Here’s how to decide if a virtual event might be right for your company this year.
In-person events are on hold until further notice, but corporate marketers still need to build connections with customers, introduce new products, and generate leads for sales. There are still target numbers to reach, and a pivot to virtual events can help achieve many of these goals. Review these pros and cons to decide if a holding virtual event will boost your marketing success in 2020.
Pro #5 – Collect high-quality attendee data
A virtual event can be a data machine for gathering all sorts of insights into customers and prospects. From the moment an attendee arrives, it’s possible to track every interest and interaction. Funnel this data into your CRM for a vivid new picture of where each attendee is in their customer journey.
Pro #4 – Tailor an experience to your brand goals
Just as with in-person events, virtual events can be simple or elaborate, focusing just on presentations, or offering immersive and interactive engagement. Get a jump start by white-labeling a templated “virtual event platform” or design a fully-unique brand experience with a custom event website.
Pro #3 – Lower event costs
With no need for a venue, food and beverage, travel and hotel rooms, printed signage, or on-site event staff, costs for an online event run substantially lower than for in-person events.
Pro #2 – Eliminate the risk of a pandemic-driven cancellation
Need we say more? Online events offer planners some certainty for the coming months as state and federal policies for shelter-in-place and social distancing flex on and off.
Pro #1 – Reach a larger audience
Online events offer on-the-fence attendees a low commitment opportunity to learn and engage more fully with your brand. It’s easier to get prospects to register for an event with no travel costs or time out of the office. Additionally, with a lower cost to you per attendee, more budget can be allocated to marketing the event to a broader audience.
Con #5 – Networking and interaction seem limited
Solution Online networking technology abounds. A thoughtful addition of the right event tech to an event platform transforms an otherwise soulless experience into a highly-engaging and meaningful one for both you and attendees. For example, to connect more personally with attendees, include a calendar on the event platform where attendees can pre-schedule one-to-one Zoom meetings with experts they may not otherwise have access to. To foster connections among attendees, host birds-of-a-feather Slack channels with guided discussions that carry on long after event day.
Con #4 – Online events don’t create a revenue stream like in-person events do
Solution Yes, it may be harder to charge for general access to online keynotes, but online events still offer excellent (and sometimes better than in-person) options for revenue. A virtual exhibit hall can deliver a robust package of opportunities that sponsors will pay for to gain traction with attendees. Attendees will pay for in-depth technical training, especially if it comes with credits toward a certification.
Con #3 – Attendees have a short attention span for online events
Solution Plan around the short attention span. Provide shorter content – sessions that last 20 minutes rather than an hour. Provide a variety of content that offers different levels of targeted engagement for those new to your brand up to the expert attendee. Design your event site as a tour where each stop includes a pointer to the next destination and calls out a reason to go there. Use gamification and prizes for an element of fun and incentive to stay on platform.
Con #2 – Online events have a higher rate of registration “no-shows”
Solution While this is a fact of life for online events, it comes with a silver lining. Someone who registers for an online event but doesn’t attend is most likely to have only a peripheral connection or mild interest in your brand and would never have registered for an in-person event. Now you have them as a lead and can plan an appropriate nurture campaign to further the relationship.
Con #1 – If you’re new to online events, the tech options and “gotchas” seem overwhelming
Solution If you’re uncertain about planning your first online event, consulting with an events expert like Shiloh can help you move forward with confidence. A knowledgable event expert can quickly transfer your event goals and budget into an online event plan and help you manage the details that will get you to a successful event day.