Events

Smashing the 1,000-attendee target for your next virtual event

The latest in the Bright agile marketing in action webinar series went live on 23 June 2020 and it was a hit! We brought together the best and brightest in strategic marketing to explore what it takes to create ground-breaking virtual events. Joining us for a discussions were CMO, Ghassan Sultan and Marketing Project Manager, Lisa Granton, key players at TECHNIA, one of our top clients. Together, we explored how they managed to smash their 1,000-attendee target at the recent PLMIF 2020 event. So, what’s the critical success factors for creating a virtual event that scores leads and builds your brand?

Agile marketing powers virtual events

Our webinar poll discovered that 96% of organisations have moved their events online. The global work culture has changed in response to Covid-19 and it’s not just a temporary fix. Your next event will be online, but it has to stand out from the crowd. To do this effectively, your event must capture the needs and goals of your audience and provide the tools and information they need to readily adapt and keep pace in a changing market.

So, where to start?

Embrace agile marketing

In the words of Lydia Kirby, Client Delivery Lead at Bright and host of our webinar:

“Marketers need the ability to adapt, move at pace and be resilient to changing markets and organisation dynamics – this has been critical during Covid-19 and will continue to be relevant as we prepare for Brexit,”

In short, agile marketing is the common-sense approach to optimising what you have and experimenting with new tactics, tools, messaging and channels to reach your campaign KPIs.

When creating virtual events, an agile way of working allows you to bring together a cross-functional team to test, learn and continually improve your strategies, messaging and tactics throughout the event lifecycle – driving engagement and leads before, during and after your live event. Using valuable data insights to understand what works for your audience and what doesn’t, giving you the power to create an event that makes a lasting impact and builds your reputation in your industry.

The TECHNIA success story

TECHNIA came to Bright with a bold vision. They wanted to change the way events were delivered, capitalise on high-value content and reach a global audience. Ghassan walked us through TECHNIA’s goal to transform how they host events and attract a large audience. What started as a costly physical event turned into an ambitious vision for an innovative knowledge-sharing virtual event.

Ghassan’s vision for TECHNIA’s PMLIF 2020:

  • Target 1,000 global attendees
  • Capitalise on existing digital content and try new channels
  • Be 100% sustainable in line with TECHNIA’s #GoExplore movement
  • Cut time and budget from £100,000 in 4-8 months to £10,000 in 4-8 weeks

It was clear that such a brilliant event demanded extraordinary KPIs. Always ready for a challenge, Bright jumped at the opportunity to engage and drive leads from global tech leaders throughout the event lifecycle. We helped create a multi-channel marketing strategy, delivering key messaging for different target audiences through different media across the three-month campaign.

“Transitioning from physical to virtual really takes effort and your team is vital to success,” said Ghassan. “Bright’s agile marketing approach seamlessly integrated with our team. Thanks to the regular stand-ups and strong data insights, we were able to quickly change tactics to reach 2,000 attendees – an incredible success!”

Critical success factors to creating a compelling event:

  • Setting clear, strong KPIs
  • Testing and iterating messaging
  • Providing quality on-demand content

TECHNIA’s marketing manager, Lisa Granton, also highlighted the power of data-driven decision making and communication to drive success:

“Throughout the agile marketing process, we received constant feedback on what was working and what wasn’t, and the Bright team responded with great energy to perfect our messaging. We were able to keep developing and improving throughout our campaign.”

For more details, see our TECHNIA Virtual event success case study

What is the future of TECHNIA events?

Agile marketing is a different way of working and we have seen its tremendous power to transform teams and encourage cultural change. After the success of the PLMIF 2020 virtual event, TECHNIA noticed a dramatic change in their ways of working and how they approach creating future virtual events. “We found we were less focused on large, far-reaching strategies and more focused on starting small – setting short-termed goals and daily tasks to effectively reach our long term, big KPIs.”  It’s safe to say the next PMLIF event will be crafted with agile marketing.

According to Ghassan, PLMIF2020 will also be hybrid. Taking the lessons they’ve learnt on how to deliver a successful event, they’re planning to create a roadshow of small, local physical events followed by a large global virtual event.

Learnings from the webinar Q&A

How do you engage sponsors?

Create sponsorship opportunities, tailored to your partners and get them to help promote the event. TECHNIA saw wave after wave of partners getting involved in promotion and Bright provided a toolkit of engaging messaging for easy promotion by partners.

How do you nurture leads?

Divide your team into two, focussing one on attracting leads and hitting your target with high-level messaging, and the other on nurturing leads through email, LinkedIn and other keep warm tactics.

