If you panicked when word got out that major conferences and events were cancelled due to COVID-19 complications, you weren’t alone.
However, just because events will be hosted via computer screens as 2020 progresses, doesn’t mean that all opportunities to connect with those who are on the registration list are lost.
There are still a variety of ways to build rapport with both prospective and current partners in the absence of in-person face-to-face time.
Let’s take a look at some strategies that can help you and your team build relationships before, during, and after virtual events:
Before: Building Awareness Prior to A Virtual Event
Between booking flights, printing pamphlets, and crossing your fingers that no one left their business cards back at the office, event planning was already stressful prior to stay-at-home restrictions.
However, one area that’s always needed attention—for both in-person and virtual events alike—concerns the attendee lists that are shared before they take place.
It may seem easier to share a mass message with this list of contacts to introduce your company and its products prior to the program’s commencement, but there’s a better way to get in contact with these connections right off the bat.
Curate Your Messages for Your Target Audiences
Before the virtual conference takes place, create a customized outreach list including who your reps should message to avoid losing potential business and ensure that it yields ROI.
Similarly to how your ad audiences are segmented, your email outreach proceeding the event should include a selection of registrants that are:
- Aligned with your ideal audience(s)
- Most likely to benefit from partnering with your business
- Already partnering with your company
Add Customization to Capture Their Attention
Before crafting your pre-event outreach emails or LinkedIn messages, consider the following questions in order to keep your messaging personalized so you can successfully reach the attendees whom you’d like to strengthen connections with:
- Who should the sender be? / Who should this message be addressed from?
- What obstacles are these different registrants facing?
- How can my company and its products help them to overcome their challenges?
- Are there resources that I can include in my outreach that address their pain points?
- Can a little investment help with initiating this relationship?
This type of personalization can have a big effect: Not only will it increase your current and potential partners’ responsiveness, but it will also allow you to build these relationships as they move further through the customer journey.
(Statistic source: Instapage)
How to Guarantee that Your Desired Attendees RSVP
If you’re about to host your own virtual event, back when you were planning for it to be in-person, you likely made a list of key targets to invite.
Although you might not have true face-to-face time while your sessions are displayed online, you can still do the legwork before your event goes live to ensure that these desired contacts tune in.
The easiest way to ensure a high attendance rate is by ensuring that each invitation includes a genuine expression of gratitude. Consider the following steps:
- Step 1: Have your sales reps practice building these relationships by individually reaching out to those whom they’re hoping will attend in order to encourage them to RSVP.
- Step 2: After finalizing your event schedule, have reps include these in their outreach emails by identifying specific sessions or speakers that their contacts might enjoy viewing.
- Step 3: Encourage your reps to share a Thnks with these important connections as an additional touchpoint that expresses their appreciation for their participation.
In addition to learning what your program will cover in advance, they’ll also feel that your reps have genuinely internalized their pain points and value their attendance, which will make them more likely to make your virtual event a priority.
During: Using Gratitude to Enhance the Virtual Event Experience
Scrambling while searching for the meeting link. The popping sound signaling new Slack notifications. Fido barking in the background because he wants to go for a walk.
We’re all coping with a variety of challenges while WFH, and your event attendees are no exception.
Now’s the perfect time to leverage a little emotional intelligence (EQ) and put yourself in your attendees’ shoes by recognizing that the “new normal” has likely given them added responsibilities—making them more swamped and stressed than usual.
Ask yourself: What could encourage event registrants to be captivated versus checked out?
Prime Attendees with Appreciation to Encourage Participation
To inspire your registrants’ virtual participation, be sure to show them your appreciation for their involvement to keep them interested in your event and its content. Examples of a few grateful expressions that you could share include:
- Lunch from their Favorite Local Spot so that making a meal won’t distract them in-between presentations.
- An Afternoon Pick Me Up that provides them with much-needed fuel to power through the day’s final sessions.
- A Boost of Juice to help them combat any Zoom fatigue they might be feeling from spending a few uninterrupted hours staring at their computer screen.
Not only will making these little investments ensure that your attendees remain dialed-in, but they’ll also encourage them to take part in your program’s additional opportunities including networking breaks.
Incorporate Grateful Gestures to Facilitate Networking
It’s no secret that since quarantine, we’ve all been itching for more opportunities to socialize—even if these exchanges are conducted through digital outlets.
While transitioning your live event into a virtual one, be sure to schedule opportunities for networking so that your registrants can connect with one another as they would at an in-person conference.
If you’re worried that these breaks in between sessions won’t be effective, consider encouraging connectivity between attendees by allowing them to virtually send a cup of coffee in their effort to break the ice.
After: Growing These Connections Further in Your Follow-Ups
Yes, it may appear easier to craft a quick wrap-up email to blast to your attendees once your event has concluded. But this post-event point of communication can really aid your organization if you take the time to compose a genuine “thank you” message to those who attended.
Since 98% of consumers are more inclined to purchase a company’s product or service after attending the business’ event, this act of acknowledgement can:
- Influence your attendees’ opinions about your organization
- Determine if they’ll be inclined to expand their relationship with your company
- Affect their attendance for your future programs
By thanking them for attending, they’ll disclose positive remarks about your event with others in their network, and will be more likely to strengthen bonds with your organization.
Additionally, this considerate effort will be helpful in the future when you’d like to connect with them to discuss greater opportunities.
Ask for Their Feedback to Demonstrate Active Listening
The easiest way to make sure that your attendees feel valued after your event has wrapped up? Ask them for their feedback.
One suggestion is to include a survey within your post-event follow up thank-you note in order to evaluate their experience.
Learning specific details regarding what your attendees liked or disliked will help you identify what to include in your future events so that they’re more closely aligned with your audiences’ needs.
Additionally, asking for this type of feedback will highlight how your company is receptive to their opinions, making them inclined to establish and solidify partnerships with your organization.
Include a Post-Event Takeaway that Shows Your Gratitude
If you sponsored a virtual event, you’re probably concerned with how you can go about curating a genuine follow up that helps you separate your company from the event’s additional sponsors.
Even though you may not have conversed with those on the lead list, and you know that other sponsors will reach out, you can stand out in their inboxes by practicing surprise and delight.
Whether it’s a product discount, a special offering, or even sharing a grateful gesture to highlight how thankful you’d be if they considered booking a meeting with your team, all of these options will encourage your new contacts to reply.
Since people are inclined to partner with individuals who understand their challenges, try:
- Reviewing the event’s content from your leads’ perspectives and identifying what business needs prompted their attendance.
- Including an expression in your follow up note that empathizes with their potential problems, and alludes to how your organization could help solve them.
Understanding your connections’ viewpoints while writing follow up notes will help you to build relationships with them that endure beyond the virtual event, and will allow your organization to stay top of mind.
Use an Attitude of Gratitude to Yield Virtual Event ROI
Since 85% of B2B marketers believe engagement at events accelerates the buyer’s journey, it’s important to plan for these experiences effectively in advance so they yield a positive ROI.
The easiest way to ensure that you’re successful in hosting or sponsoring virtual events is through appreciating the individuals who’ve attended and fostering an attitude of gratitude amongst registrants.
By putting attendees first before, during, and after a virtual event’s conclusion, you’ll ensure that they feel valued, which will ultimately make them more inclined to initiate or grow their relationships with your business.
Saying Thnks can help to elevate virtual event engagement. Within seconds, users can send gestures of appreciation with professional connections by searching for an expression, creating a customized note, and sharing it via SMS or email. To learn more, book a demo!