The introduction of analytics programs integrated with online registration systems represents a great leap forward in thinking for the event planning industry. The availability of website statistics for online registration forms will help event planners be more effective marketers of their events. One component of website statistical reporting that will be particularly useful to event planners who host their forms online is URL parameter tracking.
URL parameters are an easy way to pass information from one page to the next. They enable newspaper sites to host many tens of thousands of articles, or ecommerce stores to list thousands of products. Typically, you can spot URL parameters on websites you are browsing by checking for a ‘?’ somewhere in your browser’s address bar.
After the ‘?’ in the URL you will probably see a mess of words, letters and numbers. This alphabet soup consists of each URL parameter and a corresponding parameter value.
For example, when viewing your favorite ecommerce website you might see an URL that looks like: http://www.example.com?productSKU=123-ANH. To the right of the ‘?’ you can see the parameter ‘productSKU’ (probably defining the stock number of the product), followed by an ‘=’ which tells your browser that the following characters are the value of the ‘productSKU’ parameter.
So what will a web browser do with this information? In this case, there is probably some code on the web page which will take the parameter and lookup the SKU number in a product database. Without the use of URL parameters many large sites would need to create one page for every product they carry. But web parameters are useful in other ways as well.
For a meeting planner, the ability to track URL parameters provides additional marketing opportunities. An affiliate program can be a great way to increase sales. The way an affiliate program typically works is through paying a percentage or flat fee per sale to individual marketers, in exchange for driving conversions on your website.
Event professionals can use a program like this to pay marketers in different channels and verticals to drive additional attendees to their events. Because they are pay-per-registration, there is very little risk associated with affiliate programs. However, the cost can be prohibitive as many established affiliate software packages can cost hundreds of dollars per month to use!
Integrated web analytics reports provide a simpler, more cost-effective solution for event planners wishing to get started with affiliate programs without spending a large portion of budget on expensive software. Providing your affiliates with unique URL parameters to use allows you to run your own in-house affiliate program right alongside your event registration.
For example, you can provide each affiliate with a 4-digit number, and ask them to use it in any emails or web-links they use to direct visitors to your site. All they need to do is add ‘?AffID=1001’ to your event’s URL and your reports will reflect the parameter. At the end of each billing period, you simply run a URL parameter report to see which affiliate referrals resulted in registrations and pay out fees based on that figure.
By letting others assist you in your marketing efforts you gain access to additional marketing channels, as well as allowing you more time to concentrate on important matters like event content, registrant concerns, etc. And because analytics reports are now being packaged with event registration software, it doesn’t have to cost you anything extra to run a successful affiliate program.