Feature Friday: Humanizing Your Digital Experiences

There are a few benefits to realize by moving an in-person event to a digital one: no need to rent a huge conference space and limiting attendee travel time. However, we understand there’s something in the magic of being face-to-face, connecting with others on an intimate level.

At ON24, we love fostering that human interaction in the digital world. Here are three unique ways you can successfully extend your event from in-person to digital while continuing to drive engagement and connection.

Show Your Face

Showing your face during your webinar makes the whole experience less robotic. Attendees want to not only hear but also see, excitement for your content.

Simply turning on webcam or video capabilities add another dynamic to your entire event. Don’t worry about how you look as the preview window will ensure that you see what your audience sees. You can also incorporate Broadcast Video to bring broadcast-quality HD video to your webinars.

Use CTAs to Easily Lead Audiences to the Next Session

Physically running from one session to another can be stressful. With the CTA engagement tool, audiences are guided into the next session to continue their learning and engagement.

When creating your CTA, simply select the Webcast option and put in the audience URL. As long as the registration fields are the same, attendees will be auto-registered to the next event without needing to re-type all their information.

If the next session already started, attendees will dive right in. If it hasn’t started, attendees will see a landing page noting they are registered for the next session. That page will then be refreshed to allow the attendee to start viewing when the webinar does start. No need to rush to the other end of the conference hall!

The CTA tool can be set up as:

    • Always on the console: Allow the attendee to check out another session whenever.
    • Post-live: The CTA will be launched when the presenter ends the current webinar.

The CTA can also lead attendees to visit another webpage, to contact you or visit an ON24 Engagement Hub. If you’re an ON24 customer, check out the knowledge center for more best practices or contact your Customer Success Manager to see how else you can leverage the CTA tool.

Encourage Networking via Chat

One of the best aspects of an in-person event or conference is all the networking. From connecting with other like-minded individuals during a breakout session to those side conversations in the hallway, events foster meeting new individuals to grow professionally. With ON24’s Chat engagement tool, audiences and attendees can not only engage with your content but also with each other — digitally!

With Chat, attendees are able to interact and exchange ideas. They will feel like they are still part of a larger audience, just sitting digitally next to one another. Another added benefit of digital networking is unlike a physical event with many side discussions, all chats in an ON24 event are still logged in the webinar reporting.

…But wait, there’s more!

The ON24 Platform is built for engagement. Other features such as the Q&A, polls and surveys continue to allow audiences to stay engaged, interact and connect with the presenter.

Ready to go digital? Check out our Taking Your In-Person Events Digital guide to leverage the ON24 Platform to scale, reach broad audiences and deliver event ROI.

Taking In-Person Events Virtual? Five Things to Consider

Marketers are constantly evaluating the right mix of content and tactics to power amazing experiences for buyers. And now that it’s impossible to engage your buyer through physical experiences due to the ongoing global health situation, we are seeing a swift and massive disruption in the day-to-day activities for B2B marketers. Across the globe, marketers are trying to find effective strategies to engage audiences even when they can’t meet in-person. After all, marketers still have pipeline to generate and they need to get creative… quickly.

I’ve had the privilege of covering the physical and digital events space for the past five years and have seen companies use effective strategies to bridge the divide. Often, effective physical-to-digital programs were born out of the need to connect with target accounts. These marketers realized they needed virtualized, digital experiences for buying group members who weren’t able to attend an in-person event.

I want to share with you some of the top tips I’ve seen marketers use when merging in-person events to digital experiences — be that virtual events or webinars. From a strategic perspective:

    • Communicate. People want to understand what your organization is doing so they can plan ahead. Even if you don’t have the complete answer or solution, letting attendees know that you’re monitoring a situation and when they can know a decision by will go a long way.
    • It’s all about the Data. While you may be scrambling to pull off the execution of an in-person event turned virtual, don’t lose sight of thinking about what to do after the event is over. Make sure attendance and engagement data is captured and funneled to the appropriate systems. Assemble a task force to ensure that follow-up to attendees is swift and informed.
    • Learn from the Experience. Future-proofing your marketing strategy will be a hot topic once marketers get past the current chaos of reworking plans. No doubt there will be opportunities for organizations to rethink people, process and technology. I urge all marketing leaders to make setting up marketing channel contingency plans as we enter Q3.

