Being able to join industry summits and attend events from anywhere has created a world of opportunity for how marketing teams plan, launch, and host virtual events. In fact, virtual event marketing is only projected to increase in popularity and prominence, not to mention profitability, over the next few years.
However, with these new opportunities come an increased responsibility to event attendees: to entertain them, respect their time, and create jaw-dropping experiences that leave them wowed.
From a Virtual Event to a Memorable Experience
Workers at every level and from every sector spend more time on their computers than ever before. A recent study from Polly found that employees now spend an average of 10 hours a week in virtual meetings, a steep 5x increase from pre-pandemic times.
According to that same study, 90% of employees are also using this increased screen time to multitask and do pretty much anything other than participate in work: check emails, respond to texts, online shop. Increased distractions and screen fatigue are real.
And when it comes to virtual events, these are the top challenges marketers are up against.
When planning your next virtual marketing event, consider the ways you can engage your audience, encourage participation, and be responsive to their input. Without interesting and engaging content, you'll be competing against an attendee's busy personal and professional life. And that's a battle you can't afford to lose.
Tech Tip: Partner with a virtual event platform like Welcome to access tools and tech that make it easy to host experience-driven events.
8 Ideas for Your Next Virtual Event
Whether your next virtual marketing event is right around the corner or far off in the future, there are infinite ways to earn your audience’s attention.
Here are some of our favorite ideas to spark inspiration.
1. Live content meets pre-recorded video
Let’s face it, there’s nothing as exciting as gathering together live (Beyoncé concerts included). But pre-recorded content gives you the opportunity to plan ahead, coordinate production, develop branded graphics, and edit final takes.
Mixing live speakers and workshops with pre-recorded intros, short-form video, and entertaining snippets gives your audience the best of both worlds.
Tech Tip: Add digital overlays, speaker or event titles, and dynamic graphics to pre-recorded and live video with Welcome’s easy-to-use tools in Stage kit.
2. Personalized content
Global summits typically have multiple stages with different events going on at the same time. If you’re planning a large virtual marketing event for a diverse audience, consider planning different tracks that allow audience members to tune in for exactly what interests them.
That way, attendees can follow an A versus B schedule, or mix and match events to their choosing. Plus, if your event registration captures preferences, you can create custom marketing segments for each topic to engage your audience before, during, and after your event.
3. Intimate workshops
Big, glitzy events with even bigger, glitzier speakers are wonderful. But so are intimate, hands-on workshops that allow attendees to get to know each other and learn something tangible.
When planning your event, consider ways to weave in workshops that have a specific theme and a tangible outcome, like public speaking skills, mindfulness, or even meet-and-greets with company leaders.
4. Speaker lineups
Speakers are your event’s product: in many ways they’re what drives interest in, and attendance to your event. When creating a lineup, consider who is relevant to your audience, who can help you reach new people, and who can teach something out-of-the-box and new.
Pick leaders from across industries who bring unique points of view to the table. Prioritizing life experience over a resume is also a great way to expand and enhance your lineup.
5. Interactive storytelling
Harvard professor Dr. Howard Gardner said that “stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.” And the same is true for your virtual event. Stories create powerful emotional connections between speakers and attendees. But in this new age of screen-fatigue, it’s critical to bring these stories to life in interactive ways.
Think dynamic media, graphic overlays, and b-roll footage and montages, along with audience polling, pulling attendees onstage, and providing choose-your-own adventure opportunities. Even in virtual meetings, there’s always opportunities to incorporate simple interactive activities, like group stretching or scavenger hunts.
6. Audience participation
The first rule of virtual events is to never leave audience participation to chance. When you partner with a virtual event platform, your arsenal of engagement tools expands exponentially.
Incorporate moderated and on-stage Q&As, embed polls directly on the screen, and offer one-on-one or public chatting to encourage meaningful audience engagement. When you ask your audience their opinion and reflect their input live, you’re sure to keep their attention — and participation — for the whole time.
7. Gamification and prizes
From leaderboards to team quizzes, nothing brings people together like healthy competition. Consider ways to gamify your virtual event, like rewarding session attendance with badges, organizing a virtual scavenger hunt across different rooms and lounges, or leveraging small breakout sessions for teams to build and share ideas.
8. Social integration
Encouraging social media interactions during your virtual event is a great way to give your audience more chances to connect and share, while also extending the reach of your event.
Start and moderate a chat using a hashtag, stream behind-the-scenes content on Instagram Live, or even ask attendees to post photos from your event and tag you. In order to develop the best social strategy, think about who your audience is, where they like to spend their time, and how you can tap into their habits to make your own event even more engaging.
When you put your audience in the driver’s seat, shift your mindset, and intentionally create content that entertains a digital audience, you can transform any virtual marketing event into a jaw-dropping experience. With a little planning and a great virtual event platform, your next virtual marketing event will be well on its way to success.