Post-Event Engagement (Part 2)

(This version is for Event Exhibitors. If you’re an Event Manager, the post ‘Post-Event Engagement (Part 1)‘ will be a little more applicable!)

After an event you’ve sponsored has ended, you’ll probably be pretty relieved. Setting up a booth, selecting sponsorship benefits, and engaging with the attendees in and out of your booth can be a lot of work. It’s always fun to be involved in events, especially online, but there’s a fair amount of leg-work involved as well.

However, in that quiet period right after an event is over, you may be asking yourself, “Okay…now what?” You spoke to attendees at the event, promoted your business’ products and/or services, and you feel like your booth was pretty engaging. But all of that had to do with the during-event portion. What do you do afterwards?

The First Step

First of all, you’ll want to make sure your event manager fulfilled your sponsorship benefits. A lot of times, this involves a list of leads and their contact information, feedback from any sponsored sessions or advertising mtaerials you hosted, and possibly the results of a giveaway. More specifically, you’ll want to make sure you specifically know who interacted with the materials you provided for the event, if you didn’t set up your own lead capture. Those leads will be considered ‘hot’ leads, or people who have already shown significant interest in what you have to offer. You’ll also want to make sure you get the contact information and chat logs from anyone who visited your booth to speak with you.

Post-event, you’ll want to do a couple of different things to make sure you get the most out of your leads.

Types of Leads

First of all, make sure you contact those who chatted with you in your booth or via your ‘Email Us’ button with personalized messages discussing what they talked about with you. Those leads are going to be your best bet for future sales. They initiated contact with you – that’s a great sign.

Next, you’ll want to put together at least two email campaigns. If you don’t know, email campaigns are “a coordinated set of individual email messages that are deployed across a specific period of time with one specific purpose, such as download a white paper, sign up for a webinar, or make a purchase with a provided coupon.” (Thanks, Campaign Monitor.)

Email Campaigns

Photo by Muukii on Unsplash

Your first email campaign will be for those hot leads we talked about earlier. These are people you already know are interested in your products or services. You’ll be able to skip the formalities of introducing who you are and what you do (though a bit of a refresher never hurt); you can get straight to why they care who you are and what they may find useful that you have to offer.

Your second email campaign will be for the cold leads. These are ones you have to ease into contact with you; you’ll have to explain who you are, how you got their contact information, and why they care about who you are. I also recommend being extremely transparent about how they can get off your mailing list. You’re required to allow them to unsubscribe, but I find it makes you a little more personable if you make that process fairly easy to execute, even though you don’t want them to.

After a few emails in your cold lead campaign, chances are a certain number of them (between 10-30%) will click on some of your links and either interact with you directly (attend a webinar, check out some whitepapers or articles, or even contact you). Those people should be put into a hot lead campaign similar to your first. They’ve interacted with you and shown that they’re interested in what you have to offer – no need to beat around the bush with them.

The rest of the people should be dropped into a less-frequently touched email campaign that offers things like special deals, asks direct questions that they may feel compelled to answer, or shows them some great content you have to offer that will help them. These emails will be focused on ways your business will assist them for free, without a sales hook. This kind of contact will help them become warmer leads, who you can eventually drop into your hot lead campaign.

Finally…

Finally, you’ll want to keep an eye out for future sponsoring or even event hosting opportunities yourself. Things like webcasts, classes, or full conferences are a great way to offer content to all of those people you now are in contact with; they’re also a great way to find even more people to keep your funnel churning.

Have any questions? Reach out to us at production@vconferenceonline.com and we’ll be happy to help out!

Good luck!

Post-Event Engagement (Part 1)

(This version is for Event Managers. Keep an eye out for Part 2 – specifically for Event Exhibitors! You can send that post to your exhibitors to make sure they get the most out of your event!)

You’ve hosted your event, you had a lot of great attendees come see it, you had great engagement, and the speakers all had a blast. It was a successful event and you’re pretty happy with how it went. Now what?

TIP: Download this checklist to make sure you follow-up on all the tips in this article!

Well, once your event is over, there is a lot that you can (and should!) do. First of all, you need to collect your leads from the event. That’s easily done on vConferenceOnline by going to the Reporting section of the VME and downloading the registration report. Do you have a marketing tool similar to Hatchbuck or SalesForce? This is the time when you upload these leads to a tool like that and make sure you can easily access and sort them.

