Convincing people to sign up for a virtual event is one thing — keeping their focus once they log on is another. After investing a massive amount of time, money and effort into planning a virtual event and attracting attendees, you don’t want that effort going to waste, so you must take steps to foster engagement during the event.
This lifecycle of a successful virtual event can make or break how effectively you convert event attendees into viable leads. People often find issues with unengaging virtual events. Boring content, disorganized hosts/moderators, lack of opportunities for interaction and uncharismatic speakers top the list of leading problems associated with virtual events.
According to Zachary Bosin — Vice President of Product & Growth Marketing at BlueJeans by Verizon — mastering virtual events matters more than ever. While virtual events aren’t going anywhere, they aren’t the only option anymore. “The world is never going back to a pre-pandemic experience,” Bosin noted. “With some trade shows and conferences coming back, we are really going to have to continue to evolve our approach when it comes to creating digital engagement.”
Let’s look at a few ways marketers can make their next virtual event more engaging, giving them a higher return on their investment.
The beauty of any type of event lies in the ability to interact with others — even if it occurs digitally. Interaction comes with variability, and predicting exactly how a virtual event will pan out can pose challenges. That’s why adaptability remains a vital skill for any marketer to have ready and waiting.
To foster engagement, you may need to pivot mid-event to adjust the conversation to what the audience finds compelling. Thanks to chat features, polls and other engagement tools, you can learn what makes your audience tick in real time, enabling you to shape the content throughout the event.
The host can’t do all the heavy lifting here. You will likely need a community manager on hand to engage in the chat, help guide the host towards new conversation topics and manage those fun features like polls.
To stay adaptable, you can also keep on top of the latest trends during the planning stage in the virtual event space. “As a marketer, you’re always kind of looking at the trends and trying to understand what’s going on in the broader world and from a business to business perspective,” Bosin explained, “It’s critical to understand what’s happening in the consumer world and how those technological shifts and those media consumption shifts are going to have a dramatic impact when you’re reaching out to buyers and decision makers because you wanna mirror those same trends.”
Use the Right Tech
Virtual events are here to stay, so many businesses now seek the right tech to make their virtual events a success. In 2021, 85% of those surveyed indicated that their organization faces pressure from employees and customers to improve event technology. An equal number of respondents cited plans to evaluate new virtual event technology that same year.
How can the right tech take a virtual event to the next level and encourage engagement? With BlueJeans Events, you can elevate your brand by using your logos, background and colors. Branding a virtual event is one of the best ways to improve the professionalism of the event from minute one.
With your virtual event in full swing, you can highlight multiple presenters with dynamic on-screen layouts, add ticker banners, enable lower third callouts and take advantage of other features that make the event easier to navigate and more engaging for attendees.
Engage Directly with the Audience
Digital marketers can benefit from trying to mirror in-person engagement tactics by adapting them for the virtual world. For example, when someone attends a conference, they can often raise their hand at the end of the session to ask the speaker a question. With BlueJeans Events, you can use Q&A, chat, polling and hand-raising tools to give event attendees the chance to engage with presenters and moderators and to add to the conversation at any point throughout the event.
Bosin explained how to use some of these tools to your advantage during a virtual event. For example, Bosin advises incorporating polls at different milestones throughout the event. “Everyone’s warming up — it’s kinda like an icebreaker,” Bosin observed, “Let’s throw a poll out there and see how people feel about a certain topic.”
Event moderators can allow attendees to ask questions, and the most popular questions can then appear on the screen for everyone to see. Not only do these features give attendees a chance to become more engaged and make them less likely to sign off early, but they also give them the chance to be heard.
Major brands find virtual success by hosting their events using BlueJeans Events. One success story includes the Phoenix Suns — a basketball team put in a difficult spot when fans could no longer attend games in 2020. How could the Phoenix Suns find new ways to bring the in-arena experience to fans and engage them after a months-long hiatus in the NBA season? They relied on additional streamed video content that enabled real-time participation. This work enabled the Phoenix Suns to offer unique experiences, and they engaged fans around the world through contests, giveaways, chat, polls and Q&As.
Penske also found they couldn’t host in-person racing events in 2020 and turned to BlueJeans events to turn its Indy 500 events virtual and to hold the drivers’ meeting and a partnership event. With the help of BlueJeans Events, Penske delivered best-in-class entertainment experiences to more than 25,000 fans who saw all 33 drivers of the Indy 500 virtually.
With a willingness to adapt, the right tech on hand and a desire to engage directly with the audience, marketers can keep their audiences engaged virtually.