Banzai’s recent webinar Changing with the Times: Lessons from Field Marketing and Event Leaders brought together four marketing experts to discuss what they’ve learned from adapting their strategies over the past few months.
Erin Wilkinson, Senior Field Marketing Manager, Pendo
Our first speaker was Pendo Senior Field Marketing Manager Erin Wilkinson. Erin shared how the team at Pendo has been able to translate the special moments that are a vital part of in-person events into virtual experiences.
People come to events for the content but also for the special event experience. So when Pendo began their shift to virtual events, they made sure to focus on engaging their attendees like they were at an in-person event.
Pendo used several engagement techniques like hosting an emcee, sending out SWAG and giveaways, and holding activation games to get people interacting online.
Attendees also come to events because they want to network. So Pendo makes sure to incorporate networking opportunities using Slack, virtual breakout sessions, and speaker Q&As. Their community Slack channel helps them drive engagement at their event and beyond it.
Making the extra effort to engage your attendees can empower your community and bring your virtual event to life.
Edward Wendling, Vice President of Marketing, Advanced Solutions International
Our next speaker was Advanced Solutions International Global VP of Marketing Edward Wendling. Edward discussed the value of an event app in a virtual event world, as well as ASI’s experience creating a scalable virtual program.
ASI uses the app Clowder to supplement their in-person events, so they decided to take the same approach to virtual events. Clowder brought their event to life, enabling attendees to check the agenda, rate their favorite sessions, receive slides and handouts, and read up on sponsors and presenters.
The app also enabled ASI to engage their attendees directly through push notifications, discussion forums, private chats, and an interactive news feed. The added social features helped their attendees engage not just with ASI, but with each other, like at an in-person conference.
ASI’s event app helped their virtual conference drive engagement well beyond the event itself as attendees continued to use the app after the event to chat, access information, and share insights in the discussion forum.
Heather Rath, Director, Field Marketing West, ServiceNow
“Marketing is like racing. If you don’t feel like your wheels are falling off … then you’re probably not going fast enough.” - Someone Important
When COVID-19 hit, marketers had to work quickly to support their customers in the new economic reality. ServiceNow recognized that people are going through a lot right now, and it’s important to be a respectable point of stability, while acting with empathy and not overreaching.
There is more digital traffic now than ever, putting marketers in a great place to connect with their customers--as long as they don’t get lost in the noise.
To make the transition to virtual events, you have to be willing to pivot. That might mean editing your event content, changing your outreach strategy, swapping your team members’ responsibilities, or anything in between.
Hosting a digital event also may call for you to engage with teams or resources that you’ve never used before. You’ve got to think big, get creative, and work as a team to ensure the success of your virtual events.
Kalina Bryant, Director, Customer Marketing, Signifyd
When making the shift to virtual events, it’s important to remember that your marketing goals should align with your organization’s overall goals.
When the team at Signifyd learned they’d be working from home, Kalina took a full week with her team to discuss what they could do for their customers, how they could drive penetration, and ultimately, how they could still hit their marketing goals.
Her team chose to try a variety of methods. They started by creating collateral and hosting a virtual happy hour to share information and provide a place for their customers to collaborate.
They then moved on to host a virtual user conference that brought together customers, partners, and prospects to drive awareness, create pipeline, and close deals.
There are several ways to engage your audience online. Here are a few key takeaways for hosting virtual conferences:
- Choose the right vendor. Ensure a flawless user experience.
- Choose a theme. Keep your organization’s goals in mind.
- Outline your goals. Have success metrics.
- Align with cross-functional teams. Get relevant teams involved and excited.
- Don’t forget to celebrate and debrief. Celebrate with your teammates.
Key Takeaways from the Webinar
There’s no clear path to hosting virtual events and no singularly correct way to do things. This transition will require marketers to be nimble and to adapt constantly. Even though there is no secret formula, there are steps you can take to give your virtual event it’s best shot at success.
Remember to engage your attendees directly. Give them a space to interact with you and with each other. Events are a great way to make new connections and a great way to initiate a follow-up. Use your event content to encourage future conversations.
Most importantly, remember that you aren’t alone -- your team is there to help. By being creative, collaborative, and adaptable, you can develop a new, high-performing asset in the form of virtual events.
Check out the webinar on-demand for a Q&A with our speakers and be sure to download The Ultimate Guide to Turning Your In-Person Conference Virtual.