• Rachel Stephan

Grow your footprint: Using virtual events as a promotional tool for your in-person event

Virtual events aren’t going away anytime soon - event organizers saw the power of a digital solution and you can be sure they’ll continue to innovate on their delivery and value. But the elephant in the room when we’re talking about virtual events comes down to one simple thing: In-person events will eventually return.

Event organizers are asking themselves, “How do I continue to take advantage of a virtual option, while still supporting my primary face-to-face event?” It can be a scary question to think about when we consider the potential fallout. Virtual events certainly provide an opportunity to dive into content - content that is normally only available at major in-person events.

But, virtual events also give organizers a phenomenal opportunity to tease their content to their prospective audience. After all, if attendees think your virtual event was awesome, just imagine how great it would be in-person. Let’s take a look at how you can use your virtual event to promote your featured in-person event.

Lead Generation

One of the most powerful parts of virtual events is the ease of access. Registering is simple, there’s no travel involved and most content is available at the conclusion of the show. The pain points for pitching a traditional face-to-face event are typically irrelevant to a virtual event.

This translates into a much larger potential audience at virtual events. For event organizers, this means your database grows! When you capture the extended audience at virtual events, you’re able to add them into your marketing funnel. Marketing departments are able to take the lead data from your virtual attendees (even the no shows) and begin to promote your core in-person event.

Not only are you able to retarget these folks, but anyone who missed out on your virtual event still sees your brand. A missed engagement turns into a future opportunity by using the data collected at your virtual event.

Show off your stuff

Virtual events are also a fantastic way to introduce an on-the-fence attendee to your event. Since your virtual event will still be focused around the same content as your in-person counterpart, it’s easy for attendees to learn why they should register.

Not only does it help attendee conversions independently, but event sales professionals can also use the virtual event as a reference point to explore the type of content available at the event. It’s like giving your attendees a free sample - you know they’re going to come back for more!

And remember, virtual events deliver a different value proposition for attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors than their in-person alternatives. It’s nigh impossible to replicate an in-person booth in a virtual setting or create natural networking spots in a zoom room. You aren’t going to be delivering too much at a virtual event - your in-person event will always retain its core value.

Promotional Virtual Events

We’re looking to the future for this one, but using virtual events to promote your main event is a strategy we’re going to see moving forward. As we’ve already reviewed, virtual events have a massive audience reach along with the ability to promote your event’s content.

Event organizers are beginning to promote hyper-targeted virtual events to their prospective audiences. Not everyone that attends your show is going for the same reason. IT professionals and Marketing professionals might attend the same show, but the information they’re seeking is different.

By developing virtual events as a promotional tool ahead of your main in-person event, organizers reap the benefits of lead generation and content promotion. They act as a complement to your in-person event, not a replacement.

Bottom Line

Virtual events aren’t going away anytime soon. The most effective event organizers are already considering how to hybridize their main events with a virtual counterpart. But, virtual events aren’t just a supplement for an in-person event. They have an inherent value that presents unique opportunities for event organizers.

As we move forward and out of the craziness of quarantine, don’t let that value get lost! Continue to think of virtual events as another tool in your toolbelt and use them to enhance your organization’s footprint with your potential attendees.

Through the ARISE Event Collective, Rachel Stephan is offering a 60-minute one-on-one consultation to review your event marketing OR an audit of your event website and social media channels.

© 2020 ARISE Event Collective

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