And for the digital experiences themselves:

    • Turn on the Camera. Yes, you heard me (and I’m someone who rocks the athleisure better than no other when I’m not presenting). Not only does having video enabled for webinars and virtual events boost engagement, it should be required if you’re hosting a digital experience in lieu of an in-person one.
    •  Make it Interactive. Mimicking the experience of an in-person event is challenging if you resort to dated digital behaviors. Leverage polling and Q&A features heavily. If you’re struggling to see where your content can have these opportunities, consider inserting polling questions after a data point or at the end of a section. You can also check out some more tips here.

How Integrated Content Creates Better Customer Experiences

According to an old marketing axiom, it takes seven touches before a prospect responds to a call to action. So, it’s no surprise most marketers are focused on simply generating those seven clicks.

The problem, though, is that a simple interaction — or a single piece of content — doesn’t tell a story. It doesn’t nurture a prospect or turn them into a consumer. A prospect can make that seventh click and return to browsing the web, never to visit your company website again.

To generate those quality touches, and to convert prospects into customers, organizations need to nurture visitors with a stream of curated content and keep them engaged over a period of time.

Check out The Accelerated Buyer: How Personalized Content Journeys Impact the Buying Process to learn how you can create digital experiences with a personal touch.

How Content Fuels Conversion

Webinerd funnel

Content creation fuels the conversion process, but it’s the customer experience that causes prospects to convert. But what makes for a great content experience that converts?

At its core, a good content experience has two distinct features. First, it’s markedly different from typical content touches — the random clicks generated by organic social posts, for example. Second, content pieces within an experience must work together to build a narrative arc; one piece flows to the next and pushes the prospect further along in their buyer’s journey.

Content’s Cumulative Effect

Webinerd in a green jacket adjusts data to reduce churn for her company.

 

With a solid experience in place, prospects will begin to engage with your content. These engagements will have a cumulative effect, where interactions in, say, a webinar, informs the next piece of content served up or the content experience presented to the prospect.

But before a cumulative effect can take place, marketing teams need to break content — videos, blogs, webinars, e-books, etc. — out of their silos. Content must address a specific problem for a general audience or be repackage-able for a targeted account.

One way of approaching content for scale is to think of multimedia content as packaged experiences. By creating content in tandem, you can craft a dynamic and informative experience that can be repurposed and tailored as needed and reach audiences at each point of the buyer journey.

Putting It All Together

Webinerd working on a webinar

You have the building blocks. All that’s left is to put it all together. Remember: content experiences must address pain points and queries while providing interesting and meaningful impressions of your product or service. As a marketer, you need to convey your understanding of your buyer’s concerns and what they are interested in long before they make a purchase.

The right tools and technologies can help you deliver your integrated customer strategy across diverse channels, platforms, and devices, creating an overall seamless experience.

To learn more about how you can create integrated customer experiences, check out our new e-book, The Accelerated Buyer: How Personalized Content Journeys Impact the Buying Process.

Rethinking the Go-to-Market Conference Strategy

As conferences, trade shows and other in-person events to adjust to global health concerns, Matt Heinz, President and CEO of Heinz Marketing, shares a few thoughts on how the conference ecosystem can pause and rethink its go-to-market strategy. Originally published on heinzmarketing.com.

Is nature accelerating a trend that been a long time coming?

The usual rush of spring events in B2B sales and marketing has almost entirely been eliminated in just the past couple days, in an appropriate abundance of caution.  Countless hours of work by organizers, presenters, sponsors and even attendees – gone.

Or are they?  Many of these companies are now planning virtual summits, a series of webinars and other online formats to maintain a version of what had been intended in person.

What’s really been lost? Sunk costs all around for sure.

From a value perspective, the primary variable that has really been eliminated is the venue.  If it weren’t for the fear of spreading this dangerous virus unnecessarily further, these shows would still go on – and would likely be deemed successes by all parties involved.

So that tells me there’s still clearly value there.  How much of it is tied in the actual channel (i.e. attending general sessions and just watching the big screen anyway, having another booth to staff, sponsoring another after-hours party) vs what can be enumerated and replaced elsewhere?

