Introducing the Virtual Events Maturity Model

What’s in a virtual event? Quite a bit!

To ensure your virtual experiences are up to today’s standards, we’ve partnered with Hoosh Marketing to lay out the virtual events maturity model in infographic form.

So, what does the maturity model cover?

Well, it dives into the high-level elements of a mature virtual event strategy, guiding you from an unbranded webcast to a branded virtual convention. It also shows you which platforms are suitable for which event, the outcomes you ought to pursue and the key indicators of success.

Take a look below or click on the image to download.

 

How to Foster Networking in Your Virtual Event

For many marketers and salespeople, conferences and trade shows are a major part of generating leads and filling pipeline. But without the ability to participate in physical events this year, many were left wondering how they were going to drive new business.

Savvy marketers and event planners shifted gears and transitioned their physical conferences into digital events, allowing them to still host an event similar to their original plans. As physical events continue to transition into digital events, it’s important to understand how networking — the face-to-face connections professionals build at conferences — happens during virtual summits and webinars.

Virtual networking is any type of interaction or engagement with a peer in the hopes of developing a professional relationship over digital channels. This can include social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as well as applications like Slack, Microsoft Teams, WeChat and more.

Virtual Networking in Webinars

With face-to-face events canceled for the foreseeable future, virtual networking is likely the only networking opportunity available to most people. Webinars and virtual events are great places to encourage virtual networking. Your role in the event, whether you’re hosting it or an attendee, means you have different considerations when it comes to virtual networking.

If You’re the Host

If you’re hosting the webinar or virtual event, there are a few things you should consider, like if virtual networking is even appropriate for your event.

If you’re hosting a webinar with a presentation or discussion with speakers, you probably want participants to pay attention to your content and focus on networking later.

In this instance, announce that networking opportunities will be available before or after the webinar and activate or deactivate relevant tools as appropriate. You can still encourage networking outside of the presentation timeframe by offering access to social channels, direct chats or contact info in pre and post-webinar communications.

If You’re the Attendee

If you’re attending a webinar or virtual event and want to capitalize on networking opportunities, there are a few things you can do to make it successful.

When you register for the event, look at the page and email confirmation to see what options are available. Did the host include links to social channels? Are there hashtags where you can find other participants? Did they arrange an afterparty?

Many virtual events are aiming to mirror in-person conferences and tradeshows, so, usually, they’ve planned ways for people to connect. Recently, we’ve seen organizations host B.Y.O.B. happy hours at the end of their activities for the day, Zoom dance parties with a live streaming DJ, virtual booth experiences where participants can “stop by” and chat with vendors and even vendor-specific channels where participants can reach out to start a conversation.

If you don’t see anything built into the event, start by exploring the hosts’ social media channels to see if they’re promoting the event and if others have commented about attending. If you don’t see anything, get the conversation going by commenting on a recent post and ask who else is attending.

If you can’t find any evidence of networking opportunities in communications from the hosts or social channels, don’t hesitate to email before the event and ask. It may have slipped the host’s mind or it may be something they’re still planning and are going to announce shortly for registered attendees.

In addition to these tips, you can also ask about hashtags and networking during the event’s Q&A, or on the chat tool with other participants.  In the chat tool, you could share your contact info to other participants and encourage them to reach out to you after the event. Don’t forget to connect with the hosts and speakers too.

Tools for Networking

If you’re looking to build virtual networking opportunities into your event, there are several tools you can use to make it happen. When planning an event, remember to consider tools within the webinar platform and outside of it.

In the Webcast Environment

When hosting a webinar or virtual event, there are a few different tools built into the software platform that can facilitate networking opportunities for participants.  When you’re in the planning phase for your event, consider whether you want to offer networking, when you want it to be available to participants and how it will work with the content and structure you envision for your event.

The social media and live chat widgets are always popular choices for virtual networking, but we also encourage using the speaker bios as a way for participants to connect with the hosts. If the speakers are willing, we like to include their Twitter handles and LinkedIn profiles in their bio so participants can easily find them.

Whether you choose to encourage networking amongst participants or not, be aware that the tools you offer may be used for this regardless of your intention. Sometimes the live chat function can go in a direction you didn’t anticipate, or you may find that participants aren’t interacting with the presentation the way you want because they’re interacting with each other.

Outside the Webcast Environment

In addition to offering networking capabilities within the webinar platform, there are many things you can do to also encourage networking outside the live presentations. This starts with the planning phase and what you’re going to include in your registration page and marketing emails.

