Updated: Aug 22
Hosting a virtual event online is a cost-efficient and effective way of getting people together in this busy, over-committed world we live in. Getting people out to an in-person event, on top of renting a space, ordering catering, and dealing with logistics and set-up can be costly and exhausting to plan. Virtual events take away all of this – you simply need a video conferencing tool, email list, a good presenter and visuals and you’re ready to rock and roll.
Types of virtual events: webinars, summits, conferences, networking, speed networking, podcasts, live shows, training, workshops, product launches, masterminds, and more.
First, let’s quickly touch on what makes a good virtual event because that's the first step in actually getting people to show up. Before you simply throw an online event, you want to make sure the topic is valuable for people – what are you wanting to solve? You need to have a good reason for people to attend, a good speaker, and engaging content before you do anything to promote the event. Once you have this, you can start to promote your event and share away!
Now that you have an amazing event idea, how do you promote this online event?
1. Create an event RSVP
You can use platforms like Eventbrite (for free and paid events) or Facebook events (for free events) to create an event that will allow people to RSVP. Or, maybe you want to simply use a Google Form for more private events to track attendees. Facebook events are great because it promotes social proof – the more people attending the event, the more hype it gets. Plus, if you use something like Eventbrite or Facebook, you can share it easily on your social channels and with Facebook, you can pay to promote it in ads.
2. Decide where you’re going to promote it
Now that you have a kick ass topic or theme, you need to decide the right channels to promote it in. Decide who your audience is, and if you have any budget, and go from there. You won’t want to do a blast on social media if it’s an event meant for specific industry professionals and partners, or maybe it’s for your power users. If it’s a niche event, personalized email and invites through your channels would work best. If it’s a broad event, feel free to use your social media channels and even throw some money behind some paid ads. See below for a checklist of marketing ideas.
3. Create incentives
If you are running a paid event, or if you have the budget to create a little buzz, you can reward past attendees with a promo code or offer “the first 50 participants” a token of appreciation. This can encourage RSVP sign ups and help quickly spread the word – everyone likes freebies! Make sure whatever you offer is relevant to the event or audience, like a free book written by the speaker, special access to a sale or promotion code, or something that will really entice people to come out.
You can also run contests on your social channels, such as “tag someone you’d bring with you to the event” to generate more buzz as people clamor to score a free ticket.
4. Leverage partners, speakers and sponsors
Having a sponsor for the event will be a win-win, as sponsors will help with any incentives or swag for participants, and will help spread the reach of the event. It’s always great to have another brand supporting your event, for example, having an event about customer analytics that is sponsored by Google. It gives your event legitimacy and also has the power of the name behind it.
Invite your partners to the event, and have everyone reach out to their network to invite attendees. One easy way of including partners is offering the moderator spot to a partner, or having a panel type event where you can invite multiple partners as experts to speak on your topic. Have everyone promote the event on their social channels and in their email signatures to increase your reach for free.
Track, learn, adjust, and grow
Hosting virtual events is another engagement and acquisition marketing tool that you can have in your toolkit. Like any other marketing strategy, ensure that you set up measures of success so that you can track your progress, learn from your experience, adjust your approach for next time, and continue to grow as you host more virtual events.
1. Make your event worth attending. What problem are you solving? Decide if it’s free or paid
2. Decide if you have an ad budget or if you are going the grassroots way (FB, LI, IG, TW, Google)
3. Decide which platform you will host the event (Zoom, Streamyard, Remo, Facebook live, etc)
4. Create a #hashtag for the event and check it first
5. Hit your current network/database/strategic partnerships:
a. Reward past attendees
b. Offer early bird pricing and/or incentives (free vs paid)
6. Let’s get marketing
a. What is your CTA? Keep it consistent. “Yes, reserve my seat now!”
b. Create a unique event page on your website. Have the RSVP button go to you Eventbrite event
c. Add CTA’s on your website and at the end of the most current or popular blogs. Like ads
d. Create an Eventbrite event
e. Create a FB event on your business FB page and invite any speakers to be a co-host.
i. Link the Eventbrite to the FB event for easy checkout. Also post/start a discussion on the event page. Everyone that has RSVP’d will get notifications every time you post so use this power wisely
ii. Ask people to go to the FB event page and 'invite' their friends to it. There is an invite button right there
f. List on local online community event directories and discovery sites
g. Create social media content that promotes your event (IG, IG stories, IGTV, FB, TW, LI, etc). When posting make sure to tag your speakers and sponsors. When promoting on IG, create a Linktree
h. Take advantage of LinkedIn and Facebook groups
i. Add your event to your email signature (wise stamp)
j. Check Meetup groups to see if they would share with their members
k. Run Contests “Who would you bring with you?”
7. Leverage event sponsors and speakers
a. Send them an email letting them know what the #hashtag is, any images to use, the link to the RSVP, your social media handles, etc so they can promote
b. Ask your speakers to write a blog post, record a video, promote on their social as well as through their email database
c. Ask the sponsors and speakers if they can share the FB event on their page saying this is where they will be on that day and for people to come and visit them
INTERVIEW: How to get bums on seats for your virtual events
Want to build your reach and reputation as an Authority in your field in 2020 with Virtual Events BUT unsure how to get bums on seats?
I know exactly what to do and has generated incredible results for my clients. I was invited to join Annemarie on her January 2020 Masterclass to share HOW I do it - STEP-BY-STEP.
Watch this LIVE Masterclass as I share my tips and tactics on how to get bums on virtual seats.
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