In 2020, the number of organisations planning a virtual event doubled. Many events and exhibitions have tried to embrace post-COVID times by shifting online. But not all online events have been a success. Some have tried but had to cancel as the interest was not there, whilst others have managed to keep enough momentum from their physical event to justify the efforts.
Of course, virtual events were active before lockdown, but most event organisers have had some fast learning to do, which has meant virtual events have varied in quality and success. Here are our 5 tips to consider if you are planning your next virtual event or exhibition.
1. Is the event/expo well-planned and justifiable?
This might sound like an obvious question but with so many event companies in the ‘freshers’ stage of running virtual events, it is important to evaluate it carefully. Consider things like:
- What event platform are they using? Is it proven?
- Can they handle video and presentations effectively?
- How are they promoting the event? Do they have a reputation with the target audience?
- What tools/agenda are they utilising to attract attendees?
- Is there a conference element with quality speakers?
- How are they enabling/educating the audience?
- Are there panel discussions?
- Will you get attendance data?
There is a lot to consider. Don’t be tricked into thinking that just because the event is virtual that it doesn’t require the same amount of planning and consideration as a physical event.
2. Maximising your virtual ‘stand’
Generally, each exhibitor has its own dedicated page. Sometimes, in the visual format of an expo stand, other times just as a page or a microsite. You need to engage with your ‘stand’ visitors and need the right tools in place.
Consider educational enablement tools, such as guides, case studies, datasheets or white papers. Video marketing content, such as an introduction video, is a quick and visual tool to attract audience attention whilst giving an enticing hint as to what your business can provide.
The promotion of your event attendance is also key to maximising your virtual stand. 76% of marketers say that email is the single most effective way to drive registrations and 81% of virtual event organisers use social media to drive registrations. It’s clear an omnichannel approach is required, so make sure you have unified messaging across online and offline mediums to increase event awareness and drive audience registrations/attendance.
3. Driving Audience Engagement
Firstly, have a good look around the virtual expo – attend the exhibition platform briefing session with keenness. Understand how it works, whilst considering how to maximise the opportunity:
- Is there a chat function that you should engage before and during the event?
- Can you get your page to the top of the exhibitor’s list?
- Can you use a logo that stands out more? With additional tagline?
- How are the event organisers promoting the exhibitors?
- Can you be top of email communication, or have a dedicated email communication?
- Can you sponsor an industry run speaking slot, or have your own speaking slot?
- Are there banner opportunities across the site?
In this virtual event world, there are no coffee or lunch breaks where attendees will mingle around physical exhibition stands. They are likely to disappear offline, so you must drive engagement whilst you have them online.
4. Fitting in your focused elements around the agenda
Consider the agenda carefully. Can you fit live streaming sessions around the agenda, maybe in the days leading up to the event or on the day? Try and extend the agenda by creating something that complements a seminar speaking slot on the official agenda.
Work closely with the organisers to help reach new audiences to promote your virtual stand – would they email the event registrations about your series of streaming sessions, or post a dedicated message on their LinkedIn account with your company tagged? Organisers want you to attend their next event, so they need to help drive business for their exhibitors.
5. Getting your sales team engagement
Virtual events take time and planning to make a success, so you want to ensure your sales team are ready and briefed on how the event works and what opportunities that have to communicate with target clients. You want to enable your sales team wherever possible to maximise results, so plan to update the team on how to use the chat facilities, or what enablement tools are available to send if an attendee makes contact to learn more.
If you need help planning and promoting your next virtual event/expo, contact Motion Marketing. We deliver full end-to-end online event management, from landing pages and digital promotion to presentation creation or event analysis. Learn more about our event services here.