Event professionals know that attendees' first impressions are often the most important in coloring their entire experience. But when does that first impression occur? At check-in?
Not according to Patti Tackeff, president and COO at Lenos, a San Francisco company specializing in event marketing and strategic meetings management software. "Our belief is that the first impression is made through your digital marketing," she says. "Once potential registrants visit the event Web site, their interaction with your company and your brand has begun." Usability is key, says Nicole Lind, vice president, operations, at Mansueto Ventures, owner of Inc. magazine and a Lenos client. "Usability is very important for navigating an event-registration system, because usability impacts drop-off rates," she explains.

"A company's marketing goal could be to drive a million unique visitors to the intro page of an event-registration site, but if by the second page, the registration process loses more than 75 percent of those visitors, I would say something was probably wrong with the look and feel of the site." Getting the appropriate design along with a high degree of usability requires more flexibility than companies can get with Web-site templates, Tackeff says. Lenos instead employs a free-form "drag and drop" design process that is flexible and simple to use but that can handle complex requirements (such as a recent site for an automotive industry client needing 256 content pages segmented according to who was viewing them).

"Sophisticated event Web sites that once required programmers are easily handled in the Lenos platform," Tackeff says.

Inc. wants the design flexibility, says Lind, but just as important to the company is an ability to integrate with other lead generation and customer relationship management systems. "Ideally, an event site should be able to collect clean data on the registrants that can be reused in other marketing efforts," Lind explains. "Very often data formats and fields differ so dramatically between systems that comparing or reusing the contact data collected in one system is not easy. This leads to lots of missed opportunities." The Lenos platform, she says, provides the ability to share data seamlessly.

Find a library of sample sites at the Lenos Web site.


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