While at Dynamic we believe there is no replacement for face-to-face networking and the spontaneity of exchanging ideas, the pivot to virtual events can keep your brand top-of-mind, keep your audience engaged, and generate new leads. The real difficulty, is how do your turn potential leads into on-the-day virtual bums-on-seats, and, possibly more importantly, keep them there?
After organizing and hosting over 20 virtual events in the past 12 months, here at Dynamic we have worked out some key factors to success in promoting your virtual event both internally and externally.
1. Consider your platform
If you’re planning a smaller, internal meeting, your hosting decision may be straightforward, and chances are that your company already have an existing license with a platform such as Zoom Meetings or Microsoft Teams. This however, gets more complicated with a larger, multi-faceted, virtual event. Different platforms offer a variety of differing services, so being sure of what you need from your platform is key.
Considerations can include whether you would like people to turn on microphone or cameras, if you will need breakout rooms, how customizable you would like the branding opportunities to be, the inclusion of gamification, web integration, multi-lingual support, sponsorship opportunities, and hybrid functionalities. No matter what you need from your event platform, there will be something that suits your business.
2. The attendee journey begins long before your event
You need to provide a unique experience, not just on event-day, but throughout the whole process. If you are successful, your audience will experience something different to every other online event they have attended since last March. From the first contact a target has with your event, be that through a mailing-list email, social media image, blog post, or mentioned by a friend, your event must remain top-of-mind. A creative concept and innovative brief, paired with a tactical marketing plan, can really boost audience engagement and the memorability of your event, as well as basic attendance rates.
3. Don’t stop marketing at registration!
Great, your target has registered for your event! But you can’t stop there. Attendee attrition rates can be over 50% for virtual events, so you can’t rely on registration numbers to turn into on-the-day attendees. Those who have registered could be sent exclusive access to articles written by featured speakers, or you could post guest blogs and social media posts to give the audience a taste of what is to come. If your event lends to it, make it part of the speaker contract that they must cross-promote. This pushes your name into fields you may not have had access to before, and some people will attend your event just to see the speaker.
4. Target your established relationships
Let businesses, clients, and customers you have worked with before know about your event. After all, you’ve already done the work building these relationships, and this way you are nurturing that relationship with existing customers. Even better if they can share it on!
Social media followers are key to this. They like your content enough to follow you, so use that! Draw in potential leads and generate registrations through social media by utilizing hashtags related to event material, and if possible, partnering with large-following pages who specialize in the field.
5. Audience engagement = success!
Virtual events come with far more distractions than a live, in-person event setting, so it is vital to ensure audience engagement is a key focus of your marketing plan, from day one. Basic suggestions for smaller events include in-event polls, or the inclusion of pitching questions to speakers in the registration process for the in-event Q+A sessions. For larger events, the only limitation is your imagination, you can include live sketch artists, virtual swag-bags, and even gamify your virtual event with contests and quizzes.
Providing your audience with the tools needed to interact with one another is necessary to ensure overall engagement. This can be through coffee-break breakout rooms, chatbox functions, or a platform that encourages quickfire live conversations. If you’re hosting a larger, B2B conference, this is definitely a factor to consider when choosing your event platform.
6. Keep the conversation going
Just because the event has ended, doesn’t mean the conversations around it should. Have follow-up emails ready to go with any promotions mentioned throughout the event, and access to recordings or on-demand files if you have them. You could even consider including a post-event feedback survey to get some first hand feedback while the experience is fresh in attendees minds.
Use quotes, screenshots, audience insights, or snips of recordings across social media for at least a couple of weeks. Social media forums such as Facebook and Linkedin have the capabilities to create private groups, within which further information regarding the event and other networking opportunities could be posted, ensuring attendees feel included and involved even after the event date.
Events always have had a way of bringing people together. It would be a shame to miss out on the potential sales and engagement you otherwise wouldn’t have received from people who are too far away, or wouldn’t have heard of your offering.
Each social media network have their own demographic, and you know your customers best. Utilize the channels you receive most engagement through, but equally, use your event to build engagement ton those platforms that seem to be slacking. Ensuring your clinets have content to engage with keeps your brand, image, and ideology at the top of their minds, to ensure when they need your service, they think of you.