Behind the Summit #9: Testing Before Opening a Virtual Summit for Registration

behind the scenes tech May 03, 2022

No matter how many times you've hosted your virtual summit, you NEED to test. There's so much room for small details to be missed, it's simply not worth the risk.

It's almost time to open up registration, but first, we need to test and make sure everything is working correctly.

This week in the Behind the Summit series, we are doing the final preparations to get ready to open up registration for this round of the summit. There were a few tweaks and last minute tasks that needed to happen this week, but the main focus was testing. 

No matter how many times you've hosted your virtual summit, you NEED to test. There's so much room for small details to be missed, and it's simply not worth the risk.

You can have the most detailed project plans and the fanciest automations, but there are always last minute things you'll discover when testing that need to be fixed. It's always better to get these things out of the way before registration opens to avoid an inbox full of customer support questions and make sure you give a good first impression to your attendees when they register. 

In this post, I'm covering all the things I tested as well as the final tasks we needed to get done before opening up summit registration.

Let's dive in!

The finishing touches

Let’s start with the final tweaks I made to prepare for opening registration:

The registration and all-access pass pages were already finished going into this week, but I did need to duplicate them for Facebook ads. I always wait as long as possible to do this to make sure that these pages really are done and don't need tweaks before duplicating them. I then use the duplicated pages when running ads to make sure that they track correctly.

This includes setting up a separate registration form and all-access pass product for those who come through Facebook Ads. This makes it so much easier to go into ConvertKit and ThriveCart and see how ads are converting when they’re separated that way.

Next, I had to rearrange the schedule again. If you've been following along with our previous posts in the Behind the Summit series, you know that the summit schedule has gone through several changes as we finalized our speaker lineup. We had a speaker miss the due date, and when I touched base, she said she was still interested.

We kept here spot on the calendar, despite already adding a new speaker to the lineup, since she said she would get the presentation to us soon. Except after that, she ghosted us, and we never heard back from her. So, I removed her again, rearranged the schedule again, and now we finally have our final speaker lineup - just in time to open registration! In the end, I’m happy with how it turned out.

Other than testing, these were the only final touches I needed to make to prepare for summit registration opening, However... my assistant Kate is going to town to processes presentations and add the speaker’s bonuses to the all-access pass sales pages and course. My designer is also busy with the notes, worksheets, and workbook for the summit. These are time-consuming tasks and I highly recommend you outsource them if you can. But if you aren't outsourcing, you'll need to have these tasks on your radar! It’s nice to have these taken care of by my team so I have the space to enjoy the summit process and focus on other things.

Test alllllll the things!

Now that everything is done and ready to go, it’s time to test that it all works as it should. No matter how many times you’ve run your summit, you have to test. This is my 6th time running this same summit and I still tested, and I still found issues - including some important details that would have otherwise been missed! 

This year I found issues with:

  • Access to the wrong product being given after purchase
  • Design aspects that needed to be fixed on mobile
  • Unclear instructions for how to set an account password
  • An incorrect price listed on one of the All-Access pass pages

Every year, something always comes up that I'm so glad I caught during testing.

For example, 2 years ago Deadline Funnel prevented any previous attendees from seeing the fast-action all-access pass sales page. It thought they’d already seen it, but that had been the previous year’s sales page.

Last year on the morning of registration, I felt the urge to test again. It’s a good thing I did because all my ConvertKit forms stopped working! I had to switch tech and use a WP plugin instead.

If I hadn’t tested multiple times, I would have missed critical issues. Things happen. Tech breaks. It’s always worth it to take the time to test.

So what should you test?

You know you should test, but where do you start and what do you look for?

Start with your registration process. Sign up as if you were an attendee and check that:

  • You're Redirected to the right place
  • The tags are set up correctly in your email marketing software
  • The right registration emails are sent in the right sequence

Next, test your all-access pass process. You want to check make sure:

  • All the buttons work on your pages
  • You are directed to the right priced product in your cart software
  • Your purchases process correctly (Tip: Create a 100% off coupon so you can have a friend or coworker check the process, too!)
  • You get the right emails and access to the product. (Last year I had access to the wrong product setup! I missed a whole 2nd page of products in ThriveCart and was so glad I had tested so attendees weren’t given access to all the previous year’s all-access passes.)