Along with the event details and a summary of the topic, include easy access links to your social media pages so registrants can easily find you and other like-minded colleagues. If you have speakers, include their bios, contact information and social pages too.

If your event has a specific name or is part of a series, consider creating a consistent design and hashtag so conversations can be easily collected across your different social platforms. Not only does this make it easier for you to see who’s talking about your event and what they’re saying, but it also makes it easy for participants to see who’s attending and interact with each other.

Within your social media platforms, there are several options available to you. Organize a “Twitter Chat,” a moderated conversation about a specific topic at a predetermined time with a predetermined hashtag. Hootsuite offers a solid “How To” article here. Facebook also recently started Messenger Rooms, which allows up to 50 people to join a group video chat. You can find detailed instructions in this article from The Verge.

Outside of traditional social media channels, you can also set up virtual meetings and hangouts through programs like Slack, Zoom, Discord and Google Hangout. All of these programs offer video chatting services, and a few are even free to use. We recommend get-to-know-you coffee meetings, virtual workout sessions like Drift did with their RevGrowth Summit or something a little more fun like a Zoom Dance Room.

In particular, Slack is used by many businesses and offers features like event- and company-specific channels where participants with a link can join specific groups. You could even host live events on Slack and direct people there after the live presentation.

A Tip for Facilitating Networking

As you’re planning your virtual event and figuring out which networking opportunities you’re going to make available to your participants, there are two things you can do to help it be successful.

At the beginning of your virtual event, as going through the housekeeping information like explaining the widgets or before you introduce a speaker, announce any available networking opportunities so everyone is aware of them. Tell participants what you set up for them, when it will be available to them and how they access it.

As you go forth and plan awesome virtual events, know that many people are looking for human interaction and need networking to generate business. By offering virtual networking opportunities, you’re one step closer to having a virtual event that’s just as good as, if not better, than a face-to-face event.

Four Best Practices for a Modern Virtual Sales Call

Sales has always been a demanding profession. Selling at its essence is about connection and persuasion — you must develop a relationship with your prospect, provide credible advice and practically help them solve their business challenges. You have to be personable, professional and empathetic, consultative and trusted, forward-looking, perceptive, quick on your toes and insightful. Sellers should listen, but be able to guide a conversation. Sellers also have to draw upon a team to establish organizational credibility, deliver a valuable buyer’s journey and provide the best possible solution to their customer.

Often, the best way to make this happen is to show up in person, shake their hand and have a meeting with all the key stakeholders in the buyer’s organization. Handshakes did more than just show that you’re a nice person. They helped build your relationship and provided you with a better understanding of what the prospect needs. In person, you can read the room, establish your presence and credibility, and more easily adapt the conversation for any curveballs thrown your way.

At least, that was the best way to build and close a deal. Now, it’s all virtual. And, as salespeople, we need to adapt and learn how to win digital-first sales practices, real-time selling and social networking. Most of all, we need to develop our ability to create a meaningful virtual connection — our Digital EQ if you will, the virtual counterpart to Emotional Intelligence — and we need to develop it NOW.

So how can we get started? Let’s start with the Virtual Sales Call, and look at four ways sales reps can evolve call best practices and accelerate deals.

1) Preparation + Practice = Mutual Respect

Selling over webinars and other virtual events means you need to do your research first.

The first – and possibly most – important element for any sales call is the research. This is true for both in-person and virtual meetings. You ought to know both professional and personal details like where your prospect went to school, what they studied, where they’ve worked previously, what they work on at their current company and how your solution would fit into their overall business challenges. We do this not just because it’s good practice, but because it’s respectful of the prospect’s most valuable asset: their time. 

In addition to basic research, though, you’ll need to know your prospect’s virtual preferences. 

    • Do they like video for meetings? 
    • Do they have a preferred meeting tool, or are they good with yours? 
    • What about a stable internet connection, to allow for multiple video call participants? 
    • Are they familiar with the systems, or will they need some guidance from your side? 

More to the point: are you ready? 

    • Does your internet connection have issues? 
    • Have you met with your SDR or AE to get the latest information on the prospect? 
    • What about a dry-run of your presentation? 
    • Do you know the content they’ve consumed from your organization or any questions they may have asked during prior virtual events?

Ask your buyer and yourself these questions ahead of that big virtual meeting. It’ll save you a lot of headaches and, more importantly, show that you care and value your prospect’s time.

2) Have a Plan

When making a sales call over virtual events, having a game plan is essential.

During an in-person meeting, a talented salesperson can usually wing surprises or complex situations, like an extra five to six attendees. Not so with virtual selling. Virtual selling moves fast and you need to have a plan — if not a detailed agenda — ready before going into your call.

