Know your customers.
Know your attendees.
Know thy audience.
It’s basically the first commandment of good marketing.
In fact, where there is a marketing team, a blog about the importance of understanding your target audience is sure to be a stone’s throw away (case in point: there are over 38,70,00,000 results on Google about this topic).
But when it comes to understanding the make-up of attendees at virtual or hybrid events, it’s a little more complicated.
But before you keep reading, let’s pause for a moment. Why exactly is it important to know your audience?
Why it’s important to know your virtual event audience
Today’s virtual event attendees come in all shapes and sizes, and of different ages and countries. They have different pain points, challenges, goals, and desires. And critically, some are digital natives whilst others are digital immigrants. That’s why you can’t treat all of them in the same way.
Going the traditional route with stereotype-based alliterative-named personas might not help because you’ll need to go way beyond basic demographics. Virtual attendees have a complex mix of needs that they’re looking to satisfy at your event, and online and digital behaviours that they expect will be accommodated. More than ever, the name of the game is different strokes for different folks.
But the reality is that while they’re all unique individuals, it’s simply not possible to cater to your attendees at an individual level. Instead, you identify several types of attendees based on their behavioral patterns, and then plan in spaces and content that really resonates with them.
So, what are the different types of attendees you can expect at your virtual event?
We’ve done the work for you. Keep an eye out for these formidable virtual attendee types’ (we were inspired by Dean Peter’s ‘Dangerous Animals of Product Management’ and make sure you have a strategy in place for each of them.
The different types of attendees you’ll find at your virtual event
OWL (Obsessed With Learning)
Like their figurative namesake, OWLS are knowledge seekers who value information. They’re at your event to update their professional knowledge and upgrade their skills. They want to delve deep into topics of interest with knowledgeable experts, learn about industry best practices and pick up new tips and tricks that they can put into practice right away.
How to cater to OWLs:
Leverage the capabilities of your virtual event platform to help attendees gain as much knowledge as they hoped. A fantastic line-up is the first step but there’s plenty more you can do:
- Give attendees the ability to “talk” during sessions! Chat, Polls, Emoji Reactions, and ‘Raise Hand’ have democratized participation. Both introvert and extrovert OWLs can ask questions and chat in real-time with speakers to learn more about topics.
- Nurture more focused conversations. Set up virtual Rooms for some good ole’ fashioned group discussions, brainstorms, or workshops so that OWLs can ask other attendees about their insights or solutions and further cement their understanding of the topic.
- Accommodate busy lives and different learning styles. Your OWLs may have a range of learning styles so share content in different formats so everyone can engage with them. For instance, besides sessions and group discussions, set up Expo Booths with videos and downloadable material like guides and checklists so that attendees can absorb content as per their preferences. Also, make video recordings of the sessions available for attendees to watch whenever their schedule allows it.
MACAW (Most Active Conversationalists At Work)
MACAWs are excited about and effective at building relationships and making connections. You’ll generally find them around or actively participating in group discussions, easily and impressively making conversation with people they’ve met only a few minutes earlier. So the MACAWs at your event want plenty of opportunities to meet and connect with attendees who can help further their business and career. They have a specific aenda and will actively search for the right people at your event.
How to cater to MACAWs:
Give your attendees an easy way to connect with other attendees (right from their couches!) by organizing plenty of interaction opportunities. And even better if you find a way to help MACAWs meet the right people who can help them reach their goals: Here’s how you can do this:
- Create different ways for attendees to connect with each other. From small discussion groups to ice breaker networking sessions, plan in small activities during the event that’ll give MACAWs a foundation for easy conversation.
- Make networking more effective. Leverage AI-powered matchmaking to maximize the chance of MACAWs being paired with relevant professionals who share similar interests and complementary goals, for conversations that ultimately lead to business leads or employment opportunities.
DOVE (Distracted Online Very Easily)
Distractions abound for the DOVE. As there’s so much to do at home and work, they’re often found glancing quickly in every direction at tasks that require their attention. You’ll spot them with plenty of tabs open on their screens, switching easily from answering their email to purchasing something on Amazon to working on a office task to replying to a message on their phone. This means that keeping a DOVE’s attention on your event will be challenging.
How to cater to DOVEs:
Use the features of your virtual event platform to the utmost to grab and retain a DOVE’s attention and improve ‘virtual event stickiness’:
- Customize your virtual event venue with plenty of bells and whistles. Create a stunning branded virtual venue with different zones that DOVEs can explore and enjoy. From a lobby to breakout Rooms, Stages to Photobooths and even a gaming section, there are plenty of ways to make your venue so beguiling that the <name of bird> won’t want to leave the platform. (Click here for more ideas and real-life examples of how to customize your virtual event)
- Use gamification to make participation fun! Gamification is a fun and powerful way to nudge <name of birds> towards taking part in more activities at your event by rewarding their actions. For instance, for each poll answered or each question asked, DOVEs can win points or prizes, which will then encourage them to keep participating. Hopefully, over time, you can use gamification to turn these actions into habits, resulting in sustainable engagement.
PEACOCK (Prefers Exclusive And Customized On-brand Content + Keepsakes)
The PEACOCK is a brand fanatic. They’re passionate about all things involving your brand and are the biggest supporters of your business. They’re proud of being a customer and enjoy the status or prestige that comes with it. So when attending your event, they’re expected to be “wowed” by the brand experience you provide. And they’re also looking to be rewarded for their loyalty.
How to cater to PEACOCKs:
Create a unique event experience that is rewarding, share-worthy, and memorable. Here’s how you can do that:
- Customize your virtual venue to be completely on-brand. Completely brand the Stages, networking areas, breakout rooms and Expo Zones with your designs and colours to amplify your brand and reinforce your messaging. And play your attendees an amazing Welcome Video that looks and feels like a movie trailer to get PEACOCKs excited from the get-go.
- Give them something to crow about. Share exciting and exclusive news first with PEACOCKs at your virtual event or give them access to high-profile brand ambassadors (imagine setting up a virtual cooking workshop with Nigella Lawson or a virtual meet-and-greet with Rafael Nadal!)or let them be the first to purchase a product from your Expo Booth with one-time-only discounts.
- Make them feel appreciated. Gamify activities or actions at the event to let PEACOCKs win brand merchandise or experiences that reinforce brand loyalty. Giveaway little extras like virtual swag to make them feel special and valued.
Your virtual event will be full of all kinds of people, each with their own reasons for attending. Some may not fall into any of the four categories mentioned above, while others may fall into more than one. Nevertheless, being aware of these possible types of attendees, knowing what each type wants and how to create a fantastic experience for them will make your event more welcoming, valuable and memorable for everyone. More than ever, it’s different strokes for different folks.