It’s time to plan your next virtual event. But as expectations evolve and technology improves, how can you make sure to drive the success of your event through a holistic strategy, defined goals and most importantly - measure what you’ve achieved?
Why this event?
The reasons for hosting an event go beyond budget and convenience. As the frequency and scalability of virtual events become more prominent, it’s vital that you define both the goals of your event and build a virtual event strategy to reach them. The first step? Start with your why.
You need to be able to articulate why you are holding any particular virtual event, which will help in defining the overall goal of the event for both your company and your attendees. So, what is your why? Most can be categorized in one of the following areas.
- Generate demand
From demand for a product or service or more information on a specific topic, drive attendees who are engaged, who may have watched a webinar or read a blog already, and are looking for more information on what is being presented.
- Build awareness
From brand awareness to awareness around a specific product or service the aim is to get in front of your target audience. Maybe the event is a product launch. For attendees this is an opportunity to more closely align with your brand or learn specific details and even increase awareness on an offering you have that may fit their needs. Drift built awareness with their target audiences by hosting the Rev Growth Summit virtually, bringing together leaders and executives across sales and marketing, providing keynotes and courses.
- Increase thought leadership
From experts sharing their vision on the state of a niche segment, or detailed explanations on a technical topic – educate your industry. The opportunities are endless, but this is an opportunity to educate and elevate key figures in parallel with your brand. G2 hosted REACH 2020 virtually, bringing together thought leaders across sales, marketing, customer success, operations, and product from a variety of companies, including their own to share their strategies, expertise and playbooks.
- Customer, partner and employee engagement, education and retention
Education is one of the most valuable opportunities for a brand to connect directly with their most closely aligned audiences – partners, customers and employees. From trainings and educational sessions to retention driven events, continued engagement with these audiences is imperative.
Once you’ve decided on your why, and overall goal, how do you better specify that goal, make it SMART and define KPIs to keep you on track?
First, align these goals with your business goals. Be specific, make sure it’s measurable and achievable along with having a timeframe to accomplish it.
In fine tuning your overall goal you will want to further specify exactly what you are aiming to achieve, and how. This also means better defining the type of event along with your audience so you can more clearly specify your goals and ultimately measure success with KPIs that you set, and finally - build your strategy.
Defining your needs and deciding your goals often means hosting multiple events to achieve different goals or different audiences so you can deliver the highest level of value possible. NASSCOM, the premier trade body for the tech industry, has leveraged this strategy to great effect, having hosted a variety of virtual events over the last year, building on the success of each. Here's Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at the most recent conference, the NASSCOM Technology and Leadership Forum.
If you are hosting an event to generate demand around a product, is it for industry contacts, customers or both? Or if you’re looking to increase thought leadership who will your attendees be? Be clear on who your audience is and make sure you understand what the goals of your attendees will be.
For example, when WhiteHat Jr. hosted a Creator Summit for young students from around the world, they wanted to create an exciting and impactful learning experience for them. Because children get more easily distracted, the company needed to design a thrilling virtual venue that was colourful and exciting, which was achieved through their Lobby.
The company also organized interactive virtual sessions between leaders in coding, math, and space, with engagement tools that encourage them to ask questions, share opinions and get involved.
There will always be a multitude of possibilities for your event goal and event format such as increasing thought leadership via an industry panel or partner education via a live learning course – thus in deciding which type, it’s important to prioritize what will help in achieving the clear goal set forth for the event.
Building your strategy
Goals are imperative to build your road map and strategy for an event. Without setting goals, it is difficult to define whether the event, means and channels utilized drove beneficial outcomes for your organization. The key is to have a strong vision and simultaneously make sure that you do right by your audience.
In building your event strategy there are multiple components that are vital to executing a successful event and achieving your overall goal. This includes content, promotion, engagement and technology.
- Content plan. Who is participating in the event, when will the content be created and when will it be shared prior, during and after the event?
- Promotional plan. Where are you promoting, communicating and distributing information for your event? How frequently?
- Engagement plan. How will you engage your audience, drive networking and create a memorable and unique experience?
- Technology. What platform will you be using to host and deliver your event effectively and reliably?
Further defining your goals with data
Once you specify the efforts you will focus on as the core of your strategy to drive towards your overall goal, it’s important to finalize the KPIs that will help you measure success and understand your progress. The most successful events set clear goals and build a path in which steps can be taken to achieve them.
With this, it’s important to understand event data and utilize it properly. The metrics used can vary widely as different events and audiences will require varying priorities of what is important to measure. Deciding on KPIs in advance of your event will help you in digesting the data, because without clear direction and intent it is difficult to sort through and prioritize the appropriate data. There are typically four key areas to measure.
- Promotional Data
This includes information on performance of promotions across email, social and websites prior, during and after the event.
- Registration data
This includes how many people registered, sources of registrations, who registered, specific audiences that registered and more.
- Engagement Data
This includes participation in sessions, polls, networking, chat, questions and more.
- Attendee Data
This includes information on attendees’ activities within the event, duration of attendance, attendance rate, demographics and more.
At the end of an event, it’s important to holistically evaluate it in its entirety – and reviewing data and comparing against your KPIs will help you to define your level of success in driving toward your overall goal. By taking attendee, engagement and registration data you can build a picture to understand the stage and relationship each person in your audience has with your brand in relation to your overall goal, and even use lead scoring for each.
While virtual events require different strategies and goals than in-person events and other marketing channels – to find success you ultimately will still aim to entertain, engage and educate your audience.
Interested in learning more on setting goals for your next event? Join a demo with our team here.