How do you evaluate what platform works best to support a large virtual event?

Pinpoint your goals – do you want to make your virtual event look and feel like a physical conference with booths and networking opportunities? Or do you simply want to share knowledge and create dialogue with your audience? Once you’ve shortlisted your options, speak to reference clients and leverage their experience with the different platforms to make your choice.

You also have the option of building your own platform! If like TECHNIA, you know what you want and you have the skills and resources, build a platform that suits your needs.

How do you drive people to attend the live event on the day and not the on-demand?

TECHNIA advertised that they would be sharing content during the live event that hadn’t been viewed or discussed before. Combined with the multi-channel campaign we ran and Bright also provided a toolkit of eye-catching comms to help the TECHNIA sales team invite attendees to their virtual booths.

Where can I find additional resources?

Have a read through our top tips for creating a stand-out virtual event:

 

Want to learn more? Watch the full event today, on-demand for viewing at your leisure. And if you’d like to have your say in the conversation on agile marketing or virtual events, join our Agile Marketing Club Meet Up group. See you there!

Lydia KirbySmashing the 1,000-attendee target for your next virtual event
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Five tips to a successful Webinar

When your audience can no longer come to you, creating engaging virtual and digital experiences has become vital for businesses, now more than ever. From webinars to masterclasses to 3-day virtual conference events, virtual knowledge sharing has fast become the new normal. Pre-pandemic, over 50% of businesses planned to increase the number of webinars they produced in 2020 and we can assume this has increased vastly in the last few months. Businesses are having to pivot quickly, switching physical events to online events, with webinars being the popular option for many marketeers. They are a highly effective way of building an audience and launching it at speed.

In a recent post, we discussed the best time to host a virtual event for a global and local audience. Read on for some more top tips to hosting a successful webinar (like our recent one, Agile in Action).

Tip 1: Create engaging content

You have an average of 50 minutes with an audience of prospects, so webinars are a powerful marketing tool, but you need great content to keep them engaged. A visually appealing, text light presentation can increase engagement from the viewers and result in more highly qualified leads. Choose a niche topic that is relevant, touches on your target audience’s pain point(s), and is something you can provide expertise on – and a solution.
Got a lot of information to share? Kick-start a regular stream of content. Building a hub of webinars on your website establishes your company as a thought leader in the sector. As you run more sessions, you’ll learn what works well with your audience and continuously optimise your performance.

Tip 2: Promote your webinar everywhere

Content is key for an engaging webinar but so is the promotion. How many times do you register for a webinar, receive a reminder almost a month in advance and possibly the day before, but still forget about it or remember too late?

Promotion should start a minimum of two weeks before, but we would recommend earlier – four – six weeks. Naturally, a longer promotional period will boost registration rates and can increase the number of attendees on the day.

It takes time, and multi-channel campaigns for people to be aware and excited about your webinar. Promote it everywhere – on social, blog posts, your website, via your partners and through email – still one of the biggest drivers of webinar registrations at 57%. Rather than hammering home the same event reminders, add valuable supporting content to the mix. For example, relevant blogs, speaker information, a kick-start guide or infographic – all of which help set the scene and build enthusiasm, ensuring your audience doesn’t fatigue.  This is about those who have registered for the webinar too – what content will they find interesting? Keeping registrants’ warm helps increase live attendance and interaction.

Don’t forget to start planning and creating your post-webinar follow-up communications (see tip 5). Whether they attended live or not, this is the beginning, and arguably most important step, when converting webinar leads from MQL to SQL.

Tip 3: Engage and interact with your audience

92% of webinar attendees are looking for a Q&A / opportunity to ask questions. So ask registrants to send in their questions pre-webinar. Not only does this keep your registrants thinking about your event but it gives you time to prepare answers to those questions and time to manage extra ones that come in during the Q&A.

Selecting a reputable webinar platform that you can trust and that provides the right user experience. Zoom, On24, Microsoft Teams, Go To Webinar, Google Hangouts – there are a wide range of platforms but choose one that is secure, can integrate seamlessly with your martech, and is easy for your team to use (they will be in control on the day). Take advantage of polls and quizzes (included in some of these platforms) during the webinar to get live feedback from the audience during the event.

Tip 4: Practice makes perfect

Bring together your script, slides (even if they’re still in draft) and any guests or hosts for the webinar and do a dry run at least once before the big day. This will help everyone understand timings, allow you to refine the presentation further and give your speakers time to gel-together. It’s also a good opportunity to iron out any technical hitches before the go live! Ensure you have the best equipment – microphone, cameras etc. to eliminate any technical issues and help build your confidence!

