attendee feedback is to include a “regrets” type link on your event webpage or promotional e-mails asking those not planning to attend to state the reason(s) they aren’t participating. Again, for ABC Signup customers, this is as simple as creating a separate “registration” form (using questions similar to those listed above), generating a link to that form, and pasting in a visible manner in the e-mail or webpage. You won’t hear from every non-attendee, but any kind of respondent consensus around specific issues might direct you to a red flag that’s currently undercutting the success of your offering.
Smart business practices suggest that a great way to win someone’s business is to find out why you are losing it in the first place. Most organizations have a distinct blind spot when it comes to measuring the experience of non-customers in their market. Make sure you have a mechanism in place to get that information.
If you would like to know more about creating surveys and evaluations, or just want some additional information about ABC Signup and registration software, please contact us by e-mail or by phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0). If you would like to add your thoughts to this article – perhaps telling ways you get feedback from non-customers – please post below in the Comments section of this blog.
A few years ago while heading Investor Relations for an iconic sports organization, I volunteered to run an ad hoc, internal committee charged with soliciting employees’ ideas, rewarding those deemed worthy, then championing (as much as possible) the implementation of the best suggestions.
The first two parts of the process were very democratic and very offline. Not all employees had access to computers, so we stocked suggestion boxes throughout the facility, collected completed forms and restocked. The committee met periodically to review the submissions, vote for worthwhile ideas, and then pitched the concepts to the leadership in the appropriate areas of the organization.
The upside to the program was three-fold: all employees were encouraged to continually think of ways to improve the organization (best ideas won monetary awards); a broad-based oversight committee built relationships and knowledge about all areas of the company; and some of the “big ideas” created opportunities to generate new revenues, save money or improve the customer experience. As an example, if you attend this organization’s second biggest event, you might hold in your hand a very popular (and profitable) glass and drink that was once a “big idea” winner (cheers to Joe B.).
Every company could benefit from an employee suggestion program. Such initiatives empower and engage workers by telling them management is listening, and at the same time create a pipeline of potential game-changing ideas.
3M’s “Post-It” notes were borne from an employee’s suggestion. Amazon’s wildly successful loyalty program, Amazon Prime, was an idea submitted in the virtual idea box on the company’s internal website. A maintenance crew worker for Japan Railways East (the largest rail carrier in the world) suggested bottling the spring water discovered while cutting tunnels in a certain mountain, seeding what would become a profitable business line.
There are thousands of examples of organizations large and small reaping great benefits from suggestion programs. Great ideas typically aren’t spawned in an R&D department, the board room or from those crazy cats in marketing. They come from the front-lines – the employees serving customers, building better widgets and trying to out-pace the competition.
An effective program can be created with a little time and money, but more than a little commitment. You can find incredible software that will do much of the work for you – or, you can do it yourself. Either way, here are a few things that have to happen to make it work:
1. Get the brass on board
Your organization’s leadership must champion the program. An initiative backed by the boss can quickly create a ripple effect of support which removes bureaucratic barriers that sometimes stem the flow of ideas.
2. Appoint an administrator
A successful program needs a point person to run the program, keep management apprised and measure success.
3. Spread the word
Inform all employees about the program and consistently remind them of the opportunity. Participation hinges on awareness – market your program like you would market a product or service.
4. Offer incentives
A simple cash award. A percentage of the increased revenues or money saved. A gift card. A day off. Find something you can offer that motivates employees to constantly think of ways to improve the organization.
5. Provide timely feedback
It’s imperative that participants know you take the program seriously. Set a realistic schedule for when ideas will be reviewed and when those making submissions can expect to hear something. Aim for a quick turnaround, and handle non-suitable ideas with as much (or more) courtesy as winning suggestions.
6. Keep it simple
Make the process as simple to negotiate as possible. In the program I referenced above, we made available a hard copy form that requested the individual’s contact information, idea and a quick business case for the idea. (This same sort of approach could be recreated electronically on an internal website using tools offered by good registration software.)
