June 9, 2020
How to Host a Virtual Event
This post is brought to you by Sendoso Senior Marketing Manager, Sruthi Kumar.
Doesn’t it seem like a lifetime ago when we were told all our in-person events for 2020 were canceled? In their place, virtual events became the new way of life when it comes to marketing and communication.
What is a Virtual Event?
Our team was quick to pivot to after in-person events were canceled, and the first thing on my list was to tackle our first-ever virtual event. We had 10+ partners, top marketers, sales, and CX leaders in the industry as speakers, and some lofty goals for registrants and attendees.
Best Practices for Running a Virtual Event
Right off the bat, the most important item to remember is you need to plan hard core for these events, maybe even more than in-person events. So buckle up and get ready to work hard!
Set the Goals
The options are endless, but from here you will be able to understand what success looks like for your program.
Understand and Create Your Story
Remember the first step? You decided who your audience was. The next step is to understand what your audience wants to learn. Don’t just guess what your audience wants, go straight to them (call them, visit their LinkedIns, talk to their account owners) and understand what they are trying to learn and what their pain points are.
Ask yourself, is your content that you are sharing during the virtual event valuable?
- Content should be accurate and ethical so that your audience knows they can trust you
- Content should answer your audience’s actual questions (not the questions you think they’re asking and not just the questions that end with you as the solution)
- Helps your audience make informed decisions (not just purchasing decisions, but important decisions that they face today or every day)
- Will your customers and prospects walk away with tangible ways and creative ideas to address their top priorities?
Tap Your Partner Network
How to Drive Attendance to Virtual Events
Up-Level Your Promotion Plan
Take this one step further by encouraging your whole company to post from their personal accounts. Do you have a theme for your event? Have your whole team share a picture and post on LinkedIn to do with that theme.
- Post on Social Media Accounts: Take this one step further by encouraging your whole company to post from their personal accounts. Do you have a theme for your event? Have your whole team share a picture and post on LinkedIn to do with that theme.
“At Outreach, we did multiple coordinated LinkedIn Takeovers to promote Unleash where our employees were encouraged (completely optional btw) to post on a similar topic, all at the same time. We’ve been able to reach hundreds of thousands of people using this strategy and create a lot of buzz leading up to the event. Note: No copy/paste. It’s important to give people a framework but leave lots of room for each person to have their own creative license, that’s what makes it work. You want to humanize your brand and make it fun.” – Scott Barker, Evangelist at Outreach, Head of Partnerships at Sales Hacker
- Email Your Database: Your prospects and customers are getting loads of emails (this may even be an understatement), so make sure you are leading with the content. What is the true value they will get from attending your event over your competitors? Is it the engaging moments you are going to be providing during your event?
- Enable Your GTM Teams to Promote: Do you have an SDR team that helps promote event attendance? If so, enable them to be successful at the task by providing them sequences or cadences to use in tools like Outreach or SalesLoft, so they can easily guarantee their top accounts receive an invitation. You can also provide email copy to your Account Executives and Customer Success Managers. You can also coordinate sends on these teams behalf. Just have them each choose a number of accounts to target and you can send those top prospects eGift cards or a gift as an invitation to register. When you have the whole GTM team power behind promoting, you are unstoppable!
eGifts and Swag Stores
At in-person events, folks are used to going around and getting your company’s swag. You can recreate this experience by building a virtual swag store where you can encourage people to purchase brand items. You can build these sites super quickly in Shopify or Magento.
Keep It Engaging
- Survey and polls: You can use these during virtual events for one instant feedback also, it can help lead the conversations. This can also provide great follow-up content by being able to use stats from your key audience.
- Q&A: Make you have lots of time for people to ask questions, also have a chat feature where people can post questions and comments during a session. Make sure to monitor this info.
- Live Tweeting: Keep your community engaged with the amazing content being shared during your event. Try to pull out interesting moments and quotes from your speakers and highlight them on your social media feed.
Pump Yourself Up
Send Swag Bundles
If you have items from your show you were planning for in-person, use those to send out to folks attending your virtual event.
Last but Not Least, Follow Up!
Some follow up ideas for you:
- Turn all the individual sessions and keynotes into blogs
- Include the top-performing individual sessions in an email nurture program
- Build follow up sequences and cadences using quotes and clips from the sessions for the SDR team
The sky’s the limit here! Continue pushing out your content from your virtual event, and it may bring in new folks for your next virtual events.
“Follow up is often an afterthought when planning virtual events, but is just as important as the event itself. The key is to work closely with your SDR team to ensure they are prepared from the moment the lead hits their inbox. For every virtual event we participate in, we ensure that every email we send to a Targeted Account that attends is personalized and an eGift is sent to have our message stand out” – Katie Dunn, Demand Generation Marketing Manager at RollWorks
There are easy ways to have your virtual event stand out from others by delivering valuable content, and providing an awesome experience for your audience, not just for yourself.
Check out The Show Must Go On below for an example of how we pulled off our virtual event!