Where To Start With Virtual Events?

Cathy Song Novelli, SVP, Marketing + Communications, Hubilo

Where do you start with virtual event strategy and planning? How do you select the right event technology for your brand? How do you develop an effective promotional plan? How do you capitalize on the event to maximum ROI? And how do you measure the results? These are only a few of the questions on every CMO’s, CRO’s, and Organizer’s mind while planning a virtual or hybrid event.

Before anything else, we always want to start with establishing end goals. Are you looking for lead generation and brand growth, or are looking at simply sharing thought leadership and driving attendee engagement? Here is a roadmap to help you drive towards your desired end results.

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Have a complete understanding of your target audience –

Collect data on your target audience from market research, interviews, surveys, past events, etc.; demographics, psychographics, their pain points, and most importantly, you need to understand their key expectations from your event. Based on these facts, draft your brand message; the objective is to resonate with your audience, often most achievable by first addressing their pain points. Once this is covered, plan the structure of your event – when, how (format), why (story arc). If you plan an internal event like a sales annual meet, you already have most of the information in place as your audience are your employees; you might already have a previous format for the event. But if it is an external event such as a conference or a job fair, there would be more steps involved in comprehending your target audience and then planning the way forward accordingly.

Choose the right technology tools –

The virtual event management platform you choose should come with features that help you manage the basic life cycle of all events. This includes facilitating registrations, cancellations, payments, ticket access, feedback, and more. The platform should also be integrated with a streaming solution as you might need the same to conduct a one-to-one session, live group session, or large-scale live streaming. Furthermore, the platform should also have software intersected with marketing channels like email, blog sites, and social media. Overall, a virtual event management system should support all the latest technologies essential to execute a seamless virtual event.

Strategize an effective promotional plan, Marketing, and Sales

60% of virtual event owners say they use social media to drive registrations, whereas 76% of event marketers consider email the most effective channel, and 49% of marketers say that programmatic advertising is a large contributor to event registrations. Understand which strategy shall give you the required results, in this case, registrations, and then implement it accordingly. For a pre-event, you can run advertising, social media, and PR campaigns. During the event, you can run continuous interactive promotions on your social media platforms using a few key hashtags that help you create the necessary outreach. And, post the event, you can work on multiple initiatives like on-demand sessions, sharing the key takeaways, feedback, blogs, and more. One important point – Mandatorily, do a dry run with the speakers, onboard them to the platform before the event; these speeches are the crux of every event, which ensures that it is planned in a timely manner.

Evaluate the analytics and measure the results –

Today’s virtual event platform offers you a series of data analytics that help you evaluate and measure the results at all the points of the event. Organizers have access to strategic event engagement data; speakers get insightful data around their session quality and engagement rate; exhibitors and sponsors know exactly which visitor is prone to purchase from them via their engagement with their booth. This, besides giving you the ROI on your current event, also helps you plan the next one more effectively.

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A few don’ts to conclude this – Do not collaborate with the wrong event platform, do not miss out on capitalizing on your social media promotions, do not ignore the importance of creativity while drafting your marketing campaigns, do not neglect periodic tests and dry runs for the events, and above all, do not forget your exhibitors and organizers.

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