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!

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?

 

Should you charge for your online event?

In your to-do list for your event, one of the first things is to decide: are you going to charge attendees to view your event, or are you going to find other ways to cover the cost of hosting? When this question comes up, usually there are two options:

  1. Charge attendees to cover the costs
  2. Charge sponsors to cover the costs

If your event is well-established (you’ve been hosting it for a while either online or in-person), it’s easy to justify charging an attendance fee. Your content is consistently worth the attendees’ time, you’ve been in the game for a while so your name is known, and if you haven’t been charging yet, the attendees are likely surprised that you’re “giving away” your content.

If you’re just starting out or if your audience balks at the idea of paying for attending an online event, you may want to approach sponsors in a different way and view them as benefiting from the event just as much as you and your attendees do, turning it into sort of a ricochet effect – your attendees benefit, so your sponsors benefit, and so you benefit. 

 

Let’s say your event is established and you’ve decided to charge for it. How much do you charge? Your first step would be looking at other events in your sphere.

  • What similar events are there?
  • Are they online or in-person?
  • If they’re also online, how much are they charging for their content?
    • How many presentations do they have lined up?
    • Are the speakers going to several different events and repeating those presentations at each (are the presentations not unique to the event)?
    • How well-known are their speakers?
    • How well-known is the event?
    • Are they competing with another event happening at the same time?
  • If the event is in-person, consider the other fees that the attendee or their company will have to cover (hotel, food, travel, car, time out of the office).

If you find one very much like yours (online, similar renown, etc), that’s your best reference point. If they are a competitor, this is your chance to slightly lower your price (while making sure that your costs are covered and you will profit from the event).

If you can combine the profit from the sponsors AND the profit from the attendees, I would recommend that you lower the price for the attendees. If the price is lower, more attendees will be able to attend and you’ll actually profit more!

Have other questions about hosting an online virtual event? Not sure about the difference between virtual tradeshows, virtual conferences, webcasts, or classes? Shoot me an email at caitlin@vconferenceonline.com and I’ll be happy to answer your question – it may even end up on this blog! 

Virtual Events are Too Expensive!

The cost of virtual or online events is a really big factor when deciding whether or not to host an event this way. Marketing budgets are always pretty tight and approaching the Powers That Be for a budget boost or with a new idea can be nerve-wracking.

Luckily, I can set your mind at ease with just one sentence: online events are far more cost-effective.

If you’ve ever hosted an in-person event, you’ll know how tedious, frustrating, and expensive they are. Without exception, in-person events just end up with nickel-and-dime costs like coffee, lunches, security, space for the event, bathrooms, staff for check-in, and so much more. Sometimes you’ll even hear the dreaded phrase, “food and beverage, plus-plus.”

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“Pens will be extra.”

With an online event, nearly all of those costs vanish. The online event platform becomes your venue. The security is built into the event and is mostly for the purchase of event admission and moderation in chat. Check-in desk is null and void because it’s done automatically with a login. Coffee is supplied by the attendee’s own office. They likely brought their own lunch (or you’ll have an hour break for them to go get it). There is no plus-plus with an online event.

Some platforms will cost a little extra for customer support chat. However, in-person events have the same thing – staffing. No in-person event allows for a self-service set-up (what venue would allow that?) and yet most online event platforms have some form of it to give you even further discounts.

In the age of technology, where we all carry a micro computer in our pocket and are in constant contact with our friends and coworkers, the convenience of an online event will also make it more profitable. You open the doors to a wider, international audience, inviting more success and leads (which is what we all want from these events anyway). It’s a busy world and if an attendee doesn’t have to take half a week off to fly to your conference and be unable to work for the whole time, they will jump at the chance.

Not only will an online event save you money, but it will likely make you more money as well. Take that to your boss.


Have any questions about hosting a virtual event and want a great platform that will help you every step of the way? Email us directly at sales@vconferenceonline.com 

Looking for a subscription-style virtual event platform? Check out our new pricing model here.

Getting beyond Marketing Emails

Every marketer’s dream is to have their ideal audience and potential clients come to them.

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Living the marketer’s dream.

No banner ads, spam marketing emails, or annoying commercials necessary – and it make an advertiser’s job easier. Hands-free marketing is the goal, right?

 

How do you make the marketing process so easy that your clients find you before they even know they’re looking for you?

Connect to your audience through education

That is a very broad way to say that your marketing strategy should first and foremost involve teaching your audience something that you know extremely well and that they want to learn about.

If you try to convince your audience that they should choose you you before they realize they want the services you even offer, you’ll annoy more people than you’ll close. Proving your trustworthiness and knowledge gets you in front of the competition before your potential client even knows they need you.

How do you do this?

  • Find a topic you know like the back of your hand (and they don’t).