7. Create a cross-functional committee
You want those spearheading the program to come from a variety of segments within the organization so that you convey representation and encourage the broadest participation. You obviously want folks with energy and enthusiasm, and you will likely want to rotate committee membership periodically to bring in fresh ideas and passion.
8. Open your program to vendors and customers
This is always an option, as vendors and customers also provide a great resource for ideas. Just be cautious not to diminish (or dissuade) your employee program as you allocate time and incentives to constituents outside your workforce.
9. Review the program annually
In a program all about organizational improvement, it only makes sense to continually assess ways to improve the program itself. Are you getting an adequate number of submissions? Are you rewarding too little or too many ideas? Are winning ideas getting implemented? If not, why not? If so, what is the financial impact of the implemented idea?
In this age of continuous improvement, global competition, instant communications and minimal time-to-market, an employee suggestion program is simply smart business. Incentive-based initiatives lead employees to thinking outside their silo, they remove some of the layers that prevent ideas from being heard, and they deliver value that extends from the customer through the bottom line.
If you would like to pick our brain about such programs, or just want to know more about ABC Signup and registration software, please contact us by e-mail or phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0). If you have some suggestion program ideas you would like to share or just want to say something about this blog, please use the Comments section below.
Talk to your customers. It shows you care. It’s the quickest path toward improving your products or services. And, you’ll discover insights that can help you better connect with prospects.
Such conversations make your organization more attractive. According to market research technology provider Cint, 62% of consumers are more inclined to buy from a brand that has asked for their opinion in a study, while 56% claimed they felt more loyal to a brand when asked.
Just don’t overwhelm them with a volume of questions or frequency (most people are comfortable allotting 1-5 minutes per interaction), act on their feedback (nearly 70% expect such follow-up), and don’t attempt to sell under the guise of market research (it’s illegal).
So, what should you talk to your customers about? How about anything that will help you retain their business, better serve them, and recreate (for prospects) the magic that initially attracted these customers to your organization?
You might want to start with a temperature check (How are things going?) before moving into questions about how they found you and chose you, how you can improve and things and what they really appreciate or don’t.
This isn’t rocket surgery. Yet many of us, without departments that focus on this, neglect to put enough effort into picking customers’ brains. A survey or conversation could be as simple as these 10 questions:
1. How did you hear about us?
If you aren’t providing a multiple choice type answer, spell it out in the question, e.g.: Is there anything you saw about us (a brochure, news article, an advertisement, our trade show exhibit, our website, a referral, other) that especially helped you decide to buy from us?
Build your own knowledge-base of those sources that generate customers and then allocate resources appropriately. If most customers are finding you through the Internet, for instance, step up your efforts promoting your website through Google adwords, search engine optimization (SEO), e-mails (with links), etc.
2. Why did you choose us?
What you think are your strengths don’t always align with the perceptions of your customers or the market. Take a cue from your customer feedback and re-align your marketing to promote the features they value most.
3. What made you choose us over our competitors?
Discovering a product or service “differentiator” is the kind of competitive intelligence that can pay huge dividends. This is an opportunity to find out things you do that they don’t, or that you do better, and tell the world.
4. What professional groups or trade associations are you a member of?
With some intel here, you now know how and where they found you, what they like about you, what differentiates you from the competition, and where their cohorts (e.g. prospects) can likely be found. You’ve secured a superfecta of valuable marketing information from which to base future strategies.
5. What can we do to improve our product/serve you better?
Probably the single most important feedback you can gain from your customers relates to ideas they share to help you build a better mousetrap. According to this study, when it comes to garnering ideas for product innovation, the “voice of consumer” methods rank at or near the top.
6. Give a recent example of how we’ve exceeded your expectations? Not met them?
Inc. Magazine suggests that instead of just asking how we are doing on your project, make the questions specific and over a recent time frame so that your feedback will likely generate more actionable items.
7. What is the one thing that none of your vendors do that you wish they did?
Another Inc. suggested query aims higher than more standard questions, in an attempt to elicit responses that delve beyond pat answers – ideally delivering real examples that you can build a strategy or course of action around.
