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A Guide to Virtual Event Marketing: Event Day, Expectations and Engagement

Author: Farah Mulla
Job Title: Marketing Manager

The strength and importance of a great event marketing campaign cannot be underestimated, and so we have designated a permanent slot in our newsletter to discuss all things marketing. In previous issues, we have explored: Defining your Event; Marketing Strategy and Community Building and Communication Strategy. This month we look at what happens next and focus on the work, we as marketers do on event day.

Marketing on Event Day

On event day, don’t think your event marketing is done! You should be promoting your event as it happens and for the duration. This will help maintain a buzz, create a fear of missing out and help encourage interest for your next event.

You should already have set your dedicated hashtag for pre-event promotion on social media; continue to use this hashtag in all your event day posts. By using engaging visuals and videos you can draw more attention to your posts and by pinning them to your accounts they will become more easily visible. Don’t forget, for as many people you have attending your event, you could have just as many who couldn’t make it but are still interested in what’s happening. You should be aiming to engage them, so that they are more inclined to attend the next event you host.

There are several ways you can engage your audience digitally on the day, to drive interest and excitement:

  1. Have dedicated community managers posting from the event on a continual basis. They should use pictures and videos of the event to strengthen your message and presence, while encouraging your delegates and social media followers to share via their own social channels.
  2. Use live blogs as another way of interacting with your audience in real-time. This can help grow your following and voice in the media and keep your audience up to date of the key highlights as they unfold, by additionally providing commentary and analysis. Engagement via live blogs isn’t just limited to the immediate time during and after an event, often readers visit a live blog timeline post-event, which can enable you to reach a wider audience and increase engagement. When live-blogging you can choose to focus on an entire event, several connected sessions or presentations, a single presentation, or a behind-the scenes look at the event.
  3. Live stream from your event, this taps into people’s fear of missing out and generates a buzz. Live streaming also allows you to recreate some of the sessions and experiences your audience would have had in-person. It gives you a chance to build some excitement, share updates and information. As events move from virtual to hybrid, live streaming is likely to remain an important part of event delivery as it enables both your virtual and in-person audiences to remain connected by providing a shared experience.

Engaging Delegates in the Virtual Exhibition Area and Getting ROI for Sponsors

There is no perfect solution to this, but you should get sponsors onboard early and start a dialogue, make them a part of content. Make the event creative for them, provide them with tools that help entice visitors to their virtual stands, make use of the app, use push notifications, and run competitions. You can even consider creating microsites for sponsors and networks, that can be promoted throughout the event. Alternatively, you can keep attendees static and have the sponsors move around to meet attendees. Encourage your event sponsors to get involved in the session chat feeds and ask them to prepare articles related to the topic, so that they can share these articles with delegates via the chat.

You may even want to ask your speakers to do a shout-out for session attendees to share information and insights, this will give sponsors an easy opening to interact with the audience and disseminate any of their own content in the chat window.

Be open with your sponsors so they know what to expect and help them to think beyond the networking in the physical environment they may be used to. You can read more of our insights on maximising the exhibitor and sponsor experience here: Virtual events don’t work for exhibitors!, don’t be mislead by the title, we absolutely believe they work!

What happens next?

So, now the event is over, you must be done right? Well, no not quite, you should aim to keep the dialogue going and the interactions happening. Remember online events are just one touch point with your audience, but you need to think about year-around continuity. Some of the key things your delegates will want post-event are, content from the event, dialogue and networking opportunities and on-demand access feeds. Your marketing shouldn’t just end when people buy tickets, you need continue to be where your community is, you need to keep telling the story of not only what’s happening during the event, but also what’s happening post-event. These conversations and exchanges can then be leveraged next time around.

Be sure to think about post-event marketing when creating your plan. Include social posts for a few weeks post-event; roundups in your newsletters including video clips, or audience insights and have a follow-up email ready with to go to attendees which includes any competition winner announcements, access to content and recordings from your event and perhaps even a feedback survey.

Include your speakers and sponsors in your post-event marketing. Thank them in social posts, provide them with recordings so they can share them with their networks and remember to retweet or share posts from them. Finally, ask the speakers and sponsors for their final thoughts for inclusion in your newsletters and email marketing comms.

Managing Expectations as Planners for Marketing Success

You need to be realistic when creating your marketing plan, remember you cannot get everyone to attend all your event. Start by contemplating how you consume content yourself? Be careful not to put together an event that you would not consume. Do away with assumptions and think about the human, then create a plan as though you are marketing to yourself, as someone that understands and is a part the community. Factor in multiple repeated attempts to connect with your audience.

The single most important thing when thinking about online event marketing, is remembering virtual events are different. ‘We’ are guests in people’s homes, and they can turn off quicker. So, ‘we’ need to ‘put on a show’. Unlike TV shows, people are unlikely to binge watch an event, so make your content as concentrated as possible, change the formats and pace of the event.

Also, people are unlikely to feel the same sense of excitement they have previously felt in physical events, so market your online activities – not just the content. Create experiences people can enjoy collectively even if they are physically distanced. Bring physical elements from a live-event to people’s home, create a sense of unity amongst the remote audience. Keep it feeling real and engaged and promote and share as much as you can on the day.

When to ask for help?

Finally, if you’re new to the virtual or hybrid event space or have limited time, don’t go it alone. Lean on your event technology partner, agency resources and firms that specialise in event marketing to fill in the gaps.

To find out more about how Outsourced Events can achieve your vision for your virtual events and help build your communities, please get in touch now, email us on info@www.outsourcedevents.com.

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