Virtual events have proven their worth and are sticking around. Marketers worldwide are investing a significant portion of their events budget in creating virtual experiences.
According to a global survey, 48% of marketers plan to increase the number of virtual events they host in 2022.
After a couple of years of running virtual events almost exclusively, the industry has recognized how much value virtual provides in achieving marketing and business goals.
And no wonder why.
The Benefits of Virtual Events
Virtual events aren’t new, but they’ve always been valuable. The acceleration of digital transformation, though, put virtual events to the test, and as a result, we’ve learned so much more about their benefits. Moreover, we refined our understanding of how virtual events can help us reach our marketing goals no matter what’s happening in the world. Here’s how:
➡ Remove calendar boundaries
In-person events depend on everyone’s agenda:
- Your speakers’ agenda: Make sure your speakers can dedicate at least a few hours to attend the event.
- Your attendees’ agenda: People may refrain from registering for or attending your in-person event because of other commitments they have the same day.
- Your providers’ agenda: If your favorite audiovisual or catering providers have other commitments the day of your event, you’ll need to search for alternatives.
- The convention bureau’s agenda: You may find it difficult to run an in-person event during other large-scale ones. You may bump into issues such as fully booked hotels, venues, and catering providers.
When it comes to virtual events, though, you can bypass most calendar restrictions:
- Your speakers avoid the pressure of booking their entire day for the event. Virtual events allow them to commit only the time needed to speak, and maybe test their microphone and video.
- Your attendees may choose to register for the event and watch it on demand. According to Vimeo, nearly three-quarters of respondents said they’d watch an event later if they missed it live.
- Everything you need to plan and run a virtual event lives conveniently online, easy to access through your own “venue.” You could technically host a virtual event every day if you wanted. They give you more control over the logistics, as you don’t have to rely on third-party vendors.
By running virtual events, you create timeless experiences that depend less on everyone’s calendar.
➡ Reach out to a worldwide audience
In-person events limit your audience outreach. That’s especially hindering when you aim to expand and connect with other markets. Whether it’s the logistics hassle or health-related concerns, few attendees will travel to attend your in-person event. Virtual events, however, remove geographical barriers, giving you access to a worldwide audience.
Quick note: By running virtual events, you’ll also be able to connect with high-quality speakers that otherwise wouldn’t travel to your location.
➡ Spend less time planning
We won’t lie to you by saying planning virtual events is a piece of cake. However, they involve less hassle and time because they have fewer logistics operations than other event formats. Think about the time you’ll save on things such as renting and decorating a venue, deciding on the catering offer, etc.
When you don’t have to spend too much time and resources on logistics, you can focus more on developing engaging content for your attendees and impactful promotion campaigns.
➡ Have a greater impact with a lower budget
Besides saving time, virtual events will also help you achieve a more significant impact with a lower budget. You don’t have to spend on venue and furniture rent, swag, catering, speakers’ travel and accommodations, and other details. As a result, you can invest all that saved money in things such as:
- Designing a value-packed program for your virtual event
- Launching impactful marketing campaigns to promote
- Targeting and attracting the right attendees
- Crafting engaging experiences for your attendees
- Including unique entertainment programs for your virtual attendees
Moreover, the money you save can go towards increasing the number of annual virtual events you plan.
➡ Access richer attendee insights
Running successful virtual events depends heavily on choosing a reliable event tech partner. The digital tools offered will provide you with a wide variety of insights about your attendees’ experiences. You’ll be able to monitor and identify things such as:
- What event sessions had the highest attendance rates?
- How much time did your attendees stay focused on the event?
- How many interactions between attendees happened during the event?
- How many attendees engaged with your content by downloading your report, ebook, or other resource?
- How many attendees used your discount code?
These insights will help you improve your attendees’ experiences going forward and increase the business impact of your virtual events.
➡ Calculate virtual event ROI
As EventMB highlights, virtual events have raised the bar for proving in-person event ROI. Thanks to how much data we can generate through virtual events, marketers can easily calculate their ROI. For example, they can identify how many attendees:
- Moved through the funnel by taking action, such as requesting a demo session or asking for your sales deck
- Scheduled a networking session with your sales rep
- Used a special discount coupon to purchase an offer
- Bought your product during the event
- And more
Compared to in-person events, it’s much easier to calculate virtual event ROI to justify and sustain your engagement marketing and events marketing strategies.
➡ Repurpose digital content
Here’s the greatest thing about virtual events: They never end. With virtual events, you craft digital content like eBook, short clips, presentations, articles, informative graphics, and more. Subsequently, you can repurpose and offer this content on demand, generating high-quality leads long after the event ends.
➡ Create more value for your sponsors and partners
If you want to partner with other brands and companies, you can easily attract them by providing valuable perks such as:
- Promise a wider outreach to your sponsors and partners. Virtual events aren’t limited by regional ad targeting or a set number of attendees for the venue space. As a result, your sponsors and partners gain access to a wider audience than with in-person events.
