Are you scrambling to cancel travel arrangements for industry conferences? If so, then you’re not alone. Recently, many trade shows converted their onsite plans into virtual events. Facebook canceled its F8 software developer conference. Google switched to a virtual event for Google Cloud Next 2020. Plus, the city of Austin, Texas axed SXSW.
The coronavirus has people scrapping travel itineraries and signing up for online sessions. Instead of a crowded expo floor, they’ll be watching live product demos from their homes or offices.
But, where does this leave event marketers? After all, you had a strategy to entice event-goers to invest in your product. Don’t dump your plans – rather, showcase your products and story with engaging virtual events.
With the right approach, you can still generate great results from virtual events – here are some tips to help you optimize your approach.
Virtual Events: Coronavirus and Company Responses
Online events aren’t new, but converting a large conference into a remote event, within hours or days in some cases, is fairly novel. Many industry events had a backup plan ready to put into action – for example, organizations like the Open Compute Project (OCP) turned its Global Summit into a virtual event. Attendees will take part in one-on-one sessions and a slew of activities from anywhere in the world.
The Geneva International Motor Show canceled its Switzerland show. Instead, they’ll offer pre-recorded and live-stream press conferences. Attendees can view the latest debuts at their convenience.
Domopalooza canceled its event saying, “We made the decision to transform Domopalooza 2020 from an in-person event for 3,000 people in Salt Lake City, Utah, to one that is 100% digital.” Their virtual event includes breakout sessions and keynotes in an online format.
Lastly, IBM’s Think conference also goes digital this year. The company combines locally-hosted activities with virtual events. It includes live-streaming content and interactive sessions.
These are only a handful of industry conferences canceled within days of each other – but where does that leave companies that count on trade shows, summits, and conferences?
Now’s the time to plan for your own immersive online experience.
How to Create Online Events That Generate Leads
Let’s face it, you head to a conference for many reasons, but your main motive is to gather leads.
So without that face-to-face aspect, how can you get emotional buy-in from remote attendees? There are a few strategies to tackle here. Must-haves for your virtual events include:
- Goals to guide your event
- Compelling messages and a unique story
- A format emphasizing customer experience
- Professional video design and production
Before heading to any event, you’ve already calculated your ROI – you know who your potential customers are and what they’re looking for. Pivot towards tactics that work for virtual events. Forget stagnant PowerPoint presentations and drop the stale pre-recorded speeches from your CEO.
Instead, look to deliver a powerful experience to your remote audience.
Virtual Event Planning and Production
So what do the best virtual events include?
Event marketing is all about putting yourself in the shoes of your customers – they were pumped to hit the road and see live product demonstrations, and many had put together lists of questions to ask during your Q&A sessions.
Moving to an online experience means adding new benefits, and even more value. To do that, you’re going need to use technology to pull your audience in, then, deliver an experience that makes your potential clients thrilled to be taking part.
Best Virtual Event Ideas and Examples
Your audience already accesses webinars and spends a great deal of time online, so switching to a virtual event isn’t a big jump. But some organizations have developed unique ways to increase attendance and engagement – let’s take a look at how industry leaders have pivoted to online events which captivate a global audience.
Some combine local events with online offerings – for example, a participation party puts your virtual event onscreen in conference rooms across the country. That gives attendees the freedom to choose their location without gathering at a large event.
Industry conferences also incorporate interactive multi-session activities with webinars and pre-recorded videos. For best results, focus on an audience that’s already shown an interest in your products and services. Think about what they need from you to take the next step, then provide that in a virtual event format.
Top virtual event ideas include:
- Pre-recorded videos – Give leads access to your videos on demand. Create an experience that combines brand elements and clear language with a captivating video presentation.
- Animated education content – Look to produce 2D and 3D content to reduce the production costs found in traditional video. Walk attendees through a product demo or setup process with ease.
- Live-streaming – Get buy-in for digital events with a bit of FOMO. Remote viewers won’t want to miss out on asking questions in this community format.
