From automotive manufacturers to locally-owned yoga studios, in the past year, organizations of all sizes in seemingly every industry have embraced virtual events and webinars to reach their audience.
In an annual study by HubSpot and Wyzol, 62% of marketers said they leveraged webinars in 2020, compared to only 46% the year previous. What’s more impressive: 91% of these marketers say their webinars were a success, sealing its rank as one of the most effective video marketing channels.
With COVID-19 continuing to pose significant challenges related to planning in-person events in 2021, modern virtual events are enabling both B2B and B2C marketers to confidently plan for the year ahead.
However, this sudden surge in virtual event popularity – coupled with the subsequent rise of “Zoom fatigue” – means brands need to go beyond simply screen-sharing a slide presentation to attract and keep audiences engaged. Maximize the success of your virtual event in 2021 with these three tips:
1. Start planning early.
Simply put: You need to dedicate the same time, care and commitment to planning your virtual event as you would an in-person event. In a study by ON24, 69% of marketers said they begin planning webinars at least three months in advance.
There’s plenty to consider when planning a virtual event, from identifying and preparing your SMEs and spokespeople to attracting attendees with effective marketing – not to mention your technology stack and designing promotional assets.
Before you begin planning, organize a kick-off meeting with key decision makers who have a stake in the success of your event, such as the heads of your sales, marketing and PR departments. Compile a list of considerations spanning from platform to presenters to help guide that pre-planning session – as well as determine who needs to be in attendance!
2. Make it interactive.
Ultimately, audience interaction is what will define the success of your virtual event – and differentiate the experience from a static video feed. Your virtual event or webinar should invite the audience to be an active attendee, not just a passive viewer.
Think back to your brand’s past experiences at in-person events to identify opportunities to recreate your most valuable audience interactions. For example, brands that previously hosted promotional training courses or workshops to reach prospective buyers may consider using live polls to help guide their virtual presentation in real time. This allows presenters to focus on the specific content their audiences want – as well as keep them engaged throughout the presentation.
3. Don’t forget the follow up.
After your event, maximize your success by sealing the deal with strong follow-up communications, most commonly via email.
Start by segmenting your email list according to attendees and no-shows to tailor your messaging. If possible and appropriate, send a URL to the session recording available on-demand to both lists. For those who didn’t attend, include a short session description, as well as details on how they can reach out with any questions they may have.
For attendees, consider creating supplemental materials like downloadable guides or case studies to continue sharing great content related to your virtual event, paired with strategic messaging that encourages audiences to take the next step in engaging with your brand.
With fewer opportunities to connect with audiences at in-person events, conferences or trade shows, virtual events and webinars allow brands to take an intentional and predictable approach to shifting their event marketing strategy in 2021.
Ready to get started? Download our comprehensive planning checklist.