In 2020, due to the global pandemic, 49% of B2B event companies hosted over 20 virtual events. Let that sink in. The competition has grown significantly and a solid virtual event content plan is your key to beating it. We are not implying you have not been aware of that. We are saying that with the market suddenly saturated to the brim, you need to up your game.
Event content isn’t all but planning: it is also a follow-up process. When overwhelmed with 20+ virtual events a year, forgetting things is easy. How often do you jump to a new event without analysing the performance of the last?
Competitors bank on that. So, let’s talk about a top-notch virtual event content marketing plan that will leave them in the dust.
Content for a Virtual Event
When hosting an online event, you aim to grab and maintain their attention. Meaning your content must be formatted to be shorter and punchier. Anything over the 20 minutes mark could see a sudden dip in viewership.
Cut the Fluff
Long, detailed session titles and descriptions are to stay where they belong: within in-person events. For live streaming and virtual events you will need to cut them down in size.
Virtual audiences have a shorter attention span and don’t want to waste time. They need to be approached with a concise, punchy title that tells them what to expect.
It’s not just the length of the titles that needs to be reconsidered: it’s the format of your content. The beauty of virtual event hosting is that it can be accessed by people from multiple locations: both visitors and speakers.
But have you tried organising diaries from different time zones when there are 50+ panels to rehearse, tech check and film? It can be a time-consuming recipe for disaster.
We are not implying you should exclude speaker panels, but you’d be wise to cut down on them.
If you have less panels, you may be tempted to make them longer. Fight the temptation. In real life settings it is easy to keep your audience captivated as they have no distractions. When they are viewing the panel from the comfort of their house, however…
From mischievous pets (and children) to a sudden urge to have a cup of tea, focus can be a struggle and this will reflect on your engagement. So, keep it short, punchy and straight to the point.
Rich Media for Online Events
What makes live hosting and streaming exciting is the prospect of combining different types of media to deliver content. Rich media is what gives the virtual event its look and feel, thus making it marketable after it has happened.
Different media formats deliver different experiences, which gives an opportunity to create a truly unique virtual experience. To pull it off, however, every small component needs to be checked and pre-approved to ensure they all blend into one cohesive picture.
These components must have their own identity but work together:
- Content formats
- Video and social graphics
- Session titles/descriptions
- Stage/studio setups
- Video-on-demand (VOD) content
- VOD thumbnails
Communication is the Key
You know better than us that events have teams of skilled specialists working behind them. And how crucial it is for event management to have those specialists talk between themselves. The game gets even harder when we touch upon virtual events.
First of all, you need to ask yourself and be honest: has your content team worked with professional delivery of a virtual event? Do they feel comfortable with online event planning and are they familiar with all it entails?
It’s perfectly fine if the answer is no. It’s a different skill set for your team to learn and adapt. There are new comms for speakers, new steps in the briefing process, new things to handhold speakers, sponsors and presenters on, fresh dos and don’ts. You don’t want to risk disappointing stakeholders by not delivering ambitious virtual event ideas you’ve pitched to them.
For example, if your team isn’t sure how to run a proper tech check (and why should they in pre-virtual days?), this may result in technical difficulties such as connectivity. And once those occur live you lose the engagement unless they’re fixed within 30 seconds.
Event professionals are the most organised people we know. And it’s even more key when juggling a plethora of pre-record schedules and grueling delivery timelines – which are usually shorter in the digital world.
Rehearsals are Still Important
Practice makes perfect. No content teams we know are super strict on every speaker having a rehearsal, particularly when it comes to panels, but in the virtual world these can really make a difference.
Most speakers are used to a live audience, and their nerves can be assuaged by the team backstage, a great host or fellow speakers/peers. But even to the most seasoned master of stage performance it can be challenging to talk to event attendees they cannot see – but that see them.
This occasionally gives speakers a bit of a stage fright and they can waffle in the early minutes of a session. Given you have less time per session, this often means you get less powerful content.
Don’t dismiss rehearsals just because there is no live audience.
Now that you know what kind of content you need…How do you market it?
Virtual Event Marketing
With the structure of the online event in place, you need to get the registration going. This is where event marketing truly begins. What’s the point of all that content if it does not get seen?
Optimising Your Landing Page
Landing page is where you deliver the key information to the audience. Treat it as an event website. Who, where, what – and, once again, keep it very to the point. In a world of digital overload, make things easy and interesting for your potential attendees.
