Maximising virtual events is a different skill to on-site events. Even as many countries move out of covid restrictions, virtual events are likely to at least continue alongside face-to-face events. Good marketing plans will likely feature both.
If well-executed, events in any format are still a reliable way of making new contacts and gathering MQLs. Even in a digital format, being able to make a connection with a relevant buyer as you discuss your solutions counts for a lot. This article features some tips for getting the most from virtual events. In a later article we will focus on face-to-face events.
With virtual events, the trick is being selective. Many companies have popped up with enticing titles and speaker line-ups designed to entice sponsors. But attending too much is a risky strategy – focus instead on detailed due diligence and maximising the events you do choose.
To do that, here are five ways to get the most value from virtual events by marketing pre-event, during the event and post-event.
5 ways to maximise virtual events
- If you get access to the delegate list before the event, connect with people on LinkedIn with a cover note referencing the event. If you don’t get access to the list, at least connect with the speakers.
- Send an email to your database to invite them to the conference and tell them you will be exhibiting. If you have a presentation, include a calendar invitation for it. Include any discount codes for booking or other incentives to join.
- Try to pre-book some 1-1 meetings during the breaks to showcase products or services.
- Setup several social media posts to maximise the branding opportunity. Design some simple banners on Canva or a similar tool to stand out. Include the event hashtags to increase impressions.
- You should also create an event blog on your website with a link to the conference. Use the opportunity to demonstrate some thought leadership, and discuss a hot topic in your industry. Ask the organisers for a backlink to your site to reciprocate.
- Organise some trade press or local press to interview you during the conference.
During the event:
- Use tracked links for your handouts so you can see who opens them. This can be done on automation tools such as Pardot, or via LinkedIn Smart Links.
- Produce some new video content. Recording your presentation is a great start, but also use the chance to record your virtual booth and any demos you give on it.
- Offer some branded swag. You can run a poll, quiz or survey to gather data on potential customers, and mail them their goodies after the conference. This is also another good opportunity for social media content.
- Make sure you visit the main conference sessions and chat rooms to interact. Post the occasional link back to your virtual booth, but also use the opportunity to join in the discussion and showcase your credentials and knowledge.
After the event
- Prompt follow-up is key. For hot leads especially, ensure you hit them with an email, call and LinkedIn connection promptly after the event to show they are top of your list.
- Avoid the temptation to send the bland “thank you for joining us” email. We have all read them a thousand times and could probably read them aloud before even seeing them. Come up with something original. Offer another opportunity to enter your survey or poll. Tell your audience about a hot topic you found interesting during the event, and how you can help solve some of the key challenges.
- Use your newly-created video content. Post everything on YouTube and social media and promote it with the event hashtag. Ask the organisers to re-share it.
- Write a summary article with hot topics and some pictures (screenshots of the conference most likely). This is good for SEO and is another easy opportunity to produce content.
Instead of a 1-3 day virtual event, using these techniques gives you weeks of coverage from your event. If you have other suggestions, let us know in the comments box below!