COVID-19 has left businesses scrambling for survival. If you’re in an industry that depends on events or conferences to connect with clients, you’re likely wondering where to find clients—and fast. 

With an uncertain future ahead of your business, you’re likely pivoting to digital-first strategies. Don’t despair if an event or conference isn’t possible; technology makes it easier than ever to digitize your event.

Brands, it’s time to create your own virtual events. Rely on technology and digital marketing to take your event marketing online without the growing pains. 

Virtual events are especially helpful to event-centered businesses because:

  • They’re safe: Most states are under shelter in place orders right now. Keep your employees and the public safe by opting for contact-free online events. 
  • They save money: Remember the thousands of dollars you were going to spend at a conference? Hopefully, that’s been refunded. Route just a fraction of your conference savings to virtual events. You can get the same results for significantly fewer budget dollars. 
  • They save time: In-person events take a lot of man-hours to plan. While you should carefully plan a virtual event, there’s no need to plan for food, a venue, or other time-consuming tasks. This cuts down on the time needed to get your event up and running. 
  • They have a wider reach: You aren’t confined by geography with a virtual event. Boost event attendance globally to increase your reach. 

In-person events are canceled for the foreseeable future. Instead of trying to ride out the storm, take matters into your own hands now. Make it to the other side of the pandemic by taking your in-person events online. 

5 best practices for virtual events

Online events aren’t new, but many businesses have never hosted a digital event. Don’t worry: you can get a ton of leads and maximize ROI with a little planning. Follow these 5 tips to host an effective virtual event to grow your brand during the pandemic. 

  • Choose the right type of event

Why do you want to host an event? You’re likely feeling pressure to find more customers, but “make more sales” isn’t a compelling reason for customers to sign up.

You need to plan an event that delivers value to attendees. If your virtual event is nothing more than a veiled sales pitch, they will leave immediately. 

Create an event centered around a juicy topic, hook, or an irresistible offer. For example, video company Wistia created a tongue-in-cheek event called CouchCon to teach people about video for influencer marketing. This conference-style event delivered value to customers first and foremost, but it also fit into Wistia’s offering. 

Host an event that gives value to your audience. Choose an engaging format that people will respond to, like:

  • Interviewing a subject matter expert
  • Multi-day summits
  • Live-stream a tutorial
  • Workshops on a certain software or skill

These virtual events get people talking. Plus, they sneakily promote your brand to an audience without a spammy hard-sell.

  • Co-brand the event

You need extra horsepower to promote your online event right now. Consider co-branding the event with another business. Co-branded events have a synergistic effect: each brand promotes the event to its followers, increasing the overall event attendance and brand recognition. It’s a win-win!

Obviously, you don’t want to host an event with a direct competitor. If you’re nervous about getting enough signups, partner with a complementary business in your space. For example, if you sell sales software, partner with an email marketing company. You don’t directly compete with them, but you likely have similar audiences. 

  • Enable engagement

You want your virtual event to mimic the real world as much as possible. That’s why you want to encourage engagement at virtual events. 

Think about it: people love real-world events because they’re interactive and exciting. People don’t want to stare at a screen to watch you deliver a presentation; they need to feel like they’re at an event instead of passively watching. 

This can be hard to implement, but it’s possible. Use a video conferencing tool that allows two-way interaction with attendees. That might include features like:

  • Polls
  • Quizzes
  • Question submissions
  • Chat threads
  • Attendee shoutouts

If you’re hosting a large event, it’s difficult to allow hundreds of people to speak at once. But you can still use text-based features to boost the sense of community and engagement.

  • Choose the right setup

You don’t need to choose a venue or caterer for digital events, but you still need to think about your A/V setup. 

Choose your tech stack carefully. Make sure you’re using a video conference software with enough bandwidth to hold attendees at your event. Or, if you’re live-streaming on Facebook or YouTube, make sure you practice ahead of time so you understand the platform. It’s also a good idea to plug your laptop directly into your modem. You don’t want the wifi to cut out!

Make sure you have a decent microphone for the event. While your laptop camera doesn’t have to be the best quality, attendees need to understand you. If the audio is grainy or muffled, there’s a good chance attendees will leave. 

Consider adding subtitles to your audio, too. This helps you appeal to users with disabilities. 

  • Secure your event

You hire security personnel for in-person events; you need to manage security for digital events, too. Unfortunately, “Zoombombing” is becoming a common issue for online meetings and events. 

Never publicly share a Zoom meeting link. Require a sign-in for all of your virtual events and double-check that attendees can’t take control of the meeting. A security breach will not only be distracting, but it will diminish attendees’ trust in your brand. 

The bottom line

COVID-19 is changing the way we do business. Don’t miss out on potential leads because the pandemic canceled your event. Follow these 5 best practices to host a virtual event your customers will love—and that delivers serious ROI to your brand. 

But how do you promote your virtual event? Digital marketing is a must-have right now. Get in touch for a no-strings-attached brainstorming session with Logical Media Group’s expert marketers. We’ll help you craft a coronavirus-proof strategy to navigate the crisis in style. 

Chris O'Neill

Chris O'Neill

CEO at Logical Media Group

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