Over the last year, virtual events have become a prominent aspect of business growth.
While previous years saw virtual events sidelined by in-person events, this is no longer the case.
A recent survey of marketers showed that in-person events decreased from 73% to 42% over the last 12 months. On the contrary, the use of virtual events, webinars, and online courses rose to 67%.
With virtual events taking center stage, it’s time to analyze your existing events to see if they are optimized for the current landscape.
But how do content marketers, project managers, and event planners ensure their events are engaging, relevant, and insightful? Let’s take a look.
1. Understand your audience and goals
Like most content marketing campaigns, your virtual event must be aimed at a target audience and have clear goals.
You don’t want to create an event where the audience is just bombarded with an assortment of information that may or may not be relevant to them.
In other words, don’t plan events like they’re 10th-grade class presentations stuffed with generic information.
Instead, think of the attendees and their specific needs.
For example, if your virtual event is aimed at your peers in the industry, the information you provide must delve deeper than a basic informational layer and deliver actual insights.
The same does not apply to a virtual event aimed at customers, who are more likely focused on learning and the benefits.
Once you’ve figured out your audience, you need to set clear goals for the virtual event.
Your goals can be:
- To attract new customers
- To introduce a new market or product
- Create new sales opportunities
- Build credibility amongst your peers and maybe cross-sell products to them.
- To help boost teamwork amongst your employees
The above are examples of an overall goal. Identifying this goal helps set smaller milestones that can be tracked and measured.
Your goals and audience will determine the planning, effort, and resources required for your virtual event.
For example, a virtual event to showcase a product to a target audience of your peers will require more extensive planning than a virtual event simply aimed at increasing team bonding amongst employees.
2. Budgeting for your virtual event
Now that you have an idea about your ideal event, you need to figure out how to make it happen.
The first step in that process is to understand the finances. You can’t revamp your virtual event without understanding what resources are available.
Marketers need to understand how much they can spend and where before planning the event, and budget has always been a big concern, especially for corporate events.
Finances dictate crucial decisions that are made by marketers and planners.
Tickets and pricing, for example, are an important decision that requires collaboration between different teams.
In their 2020 study, Wild Apricot noted that organizations that raised money equal to or exceeded initial estimates for their virtual event were more likely to charge admission and have sponsors.
If you choose to sell tickets to generate revenue, they must be reasonably priced to attract your target audience while still making a profit.
The same goes for selling products during or before your event, be it event merchandise or services.
Selling products during a virtual event can be incredibly hard for event planners since they already have so much on their plate. Still, there’s plenty of software platforms that allow you to showcase products and handle transactions easily.
Some platforms also enable automation of the transaction process, so there’s even less for marketers and planners to worry about. Use these tools to your advantage whenever possible.
Other crucial factors dependent on finances are hiring guest speakers, equipment, tools, hosting platforms, marketing campaigns, etc.
3. Streamlining content production for your virtual event
Content is a critical part of an event for the audience. Why else would they attend it?
According to a survey, 80% of people attended virtual events for educational purposes.
Marketers and project managers cannot create generic content and hope for the best. It will have no impact.
You have to use your goals and target audience to better understand the attendees and build profiles similar to buyer personas.
Content can then be created to cater to these personas.
But content production for events is not a straightforward procedure. Since many different content types are needed, the content, marketing, and design departments need to collaborate effectively.
Digital asset management software can be used to boost collaboration.
Instead of sending endless back and forth messages and wasting time waiting for replies, teams can use one platform for all the event’s resources.
If someone on the marketing team needs a guest speaker’s logo urgently, they don’t have to send a message and wait for a design team member to reply. They can just use the platform to get what they need.
Simplifying workspaces and workflows by using tools and platforms is highly recommended.
Content marketing thus becomes a lot more effective with the right content being distributed on the right mediums.
Social media is the most preferred platform for virtual events, with 81% of organizers using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more to drive registrations.
Using this process, marketers can promote their event to a broader audience, and more importantly, the right audience.
4. Use automation to gain and nurture leads
A virtual event is among the best ways to gather leads.
Companies can use simple sign-up or registration forms to collect information, such as email addresses and company names, for the virtual event.
Marketing teams can capitalize on this information by sending targeted, insightful, and shareable content their way via email.
A 2020 study revealed that 76% of marketers say that email is the single most effective way to drive registrations.
Forms are not a new tactic for information collection, but marketers can take it one step further by automating the entire form collection and information distribution process.
Using automation software to streamline this workflow reduces event planners’ burden, saves time and money, reduces errors, encourages collaboration, and improves inter-team communication.
Bonus tip: Repurpose content for maximum effectiveness
Marketers put a ton of effort into creating insightful content for a virtual event, and they can capitalize on this content even after the event ends. Here’s how:
Videos: If your event is recorded, post different sections as shorter videos on YouTube and other social media platforms. You can also invite the speakers to create a short video series.
Cisco predicts that global internet traffic from videos will make up 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2021. Marketers must capitalize on this.
- eBooks: Create eBooks that highlight the main points covered in the event or focus on one aspect of the event. You can offer these eBooks for free on your website and then use forms to generate more leads.
LFA Machines, a UK-based capsule filler specialist, provides a great example of what a simple eBook form should look like. Clear visuals with a basic form are all that’s needed.
- Blogs: Use the different sections of the event and create a blog or a series of blogs for each of them. To make publishing blogs easier and faster, you can use tools like Wordable to migrate content to WordPress.
Publish these on the company website and on social media to boost visibility and credibility. They can also be linked to complete ebooks.
- Infographics: Hubspot’s 2020 marketing report states that Infographics are the fourth most used type of content marketing after the above three. Infographics are easy to make, easy to share, and easy to understand, making it the perfect marketing asset for social media.
- Emails: In 2019, Litmus stated that the return on investment (ROI) for email marketing was $42 for every $1 spent. This shows that consumers prefer connecting to companies over email.
Break down the sections of your virtual event into bite-sized information and send it using visually-appealing email newsletters.
- Social media: Social media engagement is crucial, and what better to build it than to post the above content in digestible forms multiple times a week.
HubSpot states that marketers found images to be the most effective way to garner engagement on social media.
Virtual events provide the perfect opportunity for companies to stay in touch with their consumers, for teams to build collaboration, and for industry peers to share knowledge.
They’re also a great way to establish authority, showcase your knowledge, and generate leads.
Here’s a quick recap of the content marketing practices that can change your virtual events for the better:
- Understand your audience and set clear goals
- Grasp the financial situation
- Streamline content production
- Use automation to generate and nurture leads
- Re-purpose event content
You can use these to create events that will attract more audiences and enthrall them.