Virtual events require planners to attract attendees, and to compete for the attention of a virtual audience in a saturated market. How can planners market their events to stand out and appeal to an online audience? Here are a few pointers.
Release an Event Teaser to Familiarize Attendees with the Virtual Event Platform
One of the advantages of an online format is that it provides many opportunities for pre-event engagement.
For example, a teaser livestream broadcast can allow prospective attendees to preview the event’s content while showcasing the engagement and interactivity your platform offers. This gives prospective virtual attendees a chance to explore the online format ahead of time, and even those planning to attend in person will have an incentive to become familiar with the platform beforehand.
Position Smaller Events as Exclusive Rather than Limited
In some ways, the elements that make a live experience attractive are the exact opposite: It is about being fully present and immersed in the multi-sensory experience. When marketing the live experience, planners need to think about the unique experiences that make being there physically worth it.
Combat the sentiment that your live event is limited by concentrating on event design, and emphasize the experience aspect in your communications. Focus on creating a sense of luxury, novelty, or unique opportunity using the best virtual event platform at hand.
Use the Event Destination to Make the Experience Worthwhile
Because attendees can now tune into events anywhere in the world through virtual participation, planners need to think about how to make their event destination stand out from all the rest.
To promote in-person attendance and optimize cross-promotional opportunities, consider hosting a pre-event interview on location with an influencer—ideally one who will be speaking at the event itself.
Influencers attending the event can also help to promote the unique value propositions of the destination. This approach can enhance the impression that the event is designed as an exclusive experience for a limited number of attendees.
Offer Audio-Only Content to Bypass Zoom Fatigue
Format matters as much for the teaser event as it does for the main attraction, and there are three interrelated aspects of the virtual experience that account for most of its appeal: convenience, flexibility, and accessibility.
This doesn’t always mean that more is better. Many potential participants may be experiencing ‘Zoom fatigue’ — tired of both being watched and watching others on a screen — and some may prefer engaging through audio only. While it’s still a good idea to offer video content and some more interactive features like Q&A, it’s wise to design some sessions that will work equally well as podcasts. Online engagement is all about choice, with the option to jump between the minimal focus demanded by background audio to the maximal engagement facilitated by active comment strings and live polls.
Leverage Interaction to Reassure Prospective Attendees
The interaction between in-person and virtual audiences should factor into the event’s marketing, and a small in-person audience at a teaser event could demonstrate this dynamic in action.
Unlike remote Zoom participants who might feel worn out by having to remember that they are continually being recorded, in-person attendees might feel a slight thrill from momentarily being in the spotlight when their reaction is recorded by chance. Meanwhile, remote participants will feel more connected.
Use Social Media to Build an Online Community for Ongoing Engagement
There is an adage in business that recommends the economic efficiency of retaining customers over gaining new ones, and with much of the event content being experienced virtually as events begin to recover, event planners should think about the implications on their relationships with their audience. Particularly when Covid is limiting realistic events in many cases to a single day, what is the utility of keeping your audience engagement limited to the event?
Virtual events present a marketing challenge, but they also provide an opportunity for innovation that translates to unique selling points. The trick is not just to bring out the best in each format individually, but to optimize how they work together.