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What Makes Effective Virtual Event Marketing?

Sabrina George

According to Forbes, in March 2020, all of the major U.S. in-person conferences understandably turned into virtual events thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Trade shows, educational events, technology user conferences—everything went to the cloud. During the pandemic, the use of virtual event technologies increased by more than 1000%. There are signs now that most events originally produced on-site will either stay virtual or move to a hybrid online/on-site model.

Promoting a virtual event is a much different prospect over creating an on-site forum. What makes for effective virtual event marketing? How can your company ensure the best event for dispersed attendees?

Types of Virtual Events

Virtual events require a different kind of engagement to make them work well. They often occur on a social media or a video conferencing platform, with chat, voice, email, and more built into the tool. This helps event organizers use these various channels to engage their attendees. The process of engaging attendees isn’t easy when you’re not in front of participants. If you have audio or connection issues, attendees may disconnect or have trouble hearing your message. Background noise can be a problem in these venues. This is true no matter the type of virtual event, including:

  • Virtual networking, where attendees come together for happy hour, company events, or at an online conference.
  • Virtual team-building activities, which are important to companies with a growing number of remote workers.
  • Virtual hiring events help companies attract more qualified talent, while also weeding out those who aren’t a fit.
  • Virtual shopping events, where a company can demo a product to participants just like the Home Shopping Network (HSN).
  • Virtual social events for smaller groups to interact online.
  • Virtual educational workshops to offer hands-on training when face-to-face interactions aren’t possible.
  • Virtual trade shows and conferences let companies host large gatherings of people while saving big bucks on venues, food, or other traditional conference requirements.

In the virtual space, you are only limited by your creativity. You can host virtual Q&As with a subject matter expert, offer a webinar, or do a product launch. The key to all of these types of activities is event promotion.

Virtual Event Marketing 101

Once you understand the goals, the date and time, and the type of event you’re putting on, it’s time to start your event promotion. Use these virtual event marketing steps to bring more people to your event:

  • Build an eye-catching event page.
    You’ll splash this page all over social media, so make sure it grabs the attention of your target audience. Use great graphics and videos that highlight your speakers. Give snippets of what attendees will get out of the event. Don’t forget to include sign-up and payment options. If you have corporate sponsors, an events page is the place to give them a value-add for logo placement.
  • Use keywords for better search engine optimization (SEO).
    If your event is public, try to work in keywords that will make your page stand out during a search.
  • Leverage email marketing.
    Most companies have an email list, so don’t forget to invite these groups to your event. Also ask your sponsors or the speakers at the event to reach out to their audiences by email.
  • Built toward the event.
    Don’t just set the date. Create a market buzz by giving people snippets of what they’ll experience at your event. We know this works—movie trailers are a great example. Set a timeline of promotional activities that actively build toward the event launch.
  • Social media is free and powerful. Use it!
    There are dozens of free and paid ways to promote your event on social media. Facebook Events, for example, is free. LinkedIn allows you to post and invite company followers to the event for free. You can share videos and pictures on Instagram—and so much more. Pro tip: Also, ask your employees, sponsors, and speakers to reach out to their network connections to invite them to the event wherever it’s appropriate.

Write your promotional copy in a way that sells the event to your audience. If you can answer “What’s in it for me?” your audience will respond more favorably.

Best Tips for Promoting a Virtual Event

If you’re considering a virtual event, there are several ways to improve the experience for your attendees and ensure the success of the effort. These tips go beyond virtual event marketing to tackle issues that could trip up the inexperienced virtual event planner.

  1. Set clear and measurable goals.
    Planning means nothing if you don’t have a clear sense of what you are trying to achieve. Have an understanding of who you’re targeting with this event. Ask yourself these questions:
  • Who is your target audience? How will their attendance benefit your company?
  • What does this audience want? How will the speakers and activities you organize meet these needs?
  • What is the ultimate call to action or takeaway you want attendees to leave with?
  • What is the business goal this event will help you achieve?
  • Are your goals specific, measurable, and attainable to ensure your success?
  1. Make certain you select the right time for your virtual event.
    Keep in mind that you may have attendees outside of your time zone. Are you expecting attendees from other countries? If so, keep in mind the holiday schedules and the cultural differences of your potential attendees. If you’re a U.S.-based company targeting attendees from the U.K., make sure your event coincides with the most effective “power hours” in that region. If you’re targeting a global audience, it’s more complex. The reality of existing on a globe with different time zones means that you can’t have a schedule that pleases everyone in your audience. In these cases, try to prioritize your organizing by your core audience first, then look at your secondary audiences when picking the time and day of your virtual event.
  2. Follow up consistently after the event.
    Go back to your original goals when following up after the virtual event is over. Was your goal to sell more products? Were you trying to build the brand? Were you trying to become a thought leader in the field? Your follow-up after the event should continue to build on these goals by extending the relationship between your company and virtual event attendees. Don’t forget to keep the connection going after the event is over.
  1. Select the right event platform.
    There are plenty of platforms out there that claim to have all the tools you’ll need to create a successful live event. Onstream Media has the virtual event experience that smaller and less experienced competitors simply do not have. Since 1993, our company has partnered with clients to create more effective virtual meetings and events. Contact us today to ensure the success of your virtual event.

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