Tip 5: After curtains close, game time

So, the webinar has finished and it was a success – well done! The 24-48 hours after the webinar is key. Ensure you follow-up with attendees, thank them for joining and provide them with the recording and slides. Don’t forget about the contacts who registered but didn’t log-on live (up to 35% of webinar sign-ups are people who will want to watch it on-demand) so get the recording and slides over to them too, and thank them for registering.

Go the extra mile – these are you prospects after all – offer free templates to help them get started, a relevant report or thought leadership piece. Anything the attendees didn’t anticipate receiving is an added bonus!

Finally, timely delivery of your well-planned follow-up nurture emails (see tip 2), start now. Over the next few weeks you need to do everything you can to convert some of those prospect leads into customers. Don’t expect them to come to you, they have shown their level of interest across the last few weeks as they have engaged (or not) with your content and virtual event. Now it’s time to nurture them, connect on LinkedIn and find out if there is an opportunity to be won!

Our upcoming webinar will go over How to succeed at virtual events, including how you can make the most of your events. The webinar will take place on Wednesday 24th June, 11am BST. Register now to save your seat.

Check out our previous blog posts on virtual events, including When to hold a virtual event and a summary of our last webinar, Agile in Action.

Yimika AdewakunFive tips to a successful Webinar
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When’s the best time to hold a virtual event?

Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic on the 11th March and since then, life has slowly been grinding to a haltAs social distancing continues to sweep across the world, businesses are having to quickly shift their focus from physical to online events to outlast the outbreak and meet the demands of remote working. 

As detailed in our recent blog post, Agile in Action: Transforming Events at Paceimplementing an agile approach for day-to-day services and creating immersive virtual events is a very real and viable way to quickly adapt and join the digital revolution forced upon usBut to get started, we need to answer an important question — when is the best time to host a virtual event for global audience?  

Day of the week

At this point in our self-isolation, every day feels like a Sunday and all sense of normality feels like a long-lost concept. Whilst the days may seem to blur into one another, it’s still important to consider which day or days of the week would get the most views for your virtual event.  

Win with #WebinarWednesdays

It’s long been suggested that Wednesdays are the best day for a webinar, and the hashtag is proof. However, it’s worth remembering how the data is comprised and that it’s also the most popular day to hold a webinar. Audiences may expect you to host it on a Wednesday, so attendance is likely to see a spike. But, if you don’t promote it well enough, there’s a chance your webinar may get lost in the noise 

Go rogue to stand out

Given the current working conditions, and with the hope of differentiating your virtual event from being put into the category of ‘another boring webinar’, choose an unexpected day of the week for your virtual event. We’re not advocating for a Saturday night presentation here, but opting for a ‘kick-start your week’ Monday session or a slightly more playful ‘fizz at four on Friday’, end-of-the-week kind of occasion may work in your favour — not least because you won’t be competing for virtual attendees.  

Time of day

 When it comes to timings of a virtual event, put the most important people first — your attendees.  

For example, if you live and work in America, but you’re targeting UK audiences, you may need to get up at an ungodly hour to ensure you’re making the most of the effective ‘power hours’ in the UK, and vice versa.  

Targeting specific audiences or regions

For most territories, hosting a webinar just before and after lunch works well  about 11 am or 2 pm. There is no indication that this will change as a result of the widespread remote working but, again, keep an eye on your website analytics to see if there have been any shifts in user behaviourand adapt accordingly.    

Targeting a global audience

Things start to get a little more complicated here. The very nature of time zones means that you can’t please everyone, so we recommend firstly prioritising your core target audience, and secondly, taking the necessary steps to limit the disadvantage of not being able to attend in real-time, thus making your event more appealing to all.  

If you’re offering live chats as a networking channel for attendees during your virtual event, keep them live or move them into some kind of forum, where those unable to attend can catch up on the conversation and contribute as appropriate in an ongoing discussion. And for all-day virtual experiences, plan the schedule so that keynotes and the most appealing activities are at the most popular times, ensuring you can capitalise on these incentives. 

Follow the data

Ultimately, don’t rely on your assumptions about what works best with your audience. To help you choose the best day and time for your virtual event, check out your Google Analytics to find out when users most frequently visit your site and interact with your content. That’s probably when you can expect them to tune in to your webinar.  