Too often we get caught in a cycle of incremental thinking, making certain assumptions about what we have to do.  Since we’re going to that trade show anyway, how do we make our booth more attractive?  How do we make our chochkies more desirable?  How do we stand out from everyone else sponsoring, presenting, shouting at the crowd?  That’s incremental thinking.

Exponential thinking, for example, means eliminating trade shows entirely.  It’s no surprise or secret that many marketers loathe the trade show circuit but have considered it a necessary evil.  It’s historically been too scary of a thought to not show up, to not be there when “everybody else” will.

So now that those shows are literally gone, now that a virus has leveled the playing field, what will you do?

There’s still significant value and need here:

    • Organizers still desire a platform to share their story, gather their customers and build greater market share, sales pipeline and more.
    • Sponsors still desire a targeted channel to meet new prospective customers and fill their own sales pipelines
    • Attendees will still seek an opportunity to learn, to network with their peers, to benefit from parallel thinking in other organizations

These needs exist independent of the channel, independent of the venue.

Most companies that have produced and/or sponsored events this spring will either wait things out on the sidelines or attempt to replace those in-person shows with webinars.  And unfortunately, most of those efforts will fall flat, fail to generate value, or at minimum just look like what everyone else is doing.

This is not an opportunity to take advantage of a dangerous and scary situation, let me be clear.

This is an opportunity to rethink our go-to-market strategies, to practice some exponential thinking, to reinvent how we create, deliver and build on the value that’s very much needed, especially in the absence of traditional means.

For example:

    • Could some of those trade show resources be better deployed in digital prospect experiences?
    • Could you convert mass-scale event participation into local in-market events that may be smaller but have a bigger impact on target accounts?
    • How about organizing your customers and industry community into local user groups to replicate part of the community-building at large events that has been lost?
      • Perhaps these include live events eventually, but could start with an online community, Slack channel or other format – either organized by your company or orchestrated/supported with a local customer/evangelist leader
    • Can you convert the usual badge scan “was she qualified” guessing into an investment in greater intelligence and intent data on behalf of the broader account and buying committee, not just who happened to stop by the booth?
    • Get your team together (in a group video call if you’re working remotely) and explore/brainstorm something that just a couple weeks ago may have felt less reasonable.

Sometimes companies and leaders are bold enough to make exponential leaps in value and innovation.

Sometimes the market compels us to do it.

Digital Alternatives to Canceling In-Person Events

You’ve been planning your firm’s annual intellectual property law conference for months. Presentations are in the can. RSVPs have been confirmed. It’s nearly showtime, when…

Word comes down from head office: the conference is postponed or maybe even canceled outright. All non-essential firm travel is put on hold and speakers can’t get to the venue. Clients are rethinking participation and in some cases withdrawing completely.

Switch out “annual conference” for partner retreat, industry presentation, or even breakfast briefing, and the question remains the same: how to recover the investment the firm has made in planning and organizing an event while continuing outreach to clients and potential clients in the face of circumstances beyond your control?

This article originally appeared on JD Supra. Shared with the author’s permission.

The answer: move your event online with a webinar, virtual trade show, or personalized microsite – that allows you to safely bring speakers together, deliver thought leadership to clients and targets, and record individual sessions for your content portal. Some considerations:

A Client Conference

Webinerd guests

Multi-day or full-day conferences translate well to the webinar format, as do big events with concurrent sessions.

In fact, an online-only event can give you a great opportunity to show clients that you’re sensitive to any concerns they might have about travel and at the same time reiterate your commitment to their continued education on the topics that most affect their businesses (including, if appropriate, your perspective on how best to weather travel bans and other disruptions in their industry). You might even see registrations go up!

Once you’ve lined up the technology, send a message to registrants to say you’re moving the event online. Include the schedule of individual sessions so attendees can plan their attendance. You’ll also want to send a similar message to invitees who didn’t register for the conference so they know that the conference has moved online.

Finally, if there’s a registration fee for the conference, consider refunding all or some of that charge since your costs for hosting the event will be significantly reduced. Attendees will appreciate the gesture.

A Partner Retreat

Webinerd on demand

 

Moving a partner retreat online can seem a bit more challenging because some meetings – practice groups, industry teams, client teams, and the like – typically involve highly interactive discussions with active engagement from attendees. Other activities, like the Managing Partner’s presentation or outside speaker talks, require less input from participants.

