2020 was marked by an explosion of virtual events as businesses rushed to swap out large conference halls for laptop screens. One year on and the conversation has shifted from whether to do a virtual event to finding ways to better engage audiences and drive attendance numbers.
The challenge of how to get people to attend and engage with a B2B event is not a new one.
What has changed is the expectation that marketers can deliver the same, if not better, results than the physical events in what has become an oversaturated virtual event market.
But every challenge presents an opportunity. In our experience, the way to mitigate virtual event fatigue and drive numbers is to create a personalised and memorable experience for attendees that engages them before, during and after the event.
Tip #1: Be clear on what you’re doing
It may seem an obvious point to make, but setting clear objectives is the best place to start your event planning. Doing so will help you work out how you can achieve your goals. Think of it as your guiding light. Everything you do after this point should ladder up to meeting the objectives. Don’t ever fall into the trap of doing an event because someone in the business tells you ‘we have to’ or because ‘it’s what everyone else is doing’. That’s an expensive lesson and one that you can easily avoid with some solid planning.
Tip #2: If your virtual event has no interactive elements, you’re going to be up against it
Here are a few ideas on how you can integrate interactivity in your event:
- Interactive product demos: using motion graphics to demonstrate how your product works is a great way to drive engagement. Look for software that lets your audience interact with a 3D model of your product. It will help them understand its benefits while you demonstrate the features.
- Gamification: look for activities that encourage collaboration between attendees, such as team events. Hosting a competition through your mobile event app can also be a great way to get buy-in.
- Multimedia: Interactive polls, quizzes and surveys that run throughout the event are an effective way to break up your presentation and keep the audience engaged.
Tip #3: Surprise and delight
Do you remember how many invitations you received to virtual events in 2020? Competition for attendees was fierce and that hasn’t abated in 2021. One idea for driving attendee numbers is to offer free swag. It could be virtual, like content that’s only downloaded during the event, a 3-month subscription to your premium paywall content or a discount code or voucher that can be redeemed online. Or physical, like free product samples or branded merchandise.
Tip #4: Think big, plan small
While large scale events can be good for networking, smaller, more exclusive events targeted at VIPs can be incredibly effective. The aim of these events is to give attendees access to premium content, presenters or networking opportunities. It’s also a great way to reward your most valued or loyal customers.
Tip #5: It’s not over, even when it’s over
Just because your event has wrapped up, it doesn’t mean your work is done. To keep the momentum going, you need to keep engaging with your audience. Consider leaving your social channels open so people who attended can keep the conversation going, or repurposing the content from the event and sharing it in different formats.
Content repurposing is also a key consideration. All the effort to create high quality content for an event, can often be leveraged with other related content pieces to extend the journey or experience. An example is this audiobook we created for one our clients, as a content extension and highlights of all the event learnings.