Work alongside the marketing team to identify keywords people find your event by and use them in the copy. Remember, your purpose is to communicate why people should care about your virtual event.
And then you need to show how it will add value to them. Landing page is the place you get to highlight the details of your virtual event and what makes it unique. Essentially, you want to pull in the interested visitors on the day of the event.
Here’s some key information that should be included on the landing page:
- A compelling headline
- Date and time of the event
- Event agenda
- A brief overview of the virtual event
- Who is sponsoring/exhibiting – as well as any high-profile media partners
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Content and imagery
- An engaging video
- Call to action (register)
Choosing the Right Virtual Event Platform
It is obvious that you need a platform to host a virtual event on. It gets complicated when you start thinking about what you need it to do other than bare essentials. We have you covered here – our Event@ platform is one of the best event apps on the market.
The biggest challenge of online events is the attendee to attendee engagement. One of the key purposes of events of any kind is networking – and even more importantly – serendipity of networking (when you meet someone you didn’t think you needed to know but turn out to be key) – and the digital world makes it harder to achieve. This is where the importance of a good virtual event platform becomes particularly relevant.
A solid platform offers networking opportunities via topic-based virtual rooms and 1-2-1 call opportunities. Some platforms even offer speed networking that is built on the algorithm. However, we can’t trust AI with judging human interactions just yet, so it’s not the most popular or successful feature.
The ideal virtual event marketing tool will allow the audience to get involved, creating the feeling of camaraderie even without being able to talk in person. These are usually few options to encourage the audience to get engaged, ranging from polling and surveys to live chat and video conferencing.
Another aspect a good online event hosting platform will assist you with is managing sponsor content. The rates of virtual event sponsorships are lower than what they would be in real life, but can still deliver good ROI for all parties.
30- or 60-second advertisements should be considered. Brand placement too. If you worry about how the audience will perceive them – you shouldn’t. After all, we live in the era where advertising is everywhere, from street banners to instant messenger apps. No one will bat an eye.
It doesn’t mean you give sponsors free reign with the content. If it’s too sales-y or not aligned with your values, you must be able to have an input. This means that the content team should be involved in signing off everything the sponsors want published. This gives you the right to tweak or reject anything less than ideal.
Email Marketing: Before and After
Everyone is on social media and everyone is promoting things there. What many seem to forget is that everyone is still actively using their emails too. Utilise your mailing list – promote your virtual event to your existing subscribers.
Support the invitation with content built around the theme of the event: from videos to links to the website where you’ve got written content related to the event. Get creative with exclusive speaker interviews and quotes or the top five sessions your keynote is looking forward to watching themselves. Provide the key information to your readers and a link to the landing page – if they are interested, they will go there to learn more and to register.
Once the virtual event is over, you will find yourself with a lot of new contacts on your hands. This is an opportunity for your Sales team to follow-up – don’t waste it!
First of all, be sure to thank them for their attendance. It’s a good idea to summarise the event in a few short paragraphs. If possible, add a recording of your virtual event and any free resources that have been handed out throughout its course.
Finally, include a little survey asking for feedback. Not only will you make your attendees feel their opinion matters but you will also have pointers on what can be improved in the future.
Measuring the Success
Congratulations, you have delivered your event! However, while this is an occasion to pop some bubbly, it’s not yet the time to sit back and relax. Next step is to analyse what you have achieved.
Virtual Event Insights and Reporting
Collecting data post-event is a difficult task – it is usually indigestible and impossible to understand. Unfortunately, if you can’t read your data – you can’t use it.
We can make that easy. EVENTalytics is our unique event software package created specifically for tracking virtual events. What’s more, instead of presenting you with miles worth of raw data, it puts it together into comprehensible visual reports. Not only does it save you time trying to read through heaps of illegible data and putting it into reports, but also eliminates accidental data losses that occur due to human error.
Virtual events, their content and marketing suddenly became a particularly competitive place. Given the new landscape we live in, and the reduced costs of putting on a digital event, it’s easy to see why everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.
The only way to stand out from the crowd is to deliver virtual events the public will carry on talking for months to come. And to do that you need more than an idea – you need a plan. It can be daunting at first, but we promise that once you follow a few easy steps you will be a pro in no time.
Want any further insights on virtual event content and marketing? We’d love to share them with you.