planning-a-virtual-eventAt this point in time, half of all businesses conduct virtual sessions 20 to 30 times a year. Virtual events are low friction, with fewer barriers to attendance. (No more driving in the snow or paying for parking.) They can also extend the reach of your event far beyond your local circle while having almost no overhead costs. Online events are also recordable, which is incredibly valuable from a marketing collateral perspective. Key moments from an event can be repurposed and used on social media channels to bring additional attention to your brand. If you want to optimize the events you’re already holding, or dive into the virtual space for the first time, we have a few tips for planning a virtual event.

1. Promote Your Virtual Event

In marketing, a multi-pronged approach is always best. Make use of your active email list by sending out an engaging email explaining the value proposition of the event. Advertise the virtual event on social media channels, and consider providing an incentive to attend. (Gift cards are perfect for this since they’re easy to send and easy for participants to use!) Ideally, you should build a separate landing page on your website with a sign-up functionality so that you can point potential attendees to it. Drop the link into any promotions you do so that guests can RSVP easily. This will not only give you an accurate headcount for the event, but it will also help you make the event more secure by tying invites directly to RSVPs

2. Set an Agenda

Even if you’re a freewheeling type, virtual meetings aren’t the right time to indulge your spontaneous side. If participants have a sense that you don’t have a game plan, you may lose out on their attention and their buy-in. You can even send an agenda out to attendees to keep them informed about how the event will progress. One tip: keep your timestamps loose unless you’ve had several dry runs. A simple order of events is enough to serve as a guideline. 

3. Prep Your Audience

While you may be busy with administrative preparation and planning, priming your audience or participants for the event can really pay off. This pre-involvement can be comprised of sending out a poll in advance of the event, collecting comments they may want to share, or gathering questions for a Q and A. If you’re really feeling ambitious, consider sending out swag or small branded gifts to increase both event buy-in and attendance rates.

4. Check Your Tech

Running a tech rehearsal of your event can help you prevent long silences, pixelated images, weak connections, or other online event woes. The apparent ease of a virtual event can trick some event coordinators into scaling back their planning. (Don’t I just open up my laptop and go?) In reality, because of all that can go awry in a virtual event, meticulous planning becomes even more essential. When you’re doing a dry run of the event, double-check the functionality of technology for all the hosts, including mics, lighting, and sound. You’ll also want to check the permissions of the platform you’re using. Decide if you want to auto-mute participants or require video. For presentation elements, check screen sharing and hosting capacities. Finally, check your event link to make sure it directs to the correct location. While it may feel tedious, a technology dry run is the best way to ensure a professional, streamlined virtual event.

5. Secure Your Event

Incidences of Zoombombing have dropped since online event platforms have beefed up security. However, unwanted or unexpected intrusions are the type of occurrence that can completely derail an otherwise successful event. To help prevent this, set a password for every single event you host. You can also limit screen sharing to administrators and auto-mute participants so they can only unmute with administrative permission. If you do use the auto-mute function, you should assign a specific team member to unmute participants as necessary. This job will require their full attention, so it should be their sole task during a virtual event. 

6. Send Out Your Event Link!

When you’re ready to launch the event, it’s time to send out the event to link to participants. While there are several schools of thought on when to send an event link out, we don’t advise sending it out too far in advance. Email links sent out too early will get buried in the crunch of an already full email inbox. Participants may have difficulty locating the link when they’re ready to attend the event. Links can also be forwarded to anyone via email. If you want to add another layer of security to your event, sending out a link no more than 30 minutes to an hour before the event can help you keep your guest list exclusive. Sending out a link right before an event can also serve as a gentle reminder to those who have push notifications turned on. 

Green Apple Strategy: Innovative Marketing In Every Industry

Our clients have used virtual events to connect to their customers and promote their brands. It’s one tool of many that can be used to enhance your marketing goals. If you’re ready to enhance your marketing goals, connect to your audience more efficiently, and increase your brand awareness, contact Green Apple Strategy. We can help you build an innovative marketing strategy to attract and retain qualified leads. Reach out to us today for a consultation.