Think of “events,” and it is not hard to imagine packed exhibition halls with people wandering from one booth to another, checking out businesses, networking, and so on. However, events have undoubtedly seen a shift from in-person to virtual events and hybrid experiences over the past years, and more so after the Coronavirus outbreak two years ago when social distancing became the norm.
Today, virtual events are an alternative to traditional events and have become an essential component of an effective digital marketing strategy for many big brands.
Sure, it is fun to plan online events. It gives you a chance to improve audience engagement through new channels, like video conferencing or webinars. Plus, virtual events blur the boundaries of geography and location. However, that is not it.
Adopting virtual events into your marketing mix entails an element of change management, as executing virtual events brings about a change in the existing marketing and promotional processes, and getting leadership buy-in becomes paramount. A significant concern is if it is even worth organizing an event online?
For starters, no face-to-face interactions happen. It is harder to command your attendees’ attention. What if they purchase a ticket but never turn up? What if there is a technical glitch and the entire event goes bust? These are legit concerns, but virtual events have pros that overweigh the potential cons.
Why organize virtual events?
Virtual events are becoming more common in the event planning world owing to the rising costs of attending one. Since the pandemic began, people, in general, have been limited to online meetups and virtual meetings due to health concerns.
Companies leverage virtual events to reach new audiences and improve the attendance of existing ones. When done right, they enable higher audience engagement, driving exponential brand awareness and ROI growth. Virtual events also terrific tools for customer discovery.
Virtual events are gaining popularity everywhere, and the global market is estimated to reach $504.76 billion by 2028. It is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 23.7% from 2021 to 2028. Here are the advantages of hosting virtual events:
1. Audience inclusivity
Virtual events have been proven to be successful inclusivity tools for many companies. They allow organizers to reach a wider audience across geographical boundaries. Even those with physical or financial challenges can attend the event. You can cut down costs of traveling and lodging compared to hosting a physical event, which brings us to the next advantage…
2. Money and time saved
Virtual events are an excellent option for companies with a limited budget and need to plan an event in a short span. Imagine the amount of time and money you will save if you can host your next event without worrying about finding a venue, hiring an expensive caterer, and booking accommodations for your attendees or delegates?
Moreso, event planners can conduct and control the event from anywhere across the globe at their preferred time on their own devices. They spend less time on planning logistics. They can also keep a tab on overhead expenses.
3. Event flexibility
Your company has the liberty of organizing an event without being constrained to a physical venue. Virtual events can be fully branded with dedicated website pages that can be accessed throughout the year from any location worldwide. The sessions can serve as content assets for marketing initiatives.
A virtual experience can be more engaging for your audience. You can make the sessions interactive and even broadcast them in different languages.
4. Powerful data collection
Virtual events have an advantage over in-person ones because all attendees have to participate online. They can easily be available throughout all sessions. In addition, you can collect instant feedback and help presenters gauge their performance.
Virtual events give you a way to measure KPIs through survey responses. They provide a wealth of data that is harder to gather during in-person meetings. You can track information such as when the attendees logged in, from where, and for how long.
Analyzing the data will help you evaluate the success of your event and share insights on how to improve things the next time you host one.
5. Event backup planning
Virtual events are a great option when the turnaround times are low. They are also helpful as a backup plan. Even if something goes wrong with the in-person event, you can still put on an equally compelling online show.
There are many reasons you could have had to cancel it — unexpected poor weather conditions or any other reason, lowering expected attendance rates. In such cases, quickly shift the event to a virtual platform and engage with your audience.
Plan and market a fail-proof virtual event: A 6-step process
Promoting an online event does bring a change in the marketing strategy. It does not become any less tough but it does open doors to many channels and techniques you can leverage to get more people to learn about your event. Here is how you can get started:
1. Identify your target audience
Improve the chances of a successful virtual event by clearly identifying your target persona. To do so, you must gather details such as their demographics (age, profession, location), interests, and browsing habits.
A CRM platform can help you collect these details. Visualize an ideal buyer persona and leverage the data to understand what would convince them to attend your event.
The data helps take reference points for your event promotion strategies and tailor your marketing communication to reach the right audience.
