25 Online Event Registration Tips That Sell Out Events
Eply Services Inc
Event Registration System
Small details have a big impact on the number of people who register for your events. Use these tips to get more signups.
Event Registration System
1. Make your form match the look and feel of your website. A consistent look helps registrants feel comfortable with the process and looks professional. If registrants land on a page that looks nothing like the site they came from, they might feel like they are in the wrong place and hesitate to complete the form. Plus, it's not very professional and doesn't support your brand.
2. Make the form look clean and easy to use to draw people in. Align fields perfectly, use consistent spacing, add white space and limit the use of different font sizes and styles. In interior design, many small details add up to make a room feel inviting. The same goes for your form; there are a lot of small details: layout, spacing, fonts, images, colours, etc. Just keep spacing and alignments and font size and styles consistent and you will have a good start.
3. Have a clearly visible and friendly cancellation and refund policy. If you don't want to offer refunds, at least allow people to transfer their registration to someone else. If you're asking people to pre-register for your event but state "No Refunds" it will deter some people from registering until the last minute, and if you don't get them signing up now you may not get them at all if something better comes up. At a minimum, allow people to transfer their registration to someone else. It doesn't cost you anything, it helps your registrant and you still get someone at the event.
4. List a name and phone number of a real person registrants can contact if they have questions. Most people won't call, but like to know the option is there. Sure, all of the info is on your website and the whole idea of online registration is that you don't have to talk to anyone. But if a potential registrant is uneasy about using online registration, or if they do have a question that isn't answered on your site, being able to pick up the phone for a 2 minute conversation will probably secure another registration for you. Plus, being accessible to your customers is just good business.
5. Keep text short. If you feel the need to provide a lot of instructions, your form is probably too complicated. At best, people might skim through your text. By the time people hit your form they are ready to sign up so don't make them read too much and make it easy for them to give you their money.
6. Prevent people from making errors by using the right field types for the questions and by adding logic. This will make the form easy to use and done right you won't need to provide instructions. Most people will start entering data as soon as they load your form. If they get stuck, they might read the instructions if they don't just leave. While it may seem like some field types (text box, radio button, check box, drop down list, etc.) can be used interchangeably, each type has a specific purpose. Using the right one for the question will make your form easier to use and give you better reporting. If you are using a professional registration system, it will have the capability to set up logic (certain fields can be enabled or disabled based on other selections) and validations (forcing people to answer a question or enter data in a specific format) too. Using these tools will guide your registrants through the process and give you properly completed registrations.
7. Host the form on a secure server. Savvy users know what to look for and won't proceed if it doesn't look safe. Even if you know your event will sell out, you need to use a secure server; it's good business. While we are talking about security, never email a credit card number or save one in an online database. Plus, your system needs to be PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant if you are accepting credit cards online. If you haven't heard of PCI before and are using software that you, your webmaster or someone at your company developed then it's probably not compliant. The credit card companies are revoking merchant accounts and issuing fines if proper security practices aren't followed.
9. Anticipate questions people may have when registering and make the answers easily available. Don't give people a reason to not register. We aren't suggesting that you add a lot of text to your form, but make sure the basics are covered plus anything specific relating to your event. Time, date, location, price, who to call with questions, cancellation policy, how to make changes, when the early bird rate ends, what's included, etc. You might want to create a FAQ page on your website for other details like what to wear, where to park, etc. and maybe even put this in your confirmation email too.
10. Offer payment options appropriate for your registrants. i.e. don't make paying by credit card the only option if you are targeting students who may not have credit cards. If people can't pay, they won't register. If you are expecting international delegates from Universities you may need to accept wire payments or if your registration fee is high or you are dealing with larger corporations, giving a PO option might be needed. Know your registrants and accommodate their needs.
11. Don't offer too many registration options. If people have to spend time thinking about what to select they may decide to come back later...or never. This is basic sales. Think about buying shoes; if the sales person is good, they will be narrowing down the options so that you just have a few pairs to decide between. These sales people know that if customers have to choose between all of their shoes most people won't be able to make a decision and will not make a purchase. The same rule applies to online forms, so make it easy for people to decide. You may want to make it even easier for people to decide on the option that you want them to pick, such as the full conference option rather than just a single day. To do this, bold the preferred option, price it so that it's clearly a better deal, etc.
12. Only ask for individual ticket holder names when you really need them. Asking for the name of each ticket holder complicates the purchase as most of the time people don't know the names and if they do, they often change before the event anyways. See the post about this - Should you ask for ticket holder names on your online forms.
