Virtual events are booming this year since so many live in-person events have been halted around the world due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Although heightened by the pandemic, the virtual events industry has been growing for quite some time. Whether you are organizing a global conference, trade show, product launch or live webinar, there are a number of benefits of taking events online. For one, it’s much more budget-friendly – savings from location costs alone make a huge difference. Plus, virtual events and live webinar technology have progressed leaps and bounds in recent years, making it easier to create a memorable and enjoyable experience for attendees.
Hosting a successful live webinar or virtual event requires much more than pulling off an engaging presentation and discussion on the day. It takes a lot of legwork and planning on the lead up to the event as well as a solid strategy and follow-up post-event. As virtual event planning experts, we will walk you through the formula we have used for countless successful live webinars and virtual events. From pre-planning to post-event nurturing, follow these steps to create a virtual event that your attendees will enjoy and remember!
Live Webinar & Virtual Event Pre-Planning for Success
Thorough pre-planning is an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to hosting an engaging live webinar or virtual event. By leaving no stone unturned in your pre-planning, you will be setting your virtual event up for success and will alleviate a lot of stress and pressure on the big day.
If you Fail to Prepare, Prepare for Your Virtual Event to Fail
First things first, you need to map out the details of your virtual event:
- Who is your target audience?
- What will it be about?
- How will it be structured?
- Will it be a live webinar?
- Who will be presenting?
You can break this initial planning down into four stages:
- Brainstorming Ideas – Start by brainstorming all of the potential topic ideas. It’s a good idea to keep your topic educational, relevant and engaging as you want to add value to your attendees. Although you may want to use your live webinar or virtual event to promote a particular product, it’s likely that this approach will fall flat if your offering dominates the event or comes across too sales-heavy. Subtlety is key here.
- SEO & Keyword Research – Once you have narrowed down your topic ideas, we recommend doing some SEO and keyword research. Using tools such as Ahrefs or Google Keyword Planner will help you understand what information people are actively looking for. If very few people are actively searching for your chosen topic, it may be an early indication that there isn’t a lot of interest in the topic so it may not be ideal for your virtual event. However, having said that, don’t put all your eggs in the outcome of keyword research when choosing your live webinar topic. Depending on your goals, you don’t need a huge number of attendees to consider your online event a success, especially if you are delivering a live webinar on a niche topic to a highly engaged audience. The most important thing to focus on is reaching your target audience with a topic that they are genuinely interested in learning!
- Event Framework – It’s important to determine the optimal platform for your virtual event and with so many to choose from it can be a challenge. Check out this blog to guide you in choosing the best webinar platform for your virtual event. Start fleshing out the format that your virtual event will take, the resources you require and the structure of the content that needs to be created. For example, if you are going to be hosting a live webinar, you can start planning the content to include in your presentation or how you will conduct a Q&A segment.
- Prepping Presenters – Choosing the right presenters is a key element of planning a successful liver webinar or virtual event. Ultimately, it’s your presenters that will be engaging your audience and bringing your content to life on the day, so be sure to select people that are not only experts in their field but engaging and confident speakers. Also, ensure that your chosen presenters are an authoritative voice on your chosen topic. This is essential to ensuring that your event, or by extension – your organization, doesn’t risk losing any credibility.
Virtual Event Scheduling and Promotion
Deciding when to schedule your event will really come down to your target audience and the type of virtual event you are organizing. Live webinars, for example, see the highest levels of attendance when scheduled mid-week around 11 AM PT. Choosing a convenient time of day for your target audience is crucial to ensure you reach your target number of attendees.
Leave Time for Event Promotion
No matter when you decide to host your live webinar or virtual event, it’s important to leave yourself ample time for event promotion. If you don’t leave yourself enough time to get the word out there and to create a buzz around your virtual event, it’s unlikely that you’ll get the number of attendees that you’re hoping for. Organizing a successful awareness campaign is crucial. You can approach this in a number of ways, but utilizing social media accounts, email marketing and blog content is a great place to start – we will dive deeper into this in just a moment.
Choosing the Best Live Webinar or Virtual Event Platform
It’s also important to select the right virtual event platform. There are a number of great platforms to choose from including Cisco WebEx, GoToWebinar, Zoom Webinars, MS Teams Live Events and Google Hangouts. For more guidance on how to choose the best platform for your live webinar or virtual event, take a look at our previous post: How to Choose The Best Webinar Platform / Virtual Event Platform.
Live streaming on social media can be a great way to authentically connect with and engage your audience. Plus, you don’t require any special equipment – you can do it straight from your phone.
How to Market a Live Webinar or Virtual Event
At the heart of your virtual event promotion needs to be a user-friendly landing page where attendees can register to join. This is a great opportunity to find out more about your audience, so make sure you make the most of asking them just enough relevant questions in the sign-up form. Knowing your audience is vital to creating engaging content, so the better you can get to know them the more relevant you can craft your virtual event to be.