In your sphere, there are problems that your audience is looking to solve. Chances are, you either have the solution to those problems or you know where to look to solve them. Do you have a large number of problems you know how to solve? Great! You can create an online class or a series of articles on it. By proving that you know what you’re talking about, you establish yourself as a trustworthy source. Your audience will come to you for solutions (and you’ll already be at the top of their list when they want to spend money).

  •  Talk about easy-to-tackle issues.

Don’t try to overwhelm your reader/viewer with too much information at once. Try to break up problems into smaller step-by-step solutions. If your audience comes to a webcast and realizes you’re going to be talking for three hours, they’re already checked out. Take it by small steps to make your information more accessible to your audience.

  • Don’t brush off your own expertise.

Whatever your end goal, whatever you aim to sell to your potential client, you are confident that it’s a good product or service. Don’t play down your knowledge or forget to mention how you can be so helpful to your audience. If you’re a doctor discussing what a symptom could mean, it helps the patient to trust you if they know you actually are a medical professional. Make it clear why you’re an authority on the topic.

Your ideal audience doesn’t necessarily know who you are, so if you approach them by telling them that you’re great, they’ll just ignore you like a flashing banner ad. Offer them something they need – like knowledge, helpful tips, etc. – and they’ll be much more likely to become a good lead for you.

This way, you also connect with people you know will be good, qualified leads. A smaller number of quality leads is better than a huge number of terrible ones that will never pay off. Don’t waste your time (or theirs).

Want to educate your audience with a virtual event? Check out how to get started here. Questions? Email us at sales@vconferenceonline.com

5 Reasons Why a Virtual Conference Will be More Successful for You

Events are inherently marketing for the companies involved. Whether the event is meant to be educational, networking, or simply a tradeshow, the end-goal for those arranging the event is marketing.

Most companies have a pretty strict budget for all things, but marketing is difficult to quantify, since the results aren’t always immediate or easy to measure. In that case, wouldn’t you want to make sure that any money you put toward marketing is furthering your goals?

Of course you would. So here is a short list of why you should host your events – whether they be classes, conferences, or tradeshows – online and virtually, rather than in-person.

1. Cost.

As I already mentioned above, budgets are tight. Everyone wants to make money, but they don’t want to spend it. With that in mind, here are just a few of the things you end up spending money on with in-person events:

  • Lunches for all attendees and staffWater Cost by scyg
  • Coffee
  • Space for the event
    • space for presentations AND exhibitor booths
  • Security guards
  • Electricity
    • All your attendees will need somewhere to plug in their laptops
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Pens/trinkets at exhibitor booths/check in
  • Staff for check in

And on, and on, and on. None of these are a cost to consider with an online event. Security for payment and the presentations is taken care of by the platform hosting the event.
Coffee/lunches are the responsibility of attendees (as are bathrooms). If you want to do a giveaway, you only have to pay for the few shirts or keychains you decide to give away.

2. Reach

An in-person venue can only hold so many people before the firemen get antsy. Online, you only have to worry about bandwidth. If you have lots of people paying to come to your event (or lots of sponsors helping you with the cost), bandwidth is a truly minute cost. With all this extra space, you can allow so many more people in your event and therefore get your message out to them.

Additionally, only so many people can afford to travel to an in-person event. Your goal is to reach as many people, so why would you limit that? There is a cost to attend, a cost for hotel rooms, a cost for food, plus the cost for time off of work. With an online event, your attendees (and their bosses) don’t have to worry about that, so many more will be able to join you.

3. Leisure

If your presentations are broadcast at a scheduled time, there’s no sweat on the attendees Beach chair silhouette by laobcto watch it as it broadcasts with On Demand capabilities. No matter how many presentations you have at an in-person event, an attendee can only view one at a time.
With On Demand, they can view any presentation they want, anytime they want, wherever they want (with an internet connection).

This makes things a lot easier for your attendees and exponentially raises the value of your event, encouraging more to register and even further increasing your reach. The convenience of watching these presentations online far surpasses the cost of travel.

4. Analytics

If you have to spend money on something, you want to know its effectiveness. Online events provide information that would be creepy (and impossible to obtain) at an in-person event.

You can know things like what presentations an attendee viewed, how long they viewed each for, which booths they went to, whether they participated in the networking chat or presentation chat.

Beyond that, with a company like vConferenceOnline, your project manager has access to the analytics of past events, which means that that person can help you to improve your event based on the successes and failures of previous events.

5. The Ultimate in Greentree by gurica

The whole world is trying to go green, with good reason. You can contribute to this, along with all the other benefits, while saving money. 100% virtual means no paper cups, no plastic food bags, no waste, nothing. If your company is looking to “go green” or if that is already a goal you are pursuing, I highly recommend a virtual event.

 

Have any questions about hosting a virtual event and want a great platform that will help you every step of the way? Email us at sales@vconferenceonline.com

MoreHelp

Pre-Record or Broadcast Live?

