The buzzword for today’s event industry: virtual. With rising concerns over travel bans and an apprehension of large crowds, shifting to a virtual event could deliver measurable benefits to your organization. If you are wondering how to translate your marketing strategy to a virtual audience, mdg has identified five key differentiators behind a virtual audience acquisition strategy:
- Your audience will look different for a virtual event. A survey by Digitell, Inc. showed that 83 percent of virtual attendees had no intention of attending the live event, demonstrating that the virtual audience is a completely new market, eager for online solutions. This is a great opportunity for associations and trade shows to explore previously untapped market segments, such as international audiences who may be unable to travel. You’ll also benefit from evaluating which events in your industry are no longer competitive with your event, whether it be from cancellations or a shift in their event value. When you identify segments that are hungry for your content, you can effectively utilize lead generation to capture them in your marketing funnel.
- Your event value needs to be more prominent than ever before. It’s easy to fall into the trap of listing event features—such as the number of exhibitors, keynote addresses and venue attraction—in your marketing materials. In our post-COVID-19 world, it’s time to put those outdated metrics aside and focus on how your event solves a problem for your audience. While this is true of any event marketing strategy, it is a critical component of attracting your virtual audience, who may need reassurances that this event will bring them significant ROI. For example, one of the biggest criticisms of online conferences is the lack of face-to-face networking. However, research by WorkCast has shown that while in-person interaction may seem to be a preferred way to meet colleagues, 30 percent of people polled said they were more likely to speak to a person in a virtual booth, and 47 percent said they were more likely to ask a question at a virtual event. Find out what matters most to your audience and make this data the center of your promotional messaging.
- Registration peaks will come later in your marketing timeline. The customer journey timeline for a virtual event is greatly condensed compared to one for a live event, so don’t try and copy the same kind of marketing schedule. Be prepared for peak registrations to be pushed later in the timeline. We’ve already seen this shift in registering at the last minute for live events, and we’d predict to see this trend in greater numbers for a virtual event. According to Adobe, registrations tend to spike two to three weeks before an event. Update your virtual marketing timeline with these peaks in mind.
- Segmentation is no longer a suggestion, but a priority. Audiences at live events can self-select their own education sessions, exhibitors and networking sessions after they register. For virtual events it’s the customized content that entices specific audiences to register. Make sure you design content and create segmented story arcs for your attendees, including new professionals, C-suite executives, consultants, international delegates and more.
- Communication doesn’t stop after an attendee registers for your event. Attrition rates of 50 percent (and higher) are common for virtual events, so it’s important to maintain steady communication with your registered attendees. Keep them engaged with content previews, exhibitor highlights and showcases of registered companies and networking tools that will enable attendees to connect with each other. Secondly, online audiences demand faster response rates than ever before, so be prepared to have FAQs readily available to answer questions from registered attendees. Consider investing in a chatbot that can help learn your FAQs and provide timely responses.
Looking for a more customized approach for your event? mdg can help you define the most effective strategies, tactical plans and creative platforms to attract significant and influential audiences to your virtual event. From awareness and consideration to conversion and participation, mdg will use performance modeling to architect a customer journey that helps you achieve the ROO and ROI you desire. Specifically, our strengths include:
- Utilizing an omni-channel approach, including social media, paid search and digital marketing to drive traffic to your landing and registration pages
- Ensuring your website and landing pages are optimized for registrations
- Creating an ideal campaign timeline that maximizes both registration and participation
- Creating compelling content assets to generate interest and boost registration rates
- Creating “email nurture campaigns”—using your platform or ours—that deliver the right content at the right time to your leads
- Leveraging “Partners in Promotion” (speakers, sponsors, ambassadors) to extend your reach
- Continuing engagement so that audiences are ready—and excited—to attend your next virtual or live event
To customize an approach that fits your objectives and budget, contact Kimberly Hardcastle at firstname.lastname@example.org.