Whether you’re looking to build pipeline or simply boost engagement with your customers during this challenging timethe day and time you choose can make or break a successful webinar. No matter what you choose, it’s important to adapt your timings to the behaviour of your audience, so always check your analytics as a first step. As we know from our agile marketing methodology, the only way to improve your results is to test, learn and build, ensuring a brighter future once this crisis has passed. For more content on Covid-19, check out our recent blog posts including the ultimate working-from-home survival guide and Staying healthy in the wake of Covid-19 

Annie ConstableWhen’s the best time to hold a virtual event?
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Agile in action: Transforming events at pace

How to create virtual experiences that deliver on business goals

During this current Covid-19 crisis, we’re all at home, all facing the same challenge of having to quickly adapt our business practices and processes for remote working, whilst maintaining communication with our teams, suppliers and wider ecosystems. This all calls for increased focus on marketing, a tool that’s now more vital to your long-term business success than before. To safeguard your pipeline and strengthen your brand throughout the outbreak’s disruption, you need to maintain momentum — business as usual is simply not an option.  Our new reality demands more creative ways to engage, share knowledge and build relationships online.

Rethinking the webinar

Virtual experiences and events have come a long way in the last few years and are now a valuable tool for building and maintaining engagement and driving revenue. But marketers need to think differently and creatively about virtual events today. Don’t just try to recreate a physical experience. Carefully and consistently promote your event, and once you have a captive audience, incorporate networking and knowledge sharing throughout the event. The tools and tactics aren’t important — be clear on the value for the customer, what they gain from engaging in your experience or event. Be compelling. Be a must-attend.

And there’s no reason to hesitate. Marketers can get on with promotion and delegate recruitment for an event long before the technicalities or hosting tool have been determined. Tool selection and testing can happen alongside promotion — so why wait?

Keeping content fresh

Mix up formats or scale events up or down. Blend large, livestreamed keynote speeches with canned content, or intimate expert QA and panel discussions with coaching and interactive working sessions. Whether your event is large or small, informal networking coffee breaks or special interest groups are all possible and make for a more compelling experience. And, you can get more bang for your buck if you record and reuse your event’s content for your social media channels and audiences.

Strive to create a fully immersive experience with storytelling. Asking the audience to play a role and actively participate in the event is a great way to land complex messages. Inviting participants to drive and engage with the content their own way in their own time also raises the likelihood of your content being consumed. 80% of content within an interactive experience is digested and gamification makes delivering messages fun and products and solutions competitive. These experiences can be part of the promotion as well as the event itself.

Now, more than ever, we need to be inventive in how we engage our audiences. We’ve been building an immersive experience to connect with our remote audiences that offers a new, exciting way to digest our content — and gives us plenty of data to continually improve our content.

Adel Du Toit, Head of User Experience and Digital Experiences at Boston Consulting Group

Top 10 ways to cut through the noise

Tick off this list to get your event or experience up and running quickly

  1. Value proposition: Create a strong value proposition for your event. Clearly state that your event is virtual and convey that it’s a good use of their time — what edge will it give them?
  2. Be agile: Test, learn and build on your success to engage and build your audience. Try out new tools and tactics or tackle new markets you’ve not considered before. Get started with an agile approach to marketing
  3. Nurture: Don’t forget to keep your delegates warm prior to the event. Tease new speakers, content or networking opportunities to get them energised
  4. Launch a preview: Show them what the experience will be like to encourage engagement before the event
  5. Don’t get stuck on the tools: You can start developing and promoting an event to gauge interest and engagement whilst you decide on whether you can use your existing tools or will need to invest in new tech
  6. Exclusive access: Use restricted or limited offers of access to subject matter experts or thought leaders in the field as a compelling call-to-action. These can be delivered through one-to-one live video chats and are a proven way to get sign-ups
  7. Book a meeting: If now isn’t a good time to talk, offer a call-back slot with a member of your sales team
  8. Be prepared: Make sure you rehearse. Everyone needs to be comfortable with using the event software and available features. Upskill your team, show you’re available and make sure your event is fully staffed — don’t leave people waiting for an answer in an online chat
  9. Be interactive: Poll your delegates and invite attendees to send questions pre-event to keep things really relevant and topical and avoid the dreaded question-answer lag during a keynote. Blend immersive and video content to maintain pace and excitement
  10. Be data driven: A virtual event or experience opens up data and insight across the buyer journey. Make sure your team knows how to analyse and use data to make informed changes to the promotion, or during the live event, to maximise engagement and conversion.

