This post is written by Matthew Wainwright, Director of Marketing at Attend.com. Wainwright comes from HubSpot where he was a Principal on the Channel Marketing. Prior to that he worked on their Service team as a Senior Consultant. He has also worked at agency Catalyst Online and interned at Compete.com. He holds an MBA from Boston University.
Putting on the perfect online event can be harder than it initially seems. Here are some tips to make sure that your online events always strike the right note and meet your event objectives.
1. Define your objectives, refine your target audience
Start by agreeing on your overriding goal for the online event. This could be lead generation, identifying potential new recruits for your business, or establishing a connection with prospective partners.
For lead generation-oriented events, it’s good to extend invitations to existing leads as well as well new prospects. This can help to shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.
2. Choose the right event name
Choose a compelling name for your event that takes into account heavily trafficked keywords that will boost SEO and help to increase the number of relevant people who come across it.
3. Create a landing page
Create an online registration page, or landing page, for your event where attendees can sign up in advance. Make sure that every promotion ahead of the event links back to the landing page and that everyone who signs up gets an event confirmation.
4. Post a call to action’ on your website
Place a ‘call to action’ on your website that promotes the event. Go light on the text and instead use images and graphics to entice website visitors to sign up for the event.
The elements of a good promotion email are: a personalized email, an interesting subject line, concise copy describing your online event, and a clear call to action, such as “Register Now,” that links people to your landing page.
5. Promote via Social Media
Promote the event via social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Create a unique hashtag for your event on Twitter to help with promotion and for use during the online event itself.
6. Consider paid search
If you don’t have a large enough database of contacts, consider setting up paid advertising on social networks and/or a search engine to promote you online event. If you are not visually inclined, ask a designer to help you create visual ads.
All the major search engines have paid search advertising programs that let you purchase the right to have your listing show up for a given term. Choose a relevant keyword (like “leadership webinar”), use that keyword in your ad and then link that ad to your landing page.
7. Don’t forget about the content!
It’s easy to focus so much on the promotion and the logistics that there is little time left to work on the content. Plan the content well ahead of time and make sure you do a dress rehearsal before the event to iron out content, technical and delivery issues. The goal is to leave the attendees wanting more.
8. Choose an engaging presenter
A well-known presenter, such as an industry thought leader, can help to pull in attendees and may not be as expensive as you think. They may also agree to present for free if you are helping them to reach a new audience. A senior executive from your organization who is skilled at presenting online, where real-time audience feedback is limited, is also a good option. You are looking for a radio talk-show host, not a standup comedian!
9. Build a strong support team
Don’t overlook the value of securing a good team to support the presenter on the day. Choose a host/MC to oversee the event and handle Q&A, have a technical whizz on hand to handle any audio, visual and connectivity issues and consider having a social media expert ready to respond to others using your event hashtag in their discussions.
10. Find the optimal time
The ideal time for an online event is just before lunch. Of course, this varies with the profile of your ideal attendee and the need to include people from different time zones.
11. Follow up post-event
The actions you take immediately after your event has ended can impact its overall success. New leads need to know you have more to offer, existing leads need to be pushed into further conversations and existing customers need to know how they can use your product or service to take further action.
Create a ‘thank you’ email and short survey that can be sent out straight after the event, which includes links to the event video/slides and asks for feedback on the content and presenter. Keep the language in this communication broad enough to cover off recipients who may have left the event early, or didn’t actually join.
12. Repurpose the content post-event
Post an on-demand version of the event on your website and continue to promote the content. Putting this behind a gate such as a landing page means that you can continue to capture residual leads.