“If you build it, they will come.” said Kevin Costner in the 1989 Hollywood production “Field of Dreams”. Mr. Costner surely wasn’t building a virtual event. If you build a virtual event, the turnout will be disappointing at best, unless you put the word out with a well-thought-out virtual event marketing plan. No matter how important or interesting the topic of your virtual event, promotion is the name of the game. And we have 10 excellent virtual event marketing ideas to get you started.
- What is virtual event marketing and why it’s important
- Top 10 strategies to market your virtual event
- Kaltura virtual event solutions
- Interview with Nohar Zmora, Kaltura’s Senior Director Brand Marketing and Strategy
What Is Virtual Event Marketing and Why Is It Important
Virtual event marketing is all about understanding what type of event your target audience needs, letting your target audience know you’re organizing an event for them, and attracting as many of the right attendees to your virtual event as possible. Virtual event marketing usually also involves following up with leads and sponsors, measuring the success of the event, and tweaking the strategy for future events accordingly. Basically, it’s not that much different from promoting a real-life event.
Virtual event marketing follows a promotion strategy that involves different channels, such as:
- a virtual event landing page
- email campaigns
- social media and influencer marketing
- blog posts and guest posts
- paid ads
Why is virtual event marketing important?
The short and obvious answer is that people need to know your event is happening in the first place. In Kaltura’s recent survey, “The State of Virtual Events 2022” we found that 92% of event organizers have shifted to virtual events in 2021, and 94% of companies will host virtual events in 2022. 48% plan to increase the number of virtual events they hosted in 2021. With so many virtual events vying for the user’s precious attention online, you are going to have to make some noise.
But virtual event marketing goes beyond merely driving registrations. Once attendees have registered, it’s the virtual event marketer’s crucial role to get them psyched about the event and prepare them with all the information needed to experience a successful event. Regular emails with updates about the agenda, new speakers or activities, or even industry news that provides important background information will also help you stay top-of-mind until the day of the event. This is very important when you know that on average 35% of your registered attendees will not show up for the event.
So, what do we do now? Read on…
Interview With Nohar Zmora, Senior Director Brand Marketing and Strategy at Kaltura
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge when marketing a virtual event?
The number of virtual events happening at any time, from small webinars to premium international conferences, make it increasingly hard to stand out and convince your audience of the value of your event.
Another challenge is that you need to start promoting as soon as you fixed a date. Usually, many things are still unknown, such as speakers, content, and the exact messaging. So you need to start simultaneously on all tracks, use what you have, and develop it as you go.
Which virtual event marketing strategy have you found most successful?
It’s definitely a blend of channels and methods. You need to do it all: paid campaigns, organic posts, outreach to existing communities and groups, email marketing to targeted databases, and partnerships with organizations that share your target audience and of whom you can ‘borrow’ the user databases to send out email campaigns.
Of course, your best strategy is your content… Another good strategy is to harness employee advocacy. Have them promote your event to their social networks. Your speakers and presenters, too, have a shared interest in promoting your event to their following.
Which tools and channels did you find most helpful in promoting a virtual event?
Your community, influencers, speakers, sponsors, and other internal or external advocates relevant to your audience are going to be your most powerful assets in setting up a successful virtual event. Use their networks. Let them promote your event for you.
What is the single most important thing in promoting a virtual event?
You need to make sure your audience knows all the practical stuff: the when, the where, and how to connect, and of course you must let them know about your content and your speakers. Give them a feel of the event. A good example would be to offer your attendees an interactive guided tour of the event. It will give them a glimpse of the platform and the experience.
Top 10 Strategies to Market Your Virtual Event
Create a virtual event your target audience will want to attend
Obviously, your event needs to be of relevance to your target audience, so it will pay to reverse-engineer your approach and find out what your audience needs. Build your content calendar and find speakers accordingly. Share useful information as an authority, solve pain points with regards to your products or niche, entertain people about topics they are passionate about.
Understand attendee goals with regard to virtual events. Kaltura’s “The State of Virtual Events 2022” survey revealed that people attend virtual events mainly to get to know your company (36%). Learning something new comes a close second (36%). In stark contrast with in-person events, networking and connecting with others takes a back seat in virtual events (15%). The most anticipated type of content is expert Q&As (47%) and demos (38%). Virtual happy hours, keynotes, and thought leadership sessions are also highly prized. Take that into account when you build your next virtual event!
Choose your date and time wisely
It’s important to consider your audience’s preferred viewing times. We found that people prefer viewing virtual event content around lunchtime on weekdays, and that’s consistent around the world. Keep in mind holidays and other major events that could steal away the attention from your event and try to find an optimal slot in your audience’s agenda.
Especially for larger global events, you will have to optimize your event’s agenda for your audience’s time zone. Concentrate your live sessions on your core audience or repeat for different time zones. In these cases, VOD is your friend. On-demand sessions will help you deliver the full experience to all your attendees.
Start promoting your event as soon as you have a date and time
According to research, it takes 3 to 6 weeks to successfully promote a small virtual event. Larger virtual events need more than 6 weeks to attract enough attendees. This is often harder than you would think because at this stage you still have so many unknowns. But that’s also a good thing. You have an opportunity at each update to reach out to your audience with posts or emails. Announce that next big speaker you were able to secure, surprise your following with another great entertainment act, … feed the interest-piquing updates gradually so you can keep on posting new information until the day of the event.