13. Only ask for details that you really need. Potential event registrants may abandon the form if you are asking for personal information they don't want to give out. It's easy to ask for lots of information with an online form, but don't get carried away, especially with personal questions like birth date, passport info, race, etc. unless you really do need to have that information. Also, consider not asking for a fax number since you probably won't be faxing anything. Every field that you remove makes the form easier to complete and increases the chances of making a sale.
14. Make the form do the price calculation based on the selections people make. It's easier for the registrant and you can trust the math. If your online form still makes the registrant enter prices and add up a total, you better call an online registration company today because the money you are losing in arithmetic errors will cover the cost of a good system. Plus, a system that doesn't automate the math just doesn't give a professional first impression of your event.
15. Don't require people to create an account before they can register. Why would someone want to sign up with an online registration provider and give their information to another company just so they can register for your event? There are still online registration systems that require people to open an account before they can register for an event. This is a major road block and if you are on a system that requires this you should stop using it as it's costing you registrations. If you really want people to open an account, give them the option after you have their registration.
16. Don't force people to login to a system before they can register. They probably won't remember their password. This is like someone coming up to your checkout in a brick and mortar store, ready to make a purchase, and telling them they need a password before you can take their money. You just wouldn't do it face to face, so why do people do it online? Unless you are selling out every event or have a super good reason to require people to login to an account, you are frustrating registrants and missing out on registrations.
17. No ads and no Flash - the goal of the form is to get people to click the "register" button at the bottom of the form and you don't want to distract them in any way. Plus, ads on forms are tacky. The purpose of your registration form is to make a sale. Anything that could distract a registrant from completing the form should be removed, especially an ad for another product or service.
18. Test your form in different browsers, especially if you have people using outdated browsers. What looks good or works in one may not in another. In all web development, including online forms, you must consider browser issues. Most issues are fairly minor such as alignment or spacing differences between browsers, but in some cases your form may not work at all. If someone can't actually submit a registration you not only look bad, but you lose the registration and most people won't take the time to tell you there is a problem.
19. Add social media options to your form to encourage people to promote the event to their networks. While we don't suggest social media as your only event marketing option, it can certainly be a good and low cost way to get the word out about your event.
20. Keep links that lead people away from your form to a minimum. Once you get someone to your form, keep them focused on registering. If you do feel that you need to add a link to your form, be sure that you set it to open a new window or tab when it's clicked. That way, people can easily get back to the registration form with no risk of losing any data that they may have entered.
21. Don't use shopping cart for event registration software. It makes the process confusing, doesn't look professional and will cost you registrations. An online shopping cart is a similar concept, but different enough that it will cause confusion and cost you time trying to manage the data and manipulate it to get it to sort of work. It doesn't really make sense to add your conference registration to a cart and check out, plus you don't need shipping information, etc.
22. Avoid frustration points such as forcing phone number formatting and using captchas. If you try to force people to enter a phone number in a specific format they may get frustrated since there are so many different ways to enter a phone number. There are country codes, extensions, different separators between numbers, etc. It can be very frustrating if a form won't accept your number. We also suggest avoiding CAPTCHAs; these are the boxes that force you to enter the distorted text that appears in a box. We haven't seen a need for these and some people can have problems with them.
23. Before going live, try to break the form by entering bad data or by selecting conflicting items. If there is a way to break it, registrants will find it and you will lose that registration. When we build a form for a client we follow a detailed testing procedure and test out all combinations. This takes time to do properly and you need to be paying attention, not just clicking around. This is an important step and if the form isn't perfect you are likely to lose registrations.
24. Get the least computer savvy person you know, or at least someone who hasn't seen the form before, to try to register while you watch. You might be surprised by what stops or confuses them. If you built the form and have spent hours looking at it and thinking about it, it will be hard for you to spot potentially confusing spots. Someone new to it will see it through a registrant's eyes and by watching them you will see where they get stuck and be able to fix it before you launch registration.
25. Ask your online registration provider to review your form and offer suggestions. They should do this for free and if they are good, they will have a few suggestions for you - unless you did a really, really good job setting it up. At ePly we will review your form for you and offer suggestions and point out any issues that we see. Remember, small changes can have a big impact on your registration count.
Jim is the president of ePly, an event registration software that makes online event registration a breeze. For more information about event registration system please visit http://www.eply.com