8. What would you type into Google to find us?
This question feels insignificant in the midst of the information potential of so many other queries, but getting a handle on the right keywords and making the appropriate adjustments in your SEO could really make the Internet your oyster. The medium has become the de facto resource for consumer research, and if prospects aren’t finding you online, they likely aren’t buying you.
9. What’s the one thing we should never stop doing?
This question will yield useful, if not surprising information. You might expect the answer to be related to a discount policy or popular product and receive feedback about the politeness and helpfulness of your customer service. The data will likely reveal strengths worth promoting.
10. What would you tell someone who ask about us? Would you refer us?
This type of question can yield great content for testimonials and build your recruit base for a referral program. If you get a negative response, circle back to some earlier questions to see if you can take actions to move them back to the happy customer side of the ledger.
That’s 10 very useful questions, and we can conjure a few more for those interested. If it is customer questions you want, or just more information about ABC Signup and registration software, please contact us as your convenience by e-mail or phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0). If you have some great customer questions you would like to share, simply type them in the Comments section below this article.
ABC Signup customers log in from 40+ states and Canada, represent Fortune 500 corporations as well as 500-member church congregations, and leverage our registration software for everything from annual conferences to zoology workshops.
No two customers put ABC Signup to work in identical manners. They may all deploy the software’s core functionality – building an online registration platform as part of their websites – but from there they typically diverge while pursuing features that meet their specific program needs.
Many of us, in trying to quicken the software learning curve, become skilled initially only in the components that will help us achieve our objectives. We may be more than competent in this narrow purview, but only decide to broaden our expertise when we see cool things someone else can do with the same tools.
With that in mind, we share here some ordinary and some out-of-the-ordinary things our customers accomplish with ABC Signup. Some of these may be things users already do or simply don’t need, but we hope an item or two might be the kind of cool feature that adds a little more efficiency to another customer’s programs or events.
Take a look at these examples of ABC Signup customers parlaying functionality of the software into a registration feature or nuance that delivers value to their offerings.
Try ‘push’ marketing
Want to make sure you get the word out about your event? Prevent Child Abuse Hawaii uses ABC Signup’s Invitation module to invite all past registrants and invitees to its fundraising event, Brunch with Santa. PCAH built a target list from past registrants and other imported e-mail addresses and now “pushes” the event details and link to prospective customers rather than just relying on them to find the event on their website.
Discounts can motivate registrants
ABC Signup customers use a myriad of discounts to motivate registrants. The Child Care Council of Westchester, Inc., for instance, set up a conference with an a la carte pricing system whereby participants can pay session-by-session and receive discounts as they reach a certain minimum number of sessions.
Give your registrants access
In some instances, it’s better to “teach the registrants to fish.” Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Dentistry, for instance, deploys our Registrant Access Module (RAM) to allow registrants to log into the system to do things like print their certificates or view participation details such as their registration history and continuing education credits.
Design a cool, website-matching page
Some web design knowledge and a little pizzazz can produce event pages that look great and seamlessly mirror the website like Adventure Theatre or In Control.
Integrate registrations with other software
California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission (CDIAC) takes advantage of ABC Signup’s many integration options to connect registrants directly to informational webinars it hosts through GoToWebinars.
Lower the degree of difficulty of registration questions
Conditional logic, multiple choice radial buttons and a host of other options give users everything they need to build a perfect registration form. Gratiot-Isabella Regional Education Service District (GIRESD), for instance – which serves schools in districts spanning several Michigan counties – deploys ABC Signup’s Relationship feature when constructing certain registration form questions to allow registrants to winnow down the choices. The form first asks in what district an employee works, which prompts a corresponding question to determine the specific location that only lists schools and administrative facilities in that district (rather than the entire list of facilities under the GIRESD umbrella).
Connect registrations to an approval mechanism
What if your internal registrations require some sort of supervisory approval? The Illinois State Retirement System uses our Registration Approval feature to ensure that a registrant for one of ISRS retirement education programs is approved to participate by the appropriate department. In this instance, the registrant’s check-off of a specific department on the registration form triggers an e-mail to that department requesting approval.
