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Taking In-Person Events Virtual? Five Things to Consider

March 12th, 2020 Cheri Hulse

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.