There isn’t much we can say for certain in 2020, but one thing we do know is that online events are here to stay.
Even after we’ve all moved on from Zoom catch ups and virtual trivia nights, businesses planning their 2021 marketing strategy need to think seriously about how they can run successful events online.
Online events have just as many negatives as they have positives. Though online events have much greater accessibility and participants are no longer limited by geography or disability, capturing the energy that comes from meeting in person can be very difficult.
Here are some ways you can create a successful and energizing online event:
Do plan a full schedule and set an agenda up front
There’s nothing worse than the feeling of staring at the clock and realizing you still have 20 minutes of time to fill. Especially when you’re the webinar host.
Planning a full schedule is a basic webinar trick, but it makes so much different. Make sure you have back up plans and activities in your back pocket you can use to fill the time. Asking your audience to share their own experiences, or having fun interactive polls you can ask is one way to make sure you don’t end up with too much time.
Setting an agenda up front really helps with your time management. You can see if you need to talk about a subject more or less based on what else in in your agenda. Setting an agenda is also particularly beneficial for people who live with accessibility needs such as autism or ADHD, as it helps manage expectations.
Do engage with your audience at key “drop off” points
When we’re watching webinars on a screen it can be easy to lose focus. In person, you’d be unlikely to see your audience scrolling through Twitter. But online that’s a different situation. Make sure you add audience engagement elements, like polls or give aways throughout your online event. After a speaker has delivered a particularly juicy slideshow, or at the midway point are great places to start.
If you’re running the event more than once, such as a webinar, make sure you note where the audience drop off points where in the first iteration and then add engagement to those moments.
Do advertise, advertise, advertise
It is so easy to sign up to a webinar and then never attend. It’s not enough to advertise an online event to your mailing list once – you need send at least one reminder email. You could also prompt your audience to add the event to their calendar, or to share that they are coming on social media. The more people engage with your online event before the day, the more likely they are to turn up.
If you have the budget, you could also make use of paid ad retargeting. If somebody visits your website or landing page but doesn’t sign up for the event, you can use Facebook or YouTube ads to remind them of the event.