There are many ways to use the Internet to promote meetings, such as developing Web sites and communicating via e-mail. Here are some ways to use these tools to their fullest potential.
First, They Need To Find It * Make sure your Web site is registered with the major search engines: Yahoo, AltaVista, Hotbot, InfoSeek, Excite, Lycos, and WebCrawler. See www.gkweb.com for information on submitting to more than 200 search engines.
* Craft your site so that it will come near the top of the search engine list when people search with your prime keywords. If your site is not in the first few screens of results, it won't be found. See www.searchenginewatch.com for information on how search sites rank Web sites.
* Choose your site's title, introductory paragraph, and metatags (hidden key words) carefully. These words are important parts of how search engines find your site. See the Web site listed above for details.
* Make certain your site is fast and easy to navigate.
* Be visual. Use photos of past meetings or future destinations to add sizzle and interest.
* Be interactive. Give viewers an easy way to find the information they desire.
Deliver Sharp Content * The key to a site being bookmarked is content. You want to give viewers a reason to come back.
* Put the meeting program online and and make it searchable by topics, speakers, dates, times, and keywords.
* Post the pre-registration list online. People may wish to contact others in advance.
* Establish a virtual community with online pre-conference forums, electronic bulletin boards, and chat rooms.
* If the meeting includes exhibits, create a virtual exhibit section to increase traffic, promote the exhibit, increase exhibitor visibility, and generate revenues through sales of links to exhibitors' Web sites.
* Update your site frequently with news releases about the event.
* Put past keynote addresses and other presentations online (using streaming video and audio software programs that bring sound and motion pictures to your Web site). See www.real.com for an example.
Build Visibility * Send out "save-the-date" e-mail announcements in advance of the meeting.
* Use your employee or customer e-mail lists to promote the meeting. Direct these people to your Web site with a hot link in the e-mail.
* Offer free gifts at your site to increase traffic and ask viewers to sign the "guest book" to qualify.
* Use these guest-book signatures as a mailing list for further promotions.
* During the meeting, upload photos of the event to encourage Web visits. Surfers will wish they were there, and be motivated to attend next time.
* Set up reciprocal linking to complimentary or related Web sites to bring in additional traffic.
Keep It User-Friendly * Develop and promote online registrations at your Web site.
* Make the online registration form user-friendly. When appropriate, allow people to sign up for individual sessions.
* Use an automated e-mail confirmation system that gives immediate feedback when registration is received.
* Link your site to relevant hotels, airlines, care rental companies, destination information sites, sports and event attraction sites, restaurant and club sites, and weather information sites.
Follow Up * Use advance e-mail surveys to determine attendee expectations, interests, and desires.
* Use post-conference e-mail and online surveys to determine customer satisfaction level, areas that need improvement, and new presentation topics.
* Have an "ask the presenters" forum where prospective attendees can pose questions in advance.