How to Make Your Virtual Event Work Harder for You

It’s no secret that Virtual Events may be here longer than we all anticipated to replace in-person trade shows and events. Since the full shut down due to COVID-19 in March of 2020, businesses, schools, and all events have been forced to get creative in how they communicate and try to keep business flowing. Many companies have quickly adjusted to this new online reality and may keep this communication model as a viable alternative or adjunct even after there is a vaccine. Others have struggled to find the right connection with their audiences and have trouble navigating the waters of the “new normal”. One of the main factors contributing to brands struggling is due to a lack of personal connection and delivering their Brand Experience in a ZOOM world.

The effects of moving all communications online have wreaked havoc for many companies, from technology blunders, bandwidth issues, to operator errors. But what does this all mean for struggling sales reps looking to continue filling their pipeline, and for companies that have spent millions on product development and need to launch their latest and greatest? 

At ParkerWhite, we have over 20 years of experience in marketing for medical device companies and health-focused consumer brands. Digital is not new to us and we have quickly aligned our efforts to help our clients deliver consistent and engaging sales and education experiences with real time feedback and analytics. 

How to Create a Virtual Event through a Branded Experience 

Content. Content. Content. To stand out from the massive competition online, your content needs to be engaging, impressive, informative, and an extension of your brand! 

The brands that have jumped in quickly and are being successful in the virtual playground keep their brand experience front and center at every touchpoint. When it comes to planning your Virtual Event, don’t shortcut the experience. Take time to put yourself in your customer’s seat, especially knowing they all have ZOOM fatigue, and plan your event to keep them engaged in your brand, your content, and wanting to learn more.

To help guide you through this process we have a few tips to share.

Top 5 Best Practices to Keep in Mind for a Successful Virtual Event 

1. Create engagement opportunities during sessionsA great way to keep people entertained and engaged with your brand is to ensure there are opportunities for them to make those connections, share information about themselves, and give them the opportunity to check out key components of your Virtual Event. 

2. Use live polls and quizzes to interact with the audienceOne of the biggest benefits to Virtual Events that you can't receive at Tradeshows or conferences is live data. You can use polls and quizzes to determine how engaged your audience is and be able to gather more information on their wants and desires from your brand. This can be a really fun and creative way to show your attendees and customers you care what they think about your event and your brand. 

3. For live streamed Virtual Events, offer live Q&A sessions One disadvantage to Virtual Events is you lose that face-to-face interaction. However a lot of the Virtual Event platforms out there give the opportunity to host a Q&A session with the attendees. So whether this is a product demo, virtual panel, or webinar, your attendees will want the opportunity to ask a question right on the platform. This also opens up additional content sections for the Virtual Event, say a customer asks a question on something that you had not covered, this gives you the real time opportunity to cover all areas. 

4. Offer breakout rooms and networking opportunities, both with available video conferencing options There are a lot of avenues you can take with these Virtual Events to represent your company and your brand, one avenue you should focus on in particular is your customers' experience. Giving users the opportunity to network and enter breakout rooms puts them in the position to freely navigate about the Virtual Event and take in all there is to offer, 

5. Include a place for event-goers to chat online before, during, and after the event If you give the users the opportunity for networking, Q&A, and breakout rooms they have the ability to connect with each throughout the event. It is also a great opportunity to have them be able to chat throughout the event. Maybe they want to ask their coworker a question, they might have forgotten to get their new connections information, or they simply just want to be sharing their insights throughout the event. 

When you put your customer experience first, you put your brand experience first as well. Including these top 5 best practices for your Virtual Event will ensure your attendees are engaged, have the resources needed, and remember your event. Now it is time to get your target audience aware of your Virtual Event. 

How Do You Market Your Virtual Event in 2020?

The answer is quite simple. If you have gone through all of the processes above, worked with your agency, and incorporated your brand experience, this should be the easy part because you will have an event that speaks for itself. A Virtual Event with great engaging content will keep users' attention. 

From running email and social media campaigns, to digital advertising and landing page sign-up forms, your brand experience must stand out from the 10 other virtual events your customers are being served. 

Whatever tactics you choose to promote your event, it is important to set the expectations for what attendees will experience. Make it clear if your content is live or pre-recorded, let them know how long the event will be and how long they will have access to the content after the fact. Make it known whether you have breakout sessions, Q&A and networking opportunities. There should be no doubt in the attendees mind on what experience they will be receiving when they sign up for your event. 

In addition to promoting your event pre-launch, there is opportunity for post launch marketing. Such as; a digital “swag bag” or “briefcase” that gives the attendees all important documentation in one folder to save on their desktop. There is also an opportunity to gate the Virtual Event post launch for those that were unable to attend or missed the deadline but they are still interested. For post Virtual Events you should continue to run marketing campaigns to capture those who couldn’t attend for at least 30 days. After your event is concluded you will have a host of valuable analytics and real world experience to help make your next one even better. 

This new online meeting space is now an extension of your brand and you will need to perfect how that brand shows up as we all move forward together in these crazy, uncertain times.For more insights on Virtual Events or brand experience give us a holler. 

How to Make Your Virtual Event Work Harder for You