The trick is to keep it high-level and develop the main elevator pitch and messaging for your event. Leverage your social media channels to see what kind of messaging resonates well with your audience. Build your voice and your story on what gets the most traction on social media. This brings us to…
Build a beautiful event page
This is a key step. All your promotion efforts will direct your target audience to your event page. Make your landing page on-brand with custom graphics, an event countdown, teaser clips, speaker bios, session descriptions, sponsor information, updates, secure payment options, and of course your agenda and a big shiny registration form or button. People who clicked your link and landed on this page did so because you piqued their interest. Reel them in with a stunning page that offers visitors a sweet taste of what’s to come and what’s in it for them.
Pro-grade virtual event platforms such as Kaltura Virtual Events offer powerful tools to build highly customizable event landing pages with all the bells and whistles to drive registrations.
Promote your event on social media
Thank God for social media. They seem purpose-built to promote your event with three very powerful tools. First, Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook offer the possibility to create event pages with all kinds of tools and widgets to inform and engage your audience. They even have an “Attend” button (which can be tricky if registrations run through your landing page, so make sure to lead your social media visitors to your virtual event landing page).
Another powerful aspect of social media is that you can easily home in on your target audience by reaching out to groups and pages that are relevant to your event’s topic, and by running smartly targeted paid campaigns.
The third power of social media in promoting your virtual event is advocacy (more on that in strategy #7). Involve your employees and all other stakeholders in promoting and creating a social media buzz around your virtual event. Tip: create posts with copy and design assets for them. That way you keep full control over your messaging while making things easier on your advocates (they only need to copy, paste, and hit “Post”).
Reach out to your audience with email blasts
76% of marketers say that email is the single most effective way to drive registrations. So, make email the cornerstone channel of your virtual event marketing. Send out email blasts to your email database and leverage the databases of partners and sponsors as well. Collect emails of registrants and send them important updates and regular reminders (a week before the event, then again, a day before the event, and on the day of the event itself).
Use email for follow-up with attendees after your event. Don’t just leave it at a thank you email and shut the door. This is your opportunity to bring home your main objectives and lead generation. More on this in strategy #10.
Involve absolutely everyone
In the digital world, we’re all rock stars. We all got infinitely more followers online than we have friends in real life. You can literally 1000x your reach by getting everyone on their phones or computers and put the word out: employees, sales teams, partners, sponsors, speakers, artists, influencers, family and friends, or family of friends. Make it impossible for them to say no by creating the content of their posts for them.
The size of your audience will depend on how much of a buzz you were able to create around your event. So, reaching out to absolutely everyone and having everyone reach out to their crowds is a must. To increase your reach, it’s also imperative that you …
Use a blend of channels
Reach out to potential attendees via your website, social media channels, paid advertising on social and Google, guest posting on relevant third-party websites, press releases, email blasts, … Any stone left unturned is a missed opportunity to get more attendees to your event.
Entice your audience with swag
The days of swag bags didn’t end with the rise of virtual events. Help potential registrants overcome their last hesitation with freebies for all registered attendees: a 1-month free subscription to a partnering app or platform, a discount on your products or services, a free ebook, a free 15-minute consultation, a raffle, or an in-event contest with a major prize for the winner. People love free stuff. If they weren’t yet convinced by your stellar line-up of speakers, then maybe the prospect of a nice swag bag will win them over.
Follow up after the event
As said before, following up with attendees is the golden cherry on your virtual event pie. This is where the magic happens. You got your audience all psyched, now reel them in for the win. How can you keep the door ajar for future opportunities and contact? Send them a follow-up email with a clear CTA that will consolidate your objectives for your event:
- VOD access of all sessions
- Access to a survey or other valuable information
- An invitation to the next event
- A discount on your products or services
- An invitation to speak to an agent
If the event in itself was the main objective, then you can close the circle for your attendees with a nice thank you email inviting them to rate or review the event.
Kaltura Virtual Event Solutions
We hope these strategies will help you drum up the crowds you want. But don’t forget that this crowd has expectations. Your audience wants to get informed, be entertained, and generally get something out of your event.
Your content is literally king, here.
But a very close second factor in the success of your event is the platform you use.
Kaltura Virtual Events beats the competition out of the water on many levels. It’s a robust, secure, and feature-rich solution that can take on any kind of event at any scale and make it a fully branded and hyper-personalized experience for your community, from registration, all the way to the on-demand repurposing of your content after the event.
Kaltura covers all your virtual event needs:
- High-quality and reliable streaming experience
- Interoperability with other platforms and tools
- Full sponsor and VIP feature suite
- Hyper-personalization for all stakeholders
- Extensive chat and networking features
- Powerful registration module
- Gamification, interactivity, and engagement features
- Social integration
- Advanced search tools
- Powerful analytics and data collection features
- Accessibility and localization features
- White-glove production support
- And so much more!
Ready to launch a jam-packed virtual event? Check out Kaltura Virtual Events.