With COVID-19 driving face-to-face events online, how do you make the immediate pivot to turn an in-person event into a captivating virtual experience?
With travel bans, self-isolation orders, and restrictions against meetings, event organisers are being forced to reconsider their options and balance two core priorities: on the one hand, it is crucial to uphold the health and safety regulations from local governments and the World Health Organisation; and on the other, mitigate financial loss caused by the disruption.
Virtual events are quickly becoming the new norm – at least for now. The value of face-to-face interaction will never go away, but there are times when going virtual is a necessary part of your event schedule.
To help you pivot from a multi-day conference, filled with networking opportunities, educational sessions, and exposure into an engaging virtual event, we’ve put together some guidance so that you can continue to offer your attendees unforgettable and genuinely meaningful opportunities.
Plan for a different kind of event
Much like attended events, virtual events, need great planning in order to be successful. What works offline in the real world might not in the virtual, so take a step back, and work out exactly what your audience and your sponsors are looking for and replicate this through your online experience.
Salvage what you can. If you’ve already shelled out for printed material, such as flyers or banners these are headed for the recycle bin, the digital files, however, are much more valuable and can be turned into email invites, digital assets, and promotional material.
Rethink your one-size-fits-all content. Keeping virtual attendees engaged is a tall order, powerful keynotes and engaging sessions tailored to your attendees are critical for success. Try offering alternative options for different audience types and promote using targeted ads and campaigns.
Moving your event online can also have implications for your sponsorships, but a digital experience still offers countless opportunities for brands to be seen and heard. Add tiers to your virtual sponsorship packages, by creating a series of options from breaktime advertising space, product shout outs to dedicated areas, such as virtual chat rooms.
Choose the right technology
Thanks at large to the rise of powerful event software management tools, businesses now have access to a range of sophisticated virtual participation opportunities, hybrid features and built-in analytical tools for a diligent approach to investment performance.
For further information about the future of events remember to take-a-look in Accelerate at our ‘Are you ready to go back to the future’ infographic.
Key features event management platforms should have integrated within their system, include:
- Customisable design options
- Registration site and ticketing capabilities
- Marketing tools
- Integrated event app
- Document hosting
- Audience response systems
- Sponsor promotion and management
- Integration options between your system and the event management platform
- Centralised reporting and analytics
Put your marketing team to work
By hosting a virtual event, you significantly lower overheads, but you will need to market just as hard in order to get the desired turnout. In this current climate all businesses are reacting with the same force, at the same speed, and with the same resolution, so make sure you stand out from the crowd.
As the majority of the country continues to adapt to remote working, digital marketing methods are the only real effective solution to entice delegates. And, with advanced targeting options now available you can reach the customers you want and gain valuable insight into purchasing behaviours.
We are all familiar with the standard social mixers at conferences, coffee catchups, breakout meetings, and corporate side-dinners, but how do you stimulate participant interest when your only access in, is through a screen?
Presenting the right content is only one part of a successful event.
If all you do is stream content for hours, there’s no real incentive for people to keep watching, and attendance will decline. Online content has to work harder without the live presence of the speaker, so mix up your sessions, with interviews, panels, videos and TED-style keynotes as well as set-piece presentations to hold the attention of the audience.
Circulate recommended hashtags, encourage presenters and attendees to share ongoing discussions widely, and broadcast news of the event as much as possible.
Expect the unexpected
Technical problems are the bane of every virtual event, and unfortunately, more likely to occur at this present time due to higher demands on broadband networks. Make sure you have comms at the ready along with redirects and page holders for those temperamental moments.
Nail the experience
Is there anything worse than half your delegates failing to show because they couldn’t find the right link?
In short, no. Don’t assume that attendees are well-versed in using video conferencing technology. It might be the first time some attendees have used this software so implement safety protocols such as a mute all button, automatically turned on as people join and during keynote sessions.
Finally, once your event is in motion, document it. Extract as much material as possible to capitalise on the experience. Add further value by making the recording available on-demand to people who weren’t able to attend.
Measure and nurture
Measuring is a vital step that will help you to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and what you should change for next time. With integrated report options this should be straightforward and will ascertain if your event was a success.
With virtual events, the options for lead-generation and lead-nurturing are endless. Following up with your delegates after your event is critical to your business success, whether that’s new business or existing customer upsell. Implementing an effective lead nurturing strategy can have a huge impact on the results of your inbound marketing strategy, customer loyalty, customer retention, revenue, and more.
Don’t forget to make use of the resources available to you
To help get you started with your own virtual events we have created an infographic that looks at the rise of virtual events and key trends for 2021. The infographic can be accessed via the Gamma Portal >> Help & Support >> Gamma Accelerate >> Collateral and search ‘Are you ready to go back to the future.’
Every Gamma Channel Partner has free access to Accelerate, our online partner marketing portal; a simple and secure platform that’s designed to make it easy for you to customise white-label marketing material, generate new leads, and engage with prospects and customers.
To access Accelerate go to the Gamma Portal >> Help and Support >> Gamma Accelerate
Need help getting started with Accelerate? Get in touch [email protected]