2. Create a landing page for virtual events
Once you have identified the audience, you must reach out to them through a dedicated page on the website and nudge them to register.
To ensure the page ranks higher on the search engine, optimize it for visibility. Include relevant keywords in the copy and list the page on relevant sites and forums.
That way, more people will be able to see your content while browsing through the internet. The content should encourage them to sign up by providing all the necessary information and even solving a problem.
You must include the following components in your landing page content:
- Event agenda
- Event date and time
- Profiles of speakers and sponsors
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
- Images to support your message
- A video to attract and engage the audience
- An overview of the event to set the expectations right
Ensuring the content of your landing page is optimized helps it reach a wider audience and converts traffic into registrations.
If you utilize a virtual event hosting platform like Airmeet, it will automatically create your event landing page for you after you’ve entered all of the information for your event. You can then customize it with your brand identity and more information.
3. Start marketing virtual events early on
Pick the right time to announce your virtual event, as timing is essential. You may lose attention if the event is announced too early. Similarly, you may not attract enough attendees if you advertise it too late.
You can even make your landing page live while setting up the virtual environment for your event. However, the best time to do it depends on your audience. You must have enough time at hand to nurture your prospects and convert them into attendees.
Tailor your message if you are targeting a small niche. Their marketing communication will be different from those with a broader appeal.
Also, create and promote promotional material for the event. For instance, it is essential to support your speakers, sponsors, and partners by making a swipe file for each of them. You can share the relevant email copy, social media graphics, and posts.
4. Design attractive graphics for virtual events that are on-brand
Graphics can be used to promote your event on multiple platforms. Make them interesting to attract your audience.
Include basic event details such as date and time, list of speakers, kinds of sessions, the content, and so on in the graphics. If possible, create short videos with short messages from the speakers to create a buzz on social media.
5. Leverage social media to drive awareness
Social media is another vital marketing avenue. To promote your event in creative and exciting ways, you can use a mix of social media channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube.
Pick the channels where your audience is most active. Some platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, allow hyper-specific targeting with ads.
For a younger audience, you can promote and advertise on visual platforms Instagram to capture their attention. Post photos, GIFs, and short videos to engage them and ignite curiosity about the event.
YouTube is another excellent platform to spread awareness about your event. Post longer videos and use the right hashtags in the description to drive greater visibility.
Use Agorapulse to schedule all of this activity in advance, then you and your team can monitor the posts for comments and engagement, and measure the results of that activity, from one convenient dashboard.
6. Involve your sales team to drive virtual event registrations
Aligning your sales and marketing teams with your strategy increases your event’s chances of doing well. Both departments have complementary skills and can be used to spread awareness about the event.
Moreover, when both teams work together, they will better understand the target audience and thus drive more conversions.
Your sales team can help you discover what truly resonates with your audience. The more specific your communication is about their pain points, the better will be your conversion rates.
5. Use email to tease about the virtual event
Email marketing is an essential channel for promoting your virtual event. You can personalize the communication for each attendee and deliver value throughout their journey. In most cases, your audience will need to use their email address to register for your event.
So you can build an email list to promote your event (sending reminders, resources, etc.) and continue marketing to them after the event is over. Engaging with them consistently will help you gradually move them down your sales funnel.
6. Publicize your speakers — they are your golden ticket
Spike the interest of your audience by highlighting VIP speakers and what value they will be bringing to the table. It will improve the quality of your attendees.
Promote your event by creating content and graphics around the speakers. Create posters with their headshots and short videos of them sharing their expert insights. Leverage VIP attendees as well to showcase the credibility of your event to drive more attendees from their community.
For a complete virtual event plan that you can download, for free, head over to Steal This Virtual Event Plan For A Flawless Event.
Over to you
One of the most exciting trends in event planning is using virtual components to bring together more people. Experiment with different formats of virtual events such as live web chats, videos, and webinars.
Even today, for many people, virtual events conjure up images of endless presentations. However, that is not the case anymore.
Thanks to advanced platforms, virtual events can be anything from exclusive webinars to live-streamed concerts to interactive video conferences. The question is, how willing are you to embrace the change in the medium of hosting events for the benefit of your company?