Even when we expect the unexpected, there are still some crises that just can’t be predicted. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has event producers and exhibitors scrambling to determine how to pivot effectively and minimize lost opportunities and momentum. Companies everywhere are transitioning their onsite events into virtual ones. If you're looking to move your event online, it can feel overwhelming. People attend events for that human connection and unique learning opportunity -- that doesn't need to disappear just because it's online. Here are some tips for transitioning your in-person event into a digital one and creating a memorable, immersive experience.
1. Create a Networking or Engagement Activity
Networking is something that happens organically at in-person events so how do you simulate that experience online? One idea is to distribute a form to your attendees surveying who they are, their role, and have them select from a list of topics that most interest them. From there, you can play "matchmaker" by segmenting the list based on responses and creating smaller "breakout" sessions at your virtual event for them to connect. This allows for a more meaningful experience for your attendees rather than an open forum.
2. Creatively Provide Advertising Opportunities for your Sponsors
Events commonly have a dedicated space for sponsors to set up and display their product or company to the attendees. These displays come in all shapes and sizes: banners, interactive video displays, signage, branding on speaker slides, giveaways, you name it. For a virtual event, you need to figure out how to strategically display these opportunities without turning a landing page into a collage of branded web banners. Virtual events are a great place for providing content at scale. Create spaces for sponsors to feature a downloadable of some kind - a whitepaper or webinar session sponsorship - that seamlessly integrates with the content of the event overall.
3. Transform Live Sessions into Livestreams
There's a certain energy that emits from a speaker when they get onstage to deliver a presentation. That doesn't quite translate when a person needs to deliver that same speech in their home office setting instead. However, the silver lining is that it's far easier to interact with a speaker virtually than it is from a live audience. Instead of passing around a microphone for audience members to ask questions, you can easily set up polling, live q&a, surveys, and animated interactions that becomes available instantaneously to all attendees watching the session. That ease of communication with the speaker is a valuable asset to virtual events.
4. More Opportunities for Lead Generation
In person, you have to gauge interest based on conversations, scanning badges, and collecting business cards. In the digital age, there are incredibly robust mechanisms for collecting this kind of data. There are ways to monitor attendee behavior by tracking clicks, return visits, bounce rates, etc. - just like you would with a website. You can also more easily run A/B testing around session titles or content to provide more ways to attract people to interact with your offering.
5. Everlasting Shelf Life
In-person events are scheduled to last anywhere from a few hours to a few days and then it disappears. There is less upfront planning when that event is virtual. You can create a digital experience that can last online indefinitely and refresh it whenever you have new content to share. There are opportunities to host live sessions at certain times but also to leave recorded sessions and downloadable content available whenever an attendee logs in. An attendee doesn't need to change their schedule to fit an event schedule any longer - they can attend your event in between emails, before dinner, or while sitting on the couch before bed. This is an amazing opportunity to deliver event content into discrete, standalone chunks that can be available at any time.
Converting your in-person event into a virtual one doesn't have to be daunting; it can be an exciting new opportunity to get creative. If you need help creating your virtual event solution, don't hesitate to contact us. We love figuring out the hard stuff.