How to get more out of a virtual event
More and more events are going virtual. Offering an online platform for exhibitors to connect with their audience.
Trade shows have proven to be an easy and very cost effective way for companies to reach a relevant audience. Show organizers play a vital role in the process of connecting audiences with exhibitors. Due to a world wide pandemic, traveling bans and limitations on the amount of visitors in a venue, physical events have been postponed or even cancelled all together.
Virtual events are the short term solution for organizers to facilitate the industry, hosting events that bring exhibitors and visitors together. By going virtual these events are global by default, potentially reaching massive audiences world wide.
Companies depend on events to take place to inform their industry and reach out to their clients and stakeholders.
Exhibitions and conferences play a very important role in getting people together. Dates for major events even act as internal deadlines for companies to create new products, display new solutions or even introduce sneak peaks of what the future of the industry will hold. Visitors often make purchasing decisions based on the outcome of those events. Having been given a complete overview of what the industry has to offer, a final investment or purchasing decision is easier to make. This is where the event industry plays a vital role. The buzz of these major events bring an industry together and create a momentum that elevates an industry to a new level, keeping it relevant and making that industry future proof.
Creating the need for virtual presentations, live streams, webinars and other digital content.
With these events going virtual there is a need for digital content that conveys an exhibitors story in a non-physical way. The world has seen plenty of examples of how this should be done. Wether it is TV commercials, artists talking about their products on late night TV, YouTube influencers or even live coverage of sport events, all these things are nothing more than persons informing or entertaining a crowd that is physically somewhere else. Reaching millions of people and informing them on a specific subject is not a new thing. However, it has not been a focus for most companies, especially in b2b. This has to change.
Event related stories and content will be used for future initiatives, creating an on-demand stream of information for audiences to watch.
Where physical events are held only a few days at specific locations, digital content lasts forever, is available world wide and can be used in lots of different ways. We all know the clips of long form interviews, single shots that go viral, and trailers of entire movies. Creating digital content for an event is a long term investment and creates ample opportunities of reaching people in different ways on different platforms at different times. Whether it is a transcript of an interview that becomes an article for a blog, the audio of that same interview becoming a podcast or pieces of the interview becoming elevator pitches on Social media, the pieces of content created for the event provide a company with almost unlimited opportunities to inform their target audience.
With the created content being available to the world for as long as you like.
The created content for the event lasts far longer than the event itself, providing a far greater ROI on the event in the longterm. Every digital event is global by default, and with that, the content created by exhibitors is available to the whole world too. This creates huge brand awareness both inside and outside a company. Reinforcing the bond between the brand and its stakeholders. Employees take pride in seeing what their colleagues are doing and suppliers feel more connected to the final result. While potential clients are eager to learn what a company has to offer them.
Providing the opportunity to inform stakeholders around the world.
The platforms most events currently present do not offer a fully customizable place for exhibitors to tell their story.
With physical events being postponed and canceled overnight, show organizers have had an Herculean task of taking the shows virtual. There is a huge variety in the platforms organizers have developed. This has lead to compromised events that lacked the impact the physical edition would have had. It has given us everything from simple websites to extensive on demand platforms with live interviews and keynotes and even events with virtual lobbies with different halls where visitors can walk the show floor with their avatars. But all of these different versions have had highly standardized exhibitor dedicated areas (or booths as we used to call them).
Leading to more generic presentations with less impact, devaluating the experience as a whole.
The virtual events are trying to look like physical events arguably making them easier to navigate for visitors. A big advantage of going digital is that space is no longer an issue, neither should a location on the show floor be. Physical shows have prime real estate usually dominated by the industry leaders with smaller exhibitors being less visible and harder to find. This no longer has to be the case. Giving visitors a more customized overview of companies that might be interesting for them makes relevance more important than location. Creating a more level playing field and this lifts the entire experience of the event for all stake holders. Making the event more relevant.
Exhibitors can get the best out of both worlds.
Independent of what platform the show organizers decide on offering, there is a lot exhibitors can do themselves. The buzz and momentum the events create are the most important thing. This attracts the visitors and makes the show relevant for exhibitors to participate. The booth area exhibitors are offered usually contains an area for PDF’s (brochures), a link to movies (i.e. YouTube), contact forms and a company bio. The layout of this exhibitor area is mostly universal and provides very limited branding opportunities, let alone a customization based on specific themes or campaigns.
Connecting the event to their corporate website via an event landing page.
The event platform is not the only limiting factor in the virtual event. Most company websites offer limited event related branding opportunities. Updating corporate websites can be very cumbersome and event related pages are often not part of the existing infrastructure. Creating a custom website that links to the virtual event and draws people from the event platform into the exhibitors own world is a very effective way to create more engagement from the shows’ visitors. This website can hold a custom URL for the event and directs the visitors from the event to the parts of the corporate website that is relevant to their needs that is available 24/7.
A custom website with a clear focus on the event whilst linking to the relevant information on the existing corporate website.
An event landing page that exists outside of the corporate digital infrastructure can be fully tailored to the exhibitors needs for the event they are participating in. Without any restrictions and not being intrusive to the existing infrastructure, the event landing page allows for the same degrees of freedom a custom booth at a physical event has. Creating a custom brand environment that tells the story the exhibitors wants to tell at that event. Display new services or products in the exact way they need to be shown to best inform the audience and direct them into the funnel the specific part of the corporate website already has. Capitalizing on the existing infrastructure without having to change that infrastructure for every single event.
An event related, fully digital experience with a strong focus on relevant topics.
The event landing page directs the visitors to where they need to go to learn more and connect with the exhibitor in the same way they would do at a physical event. The visitor is drawn into an exhibitor controlled environment, much as they would be in a custom stand. The brand experience will result in a higher ROI for the event and as with fully customized, exhibitor owned stands, the event landing page can be re-used for multiple shows and updated according to the latest topics most relevant to the coming show.
Translating the strategy and benefits of a fully custom physical stand to a custom website that is not intrusive to a company’s existing digital infrastructure.
Presenting the company at an event is all about branding and capitalizing on the brand identity. With the virtual events, this is more difficult to achieve. Ideally, show organizers will not provide exhibitors with a virtual booth, but a custom url where they can link their own event page to. (www.event.com/exhibitor) Enabling all exhibitors to create their own custom experience that matches the event topics most relevant to the exhibitor. This will automatically make the digital event more relevant and more visible and simultaneously add more visibility to the exhibitors. Generally speaking the exhibitors website (www.exhibitor.com) is not relevant to the event at all. The focus of the event and its main themes could make out just a small portion of the corporate website. This is especially the case for bigger companies with a wide range of services, products or solutions in multiple industries. Reshuffling the corporate website to adjust it to a random event does not make sense, let alone if an exhibitor is participating in multiple events in the same period with different topics. An event landing page outside of the corporate infrastructure avoids any of these conflict and allows for full focus on the virtual event.
Read more at our event landing page here