Virtual events, where attendees join digitally from the comfort of their own homes, have transpired to be essential in maintaining human connection during the coronavirus pandemic.
Whilst these events are a great way to touch base with customers, it is important that you, in turn, are able to benefit from them too. They can be a useful tool for building your brand and when done right, can be financially beneficial and ensure valuable ROI. Read on for Hire Space's top tips on how you can monetise your virtual events whilst adding value for your attendees.
You can also read our Tips For Making A Virtual Conference Memorable On A Budget.
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Get sponsors on board
Live events that are free for attendees often rely on sponsorship as a revenue stream, and there's no reason that this can't be the same for virtual events! Whilst it is important to remain mindful when approaching potential sponsors during a pandemic, when done tactfully, partnerships can be mutually beneficial and not be seen to be capitalising on anyone's misfortune. Here's some ideas of what you could offer as a sponsorship package:
- You could use a platform that allows you to create a virtual exhibition hall, in which you 'sell' spaces just like at live events. Here, attendees can view product/service showreels, brochures, chat with salespeople, book one-to-one meetings and demos.
- There are lots of advertising opportunities for a virtual event - you could include the sponsor in mailers, social media, banners on attendee's screens, push notifications, video ads or even on your registration platform. The opportunities are endless!
- Sponsors could 'host' a part of the event, such as a pre-event breakfast, post-event networking drinks reception or event content stages or sessions. They could also donate prizes or giveaways for attendees to win.
- You could provide in-depth 'ROI Reports' to sponsors post-event, with all sorts of data that is easily accessible from a virtual event, such as click rate, lead capture, session attendance and much more.
Charge for tickets
If you have some high-profile speakers on the line-up and really interesting content, attendees will be prepared to pay as they might for a live event. Bear in mind though, that it can be difficult to hit the right note when charging for your virtual event during these challenging times. Make sure your event offers enough value to its audience to justify the spend.
- If you decide to sell tickets, you could create different tiers of access. For example, those who just want the basic sessions and networking can pay a base rate, or you could offer some sessions free and a paid ticket upgrade to access others. If you give attendees a taste for free, they may be more likely to pay for other sessions.
- You could offer group packages, so companies may pay for their employees to attend.
- You could create a referral programme to increase your audience and maximise sales. Research shows that customers are 4 times more likely to buy if they get a recommendation than if they had discovered the event elsewhere.
- Make sure to leverage the speakers and sponsors networks as best you can! Provide them with easily sharable copy and imagery for social media to engage their networks and increase your events exposure.
Leverage Events To Generate Other Revenue Streams
If your event objectives are centred around revenue generation, don't forget the enormous business development capability of an event. Events offer a meaningful way to connect with clients and prospects and, when done right, can be a excellent means of lead generation and pipeline acceleration.
- Make sure that the content for your event, firstly, offers significant value to your audience and, secondly, has a strong connection to your business product/service value proposition. Events have evolved, particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic, to be essential means of communication with stakeholders, so take every opportunity you get to communicate your value proposition. Get your sales team involved early on to contribute to the content and have a say in how the event will run.
- Use your data! The breadth of data available off the back of a Virtual event is astounding, and shouldn't be left forgotten in your virtual event management system. Make sure to leverage this data to arm your sales and marketing teams to target leads effectively with the right follow ups, score your leads and prospects for better outreach, and generate new leads and audiences. This data is key for measuring and increasing ROI for any event.
- Save some exclusive content or event features for your top prospects to help them convert. Why not host a wine tasting for your VIP's? Or offer them exclusive content as a value add? These are great tools to foster relationships, develop conversations and instil a sense of trust and loyalty.
Make your event more desirable
As well as content, it's worth thinking about what else your attendees might be impressed by, Providing extra value for delegates will leave a great impression and will make it more likely that they will share their experience with others, thus expanding your audience reach, prompting others to see what they're missing and increasing attendance rate and interest. Here's a few suggestions:
- You could provide the event timings in different time zones or offer subtitles for those attending from different countries. This promotes inclusivity whilst taking the event international simultaneously.
- You could create a 'virtual goody bag', where attendees can add content they find interesting such as case studies or workshops. This could also be a great addition to a sponsorship package - like a flyer at a live event, sponsors could create a one-pager that is automatically added to attendees' virtual goody bags.
- Another great way to extend the appeal, and therefore reach, of your virtual event is to offer virtual swag. This could be in the form of discounts for relevant products or services, or even for online courses or workshops. Remember: the purpose of your event is first and foremost to provide valuable content to your attendees, so make it worth their time and they’ll make it worth yours!
Social media is an invaluable tool in event marketing. Not only can it be used to create a buzz around your event in the lead-up, but it is also a great way to involve your attendees during the event, whilst promoting your event at the same time. Here's how you could use social media as revenue stream:
- Create a hashtag or dedicated social handle for attendees to use, and encourage them to post during the event, perhaps by doing a live Q&A, polls, or even incentivising by creating a competition.
- Experience the event with them by live posting during the event. For people who can’t attend, they’ll feel included if you post pictures or quotes from the event, and once they get a teaser of how great the event is, they’ll be first in line for the next one.
- Create engaging video content to promote the event. You only have a matter of seconds to grab someones attention (particularly when scrolling through social media), video content can be an effective means of grabbing your audiences attention.
- We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: shout about your great content as much as humanly possible. As humans, we often experience the phenomenon of FOMO (fear of missing out) - if our clients/colleagues/friends are attending an event with great content, big-name speakers and lots of cool extras, they're going to sign up too. Trust us.
Extend your shelf life
The beauty of virtual events is that they can be re-lived over and over. How, you ask? You could try these tips to make your event go further:
- Share the session recordings on social media and on your website via blog-style writeups, such as these ones from our own virtual event. Why? The more you share great content from your event, the more engagement it will create, which will subsequently build a buzz and hopefully increase trust in your brand. You could also think about monetising these recordings by storing them in a digital library and charging for access.
- Alternatively, a series of online events can become a valuable online course that can generate revenue for you on an ongoing basis, or provide extra value to existing paid subscribers.
- Once you position your brand as a thought leader, people will start turning to your content as a trusted source of information, thus not just boosting your event attendance but also your overall following and brand awareness.
- It's worth noting here that if you decide to sell access to your event, and then you post all the content for free on your blog, this may leave a sour taste in attendee's mouths. Make sure you put them first by emailing them the content, and any other extras you decide on, such as useful data from the event, in a personalised post-event email thanking them for attending. You could also give them early-bird access to your next event.
We hope these tips have helped you when thinking about your own virtual events as a revenue stream. Next, read our article on how to Adapt and Grow Your Audience With Virtual Events, or read about Hire Space's recent virtual event 'How The Events World Is Responding To COVID-19'.
We want to let you know about the free virtual event consulting service we've developed to help events professionals through this uncertain time.
Book your free consultation today with our Virtual Event Experts to see how we can help make your virtual event unforgettable at a price that suits you!