The success of your virtual event relies heavily upon the interest from your audience. Audience engagement can make or break the success of a webinar, panelist discussion, product demo, or conference.
However, with ever-shortening attention spans and the swift space of virality, it’s difficult to keep your audience engaged, especially when you’re in one location and they’re spread across the globe. The goal is to dialogue with attendees and actively involve them in your events, not lecture at them. If you’re seeing drops in audience focus and crickets in the chat, that indicates low engagement.
In this article, we’ll provide you with tips and strategies on how to increase interactivity, and improve engagement among your target segment. You’ll discover how you can make your events, and presentations more engaging, whether you’re seasoned at hosting webinars and other live virtual events and need fresh ideas, or you’re brand new to audience engagement.
What Is Audience Engagement?
Audience engagement is defined as the interactions or touchpoints that audience members have with your brand or business. In the case of webinars and events, it specifically addresses the way the attendees participate in the session. Engagement increases the more touchpoints attendees have.
You can foster and boost engagement with your event audience through several means, whether during a live stream, pre-recorded, on-demand, or in-person session. These meaningful connections serve as the building blocks for further engagement throughout the buying journey.
Why Is Audience Engagement Important for Business?
Audience engagement isn't just a buzzword; it's a strategic imperative that can significantly impact your business's success. According to Gartner, only 17% of the buying cycle is spent talking with suppliers. Prior to that, buyers are self-educating, building requirements, and meeting with their buying team. This means a marketer's job is harder than ever. They need to not only hook the buyer with the right content that will serve them best while they are self-educating, building requirements, and meeting with their buying team, but they also need to engage them - build a relationship to stay top of mind during the evaluation phase. But don't worry marketers - this effort pays off with big results. Let's dive into the reasons why audience engagement holds such significance for your business:
- Boosts Brand Awareness and Recall: When you engage an audience with your content, your brand gains greater visibility. As your audience interacts with your content, your brand becomes more familiar, leading to better recall when they're making purchasing decisions.
- Fosters Deeper Connections: Engagement cultivates a sense of community around your brand. When customers feel a personal connection to your business, they become more loyal and invested. Engaging with your audience on a personal level, responding to their comments and messages, answering questions, and addressing their concerns humanizes your brand, making it easier for them to relate to and trust your business. Continue to engage your audience post-event using your webinar platform’s email marketing features. These allow you to thank every audience member for attending your sessions and invite them to future events while keeping your brand fresh in attendees’ minds. Include a clear featured action and call to action (CTA) in all pre- and post-event audience communications.
- Drives Traffic and Conversions: Audience engagement is an important indicator of conversions. If an audience is engaging with your brand and content, it signifies that you're providing them something of value. Engaged users are more likely to explore your offerings, talk with sales, and ultimately convert to customers.
- Enhances Audience Insights: Engaging your audience opens the door to valuable insights. Want to get a better idea of where they are in their buying cycle? Ask them. Want to learn more about their challenges? Ask them. By monitoring their interactions, comments, and feedback, you gain a deeper understanding of their preferences, pain points, and expectations. These insights enable you to refine your products, services, and marketing strategies, ensuring they align with your audience's needs and desires.
- Strengthens Social Proof: Engaged customers often become brand advocates. When they actively participate in discussions, share positive experiences, and endorse your brand, it creates social proof. Potential customers are more likely to trust recommendations from their peers over traditional advertising. Engaged customers essentially become your unofficial marketing team, amplifying your brand's credibility.
- Improves Content Relevance and Strategy: Audience engagement provides a real-time gauge of what resonates with your audience. By analyzing which types of content receive the most engagement, you can fine-tune your content strategy to deliver more of what your audience wants. This iterative process not only keeps your content fresh and relevant but also helps you stay ahead of industry trends.
In today's competitive business landscape, audience engagement is more than a metric; it's a driving force behind growth and success. By fostering meaningful interactions, building relationships, and continuously adapting your strategies based on engagement insights, you position your business to achieve its goals, from increased brand loyalty and customer retention to higher conversion rates and business growth.
Eight Strategies to Boost Audience Engagement
There are tons of ways to drive engagement with members of your audience. Pick and choose which audience engagement strategies work best for you or incorporate all of them into your next event.
The key lies in authentically interacting with your audience and displaying a genuine interest in what they have to say. Experiment with various types of audience engagement and incorporate the ones that yield the best results. To help you get started, here are eight strategies to boost audience engagement that you can utilize in your next live or pre-recorded session.
1. Become an Expert on Your Target Audience
We already mentioned this briefly, but it’s worth repeating: You have to engage the right audience to secure higher conversions. Sometimes a brand changes direction so the original demographic no longer makes sense; other times, the audience you’re speaking to is different from the target segment you originally had in mind. That’s okay — you just have to make sure you thoroughly understand the audience you’re interacting with so you don’t fall flat during the presentation.
Defining your target audience is essential for rich interactions that push your attendees toward a desired action. Know what social media channels your target demographic frequents (and how they use them). Conduct research on your chosen segment to learn their buyer intent, what their interests are, and what motivates them.