- Virtual event panels and forums – Live-stream from your New York Office or your San Francisco home. Hosting an online group is a great way to engage your audience with a live Q&A session.
Other fantastic options include “choose your path” activities and team workshops, or you could share solution demonstrations while answering questions from your online audience.
With a great strategy, you can turn any onsite exhibit into a virtual event.
Virtual Conferences: Best Practices and Tips
Attendees flock to events to catch the latest innovations and network with industry leaders. Replicating that experience online isn’t easy, but brands that get it right can attract big audiences, generate interest and increase brand visibility.
You may already offer online webinars or tutorials, but adding virtual events requires a little more planning. From accessibility to remote attendance monitoring, it’s important to visualize each step.
Use these tips to compel your audience to take action.
- Develop a virtual event marketing strategy that aligns with your goals
- Choose digital technology tools and formats that convey your message
- Create a clear and compelling story and video script to keep attendees tuned in
- Engage virtual attendees using high-quality videos, animation, and graphics
Develop Virtual Events Before a Cancellation
Don’t wait for your next conference to get canceled – instead, put together video assets now. Drop the travel expenses and live-stream a panel right from your office. Virtual events give your audience the flexibility to experience your brand and products from anywhere.
How to Manage Your Online Brand?
You might be asking yourself, “Why do I need to manage my online brand?” It’s a valid question, especially if you’re not sure what managing your online brand means precisely.
In short, managing your online brand is the process of taking control of how others see you and your business online. This can involve creating and maintaining a strong presence on social media, developing positive reviews and testimonials, and monitoring your web analytics to track progress.
By taking the time to manage your online brand, you can improve your chances of success in today’s digital age.
In this article, we’ll explore some key reasons why managing your online brand is essential.
What is an online brand, and why do you need one?
Your online brand is the way you are perceived by others online. This includes your website, social media profiles, online reviews, and all other digital real estate that represents you when someone searches for you or your business.
It’s important to have one because it helps your potential customers get to know, trust, and like you before they buy anything from you. A strong online brand can also help you attract new customers and grow your business.
It’s good to remember that your online brand is the first thing people will see when they search for you, so it’s important to make sure it represents you and your business well.
How to manage your online brand for success?
Your online brand is your reputation. It’s how people perceive you when they see your name, read your work, or interact with you online.
A strong online brand can help you attract new clients, collaborators, and opportunities. But how do you create and manage your brand for success?
1) Consider what you want your online brand to convey.
Are you an expert in a certain field? A thought leader? A creative visionary?
Once you know what you want your brand to communicate, be consistent in everything you do online.
Use the same name, photo, and bio across all of your social media platforms. Post regularly about topics related to your brand, and make sure the tone of your posts is consistent with the image you’re trying to convey.
2) Interact with other people online in a way that reinforces your brand.
When someone mentions you in a post, thank them publicly. If someone leaves a negative comment on one of your posts, don’t delete it – instead, respond politely and professionally.
By managing your online brand thoughtfully and proactively, you can set yourself up for success both online and offline.
3) Monitor your web analytics to track your progress.
Use Google Analytics or another web analytics tool to track how people are finding you online and what they’re doing on your website. This data can give you insights into what’s working well and what needs improvement.
For example, if you see that most of your website visitors are coming from Facebook, you might want to focus on creating more engaging content for that platform.
Or, if you notice that people are spending a lot of time on your blog but not your sales page, you might need to work on driving traffic to your products or services.
4) Make sure your website represents your brand well.
Your website is often the first thing people will see when they search for you online, so it’s important to make sure it’s up-to-date and represents your brand well.
Update your website regularly with new blog posts, photos, and products. Use attractive visuals, easy-to-navigate menus, and clear calls to action.
If you’re not sure how to create a website that represents your brand well, consider working with a web designer or developer.
5) Pay attention to your social media presence.
Social media is a powerful tool for managing your online brand. Use it to connect with your audience, share your work, and promote your products or services.
Be sure to post regularly, interact with others, and use hashtags and keywords that will help people find you. You can also use social media ads to reach a wider audience or promote specific products or services.