Attention spans are diminished when you’re distant, meaning you need to have as tight of a presentation as possible. 

    • Take the time to go over your presentation and find areas where you can cut. 
    • Work in opportunities for engagement during your presentation where possible – ask questions, leverage the meeting tool chat function for input from the attendees.
    • If you’re driving a live webinar for a buying committee, leverage polls, surveys and other interactive engagement tools to stand out from the competition and keep the audience’s attention.

3) Think on Your (Virtual) Feet with Digital Intelligence

Virtual selling requires a lot of flexibility — so be ready to think on your digital feet.

Virtual selling is much, much different than in-person selling. It can be more casual or more intense. Sometimes you can wear a baseball cap and t-shirt (depending on the opportunity or attendees) to reflect both your company brand and your personal approach; other calls may be more formal. Always, though, try to strike that balance between professionalism and being yourself and authentic with your buyers. Every virtual call will require trying to maintain the attention of several professionals on a buying committee. 

Keeping buyers engaged means you need to develop what we like to call “Digital Intelligence.” Digital Intelligence is a simple concept to understand: 

    • Take digital cues and interactions to gauge interest
    • Assess how a prospect is feeling or reacting, and 
    • Get a better read of how the meeting is going overall. 

Working your digital intelligence muscles can be as simple as pushing a poll or asking how the attendees feel so far about the session and content. It can also take more subtle forms, for example: 

    • Are attendees keeping their video on or turning it off mid-call? 
    • Do they have high-quality audio or is it a bit choppy, leading to possibly missing parts of the conversations? 
    • Are your attendees open to engaging in conversation about their remote or home office? 

Think about what you can see and incorporate if they’re on video, and maybe start by setting the stage with some context on your own office environment. For example, if they’re in a home office they might enjoy a compliment on how well it’s been set up or a small conversation about a jersey or instrument they have hanging in the background.

This is also important if your prospect isn’t in a home office. For example, if you notice a child’s drawing in the background, ask if they have children and how they’re handling working from home. And, it might just be helpful and very real to commiserate over shared virtual mishaps like loud pets, bad internet connections and other working from home issues many experiences every day.

Building out Digital Intelligence is critical for putting your audience at ease, while also crafting a relationship, credibility, and building on both your personal and professional brand.

4) Accelerate the Sales Cycle Without the Meeting

Accelerate your virtual selling process when you work closely with your marketing team.

Now the meeting is over and the prospect is interested in your solution and would like more information. That’s great, right? Book another meeting? Well, in a virtual situation, it’s not just about booking meetings. It’s about learning more about your prospect and drawing out those pain points that, maybe, they’re not ready to share with you — or they themselves are unaware of — while learning more about your product or service. 

Often, that means extending trust, stepping back and letting buyers dictate the pace of their own journeys. The problem here is that the success of their self-propelled journey entirely depends on two things:

    • The content you have prepared for their unique journey.
    • The holistic digital experience you have prepared just for them.

Work with your marketing team to create these self-propelled journeys with crafted digital experiences. The experiences you create should be matched to the different stages of the buying cycle and address any common pain points relevant to your prospects, business and industry. If you want to take things to the next level, create some bespoke landing pages and content hubs, with personalized video messages and other helpful content- relevance will cut through the digital noise, keep prospects engaged with your content and familiarize themselves with your company at their own pace outside of a meeting.

Providing on-demand content experience is especially important in a virtual world. After all, not every professional working from home means they are as available as they would be otherwise. Give them the power to control their own journey and review your content in their own time so they can become more familiar with your brand, product and solutions. The rich network of experiences you have enabled for your prospect will create a compelling and winning journey all animated by the new power of digital connection. 

That’s where Digital Acceleration meets Deal Acceleration. Be well and safe, and Good Selling!

Webinar Benchmarks Report Covid-19 Special Edition: How Businesses Drive Digital Engagement in a WFH World

Over the past few months, marketers, salespeople, educators, managers and nearly every possible position you can think of has moved online and started working from home. From meetings and classes to company all-hands to — somehow — happy hours, everything is happening virtually.

They’ve also been happening through webinars. During April of 2020, the peak period of Shelter In Place in response to COVID-19, ON24 has seen a drastic jump in the number of webinars hosted on the ON24 Platform. For example, marketing-centric webinars in April 2020 have increased by 8%, a noticeable jump. But educational webinars have exploded by comparison; training and continuing education, for example, have leaped by 11% and 22% respectively.

Want to learn more about how webinars have changed after COVID-19? Check out our Webinar Benchmarks Report now.

