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The events industry is massive and you know the value of business events. Yet in today’s world where more and more Americans are working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, knowing how to run a virtual event is crucial.
Many people are wondering whether working from home will be more normal after the pandemic. Twitter has already said that employees will be able to work from home in perpetuity. We could likely see virtual events becoming more and more popular in the near future, so why not get in on the ground floor of this trend?
In this guide, we’ll show you how to host an event online and the secrets to making yours a success. Ready to learn more about virtual events and how they work?
Then please, keep reading.
Table of Contents
What is a Virtual Event?
A virtual event is an event that your company organizes that’s hosted online. This could be a conference, a Q&A session, or a quiz. As long as your company hosts it online instead of in-person, it counts as a virtual event. They have all the pros of traditional events as well as a few unique bonuses.
What Are the Biggest Benefits of Virtual Events?
One of the biggest benefits of running a virtual event is that it’s a cost-effective marketing strategy.
You don’t need to hire a conference center or an auditorium. All you need to do is get set up and start broadcasting your event online. There are several different ways you can broadcast your event including:
- Livestreaming video
- Live tweeting
- Social media stories
- Video conferencing
Another advantage is that you can attract potential clients and customers from all around the world. More traditional events are limited to either people in the local area or people from other parts of the globe with a large travel budget. As there’s no travel involved, anyone can participate in your virtual events.
If you’re running several different online events simultaneously, you also have access to better data. You can track which events were more popular and which were less so, and augment your marketing strategy in response.
How to Attract People to My Event?
So you’ve got a virtual event scheduled. How do you make sure that people attend it? We’ve already shown you how to drive social media traffic to your site and this will play an important part in increasing attendance for your virtual event.
When promoting the event figure out why people should attend it. What does your event offer customers? Is it networking opportunities, the opportunity to learn, or something else?
Push this USP in your marketing and promote your event via social media, emails, targeted ads, and a branded hashtag.
How to Engage Attendees Before Your Event
Before your event, you should lay the groundwork and make people excited. Engaging people in your virtual event can be done to great effect on social media.
For instance, you should create a story with a countdown to your event launch. You can also list your events on event listing sites and create a Facebook event for your virtual event. Give attendees all the information they need to prepare for the event and tell them exactly what is planned.
How to Make Events More Interactive?
To some prospective attendees, a virtual event may sound tedious. Those two words may conjure images of dull webinars and fruitless conferences. Making your event more interactive can combat these preconceptions.
Here are a few ideas for making your event more interactive:
- Run Q&A sessions
- Feature contests in your virtual event
- Demo your product or service and offer a free trial
Make your audience feel like they have a part to play in the event.
How to Make Your Virtual Event Stand Out From the Crowd
There are a lot of virtual events and there may be even more in the future. To stand out, try the following ideas:
- Offer swag or free products for attending
- Break your event up into segments
- Show your face on the video to give it a human touch
- Record the event and host recordings on your site to help those who couldn’t make it
What are the crucial aspects of marketing your virtual event?
First off, you need to grab attendee’s attention. A landing page for your event with all the information required is a great way to do this. You should put SEO into practice and try to get your event page ranking.
Making use of social media and email marketing is also crucial. More on this later.
What Are Some Current Trends in Event Marketing?
You need to stay up to date with event marketing trends so you aren’t left in the dust. One of the biggest trends in event marketing is personalization. Make your attendees feel like they have some control over the agenda: you can do this through social media polls and suggestions for events via email.
Another key trend is branded apps. If you’re hosting a large virtual event, why not create an accompanying app featuring additional information and tools?
What Are the Best Practices For Hosting Digital Events?
When hosting your virtual event, follow best practices to the letter. Let’s take a look at some key best practices.
Make the Correct Tech Choices
Your event technology should play to the strengths of your audience. If you’re hoping to attract a younger crowd, for instance, use focus on making your event mobile-friendly.
Audience Participation is Critical
Keep your audience entertained. To do this, make sure communication is two-way. Don’t talk at your audience, talk with them.
Metrics Are Crucial
One of the best things about virtual events is that they give you a ton of useful data. Study appropriate metrics for the event that you can then use to plan future events and change your company’s strategies.
What Are the Best Social Events Apps?