Different types of meetings shouldn’t be a problem for your webinar technology, however, which should allow the participation level you need in whatever meeting you’ve arranged, whether it’s a small interactive gathering of 10 partners, a large presentation to 1000 people, or something in-between.

Sadly, however, webinar technology hasn’t advanced to the point where partners can use it for a virtual round of golf…

Breakfast Briefing

A webinerd and her coworkers discuss optimization

Moving a single-session presentation online, like a breakfast briefing or a mid-afternoon speaker, on short notice is easy.

Webinar technology lets you set up the event quickly so you can focus on communicating the format change to registrants. Again, don’t forget to re-invite people who haven’t signed up for the briefing: they may have declined the first time around due to unease about group gatherings.

Switching an in-person event to a webinar lets you demonstrate your sensitivity to client concerns without sacrificing thought leadership (particularly relevant if the breakfast briefing advised on responding to travel bans and other disruptions!).

You might even want to send a $5 Starbucks gift card to all registered attendees the day before the event so they can BYOB (“Bring Your Own Breakfast”). It’s a fun perk, and would probably be cheaper than catering the in-person event.

How is your firm responding to travel bans and other disruptions? I’d love to hear about it.

Your Guide to Using In-Person Conferences for Virtual Events

Conferences, trade shows and seminars are all excellent ways to generate leads and build important face-to-face relationships. But field events always have limitations marketers need to consider. First, and the most crucial, is that not all relevant audiences are going to be able to attend the physical event in question. Budgets, travel restrictions and proximity to a venue all affect attendance.

That’s why every field event — no matter how large or small — should incorporate digital experiences into its strategy. Don’t have a digital angle ready for your in-person event?  Don’t worry: combining virtual events and experiences physical, in-person events isn’t hard — all it takes is a little scrappy marketing. Here’s how you can get started:

What Is a Virtual Event?

Before we begin, let’s get some terminology out of the way. A virtual event is an activity taking place online where attendees can interact with a brand through digital channels. Virtual events can be as short as a 20-minute webinar or as long as a morning-long summit. Often, they take place in coordination with a physical in-person event or, on occasion, act as a standalone event.

What are the Main Features of a Virtual Event?

There are a variety of ways virtual events can be held, but there are a few common traits each event shares. All virtual events are:

Digital — By their nature, virtual events take place in a digital environment online.
Interactive — All virtual events should offer attendees the opportunity to download resources, interact with speakers and engage with the environment they’re in.
Multimedia — Virtual events excel when presenters and sessions contain multimedia elements, like video, GIFs, slides, music and more.

What is the Difference Between a Digital Experience and a Virtual Event?

Virtual events and digital experiences are similar ideas at first glance. In fact, a digital experience has all of the trappings of a virtual event. But on closer examination, the difference between the two is stark.

Digital experiences, for example, are far more immersive, coordinated and enjoyable from an end-user perspective. They’re more polished and consistent in their presentation than virtual events and tend to draw larger numbers of attendees.

Virtual experiences, by comparison, are short and immediate. One way to think of it is the difference between a massive, multi-day conference and a roadshow across the country. Both have their purposes, but one generates far more buzz by its nature.

Develop A Digital Team

Webinerd Team

Whether you’re moving your in-person event fully online or complimenting your physical presence, having a structured plan in place makes all the difference. The first step is to identify your key stakeholders in your marketing and sales departments. Here’s a list of the marketing roles that ought to be involved:

Program Director – Organizes and develops digital/physical event strategy and approach

Event Coordinator – Identifies event topics and related focus areas

Webinar Manager – Organizes webinar strategy, content creation and promotion

Operations/Demand Gen – Sets up a webinar, webinar production, lead qualification and tracking

For Sales and Customer success, the list is:

Field Reps – For identifying target audiences, personas, accounts and event presence

SDRs – For webinar and event engagement, outreach, promotion and follow up

Customer Success – For event follow up, trial organization and support

Once assembled, sit down to identify how you want to run your digital experience. Typically, there are three options to consider to incorporate your digital experience:

    • In tandem with your in-person event
    • As an extension of your physical event
    • Or as a post-event experience attendees can enjoy

Also, take this time to identify the target accounts, audiences and personas you want to connect with.

