Multimedia approach gives Web site depth

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Aaron Long, business development director at Schipul, an interactive marketing agency, says going beyond the basic event Web site can not only give your event a huge boost, but your company as well.

BtoB: How do you use the event Web site to draw more attendees?

Long: One of the things to focus on would be search marketing. The concept most people miss is that events can be searched by the name of the event, the person speaking and the category the event would be in. Without proper treatment, you would miss a particular interest. … Things like the name of the event: the title needs to be in HTML that's semantically well-written. Another thing to do is make sure the name of the event is linked from your home page. … Companies will get wrapped up in the brand but without the person that's attached to it they lose the audience.

Another thing to consider as a growing facet to get more attendees is RSS feeds from the site. You need to make sure your events are syndicated from the site. So if [attendees] subscribe, they'll see the events pop up. Folks rarely visit the target Web site but will receive an RSS feed [instead].

BtoB: What are some content additions that go beyond a basic Web site?

Long: Multimedia plays into it. You create content that anybody can listen to on their own time at their own leisure. It allows you to connect with people that weren't physically at your event.

[Also, it gives] the ability to share the event with friends. That allows people that are not you to help market your event.

Events written in hcalendar, a microformat, allow [attendees] to do something with the data [and] to do different things with your browser—you can save the data to your Outlook, to the desktop, to your BlackBerry.

Most speakers should blog. My concept there is that I believe a blog helps [the] public to see behind the curtain before they attend an event. You put your insights on the blog and it allows an audience to say: "This guy's got a lot of insight. I'd love to see that." It allows you to get a taste. I don't say that everybody should blog, but most speakers are publicly expressing their ideas so it's a natural fit. It keeps people coming to the site [postevent] to check for updated posts. It does take effort.

BtoB: Is there anything to be wary of when building a Web site?

Long: All credit card transactions have to be secure. If you don't have that, that's pretty poor best practices. It's not safe; it's exposing people to risk.

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