An Amazing Webinerd Network

A webinerd and her community dancing happily in a virtual circle

The most impressive development by far, though, has to be how the ON24 network responded to our Covid-19 widget. Over the course of 60 days, we promoted a bespoke CTA widget to help raise funds COVID-19 response. During those 60 days, nearly 100 webinar producers incorporated the widget into more than 350 webinar events. That one widget reached more than 80,000 webinar attendees and drove more than 50,000 clicks — a 63% conversion rate in support of COVID-19 relief.

Let that sink in for a moment: one small button drove more than 60,000 clicks, for an average of 143 clicks per-webinar. And all contributing to a single cause: raising funds for the COVID-19 Solidarity Relief Fund.

What other neat stats did we see? Let’s take a look:

    • Triple-digit increases in the overall number of webinars and the live attendance and engagement within those webinars
    • More registrants convert to attendees than before, with a 53% conversion rate for webinars with more than 100 attendees
    • Ninety percent of webinars in April 2020 made use of the Q&A engagement tool
    • Finally, more webinars than ever are making use of video, with 55% of all live webinars featuring some kind of live video in April 2020

Great Digital Experiences Everywhere

But it’s not just the numbers behind the webinars that excites us. It’s the variety — from dance parties and conference DJs to full-blown multi-day conferences — and how they’ve been set up to make attendees feel like rockstars. Take Drift’s recent RevGrowth Summit for example: not only did they bring together sales and marketing professionals for two days virtually, but it even got a DJ to host its virtual after party:

Another company, Hoosh, managed to put together a whole virtual club:

But it’s not all typical conference fun-and-games. Organizations have rapidly adapted to the digital-first era, moving would-be in-person events online at a breakneck pace. For example, Fitbit completely revamped its event marketing strategy and transformed its trade show booth into a virtual experience complete with resources, direct chat with salespersons and even swag.

DOMO, too, made a major pivot, and translated its major event, Domopalooza, online in less than two weeks.

Community Done Right

More than anything, though, we’re impressed with how webinar practitioners have taken the initiative and adapted to today’s digital world. Time and time and time again we’ve seen the #webinerd community step up and create engaging digital experiences from even the most challenging of environments (our own homes, for example):

Three Law Firm-Inspired Webinars You Can Use Now

It’s no secret that law firms around the world are stepping up thought leadership to guide clients through the global COVID-19 pandemic. At ON24, we’ve seen a significant increase in webinar programming over the past few months as more and more firms seek to help clients navigate the rapidly evolving business climate of today’s uncertain times.

Think this article can only be applied to law? Objection! Read through and discover three new formats you can apply to your marketing program. (Disclaimer: This article was originally published on JDsupra.com. Shared with the author’s permission.)

And we’ve seen three types of programs that stand out as particularly effective. These are the webinars your lawyers should start producing today:

1. Programs that Bring in Experts

Inviting experts to present in webinars is a good way to deliver insightful perspectives on the top-of-mind issues that affect your clients. That’s what Norton Rose Fulbright does in its webinar Global pandemic, 9/11 and US businesses: Legal and political risks of doing the ‘right’ things wrong during an emergency. In this case, the expert happens to be a Norton Rose lawyer, but there’s no denying that George Pataki, the former governor of New York who was in the office on 9/11, brings valuable context to the discussion of what to do – and not do – during a crisis.

…your audience will appreciate the expert’s perspective, and you’ll enhance your reputation as a firm…

Centered around a discussion of how companies can benefit from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – the CARES Act – Governor Pataki offers practical direction on anticipating the effects and alleviating the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly when seeking relief from the federal government.

Consider bringing in a local, state, federal, or foreign government official or an industry insider to add insight to your legal and strategic analysis. Your audience will appreciate the expert’s perspective, and you’ll enhance your reputation as a firm that can deliver relevant guidance from expert sources.

2. Programs that Help Your Audience Meet a Specific Need

Getting continuing education credit – CLE for lawyers, CPE for accountants, CEUs and PDCs for HR professionals, and more – can be challenging under the best of circumstances, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic. That’s why it’s imperative for law firms to offer programs that help their clients meet requirements for ongoing professional development.

For example, Ulmer & Berne recently put on The New Restrictive World of Business Immigration: Strategies to Hire and Maintain Foreign Talent, a webinar outlining recent immigration developments relevant to employers. The program was designed for both lawyers and human resources personnel, so Ulmer provided both CLE and HRCI credit.

…offer programs that help clients meet requirements for ongoing professional development.

