Virtual events are the way of the future, and it’s not just because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. That may have been the thing that tipped the iceberg and forced marketers to finally embrace online events on a wider scale, but virtual events also present a unique opportunity to reach a broader audience. Events are no longer limited to consumers in the immediate area. You can reach a national — and even global — audience. That’s a major opportunity.
Unfortunately, ROI can be a little difficult to quantify. Most virtual events don’t require an admissions fee, and are used to either raise brand awareness or promote products and services. For this reason, boosting ROI during your event is all about raising engagement, maximizing your reach and collecting data you can use to nurture leads down the line.
Last week, we shared part one of our “Boosting ROI for Virtual Events” blog series which covered pre-event marketing tips to help you round up as many attendees for your event.
Today we are sharing part two where we’ll discuss some marketing strategies you can utilize during your event to increase engagement and capture leads. Keep reading to learn more!
Utilize a Combination of Live Q&As, Polls, and Quizzes
One of the top issues marketers have while throwing virtual events is audience engagement. The less engaged an audience, the least likely they’ll walk away wanting to make an actual purchase. Worse yet, it means your event is forgettable, and that is the death knell of a brand awareness campaign. Fortunately, there are some fool-proof ways you can drive engagement during your event.
While 79% of companies utilize live Q&As during their virtual events, research has shown that the top 7.5% of organizations with the highest attendance rates are far more likely to utilize a mix of live Q&As, live polls, and live quizzes to solicit audience interactions. Q&As are particularly powerful because they give potential consumers a chance to ask questions that may eventually sway them into making a purchase, but polls and quizzes cater to those who may be a little camera shy.
Make Sure There’s an Audience Live Chat
Attendees don’t want to feel like they’re being talked at; they want to feel like they’re being talked with. One way to do this is to literally give your audience a voice with a live audience chat. Like Q&As, this helps to crucially boost engagement, but it also gives attendees an opportunity to network amongst themselves. This is particularly important to B2B consumers because networking has largely been lost as companies shift away from in-person events.
A lot of the most basic streaming platforms like Zoom or Instagram Live already have a chat feature built in. If you’re doing a larger-scale event, like a virtual trade show, you’ll need more specialized technology, but make sure you utilize a streaming platform that supports chatting. You also should have a person moderating the feed in case users get rowdy or inappropriate.
Get Creative with Your Content
Marketers have long been touting the idea that content is king, and there’s some major truth to that statement. A virtual event is a time commitment, and users tend to drop off as time goes on. They’re real people who have real schedules and responsibilities just like you. As soon as they get bored, they’re onto the next thing on their to-do list. For this reason, your virtual event content has to be highly valuable.
According to the Path Factory study mentioned above, 48% of marketers believe that using a portion of your virtual event to discuss topics that aren’t openly or regularly discussed facilitates audience engagement. This doesn’t mean you have to get salacious like you’re hosting an episode of Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk, but you can utilize the moment to debut new and exciting products and features or discuss niche topics within your industry.
Offer a Participation Incentive
Participation and engagement are kind of like pushing a snowball down a hill. As soon as someone gets the ball rolling, it grows. To break the ice and encourage high participation, you can offer an incentive. This may include something like a free consultation, a special gift, or a simple shout-out. It doesn’t have to be big. All it has to do is show your attendees that you value their effort and enthusiasm.
All in all, participation incentives go far beyond boosting engagement. They work to nurture leads because you’re rewarding the people who are most interested in your company.
Collect In-Event Metrics to Utilize Later On
Research has shown that 38% of companies have no idea what virtual event content resonated with their audience. It’s hard to boost your ROI if you don’t know where your events are failing. This is why it’s important to collect metrics. You need to understand where users dropped off and where they were most engaged so you can apply that data to future virtual events. During the event, you should monitor:
- Watch time
- Drop-off rates
- Engagement rates
- CTRs and content downloads
- Poll and quiz data
- Chat logs
Not only will this help you improve your events overall, but it will help you identify the most engaged users so you can prioritize those leads and nurture them with personalized follow-ups.
The Bottom Line
Overall, the most important way to boost ROI during your event is by fostering a high engagement and attendance. This isn’t an easy task. Research has shown that just 7.5% of companies reach more than 75% attendance, and nearly 30% of companies admit they need to fine-tune how they encourage audience engagement in order to improve their ROI. Analytics are the key, and as long as you pay attention to how consumers are responding to your events, you’ll be able to make adjustments that lead to increased revenue. Need help planning your virtual event? Contact us today to see how we can help!
Stay tuned for our last blog post in the “Boosting ROI for Virtual Events” series! In this next article, we will be sharing post-event marketing tips to get the most out of your virtual event efforts.