6) Monitor your online reputation.
Use Google Alerts or another tool to monitor your online reputation. This will help you stay on top of what people are saying about you online and take action if necessary.
For example, if you see a negative review of your business, you can reach out to the customer directly to try to resolve the issue. Or, if you see someone spreading misinformation about your work, you can correct it.
7) Manage your online brand proactively.
The best way to manage your online brand is to be proactive. Be thoughtful about everything you do online, from the content you post to the way you interact with others. By taking control of your online presence, you can set yourself up for success both professionally and personally.
By following these tips, you can create and manage an online brand that will help you achieve your goals.
The benefits of having a strong online brand
Let’s look at a few benefits of having a strong online brand:
1) Stand out from the competition.
With so much noise online, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. But if you create a well-defined brand, you’ll be better able to cut through the clutter and attract attention.
2) Build trust and credibility.
A strong online brand can help you build trust and credibility with your audience. If people know what to expect from you, they’re more likely to trust and respect you.
3) Connect with your audience.
By definition, a brand is a way of differentiating yourself from others. But it’s also a way of connecting with your audience on a deeper level. When done well, branding can create an emotional connection between you and your audience.
4) Drive traffic and sales.
A strong online brand can help you drive traffic and sales. If people are familiar with your brand, they’re more likely to buy from you. And if they trust and respect you, they’re more likely to tell others about you.
5) Increase your visibility.
A well-managed online brand will increase your visibility online. When people search for you or your business, you’ll be more likely to show up in the search results. And when people see you frequently in their feeds, you’ll be more likely to stay top of mind.
6) Attract media attention.
A strong online brand can help you attract media attention. If you’re known for something specific, journalists and bloggers will be more likely to write about you. This can help increase your visibility and reach even further.
7) Enhance your career prospects.
Your online brand can have a big impact on your career prospects. If you’re looking for a new job, employers will likely research you online. And if you’re an entrepreneur, investors will want to know more about your brand before they invest in your business.
8) Make a positive impact.
Finally, a strong online brand can help you make a positive impact in the world. If you’re passionate about something, you can use your platform to raise awareness and advocate for change.
The importance of staying consistent with your branding strategy
As you can see, there are many benefits to having a strong online brand. But it’s not enough to just create a brand—you also need to be consistent with your branding strategy.
When it comes to branding, consistency is essential. Your audience needs to know what to expect from you, and they need to see that you’re consistent in your messaging and your visuals.
Here are a few pointers if you’re not sure how to stay consistent with your branding:
1) Define your brand.
The first step to being consistent with your branding is to define your brand. What do you want people to think of when they see your name or your logo? What do you want your brand to represent?
2) Create guidelines.
Once you’ve defined your brand, it’s time to create guidelines. These guidelines should include everything from your mission statement to the colors and fonts you use in your branding. By having a set of guidelines, you’ll be able to ensure that all of your marketing materials are on-brand.
3) Train your team.
If you have a virtual assistant or team, it’s important to train them on your branding guidelines. Make sure everyone knows what your brand represents and how they can help you maintain a consistent brand identity.
4) Monitor your brand.
Once you’ve launched your brand, it’s important to monitor it. This means paying attention to how people are reacting to your brand and making sure that you’re still presenting yourself in the way you want to be seen.
5) Be prepared to adjust.
Finally, be prepared to adjust your branding strategy as needed. As your business grows and changes, your branding will need to change with it. By being flexible and willing to adjust, you’ll be able to ensure that your brand is always relevant.
A strong online brand is essential for any business or individual. By definition, your online brand is the way you’re perceived by others online. And while that may seem like a superficial thing, the reality is that your online brand can have a big impact on your business or career.
If you’re not sure how to create a strong online brand, start by defining your brand and creating guidelines. Then, train your team on your branding strategy and monitor your brand over time. And finally, be prepared to adjust as needed.
Oscar is a passionate full-time blogger and a part-time author. In his personal blog OssieRodriguez.com, he writes about software, online influence, and different business models.
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