Not sure exactly which types of certification are necessary for your clients and their personnel? Ask them. They’ll welcome your interest and – more to the point – they’ll sign up for your continuing education webinars to earn the credits they need to maintain licenses and professional standing.

3. Programs that Provide Practical Advice for Responding to Complex Issues

The uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic – the impact of social distancing on the global economy, the challenges of meeting contractual obligations, the cost of employee furloughs and layoffs, the timeline of quarantines and lockdowns, to name but a few – make up some of the principal worries that “keep clients up at night.”

…your clients need practical advice that guides them through the risks and challenges of doing business…

Lawyers are well positioned to alleviate those concerns with programs that offer practical advice and pragmatic solutions for responding to the crisis. Like those who present WilmerHale’s webinar on Contract Issues in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic, offering an in-depth look at the potential effects of the pandemic on existing and future contracts.

Now more than ever, your clients need practical advice that guides them through the risks and challenges of doing business in these unprecedented times. Focus your programs on specific measures they can adopt to reduce uncertainty and position themselves for recovery when the crisis has passed.

11 Excellent Questions for Your Post-Webinar Survey

In today’s data-conscious age, we all know that it’s critical to gather attendee feedback after your webinars. What’s not so clear? The best survey questions to ask that will 1) provide the meaningful data you need to improve the quality and responsiveness of your programs 2) understand your attendees and deepen the relationships you’ve begun with them

This article was originally published on JDsupra.com. Shared with the author’s permission.

Here’s a robust, post-webinar survey used by one of our clients that serves as a great template for follow-up.

I like it because it provides three specific pieces of audience feedback that you can use to make your programs better: their views on the value of the webinar, the knowledge and skills of the speaker(s) and the likelihood that they will recommend your program to colleagues (the ‘net promoter score’). Note that, when it comes to surveys, timing truly is everything. More on that below.

Pick and choose among these, or consider using all:

[Event Name] Feedback

Thank you for attending [Event Name].

Your views on the program are important to us. Please provide feedback on this session by completing this survey.

1. What percentage of the information was new to you?

Select: 100% 75% 50% 25% 0%

2. I can use this session information:

Select: Immediately In 2-6 months In 7-12 months Never

3. Would you like to learn more about this topic?

Select: Yes No

4. Please rate the speaker’s knowledge of the topic:

Select: Excellent Good Fair Poor

5. Please rate the speaker’s presentation skills:

Select: Excellent Good Fair Poor

6. Please rate the content of the slides/virtual aids:

Select: Excellent Good Fair Poor

7. How accurate was the session description?

Select: Excellent Good Fair Poor

8. How did the session compare to your expectations?

Select: Excellent Good Fair Poor

9. Overall session evaluation:

Select: Excellent Good Fair Poor

[If relevant: Additional comments about the breakout:]

10. How likely are you to recommend this session to a colleague? (with 10 being most likely to recommend)

Select: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

11. Please rate your overall experience:

Select: Excellent Good Fair Poor

You can of course ask other questions to gain further insight into the needs and interests of your audience. Keep in mind, though, that longer surveys – those that take more than a few minutes to complete – typically generate fewer responses, so if you’re looking for different feedback you may want to swap out questions rather than tacking on new ones.

Remember: with follow-up surveys, timing is everything

Webinerd social media

Mention the survey – and ask people to fill it in – just after the presentation has concluded, right before you start Q&A.

Your attendees are engaged, they’ve either asked questions and are waiting to hear them answered, or are ready to participate in Q&A. The worst time to first mention a survey is in an email when the webinar concludes. By then, your audience is completely disengaged. Recipe for success: mention the survey at engaged moments in the webinar and send soon after.

Some additional questions to consider:

  • How could we make the program better?  

______________________________

The answers help you identify improvements you could make to your webinars in general and the current presentation in particular.

  • Takeaways: What was your single biggest takeaway?

____________________________________

Responses to this question will confirm you’re focusing on the right issues and/or identify modifications you might want to make to the substance of your webinar.

  • Length / pace: The [length / pace] of the webinar was: Too Long/Slow / Just Right / Too Short/Fast

Questions on the length and pace of your program can help you understand how to adjust the delivery of your insight to make the session more relevant and interesting to your audience.

  • Additional interests: What would you like to see next?

___________________________________

This question is a good one to include because it helps you align your content calendar to the actual interests and needs of your targets.

  • Reasons for attending: Why did you attend today’s program? Required for job / Interesting Topic / Knowledgeable Presenters / CLE

While it doesn’t need to appear on every survey, this question can help if you’re trying to understand what motivates your audience to sign up for your webinars.