After that, look through the reporting tools given to you. For example, on our platform, you’re able to see which speaker and session were the most popular, as well as get some feedback from the surveys you may have hosted in the event. You can sort through all the information and come up with a couple of key pieces of information: 1) what did your audience like the most and 2) what did they feel you could improve upon?

Immediately after the event, I highly recommend your event continues into an On Demand portion. This can be anywhere from 1 day to 180 days, or even longer if you want the information to be available. This allows those who registered, but were unable to attend live, to catch the sessions, view the exhibit hall, and ask questions so they can learn as much as possible from your event. It also allows continued registrations and lead capture even after the event is technically ‘over.’

TIP: extend that On Demand period for people who are registered members with your website. For example, if you have a standard and a premium membership available on your site, allow standard members two weeks to view the content and allow premium members 60 days! You can change this combo in any manner of ways, but this is a great way to offer a perk to those who support you.

If you had 1-4 highly appreciated sessions in your event, the next step is very easy. Those sessions can be turned quickly into a separate event, an encore webcast or expo down the road. This is a great way to continue engagement as well as to make sure that those who were unable to attend are able to learn from those presentations, even after the On Demand period has ended.

Aside from continued content distribution, make sure you’re engaging with your registrants fairly frequently. You don’t want them to forget who you are between now and your next event (which you should start planning soon to get ahead of the curve!), so you can contact them every once in a while with a simple email giving them information on who you are, how to support your business further, and what great deals you can offer them.

For example, if you offer the memberships mentioned above, email your leads with information on why those memberships are great and how they can get their hands on one. Tell them about the content you share or the services you provide. They were clearly interested in your event – make sure they know you have more to offer!

I recommend using a marketing tool to schedule these sorts of emails in a funnel system. You can add tags to leads that engage more and drop them into a campaign that guides them through the process to supporting your business further – purchasing a membership, services, or other products that you offer.

If you continue your engagement with those leads, it will be easy to estimate how many of them will want to attend your next event, which will make your estimates to exhibitors and sponsors that much easier.

Need more tips? Contact your project manager or contact us here.

Happy planning!

Should You Feature Rolling Time Zones in Your Event?

First of all, what are rolling time zones?

When you have a rolling time zones feature on your event, your sessions start at the same time across different time zones. This means that if a session begins at 10 AM in New York, it will start at 10 AM in Dubai as well. Everywhere across the world, it will begin at 10 AM in each person’s time zone.

Is this something that’s important?

To answer this question, there are two others you should ask yourself: 

  1. Are your attendees international/across several time zones?
  2. Do you have enough attendees in several time zones that would be at awkward times?

If you have a lot of attendees in the US, you can pretty safely just run your event at a time that’s fairly courteous for all US time zones. For example, starting at 8 AM in PST and 12 PM in EST. Most people can attend during these times, so you don’t have to worry about having the event roll through time zones.

However, if you have about half of your attendees in the US, a quarter in the UK/Western Europe, and the final quarter in Asia, you might want to seriously consider rolling time zones. The Eastern countries often wind up having to attend events that begin at 9 PM, 10 PM, or even into the wee hours of the morning. While those times are plenty courteous for the US and some UK attendees, you might want to consider that last quarter of your audience who doesn’t appreciate that oversight.

Don’t want to do rolling time zones, but still want the whole world to be able to see your sessions at their convenience? You can host your sessions at scheduled times, then offer them On Demand after they broadcast. You can also run your event similar to a class, and make the whole thing On Demand.

Have a scenario not covered here? Send me a message, and I can help you brainstorm: kat@vconferenceonline.com

Good luck!

How to Get Your Message Past the Marketing Noise

“Show, don’t tell.” It’s one of the first things you learn when you take an English class. Whether it’s a short story or an essay about Nietzche, you want your audience to believe you’re an authority on whatever you’re talking about, but you can’t just insist that you are that authority. 

When you’re trying to get customers to believe your product is the best one out there, traditional marketing methods fall flat. Banner ads flash on every page until they’re blocked by AdBlocker. The first three links on Google are clearly sponsored, and sometimes they’re laughably off-topic (what are they even doing there?). Even commercials are easily skipped over with TiVo, or just ignored and talked over until the show comes back on. So how do you show your ideal audience that your product is worth their time?