Multi-Channel Marketing for your Virtual Event
In the run-up to your virtual event, focus on driving potential audience members to your registration page to convert sign-ups. Make sure you are promoting your virtual event across multiple channels for the best results.
A successful event promotion strategy should cover announcements via email, social media (both paid and organic), and blogs. Use a variety of content types such as images, infographics, and videos to keep your event announcements dynamic and engaging to your target audience. An effective yet simple video idea can be sharing a pre-recorded video from your presenter, giving potential attendees a preview of what the virtual event will be live.
If your budget allows it, running a paid advertising campaign on Google Ads and/or social media platforms can allow you to cast a wider net and reach a larger number of potential attendees.
If you are promoting your virtual event over the course of a few weeks, reframe your event pitch two to three different ways so you can promote and repromote without your content becoming too repetitive. Also, encourage your co-workers to become advocates for your event and to promote your registration page to their contacts and on social media. This can go a long way to expanding your reach.
Prepping the Presenter
As well as promoting your event, you’ll also need to do plenty of run-throughs with your presenter(s) to ensure they are well-practiced and prepared to make the live webinar or virtual event a success on the day.
To make it as easy as possible for your presenter(s) to host an engaging live webinar or event, it’s important for your presentation deck to be visually engaging. If you can, it’s worth bringing in a professional graphic designer to help with this.
Tips for Hosting a Live Webinar or Virtual Event
Test, Test and Test Again!
The day of your live webinar or virtual event may be stressful and nerve-wracking, so give yourself peace of mind by testing, testing and you’ve got it – testing again! Ask your host, presenters, and organizers to join 30 minutes prior to the event start time to test the webinar software, polls, discussions, presentation deck, audio, and any other elements you may have as part of your virtual event.
Engage Your Audience With Two-Way Communication
Although you won’t be face-to-face with your audience during your virtual event, there are many ways to engage your audience through two-way interactions. Build in opportunities for discussion, polls and interactions with your audience, and be sure to leave some time at the end for a live Q&A. This will provide opportunities for you to grow a deeper understanding of your audience, and tailor content to them so they get the most value from your live webinar or event.
Another way you can enable two-way communication is by using social media throughout your virtual event and encouraging your audience to join the discussion with your chosen hashtag. This will also remind people that the event has started and grow interest among those that may be interested in watching an on-demand recording at a later date.
Offer Contests, Gifts and Giveaways as Incentives
As well as two-way communication throughout your event, you can also use gifts and giveaways as a tool to encourage engagement from your audience. You can use giveaways incentives throughout the process of hosting a live webinar or virtual event. For example, you could give a gift to the first person who signs up or encourage people to stay for the entirety of the live webinar by having a raffle at the end.
If you are trying to promote a product or service, take the opportunity to give your attendees a free consultation, trial, sample, or another offer. This will set you up to continue the conversation after the event has ended.
Your Live Webinar or Virtual Event May Be Over but There’s Still More Work to Do!
Once your live webinar or virtual event has ended, give yourself a pat on the back if you are happy with how it went! But, it doesn’t stop there – there is still more to do to get the most out of your event.
Keep In Touch With Attendees
In the weeks following, don’t miss out on the opportunity to continue to connect with your audience. Follow up with your attendees and registrants via email by providing them with an on-demand webinar recording, presentation deck and even a special offer. Deploy your business development team to follow up with your audience individually to answer any questions they may have about your products or services.
Get More From Your Live Webinar or Virtual Event Content
To get the most from the content you created for your live webinar or virtual event, look for opportunities to repurpose this content into other forms. For example, you could create a series of blog posts from your webinar content and optimize them for search engines to drive new traffic to your site. These blog posts could then lead to an optimized gated landing page where anyone who missed the live webinar or virtual event can watch an on-demand recording.
Results Analysis and Reporting
Report on your success by analyzing registration page visits, bounce rates, successful registrations, and attendee numbers. Also, make sure you tag any new contacts, clients or customers that were brought in through your webinar so you can measure your ROI further down the line!
Live Webinar & Virtual Events: Final Thoughts
We hope this formula will guide you to host a successful live webinar or virtual event! Although there are a number of factors to consider when planning a virtual event, don’t feel overwhelmed. Your hard work will be worth it and you will be reaping the benefits of hosting a successful live webinar or virtual event in no time!
At Maven Collective Marketing, we provide end-to-end webinar services for clients from planning, webinar platform selection, event promotion, registration management, on-demand webinar enablement, webinar follow-up and business development. So, if you would like some help with an upcoming webinar or virtual event, get in touch today!
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