Over the past few weeks, we have seen the ramifications that the COVID-19 outbreak is having on various professions, including event marketers. To meet annual goals, event marketers are looking to move in-person events to be virtual. But it can be daunting to know where to start. Not only are there event coordination and logistics questions to address, there is also the challenge of understanding how to engage attendees and create a similar experience online vs. in-person.
To help you navigate this uncharted territory, we asked two of our resident marketing experts about how they’re changing their event strategies and producing successful online events in response to COVID-19. In the second of this two-part blog series, we sat down with Erica Maki, Senior Engagement Programs Manager, Marketing at LogMeIn about creating successful online events.
Q: When considering making an event a virtual one, what are some helpful questions to ask to set yourself up for success?
ERICA: Think about what the ultimate goal is. Who are the necessary key players/speakers? Who is the audience? What is the goal for them, what do they want to learn? Make sure speakers are well prepped and feeling confident. Have a dry run, or two, because more practice = more speaker confidence.
Q: What are some ways you encourage engagement and participation from attendees during a virtual event?
ERICA: I use everything in the toolbox with variety and frequency. Here is a short list:
- Start early, as it helps you kick the pre-session nerves by connecting with that attendees.
- Keep webcams on throughout.
- Ask an ice-breaker question, as they can help you make that human connection.
- Launch a GoToWebinar poll early such as “Now that you’ve met us, let’s find out who is here.”
- Involve multiple speakers. Changes in voice and visuals will draw attention.
- Use various mediums – point them to a handout you’ve added or play a short video.
- If you see good questions come in, selectively use the ‘send to all’ option when replying as the audience likes to see what others are asking about.
- Always have a ‘hand-raiser’ poll at the end asking about their interest in more information. “Do you want to learn more?” I’ve found our hot leads to sales tripled when adding this question to the in-session poll vs. the post-session survey.
- Most importantly, lead with the message you want the audience to take away.
Q: What are some common virtual event misconceptions/ dispelled myths?
ERICA: The biggest misconception has to be that webinars are boring and people will not stay on very long. We’ve found from our Big Book Of Webinar Stats data that the average time spent across all GoToWebinar sessions was 57 minutes. If you connect with the remote audience, give them what they want, remember that they came to learn and engage throughout, they will stay on.
Q: How do you gauge the success of virtual events? What are some key KPIs and how do you measure them?
ERICA: First, I gauge success by the energy I get from the audience – the questions, comments, and invaluable feedback. This is just as tangible as in person – maybe even more so. Second, marketers can easily gauge if they have people showing interest in their topic, people are attending and are asking for more information, which can be passed on to sales as leads. With all of the reporting available in GoToWebinar, this is measurable and highly impactful. Third, and probably most valuable, is the impact of webinars that is a bit more difficult to measure: the human connection to your brand/product/company, a scalable way to make that connection to a large group, a wealth of customer feedback. Don’t forget that once your live event is over, you can continue to leverage your event via the recording or edit into short videos for your digital channels.
Q: Do you have any tips and tricks for event marketers doing virtual events for the first time?
ERICA: Here are a few critical tips for beginners:
- Be yourself, have fun and connect with your audience.
- Don’t ever skip the following:
- Dry run: Practice everything like you would in the live event. Make sure presenters are in the same location and everything is set-up as they would have for the live event. If they are not, then they should have an extra dry run that you host for them prior to the live event.
- Pre-call: Launch the session in practice/green room 30 minutes prior to go-live to run through everything again. This includes checking audio, webcam, intro flow and presentation are all set to go.
- Early start: Go live 2-3 minutes early. Get on webcam and greet attendees like you would in a live event. The connection starts now.
- Don’t ever start with, “… and now I’ll turn my webcam off and let you focus on the slides.” That’s a recipe for losing your audience. People did not come to look at slides. They want a human connection!
- For more great advice on how to use GoToWebinar, check out these 15 tips to make you a GoToWebinar Power User!