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.
Top 10 ways to cut through the noise
Tick off this list to get your event or experience up and running quickly
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?
Nurture: Don’t forget to keep your delegates warm prior to the event. Tease new speakers, content or networking opportunities to get them energised
Launch a preview: Show them what the experience will be like to encourage engagement before the event
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
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
Book a meeting: If now isn’t a good time to talk, offer a call-back slot with a member of your sales team
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
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
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.
As the Covid-19 crisis continues to engulf the world, it will undoubtedly change the way we work. You and your team are probably working from home already. You may have been given a timeline of two weeks or you have simply been told to stay home for the foreseeable future. Whilst a few days at home is a welcome, relaxing break from stressful commuting and in-person meetings, staying productive can be challenging and long periods of isolation can be damaging to your mental health and overall team morale. To help you stay sharp, positive and productive, follow these top tips for outlasting the outbreak from your home office.
Ensure a productive workday
Get ready as if you’re about to catch the Tube
Shower, eat breakfast and yes, get dressed. Whilst working comfortably in your cosy pyjamas on the couch is the most attractive aspect of working from home, it won’t help you snap into work mode. In fact, you’re more likely to feel tired and groggy. Plus, you’ll want to feel confident calling in to meetings — you’ll probably be asked to join meetings with your camera on, as companies will want to ensure effective communication during this crisis.
Write a to-do list
Once you’re up and feeling refreshed, you’re ready to tackle your to-do list. 30% of remote workers said they feel more productive with a to-do list. Grab a notebook and jot down things to do — work-related and personal — to help you plan your day. But of course, there’s an app for that too, if you’re looking for a greener option to task management.
Try to categorise or sort by morning, afternoon and evening to help you stay productive. Trust us, there’s nothing better than ticking off your list at the end of a day – and what a great excuse for relaxing at the end of the day!
Start working at your normal working time.
If you’re normally in the office at 8.30am, turn your computer on at 8.30am. Even if you don’t have morning meetings, keeping your normal routine will help you get motivated quickly. The last thing you want to do is start late and end up working late to make up for it. However, you may decide you need to shift your working hours, and that’s fine. This is your chance to set a working schedule that works for you — and your health.
Keep track of tasks and deadlines
Along with that to-do list, it’s important to keep a list of objectives and deadlines for the day or week. You’ll also want to keep a clean desk, desktop and filing system. The latter is especially critical if you’re working in Microsoft Teams or Monday.com in which documents easily get lost without a standardised filing system.
Be active in group chats
Whether you’re using Microsoft Teams, Monday.com or Mural, be sure that you’re visibly ‘at work’. That might mean answering queries, posting a status update on what you’re working on, offering to take on a task, or participating in a public conversation.
Just remember that this doesn’t mean that you have to be furiously working and posting non-stop. You can take breaks. It’s perfectly fine to appear to be ‘away’ during the day. We’re striving to keep our normal working routine here, not turn you into a superhuman working-from-home machine!
Focus on your health
To build on that point, studies show that workers take fewer breaks when working from home. Perhaps it’s the fear of not being there to answer an email or IM. No one wants to look like they’re slacking. But you need to give your mind (and eyes!) a break from your computer screen every now and then, just as you do in the office. Set aside a few minutes a day to do yoga, make a cup of tea, read a book or go for a walk to clear your head.
But not all breaks are healthy. Mindless online shopping or Facebook browsing won’t help you focus later. See these tips on how to avoid taking unproductive breaks.
Don’t forget to eat
I know, sounds impossible right? But in reality, working from home can throw off your normal eating schedule. When you get so buried in a task at home, odds are there isn’t anyone there to invite you to lunch. Schedule an hour’s lunch break every day. Put it in your calendar if you need to, to remind you and your co-workers.
And during this crisis, it’s more important than ever to avoid junk food and binge-eating that can be detrimental to your health. Nutritionist Natalie Burrows offers top tips for eating well to support your immune system and prevent infection.
Get outside (if you’re not self-isolating!)
If you or someone you live with is showing symptoms of Covid-19, WHO recommends self-isolating in your home for at least 7 days to prevent the spread of infection.
If you’re healthy and not showing symptoms, you’re probably practicing social distancing — but that doesn’t mean you can’t leave your home. As you won’t be walking to work or the Tube, your body will miss that little bit of exercise! Stretch your legs with a quick pop to the shop or a walk around the neighbourhood. To stay in peak health, be sure to get a bit of fresh air and vitamin D when you can.
Studies actually show that walking alone can boost your immune system dramatically. Men and women who walk at least 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week had 43% fewer sick days than those who walked once a week or less.
End your day at your normal working time
Surprisingly, studies show that working from home often leads to longer working hours. But shutting off at your normal time is important for your health. Just because you don’t have to commute, doesn’t mean you need to continue working. If you normally end at 5.30pm, sign off and close your laptop. Being available 24/7 won’t help you stay productive or impress your manager – it will only make you more tired, grumpy and ineffective, or worse, susceptible to illness.
Tips for managers
Trust your employees to do the work
This extended period of working from home will test your team’s ability to stay self-motivated and meet deadlines – and your management skills. Whilst it will undoubtedly be tempting, this is not the time to start micromanaging. Your team will need some time to adjust to working from home – balancing a work schedule from home with daily family life isn’t easy!
So, how do you stay involved and in control as a manager but avoid turning into a burdensome micromanager? State objectives, tasks and deadlines clearly in your task programme. Assign and tag your team members to each task and be sure to answer queries as quickly as possible.
But whilst written communication is important and efficient, this is the time to focus on encouraging face-to-face communication as much as possible. Set up daily Scrum stand-ups, especially if your team is used to working in an agile way, and be sure to use video. This will help you provide key context, answer queries and avoid miscommunication. If video calls and stand-ups are new to your team, send across helpful guides to let them know what’s expected from their participation.
Use the right tools
We’ve mentioned a few communication tools and software that we use, but you really have your choice of software for your team’s needs. Microsoft Teams is the perfect tool for chatting and collaborating, and Monday.com is handy for planning, tracking and assigning tasks. We’ve recently adopted the sticky-note app Mural for streamlining daily meetings and stand-ups. All are visually intuitive, simple and easy to use.
Boost team morale
Work hard, play hard — even at home! This extended period of time away from the office calls for a focus on keeping the team spirit alive and well. Plan virtual coffee breaks, lunches and games to bring the team together as often as possible (without overloading their calendar of course!). It’s important to open up time for chatting and banter, not just meetings. Here at Bright, we’ve set up Bright Olympics to play a few short games and chat over coffee to stay in touch.
We’re all in this together
The Covid-19 crisis is affecting us all. Businesses are now under tremendous pressure to keep things running smoothly but setting up remote working and ensuring productivity is a challenge for both management and the team. By following these tips, we hope you’ll be able to find and provide some much-needed security for your company in the year ahead. If you need help adopting new ways of working to support your newly remote team, schedule a virtual coffee break with the Bright team today or get started with an Agile Hub.