With the obvious advantages virtual events provide - from allowing for a much larger and more global audience to better opportunities for attendees engagement and lead generation - it’s now almost impossible for businesses to not incorporate them into marketing strategies. The presence of a million distractions in the online world leads to a dearth of virtual event ideas that can efficaciously convince your target audience to sign up for and show up to your event.
If this is a challenge you’re facing, here are 8 steps that help you, your business, agency, or association boost virtual event engagement.
Step 1: Offer early-bird registration
If your event is going to be a paid one, it’s wise to run early bird ticket sales. This is a reliable virtual event idea to boost interest and hype in your event.
Once you set the full price for your virtual event, you can calculate a discount that can be applied as an early bird offer. Release the full price and the early bird offer at the same time, setting a limit on the date until when the discount is valid. This will build a sense of urgency and exclusivity.
This should help you obtain better results in terms of ticket sales. Furthermore, attendees who opt for the offer are also likely to tell their friends or colleagues about it, creating a snowball effect.
Step 2: Showcase your event speakers to build hype
Another age-old virtual event idea to boost those registration numbers is to invite celebrities, industry thought leaders, or experts to speak at your virtual event.
One of the best examples that demonstrates the benefits of leveraging celebrity power for virtual events can be seen in Vanity Fair’s Live Cocktail Hour that took place in April 2021. The event was carried out as a charity fundraiser, with donations going to Covid-19 relief efforts.
The event featured a huge roster of celebrities. The list included names like Serena Williams, Gal Gadot, Michael B. Jordan, Julianne Moore, Laura Dern, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Paris Hilton, Jessica Alba and many others. The event schedule featured discussions and conversations on a variety of topics relating to the entertainment industry. There were also live performances, games and trivia challenges. With that line-up, who wouldn't want to attend this event?
Step 3: Leverage promos to kick curiosity and excitement up a notch
The lead-up to your virtual event is as important as the event itself, so marketing it in the right way can lead to a rapid increase in the number of people who want to attend it.
What this means is that your promotional content, in the form of videos and graphics, needs to really showcase the USPs of your virtual event as opposed to a physical one. For instance, you could have video sneak peeks of your virtual venue completely covered with company branding.
Get creative with tools on social media! You could use Instagram stories’ for attendee engagement or Facebook Polls to amp up curiosity and enthusiasm. Twitter Spaces is a great way to have a small interactive session before the actual event takes place.
The power of digital marketing is limitless, and you should harness different platforms in the right way to make sure your target audience is interested in attending your event.
Step 4: Keep attendees invested pre-event
Once the number of registrations start to swell, the next challenge is to keep your attendees interested and engaged. Here are two ways to do this:
Send an in-depth pre-event attendee guide
A pre-event guide gives your potential attendees an exact idea of what they can expect from the event not only in terms of the agenda but also in terms of the timeframe. Additionally, a pre-event attendee guide serves as a reminder of the valuable learnings that attendees can expect to take away from your virtual event. In that sense, it works to further the excitement that surrounds your virtual event.
Create a resources hub for attendees
As the title suggests, a resource center is a directory of the tools and information that your attendees might need to access before, during, and after the event.
Depending on the scale of your virtual event, you could create a dedicated website for your resources, or it could be something as simple as a Google Drive folder. The main aim is to ensure that it has any tools or information that your attendees may need - for instance, a Frequently Asked Questions in your resource center would be very useful.
Step 5: Give your attendees reminders through multiple channels
The internet is full of distractions, and it can be hard for attendees to keep track of your virtual event.
Usually, the virtual event platform you use to host should have automated reminders that are sent to attendees weeks before the event - or whenever you schedule them. It’s also good practice to send reminders across multiple channels, just in case some attendees lack access to a specific platform.
Be careful not to spam your attendees, however, as this can be a huge source of annoyance.
We hear you, Kim.
Step 6: Keep your attendees engaged through creative activities
Scheduling small activities before the event helps to generate a buzz, as well as keep it top of mind for attendees - and the more creative, the better.
With many platforms nowadays allowing you to customize your virtual event, it’s a smart move to use it for your pre-event activities. For instance, within your platform you could create different rooms for attendees to wait in and socialize before the main event starts, or you could host a small ice-breaking introductory activity to help attendees learn more about each other.
Step 7: Share resources post-event
After your virtual event, you should send out tools, brochures, or resources that may help your attendees. This is also extremely useful if you are going to have another similar event in the future, as it makes your audience feel valued, and shows them that you are trying to drive value for them.
It’s also a good practice to reach out to those who registered for your event but didn’t show up. This not only shows them what they missed out on, but it can also help you find out why they could not attend your event, which can assist you in improving your next virtual event registration strategy.
Step 8: Ask your attendees for feedback
Collecting post-event feedback is a significant part of the process. Through this, you can find out what went right and what went wrong with your event, from the perspective of your attendees — offering you insights into improving the next one that you might be planning. Additionally, feedback also shows your attendees that you care about their experience at your event. Click here to read which important questions you should ask on your post-event survey.
Hosting virtual events can involve a lot of organizing and management. Use this detailed list of steps to drive registrations and pull in attendees, and watch it grow into an exciting and enriching event.