In-person conferences are only slightly different from online events, but one way in which they are vastly different is the presenting style. In-person events are presented live, with the speaker on a stage or at the front of a classroom-style room, speaking to the audience in real-time. They can step off the stage and answer the audiences’ questions while being a foot or two away from them and everything they say is live. This is great for a personal touch to events, but with a larger event, the personalization fades.

For online, virtual events, you have a few different options to try to replicate this experience while broadcasting your message and knowledge to a large audience. You can pre-record your sessions or host them live. If you host them live, through a livestream, you can even use a service like Google Hangouts to invite attendees to ask questions in real time while showing their face and using their own voice.

So, what are the pros and cons of each option?

From the platform standpoint, it makes no difference if an event is live or pre-recorded. The platform will work with either and it’s all about what makes you more comfortable.

Live sessions are great because the presenter has (hopefully) rehearsed their presentation and knows it like the back of their hand. A live panel-style session can be personalized to the audience. They can submit questions before the session via social media or text chat. Those questions are then answered during the session, which adds a nice touch for the audience.

However, live sessions carry a threat to your event as well. If the presenter is late, has connection issues, forgets their slides, has background noise, doesn’t wear something appropriate, or just has an “off” day, it can reflect badly on your event and brand. This is why pre-recorded sessions have their own benefits.

With a pre-recorded session, you can approve it ahead of time, cut out background noise, ensure that it aligns with the high quality event you are arranging. If you decide to do a 100% On Demand event, where the attendees are able to choose which session they want to watch at their leisure, this is the only option – and it’s a great way to make sure each presentation is up to your high standards!

Both types of presentations – live and pre-recorded – have their pros and cons. Make sure you figure out what the aim of your event is before you choose which will fit the best for you.

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Have any questions about hosting a virtual event and want a great platform that will help you every step of the way? Email us at sales@vconferenceonline.com

Happy event planning!

The Benefit of Session Tracks

Many online event platforms attempt to copy in-person events, particularly when it comes to sessions. During an in-person event, there are a few rooms set up with perhaps a theme for each (or perhaps none at all). The sessions are presented in each of the rooms and there is typically a ten-fifteen minute break in between so attendees can check the schedule, look for the next presentation, grab a cup of coffee, and settle in before it begins.

Many platforms emulate this by having a session listing where the attendee will choose a particular session to watch and, like a webcast, when it is over, click back to the lobby to choose the next they want to watch.

As an attendee, if there is a theme to a room, typically, you want to watch all of the sessions. You find a table in the room, settle in your chair, and stay there until the sessions you’re interested in run out. If an in-person event were run the same way as many online events, the room would have to be cleared before the next session, forcing all attendees to stand outside before being let back in.

That idea seems so inconvenient and unnecessary that vConferenceOnline created session tracks. It’s very similar to a playlist – sessions are scheduled to present live or play pre-recorded content at a particular time, have a break in between, then continue with the next session. An attendee can simply stay in the “room” and have the sessions play seamlessly and conveniently.

How does that benefit you, as a conference host?

The time in-between the sessions can be used for any manner of things. You can play elevator music to entertain the attendees. You can host a trivia game. You can ask people to communicate with you via Twitter hashtags or Facebook. You can show commercials from you or your sponsors. Ten or fifteen minutes is a lot of air time – with no fewer options for how to use it!

Many options that make things easier for your attendees also make for great opportunities for you and your sponsors. Just think creatively!

Your Speakers are Your Biggest Assets

A conference relies heavily on its content to market the event – which makes a lot of sense. If you see a movie trailer and hate the concept behind it, you aren’t likely to pay money to go see it, let alone waste your time with it.

Therefore, it is extremely important to have talented, comfortable, knowledgeable speakers for your event. If they are well-known, active in whatever community you are a part of, this makes them an even bigger asset. How do you use their influence to your benefit?

Many virtual event coordinators create banners or badges for their speakers to put on their website or blog. These will say something like “I am a speaker at x event” and link to the event. If you want to track how many people use the links from your speakers’ sites/blogs, you can always use a VIP or discount code.

Most public speakers have active social media accounts as well – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or a blog. These are another great opportunity for your speakers to proudly announce that they’ll be participating in the event and to encourage their peers and audience to join in on the event. With virtual events, this is even better – the followers are used to interacting with this person virtually, so communication during the event will be very effective.

Are your speakers running/part of their own companies outside of your event as well? That’s a great opportunity to set them up with a virtual event booth. They will be able to interact with attendees not only through their presentation and the chat you set up during/after, but in their booth as well. Curious attendees can learn more about the speaker’s company, which can be a huge selling point to get those popular speakers to participate in your event as well.

Make sure that your communication with your speakers is effective and frequent. This builds a relationship between you, ensuring that the speaker is having the best experience possible, encouraging them to participate in your events again in the future. Well-known speakers in your community often discuss with one another their experiences at events and if yours has been excellent, your speaker may have contacts that would be happy to participate in your future events as well!

Most of all – remember that without presenters, you would not have an event. Your speakers are very important and should be treated as such!