3 steps to turning your calendar into a demand generating machine

While an events calendar is an easy place for clients and prospective customers to learn more about what a company is doing at a glance, it can do far more than that.

"An events calendar can not only attract potential customers, but also qualify and prioritize prospects, keep them engaged with your brand, convert leads into customers, and eventually provide a tool to measure success and return on investment to further improve the marketing and sales process," explained Mykel Nahorniak, CEO and co-founder of Localist.

According to Nahorniak, marketers should set three clear goals for their events calendar to streamline content efforts: serving as a content resource for attendees, businesses and administrators; turning viewers into visitors by engaging them before and after an event; and creating a relationship between your business and users that is mutually beneficial. Once you know what you're aiming for, you can get started.

1. Draw awareness to your calendar before an event. Your calendar is rich with opportunities for promotion, so make sure it doesn't fall by the wayside. Calendars are particularly good for SEO since they're updated often, have lots of keywords and can have a high page volume. More pages in your calendar means more keywords and more changes for a search engine to find your site. Emailing updates and reminders can also prove effective, along with social media. "Offering administrators the ability to publish event data directly to Facebook and automatically add Facebook attendees to the calendar's full list of RSVPs allows users to see if any of their friends are also attending," Nahorniak said.

2. Engage your audience. Make sure you include elements like built-in maps, comments, audience submissions and venue pages so that you can not only feature extra information, but you can also making it easier for your audience to do the promotion for you. Integrate features like Foursqure so that people can check-in at events, use group profile pages to help attendees with shared interests touch base, and allow them to RSVP through social channels. "By giving users the option to interact with the calendar, you are making sure they feel like part of the community and have a stake in its direction," Nahorniak said. "The feedback you receive will also allow you to improve future events."

3. Build lasting relationships. Getting customers to visit is one thing, but you have to ensure they keep coming back. Highlighting popular events is one easy way to make your calendar a central resource, as is allowing users to sort events based on their own interests. Those types of features can help viewers to feel like the calendar, and by extension your business, is catering to their needs. Making your calendar mobile-friendly is also key to ensuring people can access it when and where they want. "With a calendar that's either optimized with responsive design for mobile browsing or has its own native calendar app, your users can check event details while they're on their way or post a review when it's over," Nahorniak added.

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