April 10, 2020

Getting attendees actively engaged in an online event takes a solid plan. Here’s how to get started.

Why engagement planning matters

The quality of your online event engagement determines how long attendees stay connected, how much content they view, and how they feel about your brand when they leave. An engaging event sustains attention and seamlessly transitions attendees from one session, speaker, interaction or content download to the next. After an engaging event, attendees show greater customer loyalty and are more likely to share their enthusiasm as brand advocates among their peers.

What is engagement

Think of attendee engagement as the ongoing conversation that unfolds between your attendee and your brand over the course of an event. When an online event serves up interesting, accessible, and well-timed content and activities, attendees respond and stay active on the event platform. If your event drops the ball on engagement however, attendees are one click away from their favorite cat video.

what is engagement

Planning for proactive and reactive engagement

Attendee engagement tactics play a role in both the proactive and reactive responses an attendee has on an event platform. Tactics that drive proactive attendee participation tend to be top of mind for planners. These push attendee actions such as:

  • Responding to a live poll in a keynote session
  • Scheduling a one-on-one meeting with a subject matter expert
  • Collecting points to exchange for a prize
  • Sending in a question to a moderated panel

The best engagement plans also pay attention to tactics that promote positive attendee reactions. While these tactics don’t explicitly ask attendees to take action, they play an important role in boosting overall engagement results, ensuring registrations turn in to actual attendees who stay tuned in once they arrive on the event platform. Some examples might include:

  • Day of event reminder to attend with a link to access the event platform
  • Single sign on for easy access to all elements of the event platform experience
  • A welcome video that orients the attendee to the event platform and activities
  • Live streaming some portion of speaker content vs. pre-recording
  • Integrating music, video and other supporting visuals in a keynote production

Start with the attendee journey

Every event is a journey attendees experience one step at a time. The attendee journey should be at the core of every event strategy including your attendee engagement strategy. Before you dive in to picking engagement tactics, map out the journey attendees should take through your event. This includes getting your online attendees to the event and guiding them to the content and activities they care most about within an event platform. Steps should be interesting and progress in a natural flow from one activity to the next.

online event journey

Set engagement metrics

As you map the attendee journey, you’ll also want to decide which attendee engagements will define event success. This could include keynote views, session views, one-on-one chats with the sales team, product downloads, exhibit hall check ins or many others. The important thing is to know which engagement metrics you will track and report on. For more about metrics to track engagement check out our post on setting event KPIs.

Invest in smart engagement tactics

At this point, you should have a prioritized list of attendee engagements to drive at your event. Focus your investments on the tools and incentives needed to boost these responses. Here are some effective tactics to consider:

  • Interactive breakout sessions
  • Live polling
  • One-on-one meeting scheduling
  • Gamification for virtual points
  • Contest or drawing for high-value giveaways
  • Celebrity guest speaker or entertainer
  • Virtual expo with live staff delivering demos
  • Session & content reviews
  • Event briefcase to collect content in
  • Birds-of-a-feather networking groups


attendee reviews

Ready to start planning your virtual event ? Contact Shiloh to get started today.

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