Organize Content and Branding

Webinerd working on a webinar

Content

With planning elements in place, it’s time to organize your content and branding. In general, content should reflect the speaker’s presentation and any handout material you may have onsite. Gather digital copies of relevant e-books, case studies, reports, presentation slides and track down any appropriate virtual-based content as well, like on-demand webinars or blog posts.

Now, it’s time to organize content for your digital experiences. In general, there are three options to consider when delivering content through a digital experience. Here’s a quick rundown:

Targeted landing pages. Targeted landing pages provide attendees with a quick, concise overview of your presence at an event, along with any relevant handouts or materials. You can also use these pages to stream a webinar or a recording of the in-person event, as well as putting attendees directly in touch with presenters and SDRs via engagement tools like CTAs and virtual business cards.

Content hubs. If you’re running a larger event, like your own conference, or have multiple sessions to share, use a content hub like ON24’s Engagement Hub. With a content hub in place, you can sign virtual attendees up for multiple presentations throughout an event, provide in-person attendees with presentations they may have missed and — if you’re hosting — organize your breakout sessions and keynotes into tracks or topics.

Live or simulive webinars. Finally, there are webinars, which can stand on their own, or be embedded in the previous two options. Webinars have the option to be streamed live, simulive or on-demand, but for conferences, focusing on live and simulive is best.

For streaming live webinars, you have two options: high-quality broadcast streams or using webcams. All you need to get started is a webcam and, depending on your set up, a tripod stand. We recommend streaming live webinar presentations through webcams first, as they’re more affordable, scalable and less complex than broadcast video. Broadcast video is best suited when your organization is the conference host and you have keynotes you’d like to stream.

More often than not, simulive, where a presenter records their session ahead of time for virtual audiences, is the safest and most practical decision. Sit down with your speaker(s), identify opportunities to engage a virtual audience via polls and Q&A engagement tools and record the presentation. Then, when you broadcast, have a representative available to answer any questions your virtual attendees may have.

Regardless of whichever tactic you choose, make sure you build in engagement features for your virtual attendees. These can include simple CTAs, chat rooms and Q&A tools to powerful tactics like interactive pushing polls and surveys during a presentation.

Branding

When it comes to branding, one rule is important: consistency. Landing pages, webinars, content and content hubs all need to match your organization’s theme or design for an in-person event. This also includes physical assets, like booth design and handouts.

Sit down with your designer, design team or agency and list out all of the assets you’ll need to be branded for field events. Once those assets are identified, get your design in order and make templates out of them. This way, attendees — both in-person and virtual — have a consistent experience no matter where they engage your brand. You can (and ought to!) reuse these templates with other events as well.

Run Your Event and Move to On-Demand

A webinerd and her community dancing happily in a virtual circle

Okay, so you have a plan in place, content ready, consistent branding and folks registering. All that’s left is to run your digital experience. Right?

First, there are a few things to keep in mind to make your events go as smoothly as possible. These items include setting up email reminders (before, during and after your in-person event starts), practicing live presentations ahead of time to run through any technical issues, recording and organizing your simulive events in content hubs and landing pages and training your team on how to engage virtual attendees. But these steps should be relatively easy to work through.

With an organized approach, your event should run smoothly. Remember to take the time to engage your virtual audience, acknowledge their presence, answer questions and push your in-person attendees to your digital experience for additional resources. When the event is over, make sure your digital experiences reflect that fact. Update your content hubs and landing pages to say the conference, trade show or field event is over. You don’t want any confusion over the status of an event.

The On-Demand Element

Webinerd on demand

Unlike in-person trade shows and conferences, digital experiences don’t have an expiration date. To take full advantage of digital experiences and to extend the impact of your in-person event, have a plan in place for on-demand access.

For on-demand, you have a few options. The easiest is to simply push recordings of your event into on-demand content hubs for consumption. But if you want to go the extra mile, develop a few ideas that can extend your in-person assets — speakers, subject-matter experts and attendees — and expand on your event’s impact.

Here are some easy to do examples that you can do live or on-demand:

Coffee Talk

An informal, unscripted chat between two to three people for about a half-hour. The best format for a Coffee Talk is video — all you need to do is grab a webcam or camcorder and start recording. If you want to add some production to it, get an HD camera, record the discussion and push the recording on-demand. If you’re in a pinch, an audio recording can suffice as well.