Educating your audience and proving to them that you know what you’re talking about is incredibly important and provides value to them, so they won’t feel scammed or like they’ve wasted their time. However, in the time of noises coming from all directions, it’s often hard to find the motivation to read a whole book or series of whitepapers from a company you’re not even sure you trust.

That’s where virtual events come in. With a short webcast, a day-long class, or even a full-blown conference, you can display your knowledge to your ideal audience while showing that your products or services are needed in their lives. This establishes you as an authority who values their time and doesn’t want to waste it by shouting about how great you are to them. 

Give your ideal clients something worthwhile, and they’ll come to you the minute they have a problem that you can solve! 

What do you have to offer your clients that’s worth their time?

 

How to Get Sessions on Time

Coordinating successfully with speakers

The most difficult part of any online event is coordinating the content. It’s far more difficult than any marketing challenge, getting sponsors, or any other aspect of planning the event. 

Without your speakers and their presentations, you wouldn’t have an event at all – which is why they are absolutely integral to your event. However, they’re difficult to coordinate with leading up to your event. More than one client of ours has described it as ‘herding cats.’ How do you make this process easier?

  1. Make your expectations clear from the beginning.

You’ll have to contact your speakers a few months before the event to make sure they’ll have time to even participate in the event, so the moment you contact them to ask them to speak, make your expectations clear. Tell them when the event is, when your deadline for title/abstract submissions is, and when your deadline for the recorded session is as well (if you’re doing pre-recorded instead of live). 

If you’re doing a live event, tell them what days the event is, ask when on those days they’re available, and lock them in ASAP. 

     2. Have a contract – and get them to sign it.

The moment they say they’re interested, send them a contract that you’ve created specifically for the event. The easiest way to do this is to leave the name area blank and
 have them sign their initials on every page. You can do this with an online signature service or just have them print it out and scan it back to you. If they’re unable to scan it back, just get an email from them saying that they agree to it and they understand the terms.

Inside of that contract, reiterate the deadlines from above. This way, you make it extremely clear with them that your expectations are written in stone and they understand. 

     3. Keep in contact with them frequently.

Especially if you’re doing a pre-recorded session, which will likely be submitted two weeks before the event, keep in contact with your speakers. Ask them how the recording is going, how the slides are coming along, if they have any questions. You can come up with many reasons to contact them. 

You should also create a graphic that your speakers can use on their blog or personal website; this way they can say that they’re speaking at your event. Presenters love to brag about the events they’re involved in, and that’s great marketing for you as well. 

The bottom line is, though: be patient. Without your speakers, you wouldn’t have an event. Make sure they know they’re appreciated and they’ll come back for your next one, too! 

Have any questions? Send me an email at caitlin@vconferenceonline.com and I’ll be happy to help out!

How to Incorporate Online Events into Your In-Person Events

While online events are gaining traction, there still are many reasons to have in-person events. Some sponsors prefer in-person booths, some attendees enjoy the chance to leave the office for a few days, and other reasons. However, you may still want the opportunity to reach a larger audience – sponsors who like the option of online downloads in their booths, attendees who prefer to learn from home or their offices, bosses who don’t want to pay for travel costs. 

You can combine the two very successfully to get the best of both worlds. Here are a few of our tips to do so.

1. Live stream your sessions

To make the online attendees feel like they’re really a part of the action, live stream your presentations during the in-person event. You can do this using any number of applications, such as YouTube Live (which now has taken over Google Hangouts), LiveStream, etc. Anything that gives you a live stream link will work successfully. 

Make sure that you have a good quality camera (a GoPro or a good smart phone camera A Lobby for Online Eventswill both work great) and that your audience can see both the slides and the presenter’s face. 

2. Make the slide decks available online.

This will benefit both your in-person and your online attendees. Whether they’re sitting in
the back of the room and forgot their glasses or they simply follow along better when they have the slides in front of them on their computer, always make sure you have slides available. 

This will be great for after the live portion of the event as well. Those who attended the sessions live will like having the deck to refer to in the future and those who missed the session will be able to look back and see what they missed.

3. Make the presentations available On Demand for both in-person and online attendees

Just about every in-person conference I’ve been to has more than one presentation going at a time. Because of this, it’s impossible for any attendee, no matter how meticulous, to
 see all of the content live. Your in-person attendees will be excited about the opportunity to be able to catch the presentations that they missed, and your online attendees will be more likely to view all of the presentations at their leisure. 