  • Prior webinars: Have you attended any of our webinars in the past? If so, which ones?

This is a useful question to include when you want to find out how well you’re attracting new participants to your programs.

How Atlassian Serialized its Stellar Virtual Summit

COVID-19 turned our in-person event world upside down and created a frenzied transition to virtual events. But, there is a silver lining that makes this rapid transformation, and hours of work, worth it. Now, all that virtual event content is automatically ready for a digital replay, adding more flexibility for audience consumption and maximizing marketing ROI. So, how do you successfully turn a virtual event into an ongoing digital campaign?

To find out, we took a look at the Atlassian Summit Webinar Series 2020. Why? Because Atlassian took a creative new approach to virtual summits — one that shows us all how to take single-day virtual events and turn them into an ongoing series over time.

Turning the Atlassian Summit into a Webinar Series

To start, Atlassian created a webinar series featuring popular sessions and never-before-seen talks from its annual conference. Topics included the latest teamwork and technology trends, insights from industry experts on innovative new ways to work, and detailed information on how leading companies are using Atlassian to drive change.

The Atlassian Summit Webinar Series began in mid-May and lasts until August 4. Each week, usually on a Tuesday or Thursday depending on your time zone, there is a webinar about one of five topics:

  • Teams and Future of Work: Productivity is an art and a science. Learn how to get work done efficiently and start completing your to-do lists.
  • Business Transformation: Scale and improve remote collaboration. Learn how to utilize the power of the cloud, data center, and change management.
  • IT: Deploy, operate and support your services with speed and reliability. Learn how to optimize for high-velocity ITSM while embracing agile and DevOps.
  • Agile: Learn how to build thriving agile teams, practices and products that keep everyone on the same page while adapting quickly to change.
  • Developer: Enable your teams to bring software from idea to production faster with better results, and learn about modern development practices.

Each of these categories features two to five webinars throughout the summer, with each event being made available on-demand after its live date through the event website. Once registered, attendees can create their own agendas based on the webinars that interest them.

So you may be wondering what you can do to set up your virtual event in a similar way. We’re going to examine how Atlassian organized the five themes of the summit, how it’s using webinars, and how it’s promoting its event.

Spreading out Topic Tracks Across Months

Atlassian split its IT, developer and business transformation discussions for maximum impact. Each topic track features two sessions spread apart over months. For example, its first IT session was held on June 2 in North America. The second session will be held on August 4.

Any organization can spread out a single theme over multiple events —  and they ought to for big-ticket summits. Doing so gives the event host more time to prepare, incorporate feedback and refine the discussions that audiences crave. For Atlassian, it also provides attendees with the time and opportunity to go between tracks and sessions and truly get a holistic view of each track interfaces with the other and how other teams approach problems and develop solutions.

Diving into Big-Ticket Topics

The other advantage of spreading out a summit over a summer is that it provides hosts and attendees the time and focus they need to dive into big-ticket topics. Take Agile project management for example. If you run a quick Google search, you’ll net more than 140 million results. Professionals want to know what it is how to operate on its principles.

To help them, Atlassian put together four webinars on the subject, each providing a new opportunity to dive deep into the topic. Atlassian’s first Agile session aired in early May, but the remaining three webinars are spaced two to four weeks apart. These cover various topics like how to survive the transformation to business agility, how to focus on the outcome for agile metrics, and how to work within a business where some teams are agile and others are not. Atlassian gives its topic, “Teams and Future of Work,” the same treatment with five total events.

Excelling with Simulive Experiences

All of the webinars in the Atlassian Virtual Summit Series are offered in three time zones: Pacific Daylight, Central European Summer and Australian Eastern Standard.

Of the presentations that have aired at the time of writing this article, all were presented in a Simulive format where the presentations are pre-recorded, but interactions with the speaker are live through engagement tools like Q&A and chat. Of course, all webinars and discussions are available on-demand after the last scheduled airing because attendees can attend the summit at any time.

Promoting the Experience

Atlassian makes it easy for registrants to attend its virtual summit. The event is promoted on multiple social media channels, its website and through email nurturing.

Social Media

Atlassian makes expert use out of its social media channels to drive awareness and excitement around its event. Its Facebook Page provides a great example, where its social banner features event branding and timing.

When scrolling through the page, there are informational posts about the different topics and reminders that a session is starting soon.

Atlassian also promotes individual presentations as they come up through social media posts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Emails

Emails are probably one of the most essential tools for running a virtual event. They promote, coordinate, remind and keep events running. Each registrant should receive an email confirming they’ve signed up for the selected presentations. This is a standard, but important step because it both confirms what the attendee has signed up for and provides them with the opportunity to make any adjustments they’d like to make, if necessary.

