Forbes Communications Council members share ways to get attendees to actually log on for virtual events.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.
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Getting people excited to attend a branded event in person is one thing, but creating hype around a virtual event is a different challenge altogether. With so many organizations now shifting the format of events they would normally conduct in person to virtual video conferences, getting people to preregister for an event may be difficult, but it’s not as hard as getting them to actually log on for it when the time arrives.
If you are struggling to get people to first sign up for your company’s special virtual events and then to actually log on and be present in the virtual space when the time comes, check out the tips from Forbes Communications Council members below.
1. Add A Hands-On Element To Your Virtual Event
Time is our most important commodity. Everyone is being bombarded with invitations to virtual events today, and no one wants to be talked at for three hours on a Zoom call. Stand out by adding a hands-on element to the virtual event. It could be a wine tasting where everyone receives wines for a guided tasting or an icebreaker challenge involving physical items sent to each guest. Going virtual doesn’t have to be the death of creativity. – Dallas Lawrence, Roku
2. Focus On Why Attending The Event Is Valuable
In my experience, the best strategy is to place the focus on why attending the event is valuable. Answering the “what’s in it for me?” question for potential attendees will greatly increase the number of people attending the show. In addition, rethink the process for preregistering for the show. Is it necessary? Can the process be completed in one click? – Brittain Ladd, BrittainLadd.com
3. Apply Your Marketing Skills And Tool Kit
Don’t forget the basics! Getting people excited to attend your event and making it a priority for them is the same as any other marketing campaign. Create great content. Have an engaging offer. Craft a drip campaign to entice, remind and excite your audience. While virtual events are different in many ways, it’s simply another offering to which you can apply your terrific marketing skills and tool kit. It really is that simple. – Maile Keone, Listen Technologies Corporation
4. Give Away Something Relevant And Actionable
Make sure the topic is helpful and not a sales pitch. Giving something away that is both relevant to that topic and immediately actionable often helps. Try giving out an exclusive checklist or a white paper that contains valuable data. This also gives you a good reason to follow up after the event. – Michelle Bank, Nuspire
5. Keep Their Attention With A Communications Strategy
Attendees are initially drawn to a virtual event by the topic and speakers. Once you gain their interest, you must keep their attention. You can do that with an intentional communications strategy that begins at preregistration and continues through the end of the event. Communications can include providing access to content, ways for registrants to connect with other attendees, entertainment options and philanthropic opportunities. – Erin Hutchinson, Merkle
6. Differentiate Your Event’s Takeaways From Those Of Its Rivals
The key to virtual events is simple: What is your event offering that others virtual events aren’t? What takeaways are attendees leaving your virtual event with that they wouldn’t leave rival events with? Think about it—if there are no differentiating factors, attendees can miss your event, log on to a rival event and still leave with the same information. You’ve got to be different. – Gavin Smith, PC Matic
7. Be Cognizant Of How The Timing Might Impact Attendance
The timing of virtual events is really important. No matter how compelling the speakers or the topics are, if the event is scheduled at noon on a weekday, it’s going to be difficult for professionals who are interested in the conversation to attend. I’m guilty of signing up for virtual events and hoping a work meeting won’t conflict, but that almost never happens, and I usually end up not attending the event. – Kate Warrington, Academic Partnerships
8. Explain What They Will Get Out Of Your Event
People are skeptical about the return on investment of attending virtual events, so you have to be incredibly detailed about exactly what they’ll get for the cost in your communications. Post the agenda, write about key takeaways and profile your speakers and breakout session leaders. Whatever they get for the price should be visible before they sign up. – Melissa Kandel, little word studio
9. Offer Perks To Show You Appreciate Their Time
Offer a lunch gift card to attend a webinar during the lunch hour (“lunch-and-learn” style). Taking a roll call will allow you to send out thank-you’s and swag post-event (and lets people know what’s in store for them), and holding a raffle can keep people on the call and more invested. We’re all operating on limited time and have a lot on our plates. Appreciating the time they’ve given you is a good relationship builder. – Stacy Bliek, Integrity Staffing Solutions
10. Provide Meaningful Value To Attendees
The event needs to provide meaningful value to the attendees. What will they walk away with, and how will it improve their work life? How will they be better prepared for the challenges they face? If you can convince them that the takeaways are valuable, they will be more likely to not only register but to actually attend. – Jaime Hunt, Miami University
11. Make It Engaging, And Stop Selling
Invite speakers people want to hear and learn from. Follow up with “breakout room” sessions to foster connections and build relationships. This way, people will remember you and respond to your outreach. At most branded events, companies are selling their products or services, and once people register, they get bombarded with emails and cold calls. Stop selling and encourage conversations. – Parna Sarkar-Basu, Brand and Buzz Marketing, LLC.
12. Make Sure Your Guest Speakers And Topic Are A Big Draw
Whether an event is virtual or in-person, today, your guest speakers and topic must be a big draw. We often invite customers who are leaders in their field to speak at our online events on topics we know are top of mind in their industry. Combine that with multichannel marketing and automated event reminders to promote the event, and you have a winning combination. – Jim Hardeman, CMX
13. Hold A Contest Where The 50th Person To Log On Wins
Making sure the prize for the contest is relative to the participants’ needs will continue to strengthen your brand’s relationship with them long after the virtual event. Sending a reminder email 30 minutes before the event is helpful. Most email calendars are set up in 15 minute intervals, so reach out before their email alarm sounds and tout that early-bird log-on contest. – Kimberly Osborne, UNC Greensboro
14. Inject Virtual Carrots
Striking creative brand partnerships can help you offer rewards for the behaviors you desire with no cost to you directly. For instance, each person who preregisters will receive X (which belongs to a partner brand). Your brand partner gets their product or service into the hands of desired customers, and you are able to reward the very behaviors you are trying to foster. – Boaz Santiago, energyware™