Virtual events: The show must go on

As we continue to navigate our new (virtual) reality, one thing is becoming increasingly clear — the way we approach events for the foreseeable future is evolving.

When considering a virtual event, it’s important to start with a clear goal in mind. Are you looking to establish your brand reputation as a thought leader in your industry? Do you want to build your lead list?

Understanding your end goal is critical to ensure you choose the right type of online experience for your event.

Getting started with virtual events

There are several ways to take your event virtual:

Sponsor a third-party virtual event: All the benefits without all the costs associated with administering and promoting the event. This option allows you to partner with a third party on a topic closely related to your product or service and establish your brand as a thought leader in the industry.

Conduct a webinar: Dip your toe into the virtual scene. Showcase your brand’s expert knowledge and leadership on timely and compelling topics that directly impact your target audience. If you want to level up, consider hosting a webinar series to keep a regular cadence of communication and engagement with current and potential customers, further establishing your brand as a leader in the industry.

Deliver a webcast: This option has a live-audience focus. A webcast differs from a webinar in that it is an online broadcast of an existing physical event. Webcasts can be used to extend the reach of traditional live events so virtual attendees can watch as well, and could include an audio stream, presentation slides or video clips.

Host a virtual conference: This is the whole kit ’n’ kaboodle, plus a technology partner. Host everything from a seminar to a virtual trade show and even have the option of monetizing your event through sponsorships. You also can offer multiple breakout sessions, networking functionality and exhibitor pages that offer varying opportunities to engage with one or many event attendees.

Host a hybrid virtual conference: This takes the virtual event one step further by incorporating an in-person audience as well. You now have two audience experiences to address equally (in-person and online). You’ll want to have a technology partner for this option to help you promote, manage, engage and measure the event.

Virtual event activation

Once you’ve determined the best option for your virtual event, it’s time to take stock of your current tech stack. It’s important to understand your options for an event technology solution that can easily integrate with your other platforms. Choosing the right solutions at the onset can help ensure your event is successful.

Another piece to consider at this phase is your content library. What content do you have on the event topic that can be used in your event communication plan? Blogs, infographics and preview videos can be a great way to generate excitement with your target audience. You also can provide a preview of the content that will be featured in your event to help drive registrations. Getting a plan in place and mapping out where your content fits into each communication will ensure you’re earning the right to speak with your audience throughout their buying journey.

Once it’s event time, your communications shouldn’t stop. In addition to your planned virtual event content, many technology providers allow for in-platform engagement opportunities like Q&As, 1:1 meetings, chat features and more.

Additionally, you can get valuable insight into where your event audience is in the buying process by providing and tracking links to useful resources and content. It can also help gauge their interest level in specific topics and even help identify those customers who are ready to purchase.

Post-virtual event considerations

The curtain has closed on your event, now what? Use on-demand content promotion to continue lead generation and nurture leads gained through the event registrations. Reuse the event content and transform it into an ebook or article to maximize your investment and be efficient in your content development efforts. It’s critical to keep the lines of communication open as you work toward moving leads through the funnel.

Virtual events are the way of the future. Take the opportunity to cast a wider net through a virtual event and extend the shelf-life of your content to establish a communication nurture program that will help drive your ROI.

With access to significantly more data on the attending audience, virtual events are the perfect opportunity to gain invaluable insight into your customers and aid in future marketing and sales efforts. Happy planning.