6 tips on how to market virtual events
Imagine hosting an event with hundreds of attendees, but no one has shaken a hand or, for that matter, been in the same room … or the same city.
Thanks to coronavirus, this isn’t a figment of imagination. It’s a growing reality. If a meeting or event hasn’t been canceled, it’s been taken online. And although participating in or hosting your own online event may have been the last thing on your mind in February, today your Google® search history might just include “virtual event marketing.”
As Zoom® meetings replace face-to-face sales calls, webinars and livestreams replace open house and industry conferences, and virtual tradeshows replace in-the-flesh exhibits, sales and marketing organizations are hustling to find new ways to drive business.
The number of virtual events has risen 1,000% since COVID-19 became part of our vernacular. Although trending, online events are challenging—it takes effort to build the same rapport as with a live audience, and you’ll be competing with all the things that distract people while at their computer—email notifications, instant messages and maybe even a young child wandering into the home office. What’s more, it’s common for over 50% of registrants to not show up for a virtual event.
That’s why knowing how to market virtual events and stand out from the competition is more important than ever. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Plan a must-see event
Think about why your customers would want to attend your virtual event. Ask yourself, “What would make them want to spend time with us versus anything else?” Perhaps your event content will help them through this challenging time. Or, you may feature a speaker they’ve been wanting to hear. It’s equally possible they’re thirsting for industry networking opportunities. FOMO is real. Build a program that makes people want to attend.
Then, show attendees why your event is an opportunity they can’t miss. Tell them about what to expect, whether that be live Q&A sessions, an interactive chat with the entire group or more opportunities to expand upon what they learn.
2. Engage your audience
People love to be engaged. There are endless ways to increase engagement leading up to the event.
- Use email and social media in your virtual event marketing plan to release snippets of information about your event that will whet attendees’ appetite for more.
- Create a poll to learn more about them and what they want to get out of the event.
- Ask them trivia questions and promise answers during the event.
This type of involvement can drum up a huge amount of interest and make people feel personally invested. The goal: Fewer no-shows.
3. Promote, promote, promote
Put your message in surround sound. Post the event on your website and social media channels. Text customers an event invite. Share with media outlets that publish event calendars. Send snail mail. With so many people working from home, this channel may get more eyes than normal. Start by providing relevant information related to what the speakers will be sharing and end with a few reminders leading straight to an event-specific landing page.
4. Remind people. A lot.
Life is busy and people forget.
Email is cost-effective and can easily be personalized. When thinking through how to promote virtual events, create an automated email series for your campaign.
Don’t be afraid to send the automated reminders (with scintillating event content) two weeks, one week, two days before, the day before and even up to five minutes before your event starts. In fact, email a last-minute reminder to those who haven’t registered (in case they change their minds) and post reminders on social media.
5. Help people connect
eople want to connect with other attendees and to feel like they belong at your event. Giving them a sense of community even before the event starts can help them become your best evangelists. Create a private group or chat for everyone who registers and use it to start conversations among attendees. Ask people (both registered and nonregistered) to send in their questions for the speakers and then interview the speakers on your podcast or Facebook® Live.
6. Post live snippets
As your event gets underway, pull out a few of the best moments and facts shared to post live on your social media or save them as a summary for your email list. If you’ve received prior written permission, take a screen shot of your virtual audience to share. Seeing other attendees interact or watching snippets of the speakers can be a powerful motivator to sign up for your next event.
By using these tips, you can make the most of your virtual event. Looking for additional virtual event marketing help? We’re here for you. Let’s talk!