Check and test what speakers and sponsors submit to you. When speakers or sponsors send you presentation and bonus information, check that:

  • Links work
  • Coupon codes work
  • Pages don’t go to a 404

There are a few other small things to test and check too. For example, in previous years I found that how I worded instructions to access the all-access pass products needed to be clearer. I caught that I had an incorrect price and price increase day on a couple of versions of the sales page.

Check the mobile version of your website. This is important! Things can look very different on mobile and test your website from different browsers.

Low-Key Testing 

After finishing up all of my tests, I opened up registration in a very low-key way to a tiny group of people so I could make sure things were working correctly when registrations started. I changed the link in my Instagram bio to the registration page and opened registration so if anyone happens upon the link they can register.  

I also sent an announcement email to my waitlist opening up registration for them only. I found the announcement emails from last year that I had A/B tested, found which converted best (a 70% open AND 70% click rate), copied that email, and sent it to this year’s waitlist. I had about 100 people on the waitlist, which was a perfect size for making sure everything was set up correctly before fully opening up registration. 

I added the waitlist to my segment of subscribers that get the rest of the promo emails but excluded them in the first full announcement email. I sent that full announcement email an hour after sending the waitlist email so I'd only have 100 people responding instead of 7000 people if something went wrong.

Even if you don't have a waitlist, I recommend segmenting out a small group from your email list and sending them the first registration email an hour before it goes out to the rest of your list. This will almost always reveal the final things that you didn't catch during your tests.

Speakers will always be late

The final thing I worked on this week was following up with speakers and making sure I have everything I need from them.

The number of people who procrastinate always blows me away. I’m the kind of person who agrees to a summit and a week later has my presentation ready for you.

But we were missing 20 of 35 presentations by the due date. Thankfully, by the next day we were only missing 6, and most have reached out for extensions. So most of our speakers were just a little behind schedule, but be prepared that speakers will be late. There’s always a reason someone’s going to need an extension and that’s why I recommend you have your due date way earlier than you need it to be.

It’s 3 weeks out as of recording this, and it’s helpful for Kate to have the time to create notes and workbooks and get presentation pages made. If we had a due date of a week before the start, it wouldn’t happen. And because we have the extra time, I’m not stressed about the presentations that are late.

All up in my feels

Even though this event has been a huge hit in the past, that means my expectations get higher every time. And that’s scary! Last year’s numbers were incredibly high, and my goal is to reach or exceed those.

I’m also a little worried because, as I mentioned earlier in the series, I had two people who were either past speakers or students of mine who saw this awesome summit and decided to make their own version of it for the same audience using a lot of the same speakers and host it a month or so before mine.

That might hurt my conversion rates because:

  • People aren’t as excited about it
  • It’s not as new and fun
  • They might already have the same bonuses from my speakers

I don’t know how it’s going to go, but the only way to find out is to keep pushing forward, knowing that I run a highly anticipated summit.

My advice to you

My biggest piece of advice to you is to test. Test everything! You’ll thank yourself, especially if you don’t have a team.

The next thing I’d say is to clear your calendar. You’ll be slammed with the last-minute stuff that happens so give yourself that space from the time registration opens to focus on your summit.



View related episodes >>

Pin it for later!

No matter how many times you've hosted your virtual summit, you NEED to test. There's so much room for small details to be missed, it's simply not worth the risk.No matter how many times you've hosted your virtual summit, you NEED to test. There's so much room for small details to be missed, it's simply not worth the risk.

50% Complete

Free: Virtual Summit Prep Timeline

Learn how much time to set aside for planning and launching your profitable, stress-free online summit and use my calculator to set the due dates for you.