Virtual events dominate, especially in countries like the US, who still struggle to get the pandemic under control. Even without a pandemic that scares off participants and violates some regional regulations, there are a number of reasons businesses prefer them. About 84% of organizations that already hosted a virtual event in 2020 report they spent less on online events compared to in-person seminars and workshops, according to Wild Apricot. Regardless of your goal in creating a virtual event, running a successful virtual marketing event takes time, talent, and planning. Today, we’ll discuss the 6 steps you need to master if you want your event to be successful.
Virtual events are more popular in the digital age because they are more affordable to host and have a wider reach, since attendees don’t incur travel costs, can fit the event more easily into their day, and can attend from anywhere. However, organizing a virtual event isn’t always as easy as it seems, and ensuring your event is successful isn’t an easy task.
Hosting the perfect business marketing event online requires commitment and attention to detail. You must follow specific planning and promotional strategies to ensure your online event won’t get lost in the crowded digital space. Most importantly, you need to find ways to engage your audience and accomplish your objectives.
Here’s how to create a successful virtual marketing event for your business in 6 steps.
1. Know your audience
Understanding your target audience’s general psyche is crucial if you want to organize a successful online event. Find out what topics in your industry your audience likes, the type of offers they like, and which platforms they use for video conference calls. Be sure your online event provides significant value to attendees rather than acting as a teaser to entice purchases. Potential attendees are pretty good at sniffing out a marketing effort masquerading as a workshop or conference and, if they didn’t do it beforehand, you’ll find attendees leave pretty quickly once they figure out the event is a glorified sales pitch.
To build a better understanding of your audience, conduct an online survey, or start a discussion forum with your target audience as a top priority. Use the data collected from the study to plan and host a virtual event that aligns with your audience’s problems while still matching your goal.
If you hosted other virtual events, mine data from those events to guide planning for your upcoming event. Metrics for evaluating the success of virtual marketing events you already held might include:
- Number of attendees
- Types of attendees
- Engagement, such as questions asked
- Sales resulting after the event
- Increase in subscribers over the long-term
- Satisfaction after the event
These metrics help develop insights about your attendees that help in planning for upcoming events.
2. Create a plan
Nothing happens without effective planning and hosting a successful virtual marketing event encompasses a number of planning elements that include technology, promotion, and time management.
Before you host a live stream seminar or workshop, you must create a compelling event marketing strategy for your organization. The purpose of creating a plan for a webinar or any other online event is to ensure you deliver a memorable experience. Start by defining the main goal for the event and ensure your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Then ask yourself if hosting a free or paid online workshop, conference, or exhibition meets these goals.
It is also advisable to determine whether you meet your goals best through an on-demand or live event, or both. Be sure to pick the right time (11 am is recommended in the article by Wild Apricot) and date (ensure you’re not conflicting with other major events in your market, don’t interfere with other activities that place a high demand on the time available to attendees, such as the Christmas shopping season), set KPIs (key performance indicators to assess your performance), and a myriad of other decisions, many of which we discuss in more detail below.
3. Build a great landing page
Whether you’re planning a virtual trade show, seminar, or workshop, the ultimate goal is to create a unique experience for your audience. With this in mind, take the time to design an attractive landing page, which is the center stage for your virtual event marketing campaign.
Therefore, make your landing page easy to understand using high color contrast, large fonts, and add captions on images, presentations, and videos. You may also personalize the theme of your landing page to grab the attention of potential attendees. A simple and appealing landing page is essential for converting website visitors into webinar registrants, so avoid text-heavy pages or ones that are so busy readers don’t know where to focus attention.
Include a headline that piques the interest of potential attendees and a clear call to action (CTA) by using a button that stands out on the page using a contrasting color, for instance. Other elements of your page should make a case for why the visitor should register by focusing on the benefits they’ll get. Implying scarcity and urgency drives an increase in registration.
Ensure the page positions your brand favorably both in the quality of communication, the trust built with visitors, and through integrating both messaging and visual aspects with your overall brand image.
4. Pick a virtual event platform
It may seem like virtual marketing events are simple since they don’t require the same attention to logistics you encounter with a physical event. There are no tables to set up, electricity to install, promotional items and sample products to ship, and people transported to the event to handle the registration table, offer support and give directions, meals or snacks to provide, or any of the other headaches involved in hosting a physical event.
But, that doesn’t mean you don’t face challenges in hosting a virtual event. Software like Zoom, Cisco WebEx, YouTube Live, and Google Hangouts allows you to connect with your audience from anywhere in the world. While these tools might seem like they’re enough to engage attendees during events, they have limited engagement features. For this reason, consider using advanced virtual event platform software alongside your favorite video conferencing tools.
The right virtual event platform helps you enhance audience engagement using interactive tools like Q&A, one-on-one live chats, break-out rooms, and live polling. You can also use these engagement tools to promote networking at the event. In doing so, your global audience might feel more compelled to attend your events more often and even do business with you.
A word about technology: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. The trick is planning for eventual failures so you have a solution in place. For instance, what happens when your speaker gets kicked off your platform? How do you control access from unauthorized users? When an attendee tries to log in, what system is in place if they encounter problems? How do you plan to handle your A/V needs?
The more planning you do ahead of time, the more smoothly your event will go. Remember, nothing destroys trust and damages your reputation more than an event full of problems.
5. Choose a speaker
Remember, the person you intend to hire as a speaker makes or breaks your live stream or webinar event. Therefore, be cautious when choosing a speaker for your virtual event to avoid surprises. Consider selecting a knowledge expert or influencer with excellent knowledge about the topics discussed throughout the event. Ensure that person is an expert with your chosen platform and plan for a smooth transition of materials like their powerpoints to ensure they’re available to attendees. Commonly, visual materials are due to the point person a week or more prior to the virtual event to allow time for changes and uploading the presentation into your presentation platform.
The speaker should answer all questions asked by the audience thoroughly and respectfully while keeping them engaged.
Assign a host for the event. The host introduces your speaker or speakers and keeps the event moving according to your schedule. If you use breakout rooms, assign a host to each room to moderate activities among participants.
6. Promote Your Virtual Event
Promoting a virtual event is a key ingredient in attracting a broad audience. Like with live events, start advertising your virtual marketing event at least two months beforehand. Take advantage of all social media platforms where attendees tend to congregate to create awareness among the target audience.
For example, share a preview of what the event entails and who the guest speakers are on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. This move creates buzz and attracts many people to your event. Also, send email newsletters and run paid ads if you have the budget.
As an entrepreneur, you should invest in virtual events more often to create brand awareness, build an engaged audience, establish trust, and gain a competitive edge without spending a lot of money. However, to enjoy numerous rewards offered by a successful virtual marketing event, ensure you take the 6 steps outlined above.
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