The idea of hosting a virtual event has been around for more than a decade now. However, they’ve gained significant popularity ever since the world has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic that has greatly restricted travel and congregation in large numbers.
Virtual events are wonderful for various reasons. For one, a virtual event allows anyone and everyone with access to the internet and a computer or phone to participate. Secondly, it saves the organiser several logistical costs such as booking a venue, creating an event setup, making hospitality arrangements, and crowd management.
However, these benefits do not make the planning process any less intense. The ease of organising virtual events also makes them highly competitive. One really needs to offer great value to the participants in order to motivate them to attend, right from finding knowledgeable and reputed speakers for the event to using targeted and engaging promotional tactics.
Whether this is your first time hosting a virtual event or you’re looking for ways to take your upcoming event a step forward from the last one, the 7 steps listed below will help you build a highly effective promotional campaign around the event.
1. Collaborate with relevant organisations
Whether your event is an educational webinar, a trade show about your company’s new products, or something purely for entertainment such as a virtual gig, collaborating with other parties can be beneficial in many ways.
#1. It broadens the perspective of your event.
#2. It helps you reach out to a greater audience.
#3. It could be the start of a long-lasting and mutually beneficial professional partnership.
In order to maximize the benefits of your collaboration, you must:
- Pick partners that are not your direct competition but belong to a related field. For instance, a career seminar for marketing could include a marketing professional, an HR professional, and maybe even a person exploring a career in that particular field.
- Research the social footprint and the credibility of all parties involved. Partnering with the wrong entity can lead to compromised results and may even harm your reputation.
- Agree upon a promotion strategy where everyone promotes the event on their respective brand properties such as website, email, and social media accounts.
2. Segment your marketing efforts
The one-size-fits-all approach is no longer relevant to marketing and the same applies when you are marketing your event. Different groups of people will want to attend your event for different reasons.
For instance, students will want to attend an educational event to learn more about colleges and the opportunities their fields of choice afford, while working professionals may attend to explore options for further studies that can take their career up a notch.
Identify a few key groups with common interests, needs, and backgrounds and tailor your marketing messages accordingly in terms of content, tone of voice, highlighting the value proposition for each group, and the appropriate channel for them. This not only makes your promotions more effective but also inspires more confidence in the attendees.
3. Identify tracking methods
When promoting your event, it is important to track how all of your marketing efforts are faring. How do they vary in terms of reach and the number of sign-ups being recorded? Research and planning are essential but you will be surprised by how much things can change when it comes to execution. Tracking will not only ensure that you divert your time and money towards what is working, but it will also teach you valuable lessons for future events.
While social media promotions can be easily tracked by their built-in tools, you may want to consider tagging your promotional URLs with UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes. Such codes report accurate conversion metrics to your analytics tools and help you gain true knowledge about what’s working and what’s not.
4. Promote your virtual event on multiple channels
Take stock of all your digital assets and utilise each of them to reach your target participants through multiple touchpoints. Promoting your event on a number of platforms will give your event more visibility and also let people know that your event intends to be big in scale. Here are a few assets you must focus on:
Create a landing page or a microsite within your official website and assign it a unique and meaningful domain name. For instance, you can use the .TECH extension for a tech event; for example, the domain name for the Consumer Electronics Show is www.ces.tech or .ONLINE to emphasize that it’s an online event such as www.namescon.online. An event with its own website comes across as more authentic.
New domain extensions such as .SPACE, .FUN, .SITE, .WEBSITE, etc allow you to get more meaningful and interesting domain names to better promote and advertise your virtual event.
Use email marketing to communicate directly to your subscriber base. You can also urge more people to join your mailing list in order to receive the latest updates about the event. If budget permits, you can incentivise email sign-ups by providing benefits such as a free online course, ebook, or one-month subscription.
Based on insights on followers from built-in analytical tools, create a social media calendar and schedule posts for when they will get maximum engagement. Use your unique event microsite domain name to redirect people from your social media posts. Apart from event announcements, banners, or videos highlighting the speakers or products to be showcased, polls and questions can make for highly engaging posts.
6. Send a final day reminder
Sending a final rundown of all the things participants need to be part of the event will help people tune in to the event more easily. For instance, a participant may have accidentally deleted the email that had the link for joining the event. Or, people may simply have forgotten about the date and time.
Make sure you send an email to everyone who signed up about the important details. Also, publish a social media post with the necessary info. If you still have slots to fill, advertise them on social media as a countdown post or ‘last few seats left’.
7. Thank your audience
Your audience members have taken valuable time out of their schedule to attend your virtual event. They made the choice to engage with you and explore your brand. By doing so, they opened the possibility for you to expand your customer base. Make sure you acknowledge their participation by sending them a “Thank You” email along with a short form for feedback. Their feedback may highlight issues that you would not have noticed otherwise and will help you plan a better event next time.
The right mix of pre- and post-event marketing strategies is key to ensure the success of any event, virtual or in-person. Things may get a little bit more challenging when it comes to virtual events due to the increased competition. To really make your mark, it is crucial to portray virtual events to be just as engaging and exciting as their offline counterparts. This is opposed to the often dry and monotonous webinars that achieve little by way of engagement. With these 7 tips, rest assured that your online event receives a high footfall. You can do your best to be sure that all participants sign off happy and satisfied with the experience.