The fierce competition for attention in today’s virtual world makes it all the more important for businesses to scout out fresh ideas that will help them engage with their prospective clients.
Many marketers have picked up on the new valuable trend of hosting virtual summits: An educational, webinar-like event growing in popularity among organizations for their amazing lead generating abilities.
Before blindly running off to host your own virtual event, we’ve set up a virtual summit checklist of top mistakes to avoid from an experienced virtual veteran so that you’ll end up getting the most bang for your buck.
What is a Virtual Summit?
If you are wondering “what is a virtual summit?”, then read this next part.
Virtual summits are akin to physical events (keynote speakers, seminars, networking, etc.) only they are held in virtual environments, accessible from anywhere in the world with a WiFi connection. Check out this physical vs. virtual events infographic for more details.
Virtual events can help businesses gain authority in their industry and increase ROI for digital demand generation, and advances in virtual summit software have made it extremely easy to run your own.
Hosting online conferences can seem daunting at first, but if you find a virtual summit platform with a team that offers 24/7 support and guidance throughout the process, you’ll quickly discover that it’s easier than you think.
For a more in-depth look at planning your own virtual summit, download our free e-book.
Before You Begin: 6 Costly Mistakes to Avoid
The best way to learn is by doing! Lucky for us, we know a virtual pioneer who has paved the path for us.
Kara Widdison, Marketing Manager at SnapApp, is our 6Connex case study subject for this article. She sat down with us in our own virtual theatre to go over lessons learned through her experience running a virtual summit.
SnapApp Innovation Marketing Virtual Event with 6Connex Virtual Event Software
This is her virtual summit checklist of the top 6 things to avoid when hosting a virtual summit.
1. Don’t Leave Everything Until the Last Minute
In our meeting, Kate shares that “timing is everything” and that you should plan for a virtual summit well in advance.
She recommends planning 2-3 months before a summit so that you can have plenty of time to get everything in order.
There is much to think about when planning a virtual summit so make sure to give yourself enough wiggle room for anything you might have missed or for any problems that might come up. Kate recommends having everything set up a week before the actual summit.
Not only will you thank yourself later for organizing everything ahead of time, but so will your partners and sponsors for the extra time they will have to get their presentations ready.
2. Don’t Make Sessions Too Long
People’s attention spans seem to be getting shorter by the second. I mean this quite literally!
If you want participants to stick until the end of a session and be engaged throughout the entire conference, cap session durations at 20 minutes max. Attendees generally stay in sessions between 10 and 20 minutes so try not to push this limit.
If speakers are worried about getting enough information in their talks, they can always add resources to complement their sessions in the virtual platform!
3. Don’t Choose Sponsors That Offer the Same Services
Kara pointed out the importance of finding and securing virtual event sponsors that complement each other rather than compete with each other.
You don’t want sponsors pitted against one another during your conference, so make sure you find ones that offer different kinds of services.
Be strategic with the sponsors you bring on. Think about any partners you currently have or integrations you have with different products and leverage those in your summit to reach out to an audience you “already know matches your ideal lead”.
4. Don’t Pitch Your Virtual Audience
There is nothing more awkward than hearing an unwanted pitch during what you thought was a no-strings-attached session. Although speakers might want to highlight their own services, the general rule is to avoid pitching to your audience during a session.
There is a time and a place for everything and you should use the different capabilities in a virtual platform to pitch to attendees when appropriate.
Here is an example of an appropriate way to do this:
In the 6Connex virtual event platform, you can do this by offering prospect sections and customer-focused sections in different spaces in your online summit. Attendees can actively go to inquire about features, instead of being forced to listen to a sales pitch.
5. Don’t Forget About The Value of Current Customers
An additional tip Kara mentioned in our virtual meeting was to not forget the value of current customers in demand generation.
But what does that mean?
Virtual summits offer the perfect place to keep engaging with customers by offering them more resources and value in a convenient way. Make sure your virtual platform has the tools that make this convenience possible.
6. Don’t Choose The Wrong Virtual Summit Platform
Many businesses make the mistake of choosing a virtual platform that doesn’t fit their needs.
That is why it is important to evaluate different virtual platform providers and choose one that checks all the right boxes to help you deliver an online summit that exceeds everyone’s expectations.
Kara mentioned the importance of choosing a platform that can support a business in every stage of the virtual summit process.
From tech training done before the summit to live support on the day of the event, Kara praised 6Connex for helping her get through the entire event fully equipped.
Remember to look out for a virtual platform provider that provides intuitive tracking tools so that you can monitor where people’s attention is going.
This is extremely important because it helps you qualify hot leads and disqualify ones that you shouldn’t be putting through your sales funnel. Luckily, 6Connex offers these tracking capabilities for you.
On Your Way to Virtual Summit Success!
Finding innovative and integrated ways to provide value to consumers is how businesses can succeed in attaining and maintaining a prospective client’s valuable attention.
This is how Snap App’s marketers qualify leads, which is why they chose to run a virtual summit to gain insightful information about their own audience.
If you would like to jump on the train to lead generation, learn how we can help you run a virtual summit by requesting a 6Connex demo today.