Are the questions essential?

Simon Clayton offers a brief guide to registration

There have been many articles written about successful registration strategies. The majority tend to have a hidden agenda relating to the author’s own services or products, whilst the rest follow whichever trend is on topic that particular week.
This article falls into neither of those camps. When it comes to registration, success is relatively easy to achieve if you apply common sense and stick to the obvious necessities.

Times have changed and we only have to look to Google’s recent algorithm update to see that mobile is a key element in the way the world works online. Research from Ofcom supports this too - stating that six in ten adults in the UK now own a smartphone, which explains why some providers have been saying that mobile registrations have been rapidly increasing over the last 18 months.

Personally, I think that it really depends on the market and event as to whether people will register via mobile. If your event has a long and complicated registration process because you’re vetting the people who apply, then registering on a phone is less likely.

That said, it’s not difficult to make sure your registration forms work on mobile devices and are clear and easy to use, so it’s something you should do anyway.

Next up are the questions. As DIY online registration forms continue to rise in popularity, the temptation to add question after question is rife – but you will soon lose your registrants’ interest, so why do it?

Questions should only be on the form if the answer is useful. If nothing is being sent by post, why do you need to ask for a postal address? All that may be needed are first and last name, email, company name and job title – anything after that needs to have a specific relevance.

Have a look at the best sign-up forms for services on the internet. Some of the really good ones only ask your email address and password – it’s as easy to register as it is to login. I know that it feels scary not to ask lots of detailed questions, because it’s the way things have always been done, but are you really going to use that data in any meaningful way?

Who owns the data?
You also need to consider data ownership and security. The way that some registration system providers operate means that the registration data actually belongs to them rather than the event organiser. This means that although the organiser is allowed to access the data, they don’t actually own it. Your carefully collected data will belong to someone else – and that company could use it to promote other events to your audience – even competing events. Not every system is like this, so it’s worth finding out before you commit.

However, the most important thing to remember is that online registration is your way of getting access to an audience early. People will register with the full intention of going to the event but don’t attend and that’s valuable information for next year’s event. You can also increase the chances of attendance by communicating regularly with the pre-registered people and shouting about why the event will be amazing for them.

Online registration is just a tool, but used well it can make a real difference to your event.

A poster on my office wall says ‘Just because we’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly stupid’, so make sure you question the benefits of what you’re doing and can justify your approach.

So there you have it: Registration without agenda or bandwagon jumping: Keep mobile in mind; Only ask the relevant questions; Use common sense; Ensure you own your data; and Communicate effectively with your registrants.

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