How to Promote Your Virtual Event with Digital Marketing
Virtual events are on the rise in Australia, providing alternative avenues for businesses that want to drive engagement while minimising costs. From webinars to online cooking classes, here’s what you need to know about organising a successful virtual event.
Definition and examples of virtual events
A virtual event is a meet-up or assembly that takes place online instead of in-person. Virtual events range from small live stream sessions to large-scale conference calls with hundreds of attendees.
Here are some quick facts about virtual events:
- Virtual events grew 1000% in 2020 (source: 6Connex)
- Nearly 2 in 3 Australians now attend six or more digital events per month (source: Redback Connect)
- 4 in 5 Australians attend about half of all digital events live versus on-demand (source: Redback Connect)
- More than half of Australian respondents expect to attend more virtual events in 2021 (source: Redback Connect)
- 42% of organisations conducted virtual events in 2019 and planned to do so again in 2020 (source: Wild Apricot)
The rise of virtual events has shown Australians that they can achieve the same results as a face-to-face gathering on a digital platform but with the added value of convenience and cost savings.
If you’re looking for ways to promote your next virtual event, here are some tips and tools to help you drive attendance.
The most common challenges faced by virtual event organisers
Technical issues – 32% event organisers avoid planning virtual events because they lack the equipment, infrastructure, and technical knowledge to do so successfully.
To get around the issue of limited technical know-how in virtual event planning, business owners can participate in online conferences for a better understanding of how the components of the event.
Further event planners must learn how choose the most appropriate streaming tools and virtual event platform. It is worth investing in the right software, tools, and app subscription for optimum content flow and a high level of attendee engagement.
Scheduling issues – When attendees are in different locations and time zones, scheduling your virtual event can be tricky. Before setting a date and time for your virtual event, try to avoid competing with major holidays or events that might affect attendance. You can also check when your followers are usually online in your analytics.
Digital event fatigue – According to Redback Connect, 86% of virtual event attendees have reported abandoning a virtual event prematurely. The reason? Attendees felt that the content was “not what I signed up for”. They also thought the presenters were “too salesy” as well as “not educational enough”. That’s why it’s important for organisers to offer valuable content and use trustworthy presenters.
Tips for promoting a virtual event
Know your audience and event culture
When promoting your event, you must know what inspires and motivates your audience. Think of the topics and conversations they respond to best.
Further you must consider your event culture – is it driven by niche interests (i.e. classic car shows), sales and trade (i.e. wedding expos) or education and thought leadership (i.e. TED Talks)?
With your event culture in mind, create and refine your marketing message. This will help set expectations and pique attendees’ interest.
Set goals and objectives
What are your reasons for holding this virtual event? What do you hope to achieve? Clarifying your goals and objectives will help inform your marketing strategy.
Some of the most common reasons for holding virtual events include keeping members connected (91%), maintaining normal programming (68%), and attracting new members (62%).
Plan your event
When setting the stage for your virtual event, you must take the following into consideration:
- Number of attendees – The recommended audience size for virtual round table discussions is 8 to 10 attendees (source: Markletic)
- Duration of the event – 63% of respondents say that the optimum length of time for a virtual round table discussion is 60 to 90 minutes (source: Markletic) while experts believe that the optimum meeting length is 45 minutes (source: TLNT)
- Cost of attendance – According to Expert Events, a reduction of 20% to 30% to the registration fee is usually acceptable when moving a paid face-to-face event to a digital platform. Transferring a paid event to a virtual setting will help you avoid physical expenses like venue, catering, and logistics. However, they advise against pricing your virtual event tickets too low in order to retain the perceived value of your content.
- Necessary equipment and apps – Over 70% of organisers agree that working microphones are essential to running a smooth and successful virtual event, followed by cameras, which 60% of organisers consider important.
Promote your virtual event
To drive attendance, you’ll need enough time to promote your virtual event:
- Organisers typically need 3 to 6 weeks to promote or small virtual events successfully.
- 65% of digital marketers need more than 6 weeks to promote large virtual conferences.
You should also choose the best channel for your promotion efforts:
- 60% of organisers use social media to drive registrations.
- 76% believe that email is the most effective way to drive registrations.
- 49% think that programmatic advertising is a major contributor to event registrations.
Tools for promoting your virtual event
Official event website
Your event site is an important promotional tool for drumming up interest among your target audience and persuading them to register for your virtual event. The official event website should clearly communicate the value of your content as well as other specifics like the event schedule, event program, and keynote speakers. It should also show potential attendees how and where to register for the event.
Online event registration is a powerful tool for data gathering. When attendees register for your virtual event, they also provide their personal information and preferences in addition to the registration fee for paid events.
An online registration tool makes it easy for attendees to sign up for the event as well as give event planners and marketers the data they need to plan, promote, and execute successful virtual events.
Email is one of the best ways to communicate with attendees at each stage of virtual event promotion and execution. It can help you keep attendees informed of event details (and any changes in plans), keep them engaged in the days or weeks leading up to the day of the event itself, and gather feedback post-event.
For the best results, use an email marketing tool that lets you:
- Send branded and personalised emails
- Automate to whom and when each email is sent based on data
- Provide insight on open and click-through rates
Having integrations in place can save you a few steps when it comes to syncing registration and attendee data with your virtual event technology system and platform. It also allows data to be shared with your marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
Integration tools help ensure that attendee data is accurate, complete, updated, and organised, storing everything in one place and making it easier for you to analyse metrics and insights like attendance and engagement rate from your virtual event.
Virtual event guide and event app
According to Cvent, mobile event apps play a key role in the success of virtual events, serving as attendees’ main information hub during the event. For example, providing meeting agendas with links to each session on the event app makes it easier for them to determine which ones to attend. These apps also make it possible for virtual event planners to collect data on attendee engagement and which sessions are the most popular.
Event feedback tools
Getting feedback is important for virtual event organisers who are unable to read attendees’ reactions to the program via body language and vocal expression. Use event feedback tools like post-event polls and surveys to gauge event success. Feedback can also be useful for qualifying virtual leads and getting those leads to convert.
Work with a digital agency
If you still don’t know where to start, get in touch with Contevo today. With over 15 years’ experience in digital marketing, we can help you drive engagement through different channels. We believe in Continuous Evolution – with an increasing number of organisations holding virtual events, we can help you take the next step in your business evolution.