Consider your audience

Make sure you don’t move your physical event online without taking time to pinpoint your audience’s needs. Be sure to localise your content for your target audience, taking into account language and cultural differences, such as UK vs US English.

Be aware that their attention spans will inevitably decrease once online, but there’s a vast range of interactive tools available for keeping them interested. You can even use real-time data to better understand your engagement rate. During the event, tell your speakers to speed up or change tactics to minimise the risk of audience drop-off.

Making the most of your virtual experience

Now that everyone is at home, there are many benefits to well thought-out virtual events and experiences:

  • Global reach: Your virtual event will instantly become a global event. Plan for that, taking into consideration all audiences that may be compelled to join
  • Intent data: Build profiles based on content users who have engaged with your event to accurately track and predict their buying signals in the future
  • Behavioural tracking: Create more informed sales conversations using your built profiles
  • Lasting content: Host the event for a day, then allow users to access the content for weeks after, all whilst you build your pipeline
  • Warm pipeline: This all adds up to an engaged database of target contacts — just what your business needs to reach your long-term goals

Standing out from the crowd

There’s no doubt that this crisis will have a long-lasting impact on marketing and business in general. In these times of market uncertainty, the ability to adapt and create virtual experiences that are multifaceted and dynamic — not just broadcasted events — will be essential today and tomorrow for ensuring a more sustainable future for your marketing. Many of your peers are already out there pushing traditional webinars, so you’ll have to get creative to stand out and make some noise. In reality, you can’t completely replicate the in-person networking experience, but you can come close by building a global community in your virtual event. Through immersive storytelling, interactive QAs, and fresh content, you’ll unlock engagement and drive business opportunities for a brighter future.

Need some inspiration? Sign up for our Agile Marketing Club to see what an immersive virtual event looks like.

Credit to the fantastic team at TECHNIA for the image from their PLM Innovation Forum virtual event (launching on the 28th April), who had the vision for a sustainable event before Covid-19 forced the events world to pivot.

Outlast this outbreak with more Bright tips. See our guides to Working from Home and Supporting your Immune System.

Lydia KirbyAgile in action: Transforming events at pace
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What successful business events really look like

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‘Let’s do an event.’ Four words that often send a shiver down my spine. I have worked in the marketing for more years than I care to mention. From supplier side to client side, there is nothing quite like the buzz of seeing something that you have been tirelessly planning for months, come to life. I’ve been involved in planning almost every type of event – sell-out club nights, corporate team building, extravagant weddings, even more extravagant barmitzvahs, concerts, residential conferences and private dinners. But still, when a client says to me ‘let’s do an event,’ it unnerves me.

Don’t do an event for the sake of it

Firstly, business events should never be done for ‘event’s sake’. Without a clear, measurable objective, they run the risk of being an expense with no real demonstrable benefit (I’m sorry but profile raising is not enough).

Do you want to make new connections and cultivate warm prospects? If so, then a well-thought out recruitment plan needs to be laid out before you even set a date.

This will give you the best chance of getting the type of person that you want there to actually attend, and in turn, make the investment worthwhile.

What are the takeaways?

Holding an event to demonstrate your expertise is ultimately the reason why anyone goes to any event. I don’t go to see my favourite band at a concert because they’re average, I go because I think they’re great at what they do (I have deliberately not named them to prevent any weakness in my logic being attributed to personal taste).

However, for a successful business event, there has to be more than just telling everyone how good you are at something. Whilst some people will turn up to the opening of an envelope, the ones that you want to meet probably won’t.

So there needs to be a draw: an easily identifiable, well-positioned message that explains what people will get out of attending. This message will vary, depending on the type of person you want to attract.

  • Are you aiming to teach them something? If so, make sure it’s something they don’t already know inside and out.
  • Are you going to introduce them to their peers? If so, think about whether they will actually want to meet their peers in your chosen setting.
  • Or are you simply going to ply them with free food and drink in the hope that it is enough to make them want to part with their money, and give it to you?

Do it right or don’t do it

All this boils down to having an iron clad business objective and creating an event that is pitched at the right level, to the right people, in a setting that will appeal to them.

Once you have this down, and everyone who needs to be has been included in the concept (which is another blog post altogether), it’s time to plan.

This is the part that makes me happy –a thorough plan, a strict timeline and a smooth project flow. I like a good 12 weeks to plan an event to ensure that all logistics have been covered – venue, catering, invitations, AV – but all too often, the most important part is overlooked.

If you don’t have the right people there, it doesn’t matter how good your canapés are.

Lydia KirbyWhat successful business events really look like
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