Another important email tactic is to help registrants remember when to log into the presentation by sending a reminder email. Often, this email can be sent an hour before the event starts. Also note, the Subject Line is a direct reflection of the content of the email, which is a tip we feature in our Email Best Practices for Virtual Events article.

12 Amazing Tips to Boost Webinar Registration and Attendance

“How do I drive reg and boost attendance?” is the question every webinerd asks themselves and, quite frankly, us at ON24 as well. Fortunately, we have data on our side. Here are some tips and tricks you can use in your webinar marketing strategy today.

Drive Registration Through Emails

1) Sending Promotions

Start sending your promotional emails two weeks in advance. This provides you with optimal time to capture attendees during the run-up to your event. Typically, you ought to send three to four promotional emails. Make sure each email is different from the other — you don’t want to annoy your recipients!

When it comes to emails, make sure you stagger HTML and Plain Text email sends. HTML can look great, especially during the run-up to a big webinar you have planned, but text emails offer a personal, human touch that you cannot forget. Humanize your text emails as often as possible by addressing the recipient by name, and having the featured speaker sign off (see example below):

Finally, don’t forget to send an “On-the-Fence” email. Send your final promotional email the day of the webinar to people who’ve opened previous emails, but did not register. (Kudos to the speaker if they write these themselves 😉.)

Here are a couple of other tips Chief Webinerd, Mark Bornstein, highlighted in the webinar “Keys to Driving Webinar Registration and Attendance”:

  • Acknowledge interest without being creepy
  • Keep plain text for personal approach
  • Tease out content

2) Personalizing Emails

Personalization means not only adding a human element to your emails, but knowing who your audience is and what types of emails they ought to get. For example, if you have multiple target segments that you want to reach, make slight copy changes so each email is tailored to each respective audience.

Personalization can get complicated quickly, especially if your campaign contains different industries in different timezones for the same virtual event. You’ll need to know how you can address and differentiate between prospects, customers, verticals, funnel stages and more. Check out this blog for more tips.

3) Test, Test, Testing!

Testing emails is the spice of the marketer’s life. Establish a few hypotheses and set up some A/B tests to see how they bear out. For us, we usually test everything from layouts and emojis to subject lines and time of day. Just be sure to focus your tests on one element at a time. That way, you can carry over what works.

Here are a few examples of what we’ll play with:

Different layouts

VS

Emoji vs No Emoji

Note: If you’re using Marketo, you’ll have to generate a code to add an emoji to the subject line. I use Subject Line Assistant 

Different Subject Lines

Social Media Promotions Done Right

Webinerd social media

Social media promotions should start at the same time as your emails. This allows you more space for you to share your event. When promoting to social, don’t forget to shorten URL links to registration pages through services like bit.ly and others.

4) Hashtags

If you’re going to use a hashtag (and you should, especially for a recurring series), just remember to be consistent in its use and incorporate other popular hashtags to reach targeted audiences.

5) Scheduling Posts

Make sure you set your promotional posts to fire at least once a day during the run-up to your event. Also, make sure to incorporate creative images. Each image posted should be consistent (no stock photography!), and designed for the social media site where it’ll be posted. Check out this asset guide checklist for more help or watch this quick webinar to learn more!

Finally, take note of when and where your social media posts are being published. For example, a message posted at 11 a.m. EST does little to help promote an event running at 2 p.m. in Australia.

On-Demand Nurture with webinars

Webinerd on demand

6) CTA for the Next Event

Every content touch is an opportunity to promote your next event. Make use of your webinars to promote your next event with interactive tools like ON24’s CTA widget. You can also promote the next event you want to drive attendees to in your follow up email.

7) Content Centers

Content centers are another great way to provide your website visitors with the opportunity to sign up for your event. Add an upcoming events page or create pre and post webinar blogs that add opportunities for registration.

Speaking of registration, make sure you make it easy for prospects and customers to say “yes.” For example, formless registration provides a seamless, one-click registration experience audiences love. Keeping sales teams abreast of marketing activities can also expand your event’s reach — especially if you arm them with social media and creative assets they can use on their own time.

8) Nurture with Webinars

Finally, a lot of energy goes into producing a successful webinar, so don’t let that hard work go to waste! Create nurture streams for your best evergreen webinars. That way, audiences across the buyer’s journey can get a rich, branded experience. You can even bundle up similar webinars and re-use them in a mini-series or package a set of webinars as a guide or lesson plan.