4. Allow your online and in-person attendees both to participate in Q&A

You can do this a couple of different ways. Your speaker/presenter can have an online chat room that they can refer to during the Q&A with the in-person crowd, so that they answer questions from both audiences; alternatively, you can ask your speaker to answer questions from the online audience after the event using a chat room. 

Either way, you’ll want your online audience to feel as much a part of the action as your in-person crowd. In-person attendees tend to try to catch the speaker after they are finished with their presentation, whether by the stage or in the lobby afterwards. Your online event audience does not have that opportunity, so you need to make sure that they have the option to ask their questions as well. 

5. Work with your sponsors

You have more sponsor real estate, so to speak, utilizing in-person and online events simultaneously. It’s quite easy for sponsors to send you materials for an online booth – typically online downloads, links to their site, online giveaways, and graphics. This opens up a lot of opportunities for different kinds of sponsorships. 

Your in-person sponsors may want to have both virtual and physical booths as well. You should approach them and see if they would be interested in having an online and a physical presence at your event. 

Keeping these few tips in mind, you can have a truly successful online event to accompany and broaden the audience for your in-person event!

Have any questions? Send me an email at caitlin@vconferenceonline.com and I’ll be happy to help out!

Case Study – Online Events and Membership Sites

Today, we have a great free download of a case study for you. 

We’ve created a few different case studies based on some of our most successful events hosted on vConferenceOnline. Today’s is about a technology membership site who wanted a way to communicate more effectively with their audience as well as give them a great way to access the ever-changing information in their sphere. 

Using vConferenceOnline’s online event platform, they were able to reach their goals and create a fantastic international online event the size of which their industry had never seen before. 

Just fill out the form below and we’ll email the case study to you!


 
      




 
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Combining Live and Simulated-Live Sessions

As technology advances and events transition smoothly from in-person to online, one thing remains certain – there’s just something our presenters enjoy about giving their sessions live. Online events have a great way to simulate this experience with simulated-live presentations. These are recorded ahead of time at the presenter’s leisure at their home or office with a neutral background, then scheduled for the event. This is a great option because it allows the speaker to interact with the audience in real-time, answering their questions and engaging in deeper discussion with them.

However, many speakers like to present their session via a live stream of some sort – YouTube, Google Hangout, etc. This gives them the same feeling as speaking at an in-person conference, allowing them to end the session with about fifteen minutes for a Q&A.

With this in mind, how do we make sure that both of these kinds of presentations are successful and streamlined?

Over-communicate with your presenters

For both live and pre-recorded sessions, you need to be in frequent communication with your presenters. For both, they will need similar guidelines. Dress-code, a neutral background (preferably without a window behind them), a quiet surrounding – and of course they need to have their slide deck ready.

One tip that we’ve found very successful to make both types of sessions look streamlined is to have the same theme on the slide decks for all presentations. It doesn’t have to be fancy – in fact, it shouldn’t distract from the speaker’s presentation. A simple grey background, a teal ombré, or even black would be fine – and don’t forget the event logo!

You also want to leave a space for the presenter’s webcam on the slide deck. A square in the lower or upper right corner is typical. If you prepare the slide deck theme for your presenters, you can ensure a great-looking session. 

 

Make sure they know the schedule

For pre-recorded, you’ll want to make sure that the presenter knows the due date for sending you the recording. This way, they will have lots of time to prepare their slide deck, set aside an hour or two to do the recording, and polish it if necessary. Most speakers are used to live presentations; this will likely go pretty smoothly.

  • You’ll want to take tip 1 into account here, though – keep in contact with your speaker to make sure they know the date is coming up and ask if they have any questions.

For live streamed sessions, you’ll want to schedule a walk-through with the presenter to make sure they are comfortable with the live stream service you have chosen. This typically only takes about ten minutes as most live stream services are made with us in mind. You should schedule this for a few days before the event so that the how-to is fresh in everyone’s minds.

As long as your speaker has all of the information that they need and you know that they are prepared, you will both feel less pressure on the day of the event. If you and they are less stressed, the event will be a breeze!

 

Utilize your resources

Depending on the online event platform that you’ve chosen, you’ll have a variety of resources at your fingertips. With vConferenceOnline, we provide a full library of how-to resources that guide you step-by-step through creating and setting up your event. We also provide a project manager who will be available by phone and email leading up to and during your event to make sure that everything goes smoothly for you and your event is a hit.