Fireside Chat

A bit more involved than the Coffee Talk, a Fireside Chat is typically a high-quality video recording of a casual but structured conversation between a moderator and a few guests for about an hour. Since fireside chats usually involve keynote or high-quality speakers consider putting some extra focus on the quality of the recording.

Subject Matter Expert Keynote

Audiences love reports, charts and statistics. So, a traditional presentation where a speaker presents new research, industry trends, their experiences or other related topics to the audience is a great opportunity for on-demand engagement. For this, talk to customers, internal experts and industry subject-matter experts and get permission to both record presentations in either audio or video formats and share the presentation’s slides.

Extra Q&A Sessions

Extra Q&A sessions are low-effort, high-impact opportunities to add value to both in-person and virtual attendees. Grab a webcam, set up a small space and take five to fifteen minutes with a subject matter expert to run through additional Q&A submissions. It’s a great opportunity for them to answer key questions that official sessions might not have had time to cover during their presentations.

And that’s it, really. If you’re crunched for time, go through and identify the actions that are easy to produce, but have a high impact for your audiences.

Feature Friday: Build a Global Brand with ON24

The world is a lot smaller thanks to technology and the internet. You can get your hands on a jacket from that super-hip foreign brand and just as easily as you can reach global audiences in various time zones through digital channels.

Scale Your Global Brand Outreach with ON24

Webinerd in a green jacket adjusts data to reduce churn for her company.

ON24 powers digital experiences across the world, continually focusing on scalability so you can easily and efficiently showcase your content worldwide. Robust features across the ON24 Platform alleviate the pains of reaching a different market and audience, while still offering flexibility in building engaging experiences. Let’s explore how ON24’s tools turn your company name into a global brand.

Localize Branded Content

The first step to reaching global audiences is offering content in local languages. The ON24 Platform can localize messages and labels on webinars, content hubs and customized landing pages into up to 34 languages, creating a digital experience specifically for that region. Additionally, ON24 Engagement Hub features support audience content-binging regionally. With filters, such as specifying best content for certain markets, those around the world can easily find content that is not only the most relevant but also presented in the preferred language.

      NVIDIA uses Engagement Hub to support regional replays.

Adjust for Time Zones

With Simulive or Sim2Live in ON24 Webcast Elite, users can scale the reach of a single webinar in local time zones with all the elements of a live webinar, without requiring presenters to adjust schedules or present multiple times. Simply record the event and set it for the ideal times in the targeted region. Simulive and Sim2Live let audiences engage with the webinar with polls, downloadable resources and asking questions. Often, they won’t even know the webinar not “live.” And with Sim2Live, you can also switch over to live mode for further interaction and live engagement. These essential features allow you to easily engage in regional audiences and drive global programs.

Deliver Translated Captions

Last year, ON24 Webcast Elite released Automated Captioning so you can not only increase audience accessibility but also reach global audiences. Powerful speech-to-text technology creates captions when presenting in one of more than 10 languages and those captions can be auto-translated into more than 60 languages. And with an easy-to-use in-app editing tool, users can edit those captions for accuracy. Enabling translated captions allows you to reach more audiences without needing to find a different speaker to communicate in the local languages to deliver your brand’s message.

An event presented in English and with Japanese captions.

If you’d like to learn more about scaling your digital experiences for global audiences, please contact us. If you’re already using ON24, please contact your CSM.

5 Ways To Engage Your Audience While Running A Live Webinar

For a lot of participants, it’s not easy to sit behind a screen and listen to all of the content in a webinar.

That’s why the ideal webinar is one in which your online audience members feel engaged. You need to put effort into conceptualizing a webinar that your audience loves and actually wants to be a part of.

For this reason, you’ll need to try and answer the following questions:

  • What sort of activities, quizzes, questions and information would excite your audience?
  • What is your audience’s motivation behind attending this webinar?
  • Could you ask your audience what they’d like to see in the webinar?
  • What are some examples of highly engaging webinars? What can you learn from them?

In this article, we’ll give you five solid ways of engaging your audience while running a live webinar. So let the fun begin!

Ed. note: This guest post is by Ryan Gould, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing.

#1: Audience Poll

If there is a topic you’d like your audience’s opinion on, you can run an audience poll to ask for their votes while running the live webinar.

