Many organizations are pivoting to virtual events as a result of current events around the world. But the intrinsic value of virtual events outweighs making it a contingency plan. If properly executed, these events have far-reaching benefits to organizers, attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors.
In order to create a robust virtual event experience that is beneficial to all, there has to be synergy between organizers, sponsors, and exhibitors at different points of the event’s life cycle including planning, execution, and post-event.
The following are ways to engage your sponsors and exhibitors in order to maximize the long-tail value of your virtual events:
- Understand the Long-Tail Benefits of Your Virtual Event
- Collaborate with Partners To Create Event Content
- Create Multiple Opportunities for Brand Awareness
- Create Multiple Channels for Lead Generation
- Strategically Gather and Share Data
Continue reading to learn more.
1. Understand the Long-Tail Benefits of Your Virtual Event
Making the most of your virtual events starts with recognizing the potential gains virtual events can provide and probably placing them side by side with those of in-person events. Here are some ways virtual events have an edge:
Think about what it takes to run a live event: venue, staff, setup, hotels, AV, travels, meals, and more. Each aspect has associated costs. Going virtual will help you save on all these and cut your overhead up to about 75%. This makes your cost per lead drop significantly and you will see an increase in your ROI.
Without any geographic barriers, your events become accessible to more people around the globe. This means you can target your campaign to new areas and get more people participating in your events than you can get at live events.
There’s no need to be worried about venue, catering, weather, etc. This helps you and your key staff to concentrate on essential parts of the event such as event content production, audience satisfaction, and lead generation.
Insulation from Disaster Scenarios
Many live events have been canceled as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic. But the likelihood that a disaster would significantly disrupt a virtual event is very slim. This gives you peace of mind with your events as you are unlikely to deal with cancellation issues.
Ability to Capitalize on Tech Innovations
Technology is the heart and soul of virtual events and this goes far beyond simple webinars. You can leverage technology to create an all-encompassing virtual event. Apart from streaming content sessions, you can incorporate live chats, Q&A, live polling, networking, showcases, virtual booths, and more.
2. Collaborate With Partners to Create Event Content
Sponsors and exhibitors are key partners for your event’s success. Therefore, they should be properly engaged in the virtual event production process including assisting with some parts of content production.
In order to provide value for your audience, engage sponsors to discuss growing trends based on the needs of your audience. This could be a trend from available data from past events or other sources. Let sponsors feature as thought leaders to address the major trends you have both identified in full presentation.
Alternatively, you can include a sponsor in a speaker panel where they join other speakers to share their thoughts on a growing trend. This can be pre-recorded and included as part of the content that will be distributed to participants during the event.
The strategies above work in a way that allows sponsors to lend their voice as thought leaders rather than just trying to market products and services to participants.
3. Create Multiple Opportunities for Brand Awareness
Create opportunities for your sponsors and exhibitors to maximize brand awareness during your virtual events. Below are some ideas:
Home Screen Display
Use your event’s home screen to display the logos of sponsors and exhibitors. You can also use event technology to allow attendees to check out sponsors from your home screen.
Ask sponsors to create short video content that can be streamed in-between sessions. For example, they can create video ads where they talk genuinely about a problem participants can address using their solution. This should be done in a way that will share the message without sounding like a commercial.
Another idea is to pre-record short interviews with your sponsors, where they answer predetermined questions based on the value of their solution to your audience This can be edited into snippets that can be used to engage the audience in-between sessions.
For exhibitors, they can pre-record a video showcase that will take participants through the solutions they offer. This can be placed somewhere in the event’s mobile app or virtual event platform for attendees to access.
Let sponsors and exhibitors create short messages that can be sent to attendees via push notification while the event is ongoing. This can be a prompt or reminder for attendees to check out a sponsor’s page or an exhibitor’s booth.
Gamification & Incentivization
Use gamification to engage the audience during your virtual events. This can be trivia or live polling with incentives for a ‘winner’. The incentives can be sponsored by your partners and you can creatively display their logos during the polling.
4. Create Multiple Channels for Lead Generation
Sponsors and exhibitors should get as many opportunities as possible for lead generation during virtual events. There are different ways you can make this happen:
Create virtual booths where attendees can ‘wait in line’ to meet with exhibitors and sponsors on your virtual platform. You can use appointment scheduling tools to create slots that can be pre-booked before the event. The system can notify both parties when it’s time. This can also include a virtual product showcase that ends with a CTA.
Share a message from your sponsors directly to your attendees or a segment of your attendees via email. Include a CTA in such emails that leads back to the website of the sponsor or an offer page.
5. Strategically Gather and Share Data
One of the things that makes virtual events interesting is the ability to easily gather data that can be helpful in future planning and marketing. You should engage your sponsors and exhibitors in all the phases of data gathering through the event’s life cycle. The following are some important data to capture and share with your partners:
Number and Demography of attendees
Track your attendance and the demographics of your attendees to share with your partners. Partners may want to target specific demography in their marketing campaign so you can show them which target audiences attended the event. You can also track your success rate in getting those categories of people to attend your event using metrics like email open rate and click-through rate (CTR).
Use interactive polling to ask attendees about specific interests or to know how many of the attendees would be interested in a new solution. You can also create a sponsor-based live poll to gather data from attendees on behalf of a sponsor. This should be made optional for attendees and they should be given the opportunity to opt-out.
Social Media Reach
Whether or not you stream your event on social media, you can make your event trend on social media and track its reach. Your team can create a social media trend for your event by encouraging attendees to share their event experience on social media using a specified hashtag. You can also incentivize sharing by rewarding a member of the audience whose post or tweet got the most likes, shares, or retweets. Sponsors can also leverage these trends to share their message to a wider audience on social media.
Event Platform/Mobile App Engagement
You can directly track the activities of your attendees on your virtual event platform or mobile event app. Activities such as page visits, profile views, downloads, chats, video views, etc. can be tracked. You can use this to determine the interests of the audience and the content and solutions they engaged with most.
Collaborate with your partners to develop post events surveys to know what content the audience found interesting and what they would want to have in future events. This can help in your future content plans with your partners.
If you implement the ideas shared above, you will build lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with your sponsors and exhibitors. You will also be able to share your results when prospecting new sponsors.