We know there are many more instances in which customers applying ABC Signup software to solve problems or improve their registration process (and probably more that we aren’t aware of). We invite our customers to share them in the Comments section of our blog, or by e-mail. If you simply want to know more about ABC Signup and registration software, you can always contact us by e-mail or phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0).
By simple demographics (e.g., small business outnumber big business 100 to 1), most organizations don’t turn to an advertising agency or large marketing department to develop creative means to market their products or services. Instead, they do it themselves.
Sometimes, that leads to botched efforts (though an agency can botch things, too). It doesn’t have to.
Follow a few basic steps and you, too, can market like the pros. See what I did there? I just wrote a sentence that reads like a line from an infomercial written by a professional. It’s already working.
It’s actually not that simple, but with a little research, some creativity and solid writing, just about anyone can create materials that entice and persuade. Here is a very basic roadmap to better marketing.
Step 1: Know, Then Target Your Audience
You don’t need a market research budget to know a few things about your target customers. First, take a good look at your existing customers. Then, make some common sense assessments about who can benefit from your product or service. And, find out what you can about your competitors’ customer base.
With that information, you should be able to develop content (i.e., “the pitch”) geared toward a pre-determined target audience and select the best-suited platforms (e.g., direct mail, advertising, e-mail, etc.) from which to deliver it. It gets a little trickier when you segment your target audience into specific groups for specific marketing efforts, but it’s the same approach just split into more detailed targets.
For instance, one of our targets happens to be dental schools, which typically use our registration software for their continuing education programs. We created a handful of materials (two direct mail pieces, e-mail, web page and a supplemental, dental school-focused landing page for search engines) and sequenced their delivery.
What we didn’t do in this case was use traditional “dental” imagery because we figured that’s what they see all the time and we wouldn’t stand out. Below you will see examples of a couple of direct mail options we created before deciding to use the one on the right.
We are taking a similar approach to some of the broader education segment. The direct mail piece below appeals to a feel-good emotion from our own school days (cafeteria desserts) – well, unless you were assigned the late lunch and your pudding came with a hard skin on top of it.
Step 2: Create Simple, Clean Materials with a Family Look
Most of us know good writing when we read it and good design when we see it. That familiarity should make it easier for you to emulate. Focus on a clean, simple look with direct, concise copy/content. Pull the viewer in with your heading and imagery, lead them where you want with subheads and/or bullets, and “close” them with some sort of “call to action” or CTA (more on that in Step 3).
Avoid too much type and use white space. A crowded page is anything but pleasing to the eye. Use graphics. Carefully proofread so that there are no grammatical errors (not the way you want to end up on Leno). And be consistent with your logo, color schemes and layout to create and maintain a “family look.” It’s a good way to develop instant recognition of your brand.
In designing landing pages for our Google pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, we stick with a three column format that features an image and testimonials on the small left column, the main headline and body content in the center, and a call to action and form on the right.
We experimented with additional features on these landing pages – our product video, links to a case studies document and links to specific website pages – but determined they were dilutive to the page’s messaging and detrimental to its simplicity.
Step 3: Make a Clear Offer/Call to Action
We fall short in many of our marketing materials with perhaps the most important element – the “ask.” We might forget it altogether, give it horrible placement or diminish it by presenting multiple asks in a single piece.
Make it clear what you want that prospect to do, whether it is to register for an event, view a demo or get an early-bird discount by signing up for something by a certain date. Just don’t put three calls to action or offers on the same piece.
Also, make the actual action appropriate with the platform used. If it’s a direct mail piece, you likely want to give them an offer/CTA followed by a phone number. If you are marketing by e-mail, provide a link (to a website or web-form) or ask them to respond to your e-mail. If using web marketing, give them a web-form or link to a landing page with more information and a digital form.
Regarding the latter, we’ve learned to use more specific language in our buttons or links than just “submit” or “click here.” Users are more inclined to click on something that features more direct and compelling verbiage.
Step 4: Test/Measure it and Revise Accordingly
This final recommendation might require a bit of creativity, depending upon the tools you have available. The premise is to try different approaches to the same material, determine which works better, and leverage that version going forward. It’s commonly referred to as A/B testing.
