It’s no secret that event marketing is no longer what it used to be. You’ve had to move events to the virtual world, which might’ve felt like the untamed Wild West at times! You’ve also had to overcome attendee inertia about virtual events, given that more than 85% of them prefer the in-person equivalent and 92% believe the in-person model to be better lead generators.
In the virtual event landscape, many of the traditional rules regarding attendee engagement and sponsorship ROI no longer hold. These circumstances might seem intimidating at first – but they also present an opportunity. You can craft a new narrative about your brand emphasizing resilience and fun while attracting an even wider audience than you might’ve previously thought possible.
As an event marketer, your responsibility is to deliver value to your sponsors and ensure attendees are engaged. Creating moments of delight for participants checks off both boxes! Here are five ways you deliver a successful virtual event, according to Leigh Doyle, VP and Partner at Digital Journal Group.
1. Ship swag
Whether it’s a keyring, a T-shirt or a box of chocolates, attendees love the free tangible goodies they can rack up at events. Why deny them this pleasure in the virtual equivalent? Consider partnering with sponsors to create boxes of swag and ship them to attendees before the event kicks off! Sponsors can include branded materials and invitations to event-only dates to drum up excitement for attendance. Alternatively, says Doyle, consider pairing a relevant influencer with each sponsor to help curate elements of the box. Influencers can then post about the kits to drive up interest and offering only a limited number of such boxes can increase fear of missing out (FOMO).
2. Host a happy hour
Along with the swag box, ship a cocktail recipe and ingredients so attendees can participate in a virtual Happy Hour. A digital hangout can include the sponsor logo on the screen the entire time to drive home the branding message while creating a lively networking opportunity for attendees. Hosting separate events for attendees with similar interests will lead to smaller, more focused and impactful networking opportunities. Sponsored video games offer another opportunity for engagement and ROI.
3. Arrange for attendee lunch
Doyle suggests that attendees receive a custom sponsor code — “SponsorLunch” — to GrubHub, UberEats, DoorDash or any method for delivery to attendees. The icing on the cake: attendees save time and stay tuned into your events instead of logging off to find lunch and never returning. Supporting local businesses is an added incentive to a moment like this.
4. Get them moving
Don’t allow dead air between sessions, Doyle advises. “Think through every second of the content including the gaps that can occur in downtime or as segments transition. That entertainment or playlist can be sponsored,” she adds. Invite a big-name DJ to play music that attendees can move to. Arrange for yoga or meditation sessions conducted by qualified professionals so participants can take a breather. Deliver these mini events as sponsorship opportunities.
5. Share giveaways during sessions
Create bingo games or digital scavenger hunts for your audience. “These can be brought to you by a sponsor and come with a sponsor-provided prize,” Doyle says. During the event sponsors can deliver virtual swag like passes for Spotify or other audience-relevant goodies, Doyle adds. The sponsor’s brand name could unlock the code for online use.
Virtual events offer unlimited opportunities for attendee engagement, because you can personalize moments of delight according to audience interests. The rules for a successful virtual event are being rewritten: Sseize this opportunity to engage your attendees in whole new ways and create lasting brand loyalty!
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