Virtual Events: Insider Tips For Success
By Nga Pham
We all know the COVID-19 outbreak has caused roadblocks in the execution of our marketing events. Most marketers have turned to virtual events to make-up for the loss, but now the problem is that virtual events are everywhere, and they will be for the foreseeable future. We’re not anticipating a return to in-person events until at least the second half of 2021, and even then, huge gatherings will still be a ways off.
So for now, how can you make your virtual event stand out? This blog will provide some practical tips on how to host a virtual event that resonates with your audience.
Set your event goals
No matter the kind of event, setting goals are vital to planning, running, and promoting an event successfully. Your goals need to be well-defined, clearly outlined, and broken down into a set of measurable metrics. As an event marketer, you should step back and ask yourself some key questions:
- Who is the target audience for this event?
- What is the main purpose of the event?
- How does this virtual event fit into your event marketing or overall marketing strategy?
- What do you want attendees to take away?
- What actions do you want attendees to take after the event?
- What defines your event’s success?
Use the answers to these questions and formulate your goals. We suggest you focus on one or two primary goals. Now, take your goal and make it SMART. A SMART goal will help you effectively measure the success of your event. A SMART goal has several traits, as seen below:
- Specific: Know exactly what you want to accomplish with the event. Do you want to generate new leads? Or, do you want to nurture your existing pipeline of leads?
- Measurable: You must be able to measure your goals with data. How many new leads do you want to generate? Or, how many registrants do you want to gain?
- Achievable: Set yourself up for success with a realistic goal. This can be achieved by looking at your historical data as well as factoring in market trends, and competitor’s activities.
- Relevant: Your goal should be integrated into a bigger-picture business goal.
- Timely: Define start and end dates.
Create content that resonates
Once you define who your target audience is, spend time learning more about them to understand their pain points, and areas of interest. The more you know your audience, the more effectively you can develop and deliver content that is not only valuable to them but also yields results back to your business. Focus on a pressing topic that your audience can relate to; this topic should also be relevant to the industry you’re working in.
Since the pandemic broke out, many marketers have pivoted to virtual events. Therefore, it’s key to do something different and innovative because your audience is getting over-saturated with content right now. How does your content cut through the noise?
- Keep people engaged. Instead of hosting a passive virtual event, incorporate interactive components to connect with your attendees such as live polls, surveys, live Q&As, and group chat.
- Consider bringing in guest speakers, outside of your organization—it’s more engaging to see a variety of faces. Using video to feature your presenters is also a best practice.
- Have a variety of events. We have a few virtual event ideas for you to try implementing today. Instead of having a massive virtual seminar, host an invite-only session that’s targeted for a specific part of your funnel to help them become more qualified. Or host a client-only happy hour and send them drink kits in the mail.
Promote the event consistently
Use a holistic approach to promote your event and develop a multi-channel marketing plan. Think about fresh ways to frame your content during promotion, and give audiences a good lead time, at least 6 weeks, to become familiar with your programming. A few channels to consider:
- Leverage the high-traffic areas of your website. Position your event to get some prominent attention from your existing website visitors. For example, if you have a blog, include a call-to-action (CTA) to sign up for the event where appropriate.
- Have a social media plan in place. Find out which social platforms your audience is most active on. Dedicate some posts to promote the event on a regular basis. Don’t forget to use different media formats such as photos and videos. You can also encourage attendees to share the event via social media to spread the event’s virality.
- Use email marketing. Send a sequence of emails to your existing lead pipeline. You need to craft your email campaign carefully by segmenting your recipients, diversifying email angles to avoid repetition, and clearly defining the call-to-action (CTA).
- Enable speakers and employees to promote your event. While you can simply just encourage them to share your event link, go the extra mile to provide them with event assets like videos, images, sample copies, and tracking URLs. This will empower them to promote the event proactively in different ways.
- Incentivize event registration by sending the registrants cool swag kits or care packages. This is also a great way to promote your brand.
Practice makes perfect
Once your event promotion is underway, it’s key to practice before your event. Hold a rehearsal or a preparation meeting with speakers, hosts, and other attendee-facing participants. Help them get familiar with your virtual event platform. Make sure your presenters are comfortable with the material. You or the event manager should also be trained on how to manage any technical difficulties that may arise.
Have a back-up plan
What happens if someone has a sound issue or a video or internet connection issue? You should have a plan for this. During the actual event, be flexible and nimble so that you can quickly pivot if something unexpected occurs. Recently, we had a presenter who could not manage to get their video to work without having sound issues, even though it worked perfectly in our rehearsal. So, we had them present without their video. It might not have been an ideal situation, but it worked. Sometimes things go unexpectedly, but that’s okay.
Repurpose your virtual event
We highly recommend you make your event available on-demand for those that cannot attend during the scheduled event time. After the event, you should send follow-up emails that include the event playback to both attendees and no-shows. On top of that, make sure to review the content of your event and repurpose it in a variety of content formats such as blog posts, podcasts, or infographics. This will have a long-lasting impact on your content marketing strategy.
Virtual events can be a sustainable way for you to generate new leads and engage with current customers. Going forward, the most successful virtual events will be extremely targeted and hyper-specific. It’s high time you experimented with experiential marketing events to enhance your lead generation strategies. Continuously evaluate your event marketing strategy to see what works, and be prepared to make changes to adapt and evolve. Remember, the best virtual events are the ones that bring meaningful value to the audiences.
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