Organizations that once used forms to be completed as part of a marketing piece’s call to action would sometimes use two different marketing pitches and place some unique identifier on the return forms that indicated which pitch it was aligned with. When forms were returned, it was easy to determine which pitch was more effective.
Today, there is e-mail software that does similar (down to the opens, clicks and replies), marketing software that measures the performance of various landing pages and calls to action, and search engine software that shows the performance of PPC ads.
As an example, we created these two call to action graphics that when clicked lead to a form which (when completed) provides access to the related document. Our software told us the version that we thought looked cooler (on left) lagged in clicks and conversions, so you can guess which CTA we are mostly using on our website today.
Follow those four steps and your marketing materials should look better and be more effective. Tap into some of the many educational resources available and you will really see the impact. Read a design or writing book. Learn publishing software such as Publisher, InDesign or Pages (Apple). Explore some of the free or low-cost online providers of photos and graphics.
Most of all, check out the Internet for free advice from the experts. You will find everything from tips on creating effective collaterals to general marketing best practices to guerrilla marketing tactics.
If you want to pick our brains about marketing materials – or just want to know more about ABC Signup and registration software – please contact us at your convenience by e-mail or phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0). If you have some tips you would like to share pertaining to in-house marketing efforts, feel free to post them in the Comments section immediately below this article.
Creating a registration form can be a delicate endeavor. Ask for too much information and risk turning the registrant off. Ask for too little and you can print on a single name tag the extent of your customer intel. And, don’t ask the right questions and you end up serving Salisbury steak to your vegetarian guests.
In the world of e-commerce, right-sized forms are crucial. Dropping one data field meant $12 million in additional business for Expedia, and Best Buy realized $300 million in additional online sales by eliminating a registration form that duplicated much of the site’s checkout form.
Your programs and events require a slightly different level of detail, but your challenge is similar: ask questions that give you the most useful information without turning your registration form into a five-minute survey. This is entirely doable, though it can depend upon the sophistication of your event and your registration software.
Some events, by their nature, require a lengthy registration. Think of a conference with multiple, overlapping breakout sessions, or a golf outing with morning and afternoon flights, multiple lunch choices and an optional shirt offered in several sizes. With either of these, the form is going to extend well past “name,” “organization,” “telephone number,” “e-mail address,” and “method of payment.”
Better registration systems account for and minimize such multi-level questions with conditional logic, whereby a certain answer to a question (e.g., a “Yes” to “Will you have lunch?”) triggers a second question (e.g., the luncheon menu choices).
When you devise your registration forms, first list what information you must ascertain (e.g., contact info, payment) and then think about what you would like to collect.
For instance, you might need to know if any of your participants have accessibility issues, if they intend to order any materials tied to the event, if they’ve completed a requisite course (software like ABC Signup can automatically determine this) or if they are an employee of company X (and if so, what is their identification or certification number). On the flip side, do you really still need a fax number, or an office, cell and home phone number? Only the absolutely necessary queries should be labeled as mandatory (usually marked by an asterisk with related footnote).
Once you’ve included these essential questions, consider a question or two that will ultimately add value to your event. For example, if you want to gather information for marketing purposes, ask registrants how they heard about the event. If your goal is tighten your event’s focus, include a question asking what participants hope to get out of the function. If you want to learn more about the individual personas that make up your customer base, you might want to include questions such as have you ever attended one of our events before, or how long since you last attended one of our events.
Registration software with adequate reporting tools allows you to quickly assess the responses to such questions, giving you relevant data from which to base future marketing efforts, redesign event content, segment your customer list, and more.
The registration form might seem a bit like a blank canvas, but with some thought it can become a useful tool to gather more than contact information. Just remember to keep it as simple as possible.
If you would like to pick our brains about registration forms – or just want to know more about ABC Signup and registration software – please contact us by phone (866.791.8268 ext.0) or e-mail. If you would like to post your thoughts on this article or better yet, share registration questions you find useful, please use the Comments section below.