- Increase their visibility by placing their logos on your virtual stage.
- Design virtual sponsorship booths where your sponsors and partners can upload their business material like videos, ebooks, sales decks, and more.
- Enable your sponsors and partners to engage with your attendees through networking sessions.
- Give your sponsors and partners access to valuable attendee data. For example, you can track how many attendees and who specifically downloaded a document published by your sponsor.
All these perks will make your sponsorship tiers irresistible, and you’ll be able to identify strategic partners for your event.
➡ Derive results for other marketing actions
The impact of virtual events may extend across your entire marketing strategy. If you’re building a brand community on Slack, for example, you can use virtual events to:
- Strengthen the connections between your members
- Nurture many-to-many communication
- Increase awareness around your community and attract more members
In other words, thanks to their cross-functional character, virtual events can help you support and progress your entire marketing strategy.
However, you need to consider carefully and plan the elements that will ensure the success of your virtual marketing events.
What Makes a Virtual Event Successful?
The success of your virtual events is directly related to your goals. High impressions or registration rate can be good success metrics if you want to raise brand awareness, for example.
Thanks to the worldwide reach and ease of attending virtual events, you aren’t limited to local ad campaigns. You can promote your virtual event worldwide, grabbing more attention to your brand. Also, since geographical boundaries aren’t a problem, you can attract people from different areas, further increasing brand awareness.
Or, if you want to turn MQLs into SQLs, you may consider a virtual event successful depending on the number of networking sessions your sales reps had with your attendees.
Virtual events are great for both scheduled and ad hoc networking sessions with the company’s sales reps. You can offer your attendees the opportunity to book a networking session before the event. Additionally, you can enable attendees to connect with your sales rep via chat during the virtual event to ask questions or agree upon a quick meeting.
Regardless of your goals however, successful virtual events require the following elements:
- Low friction. From filling in the registration form to accessing the virtual stage, you have to make things as easy as possible for your attendees.
- Valuable content. People attend events to learn and access unique insights they can’t find anywhere else. Your event content and program are valuable only if they help your attendees become better professionals and get them closer to their desired feeling. Marketers forget that people buy on emotion. That's what drives people's buying behavior. Although this may not lead to an immediate conversion, high-quality content will help you align your brand with the emotions of your future buyers. That alignment will subsequently drive sales.
- Unique experiences. Whether attending a memorable entertainment session or engaging in valuable B2B networking, your virtual event should offer experiences people can’t access anywhere else.
Everything revolves around meeting your attendees' expectations and making sure they derive great value from your virtual event. As such, the value you provide should be at the center of our virtual event marketing campaign.
Considering how many companies run and promote virtual events nowadays, quick gimmicks and promotional hacks won’t help you break through the online noise, grab people’s attention, and drive high registration numbers.
Wondering how to promote your virtual events? Highlight and leverage the real value your event has to offer. We’ll show you how you can do it.
7 Virtual Event Marketing Tips To Build Buzz
Regardless of how many months you have left until the event, we recommend you start building your virtual event marketing plan today.
We’ve put together a list of top virtual marketing ideas that will help you highlight the value of your event, build buzz, and achieve a high registration rate.
Tip 1. Build anticipation with a waiting list
Obviously, you need to promote your virtual event long before launching it. An effective tactic is to create a waiting list for those who want to hear about your upcoming event.
OfficeRnD offers a great example of this strategy. In 2021, the company launched FlexWorld, an event focused on the opportunities and challenges of the flex space industry and hybrid work.
Although the event is over, the OfficeRnD team took advantage of the FlexWorld page and changed the “Register” call to action to ”Join the waiting list.” This encourages future attendees to enter their email and be the first to know about the next edition.
Tip 2. Create an event trailer you can distribute easily
There’s nothing more powerful than video.
In marketing, videos are incredibly versatile: You can use them in ads, on landing pages, in social media, or in SMS. With the extreme saturation of text-based promotion, people love to consume information in novel formats, and videos motivate them to take action. So, making a virtual event trailer or video to promote your virtual event is a no-brainer.
Create a virtual event video to highlight the value you’re providing. Your event trailer should contain elements such as:
- Top reasons to attend
- Your main speakers
- Event details
Always to provide a registration link wherever you share the virtual event trailer. Here’s a quick example from ClickUp for its event, LevelUp.
Pro Tip: Use humor when crafting your virtual event trailer. Here’s an excellent example from BambooHR.
Here’s the intro for BambooHR’s virtual event trailer (in case you prefer not to watch the video): “Did you know three out of four HR pros suffer from a lack of professional development credit? But treatment is easy to come by with HR Virtual Summit, the world’s largest virtual event dedicated to uplifting and inspiring the HR community.”