Your job is to bring the ideas and the materials to the platform – our job is to make sure that your event is fantastic and your audience looks forward to the next one! With that in mind, ask any questions you have for your event. We’ll be happy to help out and even give you ideas for how to make it even more successful. With nearly a decade of online events under our belt, we have lots of data and a bevy of analytics in our pockets.

If you keep these three tips in mind, you’re sure to make both live and simulated live sessions look fantastic to your audience; your speakers and audience will have a great time discussing the topics, too!

And always, if you have any questions, feel free to email us!

Talk to you soon!

Is Live Worth It?

Last week, I coordinated an enormous database/technology event. With over 30 sessions to schedule, over 20 speakers to herd, and over 1300 attendees, it was a little bit chaotic – in a great way! With so much content, so many people involved, it really turned into a fantastic event for all involved. 

One of the things my team discussed before beginning the process was: should we have live sessions? 

One of the benefits to live sessions, most will say, is the increased interaction with attendees. For instance, you can roll directly from a pre-recorded session into a live Q&A to answer your attendee’s questions the way they’re used to at live events. 

However, with our platform, we are able to conduct a Q&A session throughout the presentation, allowing attendees to ask questions or have in-depth discussions for over an hour, instead of 15 minutes. 

One thing that we did decide to do was record the keynote sessions for each day of the event using a live streaming tool. It had all the charm and look of a live session, switching back and forth between speakers and a one-take time limit, but we were able to make sure that it was as polished as a pre-recorded session.

The mock-live sessions played at exactly the right time, there were no audio/video issues, it rolled seamlessly into the next session; none of the typical issues with a ‘live’ session were present, but it appeared live. In fact, a few attendees really believed that it was live and asked how we pulled it off. 

The point I think I’m getting at for this post is that your event can have the benefits of live sessions without the stress of live sessions. Both look the same to the attendee anyway, so why not take some of the tension out of your own shoulders? 


Have any questions? Send me an email at caitlin@vconferenceonline.com and I’ll be happy to help out!

Why Is Customization Important?

One of the more important options you have when selecting a virtual event platform revolves around customization options.  You’re already putting in major effort in creating and providing your virtual event, so the customization (being able to contribute your own look and feel on several key elements) is the fit and finish to your event that can make a huge difference.

This is part of a series of posts that supplement the “5 Things to Ask…” free planning guide, available at the top of the right column of this page. Get your free copy here.

There are several areas to consider for your customization: they include items that are based in the platform, but also items that are things you control entirely for the presentations.  Here’s a quick look:

Slide templates – make sure your slides have a common theme and look and feel.  While this seems perhaps tedious and odd, it’s important to have your event (even if it’s a webcast), have your logo information, your branding, you “look and feel.”   These things reinforce to the attendee who is providing the event, and where to turn with questions on the overall event and information provided.  Creating templates in your presentation tool (like Powerpoint, for example) is typically pretty straightforward.  Taking the time to create the template and distribute it to your speakers is a small step that has a big branding and consistency pay off for your event.

On-screen elements – talk with your provider about options you have for customizing the environment.  Things to ask about include:

  • Your logo placement throughout the event environment
  • Your graphical backgrounds and designs (1)
  • Your graphics and designs on the registration pages and microsite

(1) examples of this include one event where we were doing some work with school busses.  We changed the lobby to include a school bus and used the windows of the school bus as the navigational elements in the event (instead of conference room doors).  Consider using your offices, or your campus or other items that relate to your business and the industry you are serving.

Exhibitor booths – if you’re having booths inside your virtual event, consider the options you have for booth designs and how much your exhibitors can easily take advantage of those options.  Graphics sizing, options for using the “margins” on the page (some exhibitors like to include coupons in these spaces), custom menu and button options, custom videos and assets, along with general customization to the look and feel are the things you’re looking for here.

Emails, (Attendee Correspondence) – How much control do you have over the branding, look and feel and other elements that make up the email contact capabilities for notifications, announcements, etc.  These are important because you may be able to offer sponsorship opportunities (as an example) where you can include sponsor logos in the emails about your event.  In addition, you will want to make sure your branding is prominent and consistent.

There are many different components to customization.  While most platforms will indicate that customization is allowed, the “how” of it all – the options available – vary widely, as do the tools and approach to implementing the customization.  Ask lots of questions, find out the various things possible and make sure they align well with your company and show branding and functionality requirements.