With the development of new and better technologies, the popularity of virtual events has seen a steady increase. Add to the mix stay-at-home orders and global social distancing protocols, and the safety, convenience, and practicality of virtual events have increased their use cases.
For event planners and organizers, the good news is that planning a virtual event, like an expo or trade show, is much like planning the traditional, in-person version. All that is necessary is a few special considerations.
Luckily, we have those considerations covered! Here is everything you need to know to create a successful virtual expo!
Know Your Audience (And Then Expand It!)
Before you can get too deep into the planning process, you will need to understand who will be attending your event. This knowledge will help you plan your marketing strategy and choose exhibitors, speakers, and sponsors that are relevant to the interests and concerns of your virtual attendees.
This information will be a benefit to your participants as well. They will need to cater their content to the event and create the lead generation strategies that will be most effective.
But where a physical event is limited by location and venue capacity, an online event like a virtual trade show or expo is something of a different story.
Because these events are taking place digitally, it is possible to reach a global audience. So, consider this fact in your event planning and promotion. Try to work in elements that may appeal or accommodate a wider range of people.
You should also consider having translation services available or, if you are having speeches or a keynote address, make that content available on-demand so it can easily be viewed in multiple time zones.
Consider Your Content
Once you know your target audience, you can finalize the goals for your virtual exhibition and begin putting together a list of exhibitors and sponsors.
Each exhibitor will have the ability to brand their exhibitor booth and present themselves and their product or service to attendees in an appealing and clear fashion. Work with these individuals to help them get the most of the experience. To understand how to better support lead retrieval, see our post: How to Support Lead Retrieval for Exhibitors at Virtual Events.
When choosing sponsors, invite those that share the same, or similar, target audience. The data you will collect at registration, coupled with the data collected throughout the online exhibition will be of great value to each of your sponsors. Knowing how your attendees move and behave when inside the exhibit hall will help them adjust future marketing campaigns and inform product/services development to be more appropriate to their audience.
Consider advancing your goals by adding content above and beyond the exhibitors on the show floor. Adding additional sessions like virtual networking events, keynote speeches, product demos, virtual reality, or gamification.
Choose the Right Platform
- Enable Chat. Live chat will be a key element when it comes to the attendee experience. Text, audio, and/or video chat will foster greater engagement and interaction between attendees and the exhibitors. Chat options make your virtual expo interactive and fun instead of just one more thing to scroll through on a screen.
- Support Live Streaming. Live video streaming can help you engage a large audience. It provides valuable content to virtual attendees while supporting lead capturing for exhibitors, and provide additional marketing opportunities to your event sponsors.
- Support Customizations. Not only will you want to put your event branding on the platform, but exhibitors and sponsors also need the ability to customize and brand their virtual booth with logos, messaging, and downloadable content.
- Enable Integrations. Look for a platform with social media and marketing integrations to improve communications and marketing strategies. It is also important to have a platform that makes ticketing and registration simple and easy. You will want to be able to access this data in a clear and simple way so you can improve marketing strategies if necessary.
- Allow Additional Sessions. The ability to host things like breakout sessions, networking sessions, fireside chats, Q&As, or virtual cocktail hours will go a long way to satisfying attendees and creating a valuable and meaningful experience.
Promote Your Virtual Expo
While all steps in the planning process are important, event promotion is top among them. If you cannot attract people to your virtual event, you are doomed to fail.
To ensure your event’s success, you should:
- Build an event website. An event website will allow you to create a home online and really develop your event brand and its messaging. This is also where you will provide event details like logistics and exhibitor profiles. Any additional content you create, like video teasers or blog content, can be used to convert your website traffic into registered guests.
- Leverage social media. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn can help you reach a wide audience of potential attendees. Create profile or event pages for your brand. These pages can help you generate a great deal of excitement for your event and direct people to your website and ticketing page. Consider hosting live video streams or highlighting exhibitors. Create dynamic and shareable content and the world will spread to people you would have otherwise been unable to reach. Create a hashtag for your event and encourage registrants to use it.
- Advertise in traditional media. An online event can benefit from traditional media just as much as a physical event. Post your event in trade or industry publications, purchase radio spots in key markets. All of these ads can push leads to your website in order to register or find more information.
- Put exhibitors and sponsors to work. Ask those participating in your event to share the details with their social media audiences. They can push your website or direct people to the appropriate social media pages. In all likelihood, these individuals will have their own fans and followers who will turn up just for the opportunity to interact with them at an event. Use this to your advantage!
Virtual expos can benefit just about everyone, including entrepreneurs, small businesses, and contractors. Virtual attendees can engage with your event from the comfort of their own homes without having to worry about crowds, travel, or accommodation. Exhibitors and sponsors benefit from a more qualified audience, leading to more qualified leads as well as additional data points that can help them better nurture those leads. And event organizers benefit from lower overhead costs, increased attendance numbers, better and more useful data.
By following the tips and considerations laid out above, you can ensure that your virtual expo is a success and everyone involved experiences maximum benefits. When you are ready to get started, reach out to Accelevents to see what we can do to help and support you in planning, marketing, launching, and hosting your virtual expo.