With marketing events moving online, what does this mean for the way digital marketers network? We looked at the state of virtual events in 2020.
Events across the globe have been consistently cancelled since the start of the year. Like skittles in a bowling alley, plans get decimated as a problem after problem comes hurtling at speed. In an unknown environment, savvy brands have taken to hosting virtual events to save disappointing their audiences. Whilst online events previously may have been pretty lacklustre, the crowded market has now forced businesses to step up their virtual game.
The joy of grabbing coffee with like-minded strangers and networking in person may have been parked for the foreseeable, but there’s a lot of value in virtual conferences. In fact, the word conference is no longer suited: fun, omnichannel approaches are transforming what it means to discover new things in digital marketing. It’s exciting and easy to get involved in if you’d like to take your business to the next level.
The benefits of virtual events
Let’s take a minute to talk about the benefits of virtual events. We need to stop mourning for physical events and interaction and take what we can for now. As the virus settles in for winter, our industry needs to keep moving forward.
It’s likely we’ve all attended some pretty lacklustre events in the past. The first triumph of online means that we can exit things whenever we like. As soon as our attention wanders elsewhere, we can leave. Beautiful.
Secondly, virtual events open up information and networking to a whole new host of people. Time zones, locations and travel expenses are no longer factors in people’s decisions of whether they can attend. The focus shifts to whether they are interested in the subject, the speakers, the important stuff. By cutting away the impracticalities of in-person events, organisers now have more time and money to spend on the content – which can only be a good thing.
Furthermore, the opportunities are now astronomical for what events can become. Technology is not bound by the constraints of time and space; companies can now really think outside of the box when coming up with iideas. There are unlimited ways of engaging with audiences through a screen, and it’s a format which people don’t tire of. Sat in the comfort of their own home, drop-out numbers will plummet as there’s little reason for people not to attend. Everything just got infinitely easier.
Plus, when physical events return, the combination of digital and in-person conferences will change the course of networking forever. After learning what magic digital events can bring to businesses, they will serve as huge supplements to physical showcases when they’re allowed to happen.
Tips for hosting a virtual event
The more planning you put into your event, the smoother things will run, the more polished your brand will appear and the more you’ll get from it. In a nutshell: don’t change the fundamentals just because things are now virtual.
1. Going live vs pre-recording
One of the big decisions you need to make is whether you’re going to host your event live or not. Is there a specific reason for it being live? If not, it’s a safer bet to pre-record your content as this gives you time to script, re-record and edit things to put out a polished video. Doing things live adds a lot more complications and stress which may be unnecessary unless you need your audience to be interacting with you in real-time.
Similarly, you can’t assume that people will all want to tune in at the same time. By pre-recording things, you can open up your event to suit more schedules and reach more people. You can also offer a series of videos in an on-demand format to allow users to catch up on what they’ve missed and keep coming back for more.
2. Choosing the ideal platform
Deciding what platform to host your event on depends entirely on the type of business you are. Where do you interact most with your customers? What do you want to achieve with your event? Knowing the answers to these types of questions are not only fundamental to your success, but will help sculpt how your event should look.
Once you’ve identified your goal, you can look at the platforms on offer. For more intimate, engaging events, video conference software such as Google Meet or Zoom do the trick. For brand awareness, bigger sites like YouTube may suit your business better.
You should also consider an omnichannel approach to appeal to a wider audience. With the restrictions of physical events gone, you’re free to really make your event your own. Who says things have to take place on one platform? If a multi-platform approach makes sense for what you’re trying to achieve, go for it.
3. Laying out a clear user journey
Once you’ve got visitors inside your event, you want them to bounce around. Establishing an obvious path for them to follow makes it easy for them to do just that. If your UX is confusing or you haven’t provided the right supporting content, you’ll be wasting a valuable opportunity. Whether you want attendees to sign up for your newsletter, webinar, blog, product tour or something else entirely, you need to make your goal clear.
4. Measuring success
When it comes to measuring the results of your virtual event, you shouldn’t get hung up on the basic figures. Spending too long looking at the number of viewers will skew your vision of how ‘successful’ things have been. Focus on metrics such as watch time, engagement and impact. Judge it as a piece of digital media rather than an event; things have changed drastically and so should the way you measure things.
Some interesting future events
As well as potentially hosting an event, there are lots out there that are worth attending – if only to see how others are doing it. Logging into a virtual conference is also a great way to break up your working week. Working from home can easily make you feel stuck in a rut so networking with others, albeit via computer, is a good reminder of the wider picture.
Here’s a list of virtual marketing events which may interest you:
- Digital First – 25-26 November 2020
- Brand ManageCamp 2020 – 27-29 October 2020
- B2B Online Virtual Event & Expo – 28-29 October 2020
- Connect to Convert – 27-28 October 2020
- Ad World Conference – 2-4 November 2020
- Global Virtual MarTech Summit – 11 November 2020
- Web Summit – 2-4 December 2020
We also regularly host webinars here at Adzooma so keep your eye on our socials for the latest announcements.
Marketing your virtual event
Once you’ve got all the essentials nailed down, marketing your event in the right way will ensure you’re getting people to sign up. If you’re after some extra attention, consider outsourcing to an agency who can help you get extra eyes on your event. Whether you’re after help with digital PR, marketing, social media, email marketing or something else, all the best experts can be found on the Adzooma Marketplace.
Similarly, you can list your own company on there to get your brand amongst other professionals who get a steady stream of targeted leads. There’s lots on offer so be sure to check it out.
A promising future
Whilst the world of events was pretty empty just a few months ago, there’s a lot of excitement coming as companies find their feet again. This adaptation to online means that when physical events do return, they’ll be more innovative than ever before. Your business could see a lot of value in either attending or hosting a virtual event, so don’t dismiss them from your calendars just yet.