There has been a common theme to a lot of the conversations I’ve had with prospects and businesses over the last few weeks.
How do we drive online attendance for our B2B virtual events?
The outbreak of Covid-19 had a huge impact on everyone and the events sector suffered huge losses.
The technology sector, in particular, has always relied upon events and trade shows to feed their sales pipeline.
With in-person events being cancelled left right and centre, marketing teams were under pressure to switch to a virtual strategy practically overnight – which for some, had never been done before.
A few of the big technology and software companies like Microsoft and Salesforce have cancelled all in-person events for the remainder of 2020 and in some cases into 2021.
So, with B2B virtual events here to stay, how can you make the most of it?
If you’re super new to running virtual events, it can be a daunting task. One thing that I hear a lot is “what if no-one turns up?”.
And with everyone holding virtual events at the moment, how can you ensure your event stands out from your competitors?
Here are just a few things to think about when promoting your event.
Put your budget where your mouth is
Unfortunately, we see it all too often.
Clients decide to switch their in-person event (circa £10k budget) to a virtual event, thinking that it will save them the budget.
We firmly suggest when speaking to businesses that a budget investment is still required to run a successful B2B virtual event. Organic social has its place but it will often only reach your current audience, not a new one. It is best used alongside paid search and social.
LinkedIn is a great platform to promote your event through organic and paid. With 500 million users it’s already a big deal, and I read somewhere that they were aiming for 3 billion, so if you’re not utilising it yet you really should be.
LinkedIn has put together this ebook which looks at the different ways you can use LinkedIn to promote your event.
Create excitement through content
Content prior to your event, whatever industry you are in is so important for creating any kind of buzz.
But how do you know what content your audience wants?
Follow your audience online and listen to the questions they are asking.
Hopefully, you know your audience well enough to know the types of platforms, tools and technology they use.
If you’re unsure, the easiest thing is to look at their LinkedIn page and look for articles, groups and interests.
Don’t just stick to the written word though.
Virtual event marketing works best when you use a multi-channel approach, video works well for testimonials, product reviews or demos.
Utilise your speakers and their network.
Use every available channel, but don’t stop there. Have you and your colleagues updated your email signatures? Update your personal and company social profiles. The list goes on.
Keeping it simple is the name of the game when it comes to getting attendees to sign up for your virtual B2B event.
The more complicated the journey to registration is, the more likely you are to lose potential attendees along the way.
Create a specific landing page to drive traffic and use a simple form fill so you can continue communicating with them in the run-up to your event.
If you decide to run a paid LinkedIn campaign you can use a form within the LinkedIn interface, meaning the user doesn’t need to leave LinkedIn, it also pre-fills their information which cuts out the hassle and increases your chances of registration.
Aim to keep your registration forms as simple as possible and don’t get greedy when asking for people’s details.
Name, Company Name and Email should suffice.
What’s in it for them?
If someone makes the effort and pays for travel to an event, the likelihood is they will stay awhile, even if they realise it’s probably not of value to them.
This cannot be said for virtual events and the drop off is much higher as it’s generally easier to join and leave, and in a lot of cases doesn’t cost them a penny.
So how do you keep them engaged?
Speakers and content are sadly not always enough on their own. People are still craving the networking experience.
Think about including networking sessions, or breakout sessions in between seminars and talks.
Maybe run a competition throughout the day which helps to engage people, or think about hosting a quiz or game at the end that will encourage people to stay.
I saw a great example the other day by Exclusive Networks, granted the event wasn’t necessarily right for me, but I kind of wished it had been.
The event looked great, as well as having some influential and well-known speakers, they were running quizzes throughout the day, and more. I’ve included a snippet from the email I was sent.
Whether you’re planning an in-person event or virtual event, the same level of expertise and planning is required.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day”
Put together a strategy and plan the event out properly before you do anything else, and if you’re struggling to do it yourself, speak to an expert for help and advice.
Virtual events, if done properly are a great way of promoting your business and showcasing your products. Offline events take months of planning, you have the stand design, promotional material, staff, branding, messaging and demos to think about.
This can all start getting really expensive too. Yet, people think they can throw a webinar together in 5-minutes and don’t understand why no-one turned up.
So to summarise, there are a few things that you need to think about to make the most of a virtual event.
- Your audience; who do you want to attend?
- Budget; although not essential it will help to make it a success.
- Content; How can you use content to build excitement and anticipation?
- Kiss; don’t over complicate the journey or registration
- What’s in it for them; why should someone register or attend?
If you would like further information on any of the above, or simply want to share some insight on your recent event, we would love to hear from you.
The Digital Clarity team are experienced in helping to drive attendance for online and offline technology events for a variety of clients.
We are always happy to share learnings and insights, please do give us a shout.