Go Live: Virtual Events to Keep you Top of Mind
If 2020 taught us one lesson, it was not to take anything for granted. And if you’re like us, not being able to attend or host live events was the last thing on your mind – and boy, do we miss it! But last year, virtual events took off as brands continued to look for ways to connect with their audiences. Between Zoom, Google Meet, FaceTime, Instagram Live, and a host of other online meeting platforms, it’s easy to set up online events. And just like we talked about in one of our earlier blogs, going digital is – well, inevitable. And it might seem scary, but hosting your own digital event will keep your brand on people’s radars.
COVID-19 continues to make the future of in-person events uncertain. Instead of waiting around for conditions to change (or worse, just ‘doing’ and being unsafe), take your marketing power back – don’t be afraid to go live! Virtual events are the next best thing. And since we don’t know when we’ll be able to safely gather in person again, it’s high time you take advantage of Virtual Events as a part of your marketing strategy.
Virtual Events offer more benefits than you might think
It might be tempting to think that virtual events are just digital versions of your original event. Not true! Virtual events offer more benefits than you might think. For one, they are very easy to organize. Instead of going out to find a physical space large enough for your event, thinking about vendors, parking, etc. – all you need is a virtual space, like Google Meet, Zoom, GoToWebinar, etc. Creating a meeting link takes a lot less time, costs a lot less money, and causes a lot less stress. Digital events are also much easier to scale – meaning if you need to expand your audience from overwhelming demand, it won’t take a magic act to accommodate everyone. But these are just some of the obvious benefits. The real magic behind virtual events actually goes much deeper.
Many people fear going digital because they think they’ll lose their base. On the contrary! Digital events can actually help your brand extend your reach. If you’re a local brand that has only focused on your audience in a specific area, digital events can be your secret weapon to expansion. Use digital events to reach more people outside of your brand’s “comfort zone” – this will give you the chance to engage with different types of audience members who may be interested in what your brand has to offer. This can lead to many things – you may get ideas for a new product or service, or you can start building an even larger community for your audience. Whatever the case may be, the new information that you’ll get from virtual events can inform the next steps that you take in your overall marketing.
New Information can lead to New Possibilities
When we’re talking about new information, we’re not just talking about having conversations with new audience members. Virtual Events are also a great data gathering tool. Digital marketing analytics can get stale – between social media analytics, website analytics, and PPC ad data, it might seem like you’re wandering around in a data wilderness. Virtual events can provide a different perspective because users are reacting to something different. For example: you may be unsuccessful building or expanding your audience through ads because people have become a little numb to digital advertising. Funny enough, the same people who might not respond positively to a typical digital ad might be leaping with joy to join your virtual event if it interests them. Additionally, most digital events are recorded, which gives you a great way to revisit your qualitative data. This information gives you a chance to see (and hear) how people are reacting to your brand in ways that analytics from websites and digital ads just can’t compete with. Take advantage of this! After all, now that most (if not all) brands have keyed in that going digital is the only option, it’s up to you to find even more creative ways to engage with your audience. You can also get more instant conversion data through a virtual event. Convincing attendees to complete a survey after they attend an in-person event can be a bit of a hassle – your brand connects with your audience at the in-person event, tells them ‘fill out this survey!’ on their way out, and by the time the audience gets home and settled, they’ve all but forgotten about it. With a virtual event, you can send the survey via email immediately after the event (if you want!) as a follow-up, and the immediacy will increase the chances of you getting valuable feedback in a timely manner.
Speaking of engagement – hosting a virtual event is a surefire way to increase engagement with your existing audience and with new audience members. Not just because they are digital, but because you can offer different types of content and experiences to prospective attendees. In short, you have room to get creative and think outside of the typical PowerPoint presentation. Try using Artificial intelligence (AI) or Augmented Reality (AR) to make your event more interactive. Take your attendees on a virtual tour. People will be looking for different types of experiences online, and it’s up to you to give that to them. Since everyone is digital, the space has become very competitive, and you’ll want to think outside of the box to stay on top.
Plan your way to Success
If you’re thinking about going the virtual route, planning out your event is a must. Map out the type of event you want to have, the content that you want to promote, and create your funnel to communicate with your audience before and after the event. Define what your goal is for your event, and then you can get started!
Map out the logistics.
Choosing the right digital platform for your virtual event is just as important as booking the right location for an in-person event. Different platforms have different limitations. Zoom, for example, limits the number of participants in each session, while Google Duo accommodates more; however, Zoom meetings can be password protected while others cannot. And if you want to host an event for longer than 40 minutes, you’d better make sure to buy the paid version! Do some research before nailing down a home for your virtual event to make sure things go over without a hitch.
You’ll also want to think about how you will be offering this to your audience. Will this be a free event? Will you offer on-demand sessions for users who miss the live event? Will it be a live event or pre-recorded? These are all things you’ll want to ask yourself when you start planning your event.
Outline your content and event timeline.
From event promotion to event content to post event emails and surveys, it’s important to know every aspect of your content. Marketing the content effectively for your virtual event is extremely important because, essentially, the content is the whole event. Create an effective content marketing strategy for your event. Think about any digital ads you want to run, registration landing pages you want to create, interactive content, or surveys you might want to send afterwards. Make sure all of your content is powerful and compelling enough to keep your audience interested.
As you nail your content down, put it in a timeline so you can see how much time you’ll need to promote your event and what the process should be to follow up after. Create your communication funnel that outlines initial engagement before the event, during the event, and afterwards. Following up is just as important as the event itself – whereas during the event you’ll be able to see how many people registered, how many are in attendance, and hear feedback during the session, sending surveys or other polls via email after the event will give you the opportunity to dig deeper into your audience’s minds. They may feel more comfortable sharing things in a survey than speaking up in front of many people. And of course, you’ll want to thank them for attending.
Planning virtual events might seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re feeling overwhelmed planning your event, let us know and we’ll be happy to help! The Creative Juice team thinks outside of the box to keep your brand top of mind in unconventional ways. Contact us for help with your next virtual event! We’ll help you get the creative juices flowing.