How to Create a Virtual Conference in 7 Steps

New Year, new marketing strategies.

The creative senses of marketers everywhere are tingling with innovative ideas to add value and generate leads this year. Virtual conferences are popping up everywhere as more B2B & B2C marketers are discovering their inherent value.

Unlike in-person events that go deep into topics with only a few select individuals, online events allow you to reach a large pool of self-qualified leads while offering them valuable content that they can digest at their own pace.

But how exactly can you pull off a massive lead-generating and value-driven event?

In this article, we share virtual event best practices and inside scoop on how to successfully create a lead-generating summit in 2019!

 

1. Create a Vision & Gameplan for Your Virtual Conference Event  

To the drawing board! Wonderful, you’ve decided to plan your first virtual event. First, you need to lay a foundation that will attract the best speakers and most qualified attendees through your vision.

When setting your vision, make sure you have the answers to these questions:

  • What do you want to cover?
  • How do you want your event to look?
  • Who is your audience?
  • How many attendees are you expecting?
  • Will you optimize the event for mobile?

 Contributing to relevant, cutting-edge topics while using innovative platforms is great for branding and even potential sales for your conference. To organize your vision when planning your virtual conference, check out our virtual event tip sheet here!

Make Sure Your Message Reflects Your Brand

If you are the host, attendees will remember your brand and associate the theme with it. Make sure the topics you choose align with your values and service to promote stream-lined brand awareness.

 

 2. Layout a Timeline for Your Virtual Summit

How much time does it really take to plan out all of the aspects of a virtual event? Check out our virtual summit timeline tips from experts and download the relevant tools.

Give Yourself a Few Months

Even though the majority of attendees will only sign up a couple of weeks before your event, that doesn’t mean you can put off your planning! Kara Widdison, Marketing Manager at Snapapp, told us that her first virtual conference with 6Connex   took 2-3 months of planning to execute. Marketo estimates that the time it takes to run larger virtual events can be up to 4-6 months.

Use Time Management Tools to Track Progress

Use a virtual conference project management tool like Trello to track your progress and goals. Click on the link to see all of your goals lined out over a 3-month period.

 

3. Get the Right Speakers: Strategies for Speaker Outreach

Not only do quality speakers make your event more valuable, but they also allow you to crowdsource your marketing efforts. We cover how you can attract the best speakers to your online conference by being mindful of the vision you cultivate, your onboarding process, and the incentives you offer!

Reach Out to Speakers That Align with Your Summit’s Vision

In order to get great speakers for your virtual conference, you need to get your vision set. You can save time and money promoting your event by reaching out to speakers who

  1. Believe in your mission and
  2. Want to associate their brand with it.

 Speakers will want to contribute to your online event if they feel that your vision aligns with their own brand for their own marketing and professional goals. They will naturally promote your event and bring their following with them.

But how do you secure quality speakers for your virtual conference?

 

Facilitate Onboarding: Make it Painless for Sponsors to Commit

The one thing we know for sure about thought leaders in your industry is that they are extremely busy. Some speakers are skeptical about agreeing to speak because they don’t know how much of a time commitment it will be. If you use an awesome e-mail template and offer to create their promotional material, you can make onboarding a breeze for potential sponsors.

 

Give Potential Speakers the Proper Incentives

One way to make virtual events exciting is by gamifying the experience. Challenge speakers or sponsors to some friendly competition by telling them that whoever brings the most attendees will win top prizes! You can facilitate this process by creating each speaker an individual virtual event landing page for sign-ups and by providing them with social media copy and visuals to launch their promos! Let the games begin! 

Remember This!: People will sign up for your virtual event because they want access to valuable content or to get closer to industry leaders in a no-strings-attached environment. Make sure to let your speakers know that they shouldn’t pitch directly to attendees to avoid any awkward situations.

 

4. Create Virtual Summit Landing Pages That Converts Readers

Your awesome event is in the incubator! Now, to make your online event irresistible, you need to make sure your landing pages and informational pages excite your users to smash the registration button.

Your virtual event landing page  is bottom of the marketing funnel material. It should be sharp and aesthetic enough to convert both speakers and attendees. The page should highlight the benefits of attending. 

Hubspot’s virtual event experts suggest adding agenda and session pages as well. In a separate URL post the agenda of the event and for additional converting content you can include session pages with speaker’s bios and short videos explaining what they will cover. 

 

5. Get the Word Out There & Start Collecting Leads

Teaming up with industry leaders gives you access to their loyal followings. Make sure to make it as easy as possible for them to collaborate and post about your event. Get your marketing hats on and follow these tips to promote your event!

Create SEO-Friendly Emails, Blogs, and Social Media Posts 

Start creating a pipeline of promotional marketing material and offer it to speakers to exponentially increase your reach.

Research blog posts related to the topics each speaker will cover. Then, create SEO proofed copy that you can give speakers to post for free. You can also write them e-mail drips and social media posts.

To facilitate the posting process (and to make sure it’s not overwhelming their subscribers) you can create a content calendar for them with posting dates, graphics, and times. The easier you make it for them, the better for your event and your brand in the long-run.

Time Your Promotions Strategically

You can send out as many invites as you want several months in advance, but because virtual events don’t require attendees to book flights or accommodation, they won’t know their availability and simply won’t bite. If possible, try to funnel the bulk of your marketing material out a couple weeks before the event up until the launch date.

Bonus Tip: Add a Question Submission Form for Attendees

When attendees sign up and you get that self-qualified lead in hand, add a Google question submission form so that you can use their inquiries to help guide conversations. This bonus tip also increases UX and shows that you are trying to provide the most value possible.

 

6. Before Launching Your Virtual Summit, Check Twice!

Measure twice, launch once! Here’s your countdown list for the week of your virtual event!

One Week Before the Event You Should…

Have a chat with speakers to make sure that you are on the same page and that they are more than comfortable using the software.

The Night Before You Should…

The big moment has arrived! Check all landing pages to make sure there are no bugs in the system. It is also a nice touch to send out a reminder e-mail to those who registered to build up hype and secure attendance.

The Day of You Should…

Send out a pre-scheduled notification to speakers letting them in it’s time to shine!

Social media posts should also be monitored. You can have an interactive slideshow at your virtual event to showcase those who post and hashtag your event. If you’re being tweeted at in real time, make it interactive!

Finally, on a more technical note, stay on top of e-mail to see if any users are having technical difficulties.

 

7. Use a Virtual Event Platform  with First-Rate Tracking Tools

So, you have the number of attendees and a solid e-mail list. Now what? Put that empirical evidence to good use to get the most ROI from your virtual conference.

Stats Help Determine Top-Notch Leads

Make note of the content views, volume and value of transactions performed, download volume, and the number of interactions with the staff. Analyze this data to gauge the quality of the leads generated and pass it on to your sales team. You can use participation spikes to nurture leads by creating content that your users find useful. 

Find a virtual conference platform provider that offers intuitive tracking tools or you’ll miss out on a great data generation opportunity. Use data tracking to identify hot leads and disqualify others so that you can focus your efforts on putting the right users down your sales funnel. Don’t worry, 6Connex has you covered with top-of-the-line tracking capabilities.

 

3, 2, 1…Ready to Launch Your Virtual Conference?

If quantity and reach are your goals, then it is definitely time for virtual events.  

Click here to see how 6Connex can offer you more resources to get your virtual conference off the ground!

I think that we could write an article about the pros and cons of charging entrance for a virtual event and eventually include it in this section as something to consider.