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Turning an annual event into a year round experience

The clients
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) – the leading UK professional body for those involved in HR – asked its digital agency, cScape, to create a new online presence for their HRD conference and exhibition.  We worked with cScape in developing both web and email content for the strategy, designed to work throughout the event’s 12 month business cycle.

The challenge
HRD is Europe’s largest and most respected learning and development event. Its website is a critical tool for maintaining, acquiring and converting delegates, visitors and exhibitors. In the past the website was seen primarily as a pre-event resource, with details of the extensive conference programme, alongside the venue, exhibitor and contact details. But it was largely a static reference point and email was used as a simple reminder tool for visitors and delegates.

cScape’s Customer Engagement Unit realised the potential of online to extend HRD’s lifecycle as a year-round resource for HR practitioners. Initially to maintaining delegate and visitor engagement at the beginning of the cycle and then working to acquire and convert as it neared next year’s event. The objective was to have the new strategy in place for HRD in April 2007.

What CDA did
CDA worked with cScape to develop the content-led strategy. Richard Sedley, director the Customer Engagement Unit at cScape, advocates the power of ‘persuasive design’ as a benign but powerful influence on customer behaviour. CDA are working with cScape on a number projects designed to marry persuasive design to persuasive content.

HRD typically delivers a rich range of topics and issues presented by well-known and respected speakers. The strategy was to make this conference content more visible online – especially immediately after the three-day event, when it was still fresh in the minds of visitors and delegates, and to keep the event’s energy alive through words, pictures and presentation style.

As well as site’s web pages, personalised email encouraged people to view the updated and changing website pages. A specially created HRD Plus enewsletter, referencing value-added content, would be sent periodically between the 2007 and 2008 events to maintain interest and encourage early sign-up.

CDA worked with HRD’s marketing team to structure the post-event content and during the event itself worked at the venue acquiring original material, such as reports on individual speaker presentations and mini-interviews with delegates, visitors, exhibitors and presenters.

In the 48 hours following the event, this content was used to populate the new event templates which cScape had produced and the post-event version of the site went live on Monday, April 22. The first emails were sent to attendees a week later and a large number signed up for the HRD Plus enewsletter as a result.

What cScape say about us
“Customer engagement is essential for every online project we undertake. The language of persuasion is central to achieving this engagement, while enabling our clients to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace.

“I really enjoy working with CDA and have been impressed by their skills, enthusiasm and sheer passion for what we're achieving. In the case of CIPD, CDA worked to bring the energy of a 2-day live event to a year-round acquisition, conversion and retention strategy. Their work was critical.”
Richard Sedley, director of customer engagement, cScape

What we learnt from the project
“Websites are not a static medium – that’s their great advantage. Content can be changed, developed, modified and improved over time. But creating post-event content poses specific challenges. You have to give people a real feel for why it was great to be there – or to highlight what they missed if they failed to attend and use email to encourage people back to site for valuable content. Of course, this has to be tied back to real benefits and offer content with tangible integrity, if it’s to maintain engagement throughout the annual cycle.”
Clare O’Brien, CDA

Visit cScape
Visit HRD

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