Most webinar software tools come with audience poll features built-in. So all your audience has to do is either click on a ‘hands up’ button or click from one of the options you put out for them to vote against. This way you can collect votes for a question or issue you bring up and empower your audience to be an important part of the webinar.

#2: Run A Pre-Webinar Survey

We’ve found the trick to successful live webinars is to put a lot of planning, and pre-work before the event actually takes place. And part of this pre-planning is understanding what the audience wants out of the event, which is why we run a survey about a fortnight (that’s two weeks) before the actual webinar is held.

You can include questions like:

  • What are your motivations behind attending the webinar?
  • How is it possible for us to engage you in this webinar?
  • Would you like to interact with other attendees in the webinar?
  • What are some webinars you’ve loved to attend in the past and why?
  • What would make you jump out of your chair with joy while you attend this webinar?

Asking them questions like these will arm you with the right knowledge to take the right action.

#3: Create Amazing Webinar Content

Don’t just put up slides with lengthy sentences for people read on their own in a webinar. Your job as a webinar organizer is to create amazing webinar content that makes your audience come alive.

Start by thinking of a catchy topic that grabs the attention of your audience. Then, if you have the time and resources for it, present your content in interesting formats, like creating infographics, interactive videos or visually-appealing GIFs.

Then, think about some background music you can play before the webinar or a GIF animation you run while the webinar is running. Just make sure the background effects aren’t too distracting  — the audience’s attention should be on your content, not your GIFs. Also, if you’re giving a live presentation, make sure you check the microphone for voice clarity before the event starts.

Another helpful presentation tip we’ve discovered is to make strategic use of your webinar slides. Often, the fewer, the better. Run slides for a specific duration of time, about one or two minutes per slide as a general rule of thumb, until you switch over to the next one. This gives your speaker time to exhaust what they have to say on the slide’s topic while giving your audience enough time to review its content. While we’re on the topic of slides: try to keep their content light. Busy slides distract from your speaker and your message.

#4: Make Audience Members Interact With Each Other

One great thing webinars can do is connect people with similar interests!

That’s why the biggest service you can render to your attendees is to facilitate them to interact with each other. You can do this by organizing them into private online groups while the webinar is going on, enabling the chat feature so they can send each other private messages or organize Twitter threads or hashtags for organic conversations.

#5: Q&A Sessions

Letting your audience ask you questions while the webinar is running is a great way to engage your attendees. While it may not be possible to answer every question ‘on the go,’ you can always build in Q&A sessions into the webinar format.

This is where you’d allow your audience to freely ask you questions of their choice, and reply straight away like you’re in a conversation with them. And what could be a better way to engage your audience other than a live conversation!

Wrapping it up

There are a million and one ways to engage an online audience during a webinar. The important thing to know is which ways would best suit both your brand and your audience. Through trial and error, and measuring your audience engagement, you’ll come up with the best approach for your unique business.

Ryan Gould

 

How to Set Up Engagement Hub for Always-On Brand Value

Branding your webinars is great, but the FUN doesn’t need to stop there. Now that you have a library of beautiful on-demand webinars, it’s time to brand your content hub! It can be overwhelming, so here are some tips on where to start.

Beautify Your Thumbnails

For ON24 Engagement Hub, the most noticeable hub element is definitely going to be the thumbnail attached to each piece of content. So, it’s important to brand each thumbnail properly. You’ll want to avoid a strange hodgepodge of different styles. Work with your design team and develop one consistent style for Engagement Hub thumbnails. Then, use design for each piece of content.

Organize Your Content

You know what makes even the most carefully designed thumbnails look bad? Being dumped into a large unorganized hub. Ease of use not only offers a better user experience, but it also makes your content — and brand — look better. Break content out into categories or tracks to avoid clutter and make things easier to navigate. I am also very partial to using carousels, but you don’t have to.

Labels, Icons, and Other Accoutrements

It’s easy to want to turn on every option under the sun. Avoid that impulse, it is going to look too busy. The goal is to make navigating your content easy, and icon overload can muddy the waters in that regard. Pictured above is the combination that we use most often in our Engagement Hubs. We find that this works very well.

And that’s it! Setting up a content hub is a relatively straightforward process that will — hopefully — pay off in the long run and give your audience a great always-on brand experience.