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BizReport : Advertising : April 02, 2021

Top 4 tips to build community from virtual events

As variants from the COVID-19 pandemic continue to circle the globe and businesses try alternative ways to reach shoppers, virtual events are becoming a hot commodity. But, a virtual event doesn't have to be a one-time-only thing. Virtual events can help brands build community around their products and services. Here's how.

by Kristina Knight

First, use a robust virtual platform

"Marketers and field teams have had to turn to virtual events for nearly a year now, so at this point, it's important that these events are refined and well-executed to engage audiences and drive attendance," said Sruthi Kumar, Associate Director of Field & Partner Marketing, Sendoso. "At the beginning of the pandemic, companies were leveraging their existing tech stack, but that has proven to not be enough. That's why leveraging a virtual event platform like ON24 or Welcome makes it easier for marketers to put on a polished presentation and for attendees to engage with the content. For those that have to stick with a limited budget, leverage help from industry partners where possible. Either way, your online event should feel professional and refined."

Second, ensure attendee engagement before, during, and after the event

"It's important to check off all of your logistics boxes before an event, including sending an event confirmation and having a landing page with an event forum. Another important aspect is ensuring attendee engagement during and after your event. This includes pre-event happy hours, polls to drive engagement during your event, ensuring your content is aligned with the audience you're speaking to, and making sure all elements are visually appealing. It can also include mid-day raffles for those who participate and sending a box of branded swag from sponsors. After the event is over, make sure to send a follow-up email to attendees including session recordings or speaker contact information. It can also be beneficial to share session recordings with those who signed up but didn't attend," said Kumar.

Third, leverage customer success and account executives' relationships with customer to drive attendance

"Enlist customer success managers (CSMs) and account executives (AEs) to use their relationships with customers to conduct follow-ups and encourage attendance to your virtual event. To incentivize them further, you can establish a contest where the CSM and AE who drive the most attendance will receive a $200 eGift card of their choice, for instance," said Kumar. "Ensure all the AEs' top accounts receive an invitation with streamlined outreach using tools such as Outreach or SalesLoft. After the invite is sent, follow up with an eGift card to attendees for coffee or lunch to remind the recipient of the event and help convert registration into attendance. For instance, security operations company Arctic Wolf saw success in direct sending when it hosted a webinar and sent UberEats eGift cards to registrants prior to the event. The company saw an average 72% attendance rate and continued conversations after the event by segmenting attendees by likelihood of converting and sent them branded swag."

Fourth, schedule breaks

"Most of us have felt the Zoom fatigue by now -- Constant eye contact and watching yourself on video can be exhausting. During your virtual event, schedule breaks or an activity such as a workout class or networking opportunity to give attendees a chance to reset and refresh. It should be noted that the event should never come to a complete stop, but these activities will help break up the day or enable attendees to quickly and easily step away from their computers if need be. If attendees see a scheduled break in the event agenda, it can reduce their urge to drop from the event," said Kumar.

Tags: advertising, community builder, Sendoso, social marketing, virtual event community building, virtual event tips, virtual event trends

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