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5 Considerations for Marketing Your Virtual Event
Live events are valuable because they require a commitment of time, thoughtfulness, planning, and resources. They’re places to learn and teach, inspire and be inspired, sell and buy — often, all at the same time and in a single place.
So when you’re adding virtual events into the mix, you don’t want to lose all the benefits that come with an in-person event. Which means you have to do all the pre- and post-event marketing required to make it as good of an experience as your live ones.
Here are the core things you need to consider as you wrap your head around virtual event marketing.
Virtual Event Marketing Considerations
1.Consider your purpose or objective.
Live events aren’t just vessels for content delivery. As you reshape what your events look like, make sure you keep your main purpose or objective in focus. It’s too easy to create blind spots with new technologies or formats. It simply won’t be enough to schedule speakers, upload decks, or throw everyone into a large virtual room.
For instance, if your live events have lots of ways for people to network in small groups, connect in breakout sessions, laugh during happy hours, or interact at coffee breaks, you’ll need to keep that objective front and center by scheduling specific, separate sessions virtually. Each may require its own virtual room, calendar, invitation, RSVP, and facilitation.
Whatever your objective — connection, networking, teaching, selling — make sure you’re designing specifically around them. Let the intention drive the format and technology.
2. Asses your audience’s needs and expectations.
Why is your audience attending your event? Why this specific event? How will you give them equal opportunities to connect, share, or interact? Will they need the ability to speak or engage during sessions?
It will be impossible to replicate your live event, so don’t even try.
Instead, focus on reframing the entire audience experience. And don’t limit that experience to the video platform on the day of the event. Find other ways to engage people before and after the event. Utilize web-based services that encourage people to have fun, share in different ways, or foster new connections.
3. Choose a video streaming platform, but don’t stop there.
In the initial chaos of changing or canceling events, your job was all about finding a video or streaming platform. Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Cisco Webex seem to be the default choices at this point and each offers its own way of sharing links or scheduling rooms for multiple people.
But it’s also important to realize that choosing a virtual venue — which is really what you’ve done by choosing a video platform — is just one part of a larger puzzle. Yes, you’ll need to take time to figure out how to use the platform, share the links, schedule the rooms, and record any presentations or talks, but that’s not enough. You’ll most likely need to manually promote your events or integrate with other event software that will help you market.
4. Create an event marketing plan.
You’ll need to promote each event, talk, session, happy hour, etc. as it’s own event. This is a slight change from the way you might have organized your live events where everyone is in a single venue. It’s much easier to encourage connections and networking by placing snacks, coffee, and drinks around the venue when you have a captive audience. Now, you’ll need to find other ways to let people know where “gatherings” are happening.
- Audience segmentation
Having segmented lists of event attendees will help you automate this process. Being able to upload those lists into a centralized event software will save you a ton of time as well.
- Social media marketing
Automated, timely posts in your various channels will be helpful in keeping people up-to-date about what’s happening and when it’s happening. Consider using a unique hashtag to keep everything organized or to make it easy to find virtual events that are associated with your brand.
- Email marketing
Aside from providing links and reminders, you’ll want to promote your events via email. It’s important, especially with virtual events, that you frequently remind attendees of the event date and share important details about how it will work. Overcommunication will be appreciated and an automated email system will make this much simpler.
- Simple Registration
This is less important virtually than it is live, but you’ll still want to know who’s registered for certain events and/or sessions. That said, you’ll want to make the process simple. Limit the number of fields required (do you really need more than an email and a first name?) or pre-fill fields. Automated confirmations, waitlists, and clearly displayed pricing (i.e. “FREE”) are also important.
If you’ve got the time and money to run ads, you might consider expanding your audience beyond your existing list by promoting certain virtual events online. A little money can go a long way here, especially if you direct people to really good event landing pages (which we cover in the next section) or a centralized calendar of events.
- Reach out to partners
Don’t forget to ask any partners to share your events on their distribution channels too. The more people you have talking about and sharing your events, the better. You could even make life easier by telling them how often to share and provide prewritten pieces for them (you know, like a real partner would).
5. Put extra focus on landing pages.
Depending on scale of your event or events, you might need one robust landing page or a number of smaller pages. These can be time-consuming to put together — and confusing if you have to use different landing page software than your website. Branding consistency also becomes an issue if not managed properly.
It will be important that each page doesn’t just have your branding, but that they’re consistent across events. Consolidated calendars, consistent branding, and easy registration options will all make your life a little easier, depending on how many pages you need to spin up.
Keep your event quality high
Sometimes, jumping onto a digital platform for hosting is the best some of us can do in the beginning.
But as you become comfortable with that core piece of the puzzle, you’ll begin to recognize a need to quiet some of the noise around virtual events management and want to focus more on the ROI successful events can bring. That’s when you’ll want to turn your sights to centralized calendars, organization of your landing pages and marketing efforts, and data-driven analytics.
When you’re ready to make virtual events — and the accompanying marketing required — a core part of your strategy, Localist can help.
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Marketing, HR, and communications teams love Localist's virtual event marketing platform because it's simple to use, lets you create beautiful landing pages for multiple events, and consistently brands everything you promote.
Because every event and calendar is centralized in a single dashboard, creating, publishing, managing, and promoting your virtual events has never been easier.