Since the recent virus crisis brands and event planners are moving online. And rightfully so. While some are pros at this, it’s unchartered territory for many. As a result, we’ve put together this helpful article to navigate the ins and outs of getting started with a checklist for planning.
It’s a pretty straightforward process. I’ve hosted and been a part of over 100 webinars in the last 10 years and feel I have plenty of experience to share on this front. Hopefully, this is helpful when planning and implementing the next virtual event.
1. Choose a Software Vendor
Webinar vendors individually have a lot of pros and cons associated with them. It’s ideal to align goals with the value proposition of each before choosing which platform to invest in. For me, I go with the platform I’m most comfortable operating during a webinar. I know GoToWebinar like the back of my hand so that’s my go-to.
However, if starting from scratch please look and consider each platform below juxtaposed to campaign goals before making a final decision. Some platforms do well with showing media like video and playing audio in slides while others don’t. These are critical considerations for presentations.
- Webinar Jam
- Adobe Connect
- Vimeo Livestream
2. Value Proposition – What’s in it for the Attendee?
Virtual event planners MUST define a solid value proposition as to why someone would want to attend first. Without this, all the planning will be for not and nobody will want to attend. Attendees should leave with a sense that their time was well spent, and they have actionable takeaways that can be used in the field.
This value proposition should not only be used in promotion, but should be reinforced in the opening, body, conclusion and the follow-up of the online presentation.
What’s the goal of the online event? Commonly, it’s lead generation for future nurturing. However, webinars work up and down the funnel if planned correctly. Many think it’s a B2B exercise but can be used in B2C if the value proposition is solid and has value for the attendees.
If guest speakers are planned be prepared to share leads (registrants/attendees) with them if payment in advance is not a consideration.
This section of the check list could be an article unto itself. With over 200 live and virtual event speaking gigs under the belt I have a very specific formula for creating all of the assets needed to put on a successful event. Below is a list of assets that will be needed.
- Landing page
- On-site calls to action (graphics)
- Email communication for current list (before and after)
- Native ad unit graphics and copy
These are all necessary in order to execute the event optimally. Calls to action and promotion assets across native channels like Facebook and others are regularly left out of the plan. That is not recommended at all. These two bullets help drive new and incremental registrants and potential prospects for the campaign.
Lastly, the deck should communicate the following:
- Intro – What’s in it for the attendees
- Body – Deliver the value proposition
- Outro – Remind the attendees the value they received
- Call to Action – Tell the attendees what to do next
Generally, brands tend to use their own speakers for virtual events. However, it’s quite common to bring in guest speakers from the industry to reinforce their view presented in the deck. Both works well and the decision should align with goals.
Many speakers will do virtual events for free with the sharing of registrant names, email and company. However, some will only do them on a paid basis. Some will even want paid and the registrant list. Be prepared for this during negotiations for guest speakers.
Promotion of these virtual events is critical. It should be both owned and paid media promotion. Meaning – whatever email list is available invite them to the event, share organically on social media and do paid advertising on Facebook and all the other native channels.
This will make sure that the original organic list will grow incrementally, and new potential prospects will be had. While it’s possible to use one channel at a time for promotion, it’s recommended to use a solution that APIs into dozens of channels at one time in order to scale paid promotion.
7. Going Live
This is where virtual and live events diverge in a big way. Many people are very nervous when presenting to a live audience. However, much of that stress seems to dissipate when moving from a live to a virtual event. This perhaps opens up the opportunity for others to present that normally wouldn’t. This is something to consider in planning for speakers.
When going live, I always recommend waiting five minutes after the start time and the welcome to allow the late attendees to show up before beginning. It’s recommended to have someone on the home team to manage the software and the questions attendees pose in the chat box. If it’s a large virtual event having everyone’s mic hot is not a recommendation. What is considered large is determined by the number of attendees speaking that can be reasonably handled.
Don’t plan on doing a single presentation longer than an hour. There are arguments to be made for keeping them much shorter, and that’s OK, too. However, one hour is the ceiling.
Lastly, it’s recommended to send an email to all the attendees and registrants thanking them for attending or registering. Generally, these emails are different from each other and share links to the video and any pertinent assets. A drip nurturing campaign should be established prior to the webinar in order to communicate in a gentle way over time on what consumers should consider next.
With most white-collar workers in their homes and online during the week this is a good time to consider sharing insights and helpful information via virtual event platforms. Consumers are craving for social interaction without the danger of going out in public. Webinars provide professional opportunities to learn while avoiding the potential of infection. We hope this list provides a good basis for launching your next virtual event.