Since the pandemic hit, we’ve all experienced at least one virtual event. As outlined in my previous article, there are many benefits virtual events provide, including a greater opportunity to reach new audiences, to keep audiences engaged, and to deliver new leads. It comes as no surprise that 1 in 7 marketers expect virtual events to continue beyond 2020. In fact, many marketers believe that even after in-person events can make a comeback, there will still be a demand for a virtual component. To make the most out of your virtual events, it is important to understand the best types of platforms and formats, and key metrics to achieve a successful event.
Overview of Popular Formats/Platforms
Selecting virtual event software can be incredibly overwhelming. There are a variety of options available. To build personal relationships with your audience and let them know that your brand is a credible and trusted source of information, there are several formats and features that can be utilized. I’ve outlined the most popular virtual event formats and platforms below:
Webinar platforms for virtual events
Depending on the topic of your webinar, you might choose the Master Class webinar format where an expert leads a discussion by speaking directly to the camera. This is a great format for informing and educating your audience. Panel discussions where several experts voice their opinions in a lively discussion directed towards each other is a great way to spotlight varying perspectives. The chat show format in which a host interviews various esteemed guests is a great way to learn more about different experts in a particular field, and their opinions on various topics.
As for Webinar platforms, it is up to you to decide which features are most important to your brand. For example, Demio offers both live streaming and pre-recorded webinar options, as well as a hybrid option. Demio also offers private chats within its platform for users to connect on a deeper level. WebinarNinja is known for its integration with almost every major CRM platform, and its extensive ad tracking and analytics features. This is ideal for lead generation efforts. JetWebinar can easily handle an impressive 10,000 attendees without impacting speed or image quality. Lastly, Zoom is popular due to its accessible features such as live polls and chats, closed captions, its ability to broadcast directly to Facebook Live and YouTube, and its ability to handle up to 100 interactive participants.
Popular live-streaming platforms
Live streaming provides an alternative way to engage audiences with exciting and captivating content. For short and highly entertaining content, live streaming through Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories, LinkedIn Live, TikTok, and Snapchat allows users to feel connected to your brand in real-time. While this content is only accessible for 24 hours (on many platforms), it provides an opportunity for followers to engage with your content in an exciting and personal way.
Live streams on Zoom or YouTube allow for brands to reach global audiences by extending an invitation to people around the world who may not have an opportunity to attend an event otherwise. Virtual conferences on these platforms tend to utilize important features such as mobile accessibility, chat messaging, breakout rooms, polling tools, app integration, and Q&A tools to make the most personalized and interactive content possible.
What does a successful virtual event look like?
A crucial part of the virtual event planning process is deciding which metrics you will use to determine the event’s success. Examples of goals to consider include registration, attendance/participation, engagement rates, and revenue generated. If you can effectively communicate the value of your virtual event to prospective participants, you should have no problem attracting attendees who will help you achieve these goals. In fact, 55 percent of marketers who have run virtual events felt their events exceeded expectations and were considered a success.
A successful event can have many purposes. Whether your goals include driving quality leads, improving customer relationships, increasing brand awareness, or driving sales, virtual events have a high success rate at channeling attendees down a specific sales funnel. With your potential customers already online with any necessary information at their fingertips, the need to re-engage participants later through email or social media is eliminated. As a result, leads are more likely to become customers.
In addition to the opportunity to convert leads and increase engagement, successful virtual events also provide the opportunity to generate revenue. In fact, about a quarter of marketers who have run virtual events report making a profit. While virtual events are certainly different than in-person counterparts, there are a plethora of ways they can generate revenue including charging for admission to the event, finding sponsors for the event, promoting a donation page, and even selling branded merchandise. In fact, over a third more of marketers who reported gaining more revenue through virtual events than in-person events cited donation pages as a huge contributor. Thanks to virtual events, marketers have a new and adaptable approach to revenue generation.
Best practices for virtual event marketing
With a virtual events plan in place, it is essential to maximize visibility, registration and attendance via foundational marketing efforts. I’ve outlined a few best practices below:
- Utilize SEO to increase your brand’s visibility in organic search engine results
- Leverage search and social media advertising to effectively target attendees
- Reach customers and prospects with event promotions via organic social media content
- Connect with prospects via email marketing to take advantage of lower cost and higher conversion rates.
Through the hectic year of 2020 and beyond, Anvil Media has expertly adapted to the ever-changing digital landscape and continues to elevate each client by improving ROI and growing their brands via virtual events. Contact Anvil if you’d like help navigating the virtual world through services including SEO, paid media, content strategy, Amazon and email marketing.