Virtual events – they’re everywhere! It seems that everyday we wake up to inbox invites for new webinars and virtual gatherings, stemming from a total 180-shift in strategy from event marketer’s original 2020 plans. According to a recent report shared by Marketing Dive + The 614 Group, 71% of media & marketing execs believe virtual conferences will be the only option through the end of 2020, and the emphasis on virtual gatherings vs. in-person meetings will continue long after. Additionally, the survey found that the primary pain point with digital events is lead generation – how can marketers move the needle and demonstrate real ROI while staying agile and adaptable to the unprecedented events of 2020?
Content should ALWAYS be a part of a brand’s event marketing strategy, regardless if it’s taking place in-person or virtually. However, it’s not enough for marketers to simply utilize content, it must be done tactically & with intent to translate the success of your campaigns with achieving actual business outcomes. We break down how to take digital event strategies to the next level and create a successful, sustainable virtual community:
- Evaluate your event & messaging to make sure it’s appropriate.
Is your event purpose & messaging appropriate for “the now?” Make sure it reflects the values you want your brand to convey and that it’s in alignment with current events – there’s no better time to re-tool messaging & make sure it conveys a strong sense of empathy, understanding and true value to consumers. Scoppechio suggests doing this through a variety of tactics; including cultivating relationships with superfans, identifying emerging advocates, and providing personalized responses to your followers on social — studies have shown that socially engaged customers are 30% more likely to spend money with the brand.
- If you have it, use time to your benefit.
Have you heard the expression “luck is when opportunity meets preparation?” Marketers see the most success with digital strategy when it has a before, during & after. Don’t just start promoting your event a week prior to launch, create a content calendar that starts at least a month out, and continues for at least two weeks after. You want to engage users before the event to garner their interest and capture their feedback post-event to keep them coming back for more. We also want to note that given the uncertain times that we’re living in, it does NOT behoove any brand to plan a calendar months in advance. Stay agile and alert to what’s going on in the world + how it directly impacts your industry + brand; as well as look at older content that’s garnered a good response and see how it can be repurposed for your event.
- “Next Action” surveys are incredibly insightful!
As we previously mentioned, the biggest issue content marketers seem to be struggling with when it comes to virtual events is lead generation and garnering more than just event awareness. In order to organically get consumers down the funnel of consideration, it’s important to understand what’s resonating with them, as well as focus on converting them from site visitors into actual attendees. Our clients have seen the most success when they used a two-step process with their next actions: First, engage the consumer with content; and THEN, present them with the organic next step in the consumer journey – i.e. getting their email address, capturing brand sentiment or other high-value actions onsite.
- Look at content distribution – are you amplifying the right pieces of content on various platforms with different copy/images?
Make sure your strategy varies with where you promote your content — channel, verbiage and imagery all matter for each piece being distributed, and this distribution is key to getting a good grasp on what potential attendees are interested in. Hubspot put it perfectly in a recent article on promoting virtual events: “While a marketing executive might want to attend your event for one reason, a new hire at a company might be attending the event for another reason.” Consider how to segment your content campaign by different groups and demographics, and also look into A/B testing to get a comprehensive understanding of what attendees are responding to.
- Think outside the box.
How can you use this unprecedented time to create rich virtual experiences for your community? MNI Media described how businesses from all industries —musicians to museums to fitness centers—have been able to stay connected with their audiences during COVID-19 through innovative and engaging virtual experiences. Look at how you can elevate your virtual event beyond the standard webinar or Zoom session and provide real value to attendees; it’s a great way to sustain those hard-earned connections with consumers and communities.
While it may be a long time before we’re comfortable sitting in-person at events or meetings, it doesn’t mean that marketers have to cancel all previously planned programming for 2020. Now is the opportune time to re-evaluate your event calendar, look at content strategy, and really hone in on developing a deep digital connection with your community.