Armed with that knowledge, you can determine what types of sessions will most benefit them and what kind of content they’ll find valuable. That, in turn, will earn a better response to your CTAs and featured actions, turning audience members from leads into conversions.
2. Create Engaging Content
Just like you wouldn’t want to watch a boring presentation with little variation, neither does your audience. It's not enough to use polls and Q&A opportunities in your event marketing, you also have to have compelling content. Incorporate storytelling elements, vivid slides, and multimedia elements throughout your event so it resonates with attendees and breaks up the monotony of a presentation. The content you create should be relevant, current, and immediately useful to your audience.
3. Leverage Social Media for Audience Engagement
Capitalize on your audience’s preferred social media channels to build a community around your brand, both pre-event and post-event. Tease out webinar topic ideas to see if anyone finds them valuable. Offer sneak peeks into content to drive up registrations. Leverage the channel to better understand your audience.
4. Engage in Social Listening
Speaking of social media, social listening is another excellent way to connect with people who use social media, whether or not they’re already a customer. Browse through social media posts, looking for your brand/company name being mentioned in threads and convos, then join the conversation.
This tactic is a prime opportunity to reconnect with your current audience and have a conversation in real time with those already discussing your brand. It’s also your chance to address complaints or rumors about your brand and positively redirect narratives, if necessary. This is the key time to provide valuable resources to prospects or customers who are stuck and actively looking for support.
5. Enhance Website Engagement
Certainly events are not the only medium for increasing audience engagement. Monitor your website and determine how you can naturally introduce elements that foster audience engagement. For example, would a live chat pop-up be useful on your pricing page, or on a page where visitors could compare your services to a competitor’s? What about opening the comments section on your blog so you can receive content feedback in real time? Think outside the box to give people a first-class experience on your website.
6. Engage With Your Audience in Real Time
Encourage participation in real time to drive your audience to action. This can be done with a webinar platform that’s designed around holding your audience’s attention. Your webinar platform should provide you with engagement tools like live private and public chat features, planned or timed handouts, live polls, call to actions, and a specific way to ask questions of the host and community.
Demio is a user-friendly webinar platform that can get you started with your first virtual event in only a few clicks. You don’t have to download anything, and you can leverage the engagement features to encourage audience participation. You can measure and track audience engagement to qualify leads and identify intent. You can even chat with attendees in pre-recorded sessions and on-demand webinars so they never feel like they’re receiving a canned presentation.
7. Collaborate With Influencers
Influencers can be major allies in facilitating conversations between you and your target demographic. Their followers trust their recommendations, so promoting your offering through a well-known persona can launch your brand to new heights.
However, it’s important to research influencers and choose ones who align with your brand’s mission and values, not simply due to their follower count and clout. Collaborations are also an excellent tool to improve B2B audience acquisition rates since you can partner with well-known names in narrower niches.
Influencers who already support your brand, share similar values, or focus on a related audience are the best choices for a collab because they give it an authentic feel. With the right partner, you can tap into their follower base to gain more converts for your brand.
8. Offer Useful Incentives/Rewards
What do you give your audience as a reward for considering or committing to your brand? Offering enticing incentives is an easy and effective way to improve audience engagement. Dive into webinar hosting tips to learn how and when to offer incentives, and a few examples on what to consider.
Incentives that are immediately useful and relevant help you spread your message more widely while rewarding your audience for their time and attention. They don’t even have to attend a live event; you can provide them with perks simply for clicking on an email or registration link on your website.
Consider freebies, discounts, early entries to your webinars, sneak peeks, referral bonuses, and other incentives. While hosting live events and sessions, use your webinar platform to insert timed handouts and CTAs to maintain an engaged audience.
Measure and Analyze Audience Engagement
Track and analyze audience engagement by monitoring how long attendees watch your sessions, how focused they are while watching the content, how many raised their hand to ask questions, and how many engagement features were leveraged. Dive into this data to develop insights on next steps. For example, imagine you're hosting a virtual event, and you fire off a poll asking your attendees the following question:
Which of these challenges resonates for you the most?
You provide the following poll answers for your audience to choose.
A. I don't have enough budget to execute my strategies
B. I don't have enough team members to execute my strategies
C. I don't have enough direction to execute my strategies
Imagine that when analyzing your data from this engagement, you learned that 85% of your audience chose option A. From this, you might consider creating another webinar called:
How to execute your strategies without increasing your budget
When you measure engagement , you're able to use the data to create further content that provides the highest value for your audience.
Stay Connected With Your Audience
Staying connected and relevant with your audience is no easy task, but there’s no need to struggle alone. Banzai keeps you connected and your audience engaged so you can promote your content, grow your brand, and build personal relationships with your target market easily.
Consistency is key. Regularly providing your demographic with rich insights and personal interactions will earn you higher conversion rates and longer-lasting relationships with them. Banzai helps you get your brand where it needs to be so you can realize maximum growth and profit. Give Banzai a try and book a demo today.