The event marketing industry has seen a lot of changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic and other global events.
Social distancing means that brands cannot rely on in-person events to market or sell products. As countries around the world imposed various forms of quarantine, companies started to shift to a work-from-home setup.
These changes have certainly impacted a lot of businesses, but instead of being paralysed, you can take advantage of new opportunities. Packaging content in sharable and personalised ways means attendees and those who missed the event get more value. Plus, sophisticated lead capture systems can be set up to identify the top prospects.
In-person event KPI’s are no longer applicable because virtual events use different metrics to gauge success. When the data is analysed, many businesses will discover that virtual event marketing actually has a wider reach and is more cost-effective. The online marketing landscape changes rapidly, so it’s about adapting to beat the competition by utilising the latest technology.
The challenges of switching from physical to virtual events
Physical events have the advantage of generating buzz and energy that’s hard to replicate in an online environment. The right employees can create a great first impression in face-to-face sessions with potential customers.
Tradeshows and conferences can be an amazing source of new customers. They bring together like-minded people who have shared interests and buying preferences. Attendees typically have the resources to buy and are primed to do so. Companies use physical events to offer great deals, new innovations and product releases.
Events can set the stage for memorable experiences, which is important for customers who are interacting with your brand for the first time.
So how can virtual events create the same kind of excitement and marketing potential? How can the same level of focus be harnessed in an online environment where distractions are at an all-time high?
Tips to create a virtual event
Online conferencing platforms offer functionality to create personalised virtual marketing events. Attendees can choose the sessions that are of interest to them instead of staying for the entire experience. Therefore, customers are more likely to attend if they can instantly access the content of interest.
Choose platforms that offer innovative features, such as the “chat roulette” or a swipe feature like on Tinder. These allow attendees to network, which is one of the key strengths of in-person events.
Virtual experiences can be successful with high-quality content. Create pillar posts and resources attendees will find useful in the daily running of their business. Content should also get them excited so they are more receptive to your marketing. Creating viral stories that attendees are keen to share is the way to go.
Online events offer a higher ROI
Virtual events do not require logistics, merchandise, venue hire, accommodation, travel expenses, or catering. The savings can be invested in producing higher quality content. It allows you to bring attention to virtual events and raise brand awareness during the process.
The nature of virtual events means that busy in-demand keynote speakers can host from wherever they are in the world. Therefore, you can also increase the quality of keynote speakers, which gives attendees another reason to engage with your content. Hype around the event will build and attract higher registration numbers.
Also, attendees don’t need to spend time traveling and being away from their families. It’s a noteworthy benefit that enables virtual events to better fit into an already busy schedule.
How to market virtual events
Like in-person events, you need to actively market virtual events to build hype. A mixture of relevant information and clear messaging helps inform the right people to take advantage of every resource you’ve made available in the lead up.
Securing event registrations in advance is important – don’t leave the marketing to the last minute. Pre-event marketing can be in the form of powerful landing pages, video hype reels, syndicated content, digital ads, email nurture series, and PR content.
See pre-event marketing in action by taking a look at this Apple WWDC event landing page. Attendees are encouraged to download an app before the event. This opens the door to interactivity and a channel of communication for marketing during and after the event is wrapped.
Capture more data to improve decision making
Tools like feedback forms and detailed online registration allow you to harvest actionable data. For example, you can see at exactly what stage of the registration process people may be backing out. You can use this data to focus on areas of improvement to make future events more successful.
Online events are also an opportunity to target niche audiences that have a high response rate. It’s easier to sell products or services to people who are already interested in what you have to say.
Example of successful virtual events
NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference: The speed at which NVIDIA switched to virtual events was impressive. They utilised an informative FAQ section to explain any questions stemming from the pandemic. An app was released pre-event allowing people to network and create a list of interests.
Microsoft Build Live: This digital event is another example of getting it right. There was a lot of content over the 48 hour period that was presented with clarity. Speakers taking part in the event prepared by rehearsing to ensure things went smoothly. Check out the post-event video where you’ll see event highlights.
Think Digital Event Experience: The virtual event was first planned to take place in San Francisco in 2020. Similar to NVIDIA, the use of an informative FAQ section helped attendees get answers to clear up the confusion. Event sessions were recorded so people could go back and re-watch anything they missed during live broadcasts. Plus, subtitles in multiple languages were available, which allowed more people from around the world to watch.
Examples taking place in the future
Apple’s WWDC20: The annual Apple WWDC event is one of the biggest in the tech world. A pre-event app was released to prepare attendees with the right information. The event is likely to be free and attract massive crowds.
Cisco Live 2020: With 7,000 sessions and 10,000 hours of content, Cisco Live 2020 offers more than most virtual events. The free event allowed attendees to browse the agenda beforehand, which means they can figure out what’s of interest. The app also allowed attendees to easily add relevant events to their personal calendar.
Spark Festival: Interactive virtual events are a big opportunity to get customers engaged and Spark Festival seeks to take advantage. It’s the largest annual event in Australia for start-ups. A mixture of sideshows and live streams will be utilised to interact with the audience via live chat. Think your idea will appeal to Spark Festival audiences? Then check it out and mingle with the virtual crowd.
Do you need help hosting a digital event? The Walk has the expertise to handle every aspect of your event, which includes hyping the event using video reels, nurture series, syndicated content, cool merchandise sourcing, pop-up activations, webinars, increasing attendance, setting up a networking platform, app development, omnichannel pre-event promotions, and building your website.