We touched on the issue of tech. What are the best apps to use when you’re planning your virtual event? Here are some great suggestions.
Your lowest cost virtual event software has to be Zoho Showtime. This little-known virtual event app inside the Zoho One product line is marketed as a training software. But for savvy marketers, it can also serve as an evergreen virtual space where visitors can get training, watch presentations and download materials.
You’ll have to provide your own landing pages for marketing, but the system has a decent registration page and you can also take payments.
Moving up along the features line is BigMarker, this is a software specifically designed for virtual events, live and recorded webinars. If you’re a coach, consultant, trainer or live event speaker who typically engages live and you do this all the time, this is the virtual event platform for you.
You’ll find an integrated virtual event, webinar and training system right here. Everything you need to get up and running fast.
There’s a price to pay and it isn’t exactly cheap. I recommend you start with the starter pack at $79 per month and work your way up through the software.
WebinarJam was a first attempt to create an integrated virtual event and virtual webinar platform. Not gonna lie. It was clumsy, riddled with tech issues and not very reliable. But that was THEN.
Today, WebinarJam is slick, easy to use and a really nice way to step into the virtual event space. At just over $40 per month, it’s the easiest to run and manage webinar platform out there. Just look at all these features!
WebinarJam also has a “sister” virtual event software called EverWebinar. This is a terrific option if you want to run evergreen webinars to gather leads. Record once, and let it run.
Here’s an example of a client page that is currently running EverWebinar
This is so insanely easy to set up and get your entire marketing funnel up and running that I did it in less than an hour. The hardest thing will be for you to record your video!
BUT it comes with a price, a pretty steep one. They charge 3 installments of $199 which is just a smidgen shy of $600. So this is really only a good choice for you if you have some experience in charging for your content and have been successful at it. Otherwise, stick with WebinarJam.
One more INSANELY AMAZING feature: the WebinarJam and EverWebinar directory. YES — you can create your webinar and promote it in the webinar directory! It’s a fantastic way to get your message out there. Think of it as the Udemy of events.
If you run industry conferences with lots of speakers over multiple days, you gotta check this virtual event software out. It will cost you $97 per month but the ONE feature it has which is worth the price if you have to manage dozens of speakers and sponsors is the speaker directory and sponsor directory.
Man oh man!
Anyone who has managed conferences knows what a bear it is to collect speaker bio’s headshots and any content they want to distribute at the conference. The same is true for sponsors. Well, Virtual Summits has a built in directory for all of that. Speakers and sponsors log in, create their profiles, update their information and BOOM — it’s done.
Like the other platforms, the registration pages are amazing, you can take payments and so on. My recommendation is to sign up for one of their existing conferences and get the experience for yourself.
What is the Best Way to Market An Event?
There’s no one best way to market an event. If you want to get the most attendees possible, you must take a multi-pronged approach. You should send out enticing emails, engage on social media, and take out sponsored ads.
One of the best ways to reach potential attendees is via LinkedIn.
What Is the Best Way to Promote An Event On LinkedIn?
Promoting an event on LinkedIn should begin with a company status update. Talk about the event and why you’re excited about it.
After this, it’s time to be more direct. We’d recommend using InMail to contact first-level connections with messages and invitations. Engage with them and show them why they should come.
You should also share news of your event in various industry groups and upload a PDF or registration form to your page. You can also feature the event page in your contact info section.
What Is the Best Way to Promote Events to the Public?
If you want to attract more than just industry figures to your event, you’ll need to market your event to the public. Other social media platforms are crucial here. Think of who you’re targeting.
If you’re trying to target a younger crowd, use Twitter and Instagram, post stories, make a hashtag, and post frequent updates about your event.
If you’re targeting an older crowd, try Facebook. Make an event page and take out sponsored ads! You can also list your events on various pages online.
Where Do You List Your Event Online?
There are many websites where you can list your events. Some great examples include:
- Facebook Events
Get your virtual event listed on these sites and grab prospective attendees’ attention.
Want to Learn More?
Hosting a virtual event is a fantastic option for a business on a budget. Here at DIY Marketers, we specialize in helping companies do more with less.
For more information about low-budget marketing options, take a look around our site. If you’re interested in learning more about the latest marketing technology, please take a look at the rest of our technology section!