Running in-person business events has been an effective marketing strategy for many companies, especially for conversions in the middle and bottom of the funnel. Live events have proven that you can achieve so much in a limited time:
- Showcase your brand
- Network and build relationships with prospects
- Demonstrate your knowledge and experience
Although you won’t be able to recreate the same face-to-face experience with digital events, you can still achieve some of your goals. Technology has changed how we live and work, and can now be used to run fantastic and engaging virtual events.
Firstly, you need to choose the type of virtual event you want to run. The good news is that running online events can be much more affordable than live events. Given sufficient planning, strategy, execution and post-event analysis these can be an effective tactic in your marketing mix.
These are 4 popular event types you can run:
Training or Educational Webinar
This type of event is run using webinar software, and the event usually runs for up to 1 hour. The webinar has an organiser, a host, sometimes multiple hosts, and possibly an introducer, which is a person who introduces the hosts. You also need a Technical Support person to run the software, and manage any issues or questions from viewers.
The content can be shared via a PowerPoint slide, and should be purely educational – sharing your knowledge on your expert topic with your audience. The content can also be someone talking to camera, using a whiteboard, or using a combination of talk-to-camera and slides. You can also use a webinar for a sales demonstration – taking your audience through your product or service.
These can be held live, which is ideal if you are looking to take audience questions and really engage. Or it can be pre-recorded and played at another time.
Metrics: For this virtual event type, you will want to measure webinar registrations, number of live attendees, as well as those who watch the webinar afterwards. You should also have a CTA (call to action) at the end of your webinar, such as to sign up for your newsletter, sign up for more information, or request a consultation.
People required: Organiser, Host, Introducer (if needed), Technical Support
Online Conference: 1 day of multi-day
This type of event is also run using webinar software, and the event can run for ½ day, 1 day or multiple days. An online conference has an organiser (sometimes an event management team), an emcee or moderator, one or multiple speakers, and technical support.
The event can be run as multiple PowerPoint presentations, yet can also be run using webcams or digital cameras, so that your audience can actually see the presenters. You may need to ensure that everyone has a stable internet connection (good luck to everyone using NBN), a good microphone, and a clear and clean video camera.
These can also be held live, if you really want to engage your audience, yet can also be pre-recorded if it needs to be. Even if it is live, I would use the recording afterwards so those who miss the live event can still watch your content. If the conference is for lead generation or nurturing you can publish the whole conference un-gated on the web, but if it is normally a paid conference or one just for customers, you can put it behind a gated registration page.
Metrics: For this virtual event type, you will want to measure event registrations/ ticket sales, number of live attendees, as well as those who watch the conference afterwards. You should also measure engagement – attendees interacting with your content, asking questions, etc.. You may also want measure those who fill in the feedback survey at the end of the conference. Lastly, if there is a CTA (call to action) at the end of the conference, you will want to measure response to that too.
People required: Organiser/s, Host/s, Presenters, Technical Support
Online Networking Event or Meeting
This type of event is run using video conferencing software, and is best when it lasts for approx. 1 hour. An online networking event or user group has an organiser, a moderator, one or multiple speakers, and technical support.
The event would be run with the attendees all using video cameras (webcams) to engage and to talk. The trick is that only one person can speak to the group at one time, so it would need to be carefully moderated. These types of events really need an agenda to follow.
For example, if you wanted to network with similar professionals, you could put together some hot topics or key questions to discuss, and let people raise their hand if they want to talk, and then the discussion is guided. You could even have a presenter talk for 5-10 minutes, and then attendees can ask questions.
After the event is finished, you could share the contacts details of all the attendees so that they could reach out to each other one-on-one. You could also utilise a LinkedIn Group or Facebook Group to continue the conversations.
Metrics: For virtual networking catch ups, you will want to measure the number of registrations, number of attendees, and any outcomes you are looking for. Obviously if the goal is networking, you do not want anyone pitching their products or services, as this could derail the networking, and put attendees off.
People required: Organiser, Host, Presenter (if relevant), Technical Support
This type of event can be run using podcast software, or recorded with audio or video software. You may also want to edit your podcast with editing software. A podcast has a podcast host, and can be a solo podcast, or can have one or more guests. The organiser or host may also do the technical support and editing.
The podcast can be a video or just audio. It is usually best practice not to record the podcast live. This can protect you from hiccups or glitches, and let you “clean up” the track afterwards. In terms of equipment, you may need a quality microphone and/or video camera or webcam.
The podcast can be a monologue, or an interview with one or multiple guests, and can run for any length of time from 10 minutes (for a quick update) up to 3 hours (google Joe Rogan).
When it comes to a podcast, it is also a good idea to plan the episodes into a “season”. You can schedule 6, 8, 10, 12 or more episodes so you ensure you keep momentum.
Metrics: For podcasts, you want to be tracking views, listens, downloads, channel subscriptions, and any leads or CTAs (call to actions) that you have. This may especially be important if you have a podcast sponsor, and you need to prove ROI (return on investment).
People required: Organiser, Host, Guest/s (if required), Technical/ Editing/ Publishing Support
Good luck running your next virtual event!