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How to plan a virtual event

In the Covid era, B2B companies have been forced to consider how they incorporate digital tools for virtual team meetings, virtual client meetings, and virtual events. In particular, moving to virtual events comes with a new type of event planning and promotion. In the following article, we’ll walk you through a high-level outline of what to expect when planning and promoting a virtual event, from invitations to event execution.

getting started

So you and your team have decided to host a virtual event. How exciting! Maybe this is your first one or maybe you’ve done a few and are looking for ways to grow your event. There are many different kinds of events but we’re focusing specifically on webinars. Webinars typically last anywhere from 45-80 minutes. The primary goals for your webinar should be to drive leads and build brand recognition and trust with potential clients.

Event Language

So, you have a general idea of the topic for your webinar. You’ve outlined the presentation slides and are ready to start writing the promotional content. First, choose a name for the event that sets expectations for your audience. It should be short, easy to understand, and give a clear idea about what the audience can expect to learn. Avoid trying too hard with puns or alliteration. After establishing the name of the event, write an event summary that outlines the event in one sentence. Then write an event summary that is one paragraph long. Finally, write an event summary that includes all needed details. This will typically be multiple paragraphs long. Varying description lengths are needed for the different channels that will be used to promote the event. It also forces you to be concise and engaging with the language. Creating one centralized location for all of these write-ups will keep everything consistent across platforms and can be used later for event promotion.

Imagery is Everything

Another decision you’ll have to make is regarding the imagery that will be used to promote your event. The promotional images set the mood for the event. Will it be fun, exciting, and engaging, or serious, succinct, and fast-paced? Here are some graphics options you’ll need to create:

-Event platform banner image

-Save the dates

-Invitations

-Social media graphics

-Slide deck images

-Speaker announcement graphics

-Email newsletters

-Website landing page

-Gated content to accompany the webinar

digital invitations

Now that you have your content designed, it’s time to start sending out invites. This means you need to have a plan for who and how you want to invite people. Is this an exclusive webinar with select people invited or is it something for the general public?

Exclusive Events

Private events are less work than public events because you already have a list of who is invited. You know exactly who your audience is and how to reach them. Simply send digital invites through your event platform via email and follow up as needed. Notice who has viewed the invitation but not RSVP’d and follow up directly with them via email or by phone.

Public Events

Public events are a bit more work because when everyone is invited, no one is invited. Meaning that your event just disappears into a list on your event hosting platform search engine. One very important step to sending out invites for a public event is deciding what channels will best reach the intended audience. Most webinars will probably be best received on LinkedIn and through email.

Now that you have decided what channels to send invites through, build your email list using your CRM or existing contact lists. Upload this list to your event hosting platform (ie. Eventbrite) and send invites directly through the platform. On LinkedIn or Facebook, create an event listing for your webinar that links to the registration function of your event hosting platform. Utilize your existing network on the social channel and send out invites. (For LinkedIn, it’s capped at 1000.) Always include the link to the registration page for the webinar in every promotional message. Follow up with people that have RSVP’d in the LinkedIn or Facebook event but not registered directly with the platform.

webinar content

In a virtual event, your content IS your event. Engaging sessions with helpful information tailored to your attendees are critical. It’s more important than ever for people to walk away feeling they learned something. Try to work in as much media as possible, whether that’s video content, infographics, still images, gifs, animations, etc. Record the webinar session so that you can follow up with attendees to share the full video. Afterward, offer any webinar presentations as downloadable gated content. . The goal is to make the content as accessible as possible, so your audience can review anything they missed.

Promotion

Promotion is the bulk of the work for a virtual event. This is one of the few similarities between live and virtual events. 

For private events, the promotion phase is a little different because there is less to do. Once your list is aware of the event and has RSVP’d, you’re done and can focus more on the webinar itself.

For public events, focus on the channels that you used to send out invitations to promote your event. Did you post a LinkedIn event? Use your time or money to promote the LinkedIn event. Are you sending invites via email? Focus on growing your email list and getting registrations through that. Utilize all channels possible including social media promotion, event directory listings, encouraging word of mouth, press releases, etc.

follow up

Remember that the goal of hosting a webinar is to grow your contact list and encourage the new contacts to move further down the marketing funnel from a contact to a lead. Make it easy before, during, and after the event for people to convert to leads by offering sign-up forms, consultation appointments, gated content, etc. The more contact points a person has with you or your company, the more comfortable they are and the more likely they are to become a relevant lead that needs the services you offer.


Do you need marketing help?

While Gladiator Consulting does not offer a la carte event planning services, we can help make sure your business strategy, marketing strategy, and event schedule align. Contact us to discuss how best to capitalize on your event calendar.

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