While virtual events have been around for over a decade, they’ve become increasingly popular due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines. There are various benefits of virtual events for a business on the Internet.
To start, there are typically higher levels of participation for virtual events than in-person events, since anyone with access to a phone or computer and the Internet. For business owners, having a virtual event can also save many of the costs that are typically associated with in-person events. Whether this is your first time hosting a virtual event or you’re looking for tips to take your next virtual event up a notch, this guide will help you build and promote a successful event for your business on the Internet.
What is a virtual event?
A virtual event is an organized get-together where attendees meet up online instead of gathering at a physical location. There are many different types of virtual events, ranging from small Q&A sessions to large scale conferences. Here are some of the most popular types of virtual events:
How-tos and tutorials:
How-to events can be great for businesses who want to provide their customers with tips and instructions. This type of event can be used to answer common questions, launch a new product or service, or show customers how your product or service can be used. For instance, if you own a kitchen and home goods store, you could host an online cooking class showing customers how your products are used in action.
Behind the scenes tours:
This type of event can give your customers a insight into what’s happening behind the scenes in your small business. If you own a gallery or theater, you could show your customers what it’s like to visit and experience your business. If you own a restaurant, you could give a small tour of your kitchen and show your customers the people responsible for creating the food they’re eating.
Q&As and Interviews:
You can host live Q&A sessions or interviews with your in-house experts to share their knowledge with your customers. One easy way to do this is through social media live stories where you can encourage your customers to initiate in an Ask Me Anything (AMA). This way, you know your employees are answering questions that are actually relevant to your customers’ interests.
Tips for hosting virtual events
All types of events come with logistical challenges. Here are a few ways to avoid unforeseen issues during your virtual event.
1. Create an event plan
All events should have a clear strategy and plan, regardless of the event size. You can start with a main goal and take it from there. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to solidify your plan:
- Will the event be live or on-demand?
- Who is the target audience, what are the main goals of the audience, and how can the event bring value to them?
- Will the event be free? If not, what will pricing look like?
- When will the event take place?
- Will registration be required to attend the event?
- What Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or data should I track?
2. Choose the right time
Choosing the right date and time is a critical component of your plan. Before choosing when your event will take place, do some research to determine what time would be ideal for your audience. One way to do this is to check your website analytics to get an understanding of when your users are typically active online. Once you narrow down some dates and times, make sure that there are no holidays or competing events in order to maximize attendance. Make sure to consider time zones as well, especially if you’re expecting a global audience. If you can’t find a time that satisfies current or potential customers, be sure to make the content available online after live presentations.
3. Promote the event
Promoting your event is vital to its success. Before you begin promoting your event, determine your event’s key value proposition, whether it’s education, networking, or entertainment. Make sure that this value proposition is clear throughout your promotion efforts.
There are endless ways that you can promote your event. Here are a few effective event marketing tactics:
Create a compelling event landing page:
An event landing page should be a one-stop-shop where your attendees can access all the information they need about your event. It should include essential details, including the time and date of the event, the event agenda, speaker information/BIOS, registration information, and payment options. Make sure to keep landing page best practices in mind. You can use a tool like Cvent Flex to create attention-grabbing event landing pages and streamline the registration process. Make sure to use keywords in your landing page to optimize it for search engines.
Consider email marketing:
Although email isn’t a new or cutting-edge marketing platform, traditional email marketing is still a highly-effective tool for reaching customers and ultimately growing your business. Take advantage of this tactic to promote your event and drive attendance. If you send out a e‑newsletter, make sure to include event information and a clear CTA to sign up for the event.
Leverage social media:
Social media is also an effective channel to promote and drive attendance for your event. Make sure that you announce your virtual events on all of your business’ social media accounts. This type of organic promotion is a free and easy way to reach your audience.
You can also consider paying for ads on Facebook or LinkedIn to make sure your ads are at the top of your audiences’ news feed or to reach new prospects who may not already follow you. Make sure to create a hashtag for your event to help attendees find event information on social media and drive conversations.
4. Prepare for tech troubles
Be sure to run a rehearsal before your actual event to identify and resolve any issues before the day of the event. Make sure to test your Internet connection and prepare backups of any presentations in case there are unexpected issues. You should also consider creating an easy-to-follow guide or FAQ page to ensure attendees are able to easily join the event and access important content. Remember that your guests may not be tech savvy, so the more support the better.
Promoting and planning a successful virtual event takes time and persistence, but the result is well worth the effort. As long as you stay on top of the process using these tips, you’ll congratulate yourself and your virtual team on a job well done when the event is complete.