Tips and Tricks for Making the Most of Your Virtual Events

For how much COVID-19 impacted every industry, and every arena of our lives, it may have been hardest felt in the event space. With concerts and conferences pushing to all-remote settings, an entire industry needed to adapt, and adapt quickly, to the changing landscape. New technologies were brought in to help facilitate this virtual model, and experts in the field with decades of in-person experience had to showcase innovation and agility to accommodate attendees from around the world.

One perhaps unintended side effect of the shift to all-virtual events, however, is how popular they were. Attendees have been able to join globally, connecting with communities and experiencing presentations and workgroups without the need for expensive travel and lodging.

As we look to the future, while in-person events are definitely coming back in a big way, virtual events are now a part of the tapestry of events, and will persist long after we fully return to normal. In this piece we’ll discuss some tips and tricks to making the most of your attendee engagement before, during, and after you host a virtual event.

Ramping Up Your Pre-Event Outreach

There are a number of steps you can take in pre-event outreach to maximize your audience, generate buzz, and harness engagement. Here are just a few tips to rolling out a pre-event messaging program:

  • Personalize your event promotion - It’s essential that your prospective attendees feel seen in your promotion efforts. If they think the event is just for them, they’re more likely to engage with content. You should leverage all of your existing attendee data and tailor outreach to your audience based on your CRM to promote what would be most appealing to them. Bonus points if you can tie in additional sales messaging for products or sponsors.

  • Drip feed event announcements to build excitement - Rather than releasing the entire event program or speaker line up once, use each addition individually to promote increased registrations. The email and social promotions can drive people to a landing page as well so they start to engage with your brand rather than just the promotional asset.
    Involve your sponsors and partners - Ask them to spread the word across their own channels. For creative consistency, think about creating a graphics package or promotion image you’d like them to use.

  • Request your speakers to self-promote - Chances are they will promote your event anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Most of them will have a community and following already that you can benefit from.

  • AV test everything - Let presenters test their AV setup and make sure they have all the links, tools, content, and permissions needed to be set up for success. If you are planning any music performances, singers, bands, make sure to test them as well! We prefer to run tests as early as two weeks before, giving us plenty of time to work out any major technical issues on the day of.

  • Develop an email reminder sequence - To improve your attendance, plan to remind your registrants at least 7 days, 3 days, 1 day before, and the day of.

  • Don’t panic about late registrations - Try not to worry, most registrations really pick up in their final week as people get more excited about the event.

Helpful Hints for Your Event Strategy

Putting on a virtual event can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. On one hand, a virtual event can be a simple Zoom call. But keep in mind, the more effort you put in, the more your audience will appreciate it. Creating an engaging experience for all of your attendees is the key to building a program of can’t-miss events; this helps build your brand loyalty over time. Here are some tips to making the most of your virtual event:

  • Visualize your event down to the minute - It may sound silly, but It can be easy to forget just how much you have planned and going on until you see it written out. We recently produced a 3-hour virtual event that had 26 different content breaks across multiple sessions, tracks and digital stages. Most of the sessions started and ended at different times and ran for different durations, so it was important to keep track of what was going on at any given moment. We created a Google Sheet that became our handbook or “Launch Plan” that anybody on our team could pick up and easily understand.

  • Keep content short and simple - With virtual events you are constantly competing for your audience's attention. It’s all too easy in the virtual world to jump to another browser tab or get lost in an email thread, so you need to keep things moving. Keeping sessions light at 15 or 20 minutes is the best way to make sure that your speakers’ content is focused and important.

  • Engage with your virtual audience - Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they don’t want to be involved. Ask questions in the chat, create poll questions, take a mid-session survey and keep the conversation going in both the event chat and session-specific chats. When your staff is looking to support the event, delegate some of your best conversationalists to monitoring and responding in the chat and on social media platforms.

  • Leave some breathing room to explore - When looking at your schedule/agenda It may be your first instinct to fill in every gap or time-slot with fresh, new and exciting content, but most attendees like to experience virtual events at their own pace. Whether it’s time to shop for special promotions, explore sponsor booths or network with others, attendees like to drive their virtual experiences and don’t want to feel rushed into back-to-back content. Save the content binging for Netflix and create some breaks.

Leveraging Post-Event Outreach for Better Events and Future Engagement

Once the event is over, you’re left with a mountain of unsorted information and content you’re able to repurpose. We’re a no-waste organization, meaning every piece of event content gets used in one form or another to generate additional audience touchpoints. Here are some tips to guide your post-event strategy:

  • A little gratitude goes a long way - In your post-event outreach, be sure to hit your attendees with a thank you for joining your event. It may seem like a small gesture, but letting guests know that their time is valued can help promote future attendance.

  • Get insights for future events - In addition to a message of gratitude, try and tap your attendees for information that can help tailor content for future events. A simple survey that gets down to who the audience is, how they experienced the event, what worked and what didn't, and what they’d like to see more of in future events can be paramount in programming your next event.

  • Have the recordings ready - The number one question virtual event coordinators get is if there will be a recording if they missed the event. Have a plan or website in place to host and release event content in advance. If you don’t plan on hosting all of the content at once, plan out a cadence and prioritize your content for a few weeks out.

With these helpful tips and tricks in tow, we’re sure your next virtual event is sure to be a success. And of course, if you need any assistance, the team here at Studios is more than happy to help! Get in touch today to see how our team can help guide your virtual event strategy.


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