For the United States and much of the world, many elements of ‘normal’ life remain on hold. As we navigate the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to imagine what things will look like when we finally emerge on the other side.
The benefits of virtual events include:
- Lower overhead costs
- No venue bookings
- Easier event management
- Greater brand awareness
- More qualified leads for vendors and sponsors
- Wider audience reach
- Higher attendance rates
Higher attendance rates create the best opportunity for planners creating virtual events. Without the need to travel to the event and spend money on accommodations or put their health at risk, an online event is more accessible to a much wider audience.
A larger audience and higher attendance rates won’t matter, however, if you do not know how to take advantage of them.
Here are some tips on how to leverage higher attendance at virtual events:
Scale the Event for Higher Revenues
When planning a digital event, it is important to think big. Certainly, COVID-19 is keeping most of us local and has us thinking about staying closer to home. BUT, taking this mentality to your virtual event is not a good idea.
Because people do not have to travel to attend, you should be scaling the event for a more global audience. Expand your advertising spend to reach potential attendees outside your local area.
Consider reaching out to speakers and presenters outside the United States to capture a global perspective on your event theme.
These moves will allow you to sell tickets in different markets, increasing your potential revenue. For example, the Salesforce “World Tour” in Sydney Australia had 15,000 registered attendees. When the event was shifted to a virtual format, those registrations swelled to 80,000.
There will always be people that want to attend a physical event but, for one reason or another, are unable to. A virtual event does not present the same challenges and event attendance will soar.
And don’t think you need to drop the ticket price to entice these people. If you offer solid and engaging content and make it easy to attend, people will pay the price you set.
Virtual events, when done right, are no less valuable than traditional, in-person events.
Increase Sponsorship Requests
There are two reasons why a virtual event is attractive to sponsors: a large targeted audience and greater access to attendee data. As an event organizer, you should plan to approach more potential sponsors than you might ordinarily and you can even ask for higher amounts when selling sponsorship packages.
Your virtual event is likely to have a very targeted audience. When advertising, marketers are used to appealing to a broad audience and taking whatever comes their way. If you can demonstrate that the demographics of your registered attendees match their target audience, they are likely to jump at the chance to sponsor your event. Attaching their brand to your event means they are put in front of a qualified audience, increasing the returns on their sponsorship dollars.
Virtual events provide more opportunity than a live event for tracking attendee behavior. At a live event, it is hard to know where attendees go once they have entered the event venue but with virtual attendees, you can follow their movements.
When hosting a virtual conference, for example, you can see which sessions are most popular and which elements created the most attendee engagement. This information can then be passed along to event sponsors providing them with a greater understanding of their target market.
A virtual or hybrid event offers greater placement opportunities as well. At a physical event, placement is limited by the venue but with an online platform, there are greater possibilities.
Consider the sponsorship opportunities when putting together your packages:
- Event marketing materials: Include sponsors on any digital or print marketing assets and whenever you do event promotion. This includes event website, registration page, social media posts, email campaigns, and print ads.
- Session naming rights: Sponsors can attach their name to specific sessions during your event. This can include webinar sessions, keynote addresses, gamification, virtual meetings, networking sessions, and virtual cocktail hours. You can even name event spaces like the virtual lobby or exhibit hall after a sponsor.
- Audience experience: Because engagement is so important at virtual events, consider enlisting sponsors to help you create an experience for virtual attendees. This could include things like having a sponsor provide an Uber Eats gift card so attendees can buy lunch during the event. Similarly, have a sponsor provide a beverage option to attendees for a virtual cocktail hour.
- Social media mentions: Give your sponsors a shout out on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Express your excitement at having them onboard and then link to their profiles.
Pro tip: Consider offering attendees a discount in exchange for providing more personal details at registration. This additional information will be invaluable to event sponsors.
Choose the Right Virtual Event Platform
The right virtual event platform can go a long way in improving audience experience, increasing engagement, and allowing you to capitalize on higher attendance numbers.
Without an events platform, your event will feel sloppy and thrown together. To engage the audience and make them happy, you need to do more than host a bunch of Zoom sessions or string together a series of recorded sessions. A platform allows for real-time interactions that help attendees feel like they are interacting in real and meaningful ways.
An events platform, like Accelevents, will help you collect registrant data, manage speakers and sessions, and promote your event through social media and email integrations and a branded event website.
Event platforms increase the value for virtual attendees. These tools can:
- Make ticketing and registration simple by setting up clear payment options from a branded registration page
- Increase networking opportunities by enabling breakout sessions, live video and text chat, and specific networking sessions or events.
- Provide access to additional, downloadable content allowing event attendees to access sessions they may not have been able to attend in real-time.
- Personalize the experience by using registration data to suggest event content that speaks specific interests of each attendee. It can also create personalized networking suggestions by matching attendees to one another through a specific set of criteria.
One of the biggest benefits of a virtual event is an increase in attendance numbers. In a digital format, your event can reach a global audience. By following the information laid out above, you can easily leverage these numbers for your gain.
While we all adjust to life with COVID-19, there is no need for your event plans to take a hit. By shifting to a virtual event, you can grow your event brand and experience greater revenues while providing an event experience that helps the audience feel a greater sense of connection and certainty during these unusual and isolating times.
When you are ready to get started, reach out to Accelevents to find out how we can help you promote and host a truly successful event.