Converting Registrants to Attendees

Webinerd guests

Registration seems hard, but it can be easy in comparison to driving attendance. As you work to turn your would-be attendees into actual attendees, remember: every audience is different, so once again…test, test test!

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

9) Play around with reminder emails

Reminder emails are your best friend when it comes to driving attendance. Most registrants will forget they’ve signed up for an event and need a little nudge to attend! Just remember to send different reminders to different groups at different times. My favorite times to send reminder emails are five minutes before or after an event starts or exactly when the event starts.

When you send a reminder email, you have two choices: personalized or generic. Personalized emails ought to come from a person involved in the webinar (typically the host). Generic emails should be short in copy and straight to the point: attend.

10) Personalized vs Generic Reminders

For these two emails, I tend to do a 50/50 split the day of your webinar. Send one quick note from the speaker to one half and a generic email to the other. Here’s an example:

VS

11) Incentivize Attendance

Depending on what the goal for your webinar is, you can incentivize attendance with prizes, unique downloads or even locked or privileged information. Just make sure you let people know in advance that anyone who attends will have opportunities to either win prizes (swag) or get exclusive content during the live webinar.

12) Play with your Webinar Dates

At ON24, we typically hold webinars on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET). Thursdays are another great time, but when you host an event is really up to your audience. We’ve found that  Fridays are starting to prove successful as well. Play around and find out when your audience likes to tune in.

Don’t forget: audiences can attend your webinars at any time. Make sure your webinars are pushed to on-demand so would-be attendees can tune in when they’d like. We find the best results for on-demand events happen when you make post-event viewing possible within 24 hours of the live broadcast.

And that’s it! Just remember to have fun and experiment with your webinars to hone in on your optimal path to registration and attendance.

Insight50: What’s up with B2B Marketing Operations?

This month’s Insight50 session will be on B2B Marketing Operations – Using People, Process, Tech and Data to Maximize Revenue. Whether your company is just getting started or you’re looking to take your marketing operations team to the next level, sign up to the session to get your questions answered.

Technology has provided B2B marketers with the ability to deliver results that would have been unfathomable a decade ago. A single marketer can reach many thousands of prospects and win their attention in just a single day’s work. But as covered in ON24’s e-book on The Engagement Imperative, it’s all too easy to use technology poorly – and switch buyers off as a result. Plus, with all the potential technology available, it can be a challenge to make the most out of what’s available.

The development of marketing operations has come about to help address this issue, but for many businesses it’s still early days. Ahead of the webinar, here are a few key points to provide some food for thought.

Great marketing operations can deliver a great customer experience

When thinking about marketing operations, it’s easy to think of the benefits that arise internally. Just a few might include:

  • Freeing other members of the marketing team to focus on messaging, creative and content rather than spending too much time on making systems work properly.
  • Using prospect data to automatically trigger timely and personalized marketing campaigns that increase the number of marketing qualified leads.
  • Having leads pass seamlessly and instantly to exactly the right salespeople.
  • Being able to connect opportunities within a CRM system back to marketing, helping to prove its value and contribution to revenue.

However, there’s another more important benefit – being able to deliver great customer experiences at scale. For example, effective marketing operations can help with the following:

  • Making sure that prospects and customers only receive high-quality communications, based on well-maintained and accurate data, rather than irrelevant approaches.
  • Enabling better conversations with sales and customer success teams by sending key insights and conversation points through to CRM systems.
  • Ensuring prospects and customers are served as soon as possible by reducing the workload on team members that need to engage with them.

Many B2B marketing leaders feel underprepared

Despite the potential that effective marketing operations offers for outsized results, a study by Sojourn Solutions and Econsultancy found that about one-third of senior executives at companies with marketing operations in place feel that marketing isn’t yet aligned to key business outcomes such as total revenue contribution, market share or customer lifetime value.

A contributing factor to this challenge is that only one-quarter of these senior executives feel their marketing operations teams “fully” possess the knowledge and skills to support all functions expected of them.

It’s more than the tech – the right people are critical

Even the best marketing technology doesn’t do the work itself. Connecting multiple different systems, ensuring that data flows accurately and aligning technology and processes all requires significant expertise. Furthermore, soft skills can be just as important when it comes to bringing together stakeholders from outside of marketing to help drive the best possible results.

Although building a top-performing marketing engine isn’t easy, when the pieces fall in place there can be outsized results. One only needs to look at examples such as Sage Intacct – which drives 50% of its pipeline opportunities through automated daily webinars – to see what is possible.

To find out more, and ask your questions, make sure to sign up to our Insight50 webinar on B2B marketing operations.