Tip 3. Showcase the past edition highlights
If you’re running a series or an annual event, grab people’s attention by presenting past edition highlights. To make it more appealing, shoot a short video that includes:
- Number of sessions
- Number of attendees
- Number of speakers
- Behind-the-scenes moments
- Number of views
- Brief moments from different sessions
- Entertainment clips
These highlights reveal the elements people missed out on by not attending the first time. Also, it showcases the value your virtual event provides attendees, increasing people’s desire to register and attend the next one.
Here’s an interesting example from Atlassian:
A past edition highlights video aims to show all the fun and benefits of your virtual event and get people to register for the new edition.
Tip 4. Feature a high-profile speaker
Credibility and clout are important for event promotion and registrations.
According to Vimeo, “64% of participants say the quality of speakers drives them to sign up for events.” No wonder some companies book star-level guests.
Webflow, the no-code website builder, is a clear example of this. For its No-Code Conf 2021, the Webflow team invited Trevor Noah, comedian and host of “The Daily Show,” and Debbie Millman, host of the award-winning podcast “Design Matters,” as their main speakers.
This announcement came as a surprise since Trevor Noah and Debbie Millman were booked after the official launch of the event website. To increase event buzz, the Webflow team sent an email with the headline: “You’ll never guess who we got to speak at No-Code Conf.”
Moreover, Vlad Magdalin, the co-founder and CEO of Webflow, added to the excitement by posting a tweet about Trevor Noah.
Post-event metrics revealed Webflow’s No-Code Conf 2021 ended up with more than 18,000 attendees across 135 countries.
If you don’t have the budget to hire high-profile speakers, you can pinpoint an emerging industry leader with high engagement on platforms such as LinkedIn or Twitter. In this case, you won’t be looking for household names, but rather for a micro-influencer with an engaged audience.
Tip 5. Have people create and share virtual badges
Asking people to share the virtual event link isn’t as powerful as this excellent idea from the Webflow team to promote No-Code Conf 2021.
Instead of telling prospective attendees to copy and paste the event link onto their social media feed, the Webflow team encouraged them to create and share virtual badges.
As the event page highlights, “Connect with 10,000+ No-Code Conf attendees by creating a virtual badge. Customize a social image to share with your network or clone a site and share it on the Showcase.”
Corey Moen, Webflow’s senior brand designer, took this opportunity to make an announcement on Twitter and encourage his audience to craft virtual badges.
These virtual badges allowed people to connect with other attendees before the event. Also, it helped the Webflow team increase event awareness, build buzz, and draw in more attendees.
Tip 6. Include testimonials on your event page
A powerful virtual event marketing campaign needs to include social proof on your event website. That’s especially important when you run recurring, edition-based events, or frequently use the same speaker. To add social proof that highlights your event’s value, ask past attendees to share what they liked about your event.
Reading other attendees’ testimonials will encourage people to register and attend your event.
Here’s an excellent example from Gong during the company’s event, Celebrate:
FirstUp provides another example with its Attune Summit:
Tip 7. Ask your event partners and speakers to build buzz
Rely on your partners, speakers, and their networks to spread the word and generate buzz around your virtual event. This way, you’ll gain exposure to audiences you couldn’t reach before.
Pro tip: To control the communication and make things easier for your partners and speakers, prepare the event assets they can share on social media beforehand. This should include items such as:
- Copy for social media and/or newsletters
- Digital event banners
- Banners for speakers with their name, photo, and session
- An event page link for your partners and speakers to share
For example, here’s how a Celebrate by Gong speaker shared the event details on Twitter:
Additionally, here's how Drift activated its partners to spread the word about its RevGrowth Virtual Summit:
A special note on using social media platforms for your virtual event marketing campaigns:
Promoting virtual events on social media may not work if you use these platforms as distribution channels only. Before you launch social media promotions, you first have to build an engaged audience. Otherwise, after publishing your virtual event page and promo post, you’ll hear nothing but crickets.
How To Follow Up To Promote Your Next Event
Here’s a quick list of tips on how you can follow up with attendees and registrants after the event and promote your next one:
- Use statistics from your previous edition. For example, Atlassian's 2021 event highlights video featured statistics like a “93% positive session sentiment,” “76% event objectives met for viewers,” “4.7 overall speaker satisfaction score.” These numbers underline the value of your past event and encourage people to register again.
- Survey your attendees and use their answers in your next virtual event marketing campaign. You can ask them questions such as what they liked most about your event, what new things they learned, and the one experience they remembered after the event.
- Segment your attendees based on their past event behavior and send them personalized emails. For example, you could separate people based on the type of sessions they liked the most. You can identify each segment based on the sessions attendees watched without interruption. Then, craft a personalized email invitation mentioning the session they enjoyed most and explaining how they’ll get even more value this time.
These are just a few ideas. Remember, you can leverage your virtual events and build an entire community around them. You can also ask your attendees to opt in to a special events newsletter to receive notifications about upcoming sessions.