Event marketing is one of the most important marketing strategies for both B2B and B2C industries. Live events proved to be an effective avenue to facilitate a special connection with your audience that other forms of marketing cannot do. It allows businesses to have direct interactions with event attendees, boost engagement, deepen connections, and leave a lasting positive impression.
In the post-COVID world, how businesses use events has been changed forever – you can now host online events that are just as effective, at a fraction of the cost, and serve a wider audience.
Now more than ever, online or virtual events play a crucial role in event marketing and in making sure that businesses can still establish a personal bond with their audience - wherever they might be. Virtual events may not exactly have the same impact as in-person events do, but there’s always an opportunity to make something special.
Benefits of digital events and how they can boost your inbound marketing
One of the most obvious benefits of digital events is it’s a lot cheaper to produce. You can reallocate the budget you set aside for live events to other marketing channels that could use an extra boost.
Online events also enable you to widen your reach by removing the barrier of physical distance and allowing people who were previously limited by geographic locations, to be part of the event. You can still maintain exclusivity if that is warranted, but virtual public events can provide a much bigger stage for you to get your marketing message across. This applies even if you’re a local business.
And because everything is done online, you can create a seamless link between your virtual event and your other digital content platforms. You have the technology at your disposal to amplify promotional campaigns and instantly connect your audience to your inbound funnels.
Additionally, you can collect more actionable data during your virtual event. Feedback forms, surveys, polls, clicks, etc. can be captured and stored readily using online tools and applications.
With the use of marketing automation, you can create market segments and match them with personalized messaging based on their interactions during the event.
What are the different virtual events that you can do?
All virtual events are done online, but it doesn’t mean that there’s only one way to do it. Here are some examples of virtual events that you can do for your business:
Webinar - an educational and interactive online presentation meant for a broad audience. In a webinar, a speaker will present a topic and share slides or video clips with the attendees. Interaction is made possible through chat boxes, Q&A tools, polls, and surveys. Webinars are great for training sessions, educational talks, and seminars.
Virtual meeting or virtual conferencing - a typical meeting held over the internet. In a virtual setup, a facilitator will preside over the meeting, but anyone can take their turns to speak, share their screens, present, and ask questions. Luncheon meetings, team huddles, and sales demo can be converted to virtual meetings.
Livestream - a live broadcast of an event that is happening in real-time. Interactions are limited to chat boxes or comment boxes, but as it is live, the host(s) can instantly reply to chat questions posted by the viewers. If you heavily use social media marketing, live streaming product updates, or any exciting news about your brand is an effective way to spread information to your followers.
Pre-recorded broadcast - an event that is recorded and is meant to be shared at a later time, allowing for content to be edited and polished before it is premiered. Anything that you can live stream, you can opt to pre-record instead if you want to make sure that the event will go as smoothly as possible.
Shifting from onsite to online events
Even if most onsite events can be converted into online events, the shift is expectedly not seamless, and there are a few things you need to consider before you make the switch.
An event can be many things to an attendee - an information talk, a privileged discussion, a social gathering, or an emotional experience. But without the face-to-face aspect of an event, it can be difficult to foster all these positive perceptions. Difficult but not entirely impossible.
Ask yourself why people are attending your onsite events and make a case for why they should also patronize your virtual events. They shouldn’t feel that the virtual event is an interim solution to a prevailing problem. Rather, your virtual event should match the excitement and the value that your live event would have conveyed.
A virtual event is another form of digital content. As a content, it should have a strong narrative - a unified theme, a compelling message, a story that resonates with your audience. In the absence of physical interactions and side activities, your content story becomes even more important in an online event because this is all they will see on their computer screen.
Format and duration
People’s attention span for digital content varies. It doesn’t mean that because they signed up, they will stay until the end. You have to think about what’s the best way to structure your content that can provide the best possible experience for your audience and sustain their interest and attention.
Big events can be challenging to do online. If you’re doing a virtual trade show, maybe you could spread it over a few days to give enough exposure to different exhibitors. Large workshops can be broken down into a series of shorter webinars.
Physically interactions are hard to replace. If your events rely heavily on these, maybe a virtual event is not the best option.
Having said that, there are still many ways to go around this limitation:
Put yourself in the shoes of your audience to know what kind of digital interactions will appeal to them.
Be creative and look for tools that you can use to initiate and maintain engagement.
Set a collaborative tone from the get-go and encourage participation at different times during the event.
Ask questions and provide an easy way for them to respond. Likewise, check-in with attendees in between sessions and provide an easy way for them to ask questions.
Make sure that every means of interaction are perceptible.
The challenges of switching from in-person events to online gatherings can be overwhelming at the beginning. But it can also stretch your creativity and out-of-the-box thinking which is a healthy exercise in the sphere of marketing, whether traditional or digital.
For more information on how to integrate your digital events into your inbound marketing strategy and set up an automated online event process, feel free to connect with us.