7 Tools to Help You Switch to Virtual Events

The news is startling. Governments are closing off travel. Schools and offices are closing down. Entire sports leagues are on hold indefinitely. And events, big and small, are being forced to cancel. Of course, the last thing you want to do with the coronavirus threat looming is to bring together a large group and cause the pandemic to spread further.

So what’s an event marketer to do during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

It’s time to go virtual, and here are 7 tips for making the switch.

 

7 Tools to Help You Switch to Virtual Events During COVID19 Pandemic

 

Of course, a face-to-face event is an excellent way to spread brand awareness and make a personal connection with your audience. But in the midst of a pandemic, it’s just not a good idea. So instead, many marketers are turning to technology to host virtual events. This means live-streaming content to those who “attend” from the comfort of their own screens and devices. It means bringing people together online for informal chats and networking opportunities. It means changing in-person one-on-one meetings to video or telephone chats. 

Virtual events have been around for years, but most often they have been used concurrently with in-person events. And in some cases, a hybrid event may still be a good idea, with some people attending in person and others attending online. But for most events, going entirely virtual may be the best option. The good news is that you don’t have to do it on your own. There are a number of tools out there to help you create a virtual event that will resonate with attendees. Here are a few of our favorites.

Hopin

Hopin is an online event platform that lets you create a full event digitally. They offer several segments to mix and match into the perfect blend for your needs. These include:

  • Event Reception - a welcoming experience for attendees.
  • Event Stage - live streams or webinars with live chat function included.
  • Event Networking - a way for attendees to connect one-on-one and exchange ideas and contact details safely.
  • Event Sessions - small group video conferencing with plenty of functionality.
  • Event Booths - a way for vendors and groups to have an event presence digitally
  • Event Registration - that’s right, they’ll even help you organize your event from the ground up, or plan for next year with pre-registration during this year’s event.

Run The World

7 Tools to Help You Switch to Virtual Events During COVID19 Pandemic - Run The World

Run The World is a brand new live event platform that allows you to create an online event quickly and simply. With just a few clicks, you can set up your event and start recruiting speakers and attendees. The vision is to allow any individual, group, or company to create digital gatherings with expert speakers and quality connections. They offer a variety of formats including presentations, panels, live Q&As, cocktail meet-ups, and exhibitions. Even better? They’re currently waiving all set-up fees for events impacted by coronavirus

Calendly 

If you’re looking for a way to book appointments during your event, look no further than Calendly. Touted as the world’s number one scheduling tool, this handy option lets you schedule on the fly without all the back and forth. Just set up your schedule with a few simple rules, then share your link to attendees, allowing them to reserve spots on your calendar that suit their needs. They integrate easily with all of the major calendar apps, and even adjust time zones on the fly so everyone will be on the same page. If you haven’t tried Calendly for scheduling, you’re really missing out.

GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar

For simple and feature-rich online video conferences, it’s hard to beat GoToMeeting. From a handful of telecommuting employees connecting in an online meeting to a full scale webinar for enterprise businesses, the platform is incredibly scalable. The platform works on your Android or iPhone, and integrates with Office 365 to make scheduling a breeze. GoToMeeting will support up to 250 participants and up to 25 active HD webcams per meeting. And you’ll even get meeting transcription and unlimited recording too. Meanwhile, GoToWebinar offers fully interactive presentations to keep attendees engaged and energized.

NextME 

NextME is a waitlist management tool designed to keep your marketing events running smoothly while allowing your attendees the freedom to manage their own time. As fears over the COVID-19 pandemic increase, NextMe recently launched a new way for attendees to jump into your waitlists remotely via your event landing page. Event planners can now add their video links into NextME's SMS texts and have attendees join your online meeting remotely. Whether you’re managing your waitlist in person or online for 1:1 meetings, NextME makes managing your events more functional and organized to keep your guests happy during dreaded wait times.  

7 Tools to Help You Switch to Virtual Events During COVID19 Pandemic - NextME Waitlist App

Slido

Need a quick and easy way to get feedback from your virtual attendees? Slido offers interactive online polling and surveys to give your audience a voice. You can poll your audience in real-time, manage live Q&A sessions, and come away with all sorts of valuable analytics. And it integrates easily with tools like Slack, Google Slides and Sheets, Vimeo, and more. You can even run a pop quiz for your audience to make sure they’re paying attention. 

Zapier 

For those wanting a tech-savvy tool to help with API integrations, Zapier is the way to go. This one simple tool allows you to connect apps to automate all sorts of tasks across platforms. Use it to seamlessly add attendees to your Mailchimp mailing list. Export analytics from your GoToWebinar directly into Salesforce. Or automatically upload reports generated by your event software into dropbox to share with your team. The possibilities are endless.


Top KPIs to Measure Success at your Next Event

Top KPIs to Measure Success at Your Next Event - NextME Waitlist App

Experiential Marketing is huge right now. Perhaps you’re currently planning an event. Or perhaps you’ve already held one, but aren’t sure how to gauge its success. Here are some of the most important KPIs to keep in mind when assessing your next event.

KPIs to Measure Success at your Next Event

Brand Awareness

Pre-Event Online Engagement – Before your event even begins, you can start to get a picture of brand awareness. Closely track unique hits to your marketing event’s page or website. Keep track of how people are engaging with social media for your event.

One great way to do this is to encourage the use of a hashtag early on. This will make it easy to see exactly how people are talking about your event. You might consider running a social media contest to encourage people to share your event with their friends and followers.

Event Attendance – This is probably the most obvious KPI for any event. It’s vital that you know how many people actually attend your event. This number will be factored into many of the KPIs you’ll be looking at after the event as well.

Of course, there are a number of ways to track attendance. If your event requires registration, you probably already have the numbers. But if not, you may have to get a bit creative. You might collect social media handles or email addresses. Or you could set up a counter at the event’s entrance. However you choose to do it, do be sure to keep track of how many people are coming and going.

Demand at Booths or Events – Did you have a waitlist a mile long the whole time? Did you run out of promotional materials and giveaways? Were your booth workers busy all day? Keep track of the ebb and flow of traffic to your booth as well as how engaged visitors are.

Waitlist technology like NextME can be a huge help here. This simple app will check-in attendees, then let them wander as they await their turn. In the app, you’ll text them when it’s time to come back. And at the end of your event, you’ll have an accurate measurement of how busy your event was at any given time.

Brand Engagement and Interest

Leads – The most important thing to capture during any marketing event is a list of leads. Ideally, you want contact info and a few details about the interest of each person. In the middle of a busy event, this can be a challenge.

Fortunately, technology like NextME is a great way to get this info quickly and accurately, then keep it and all sorts of other event data in one place until you’re back in the office and ready to use it.
Follower Growth Rates – Check out your social media numbers before and after your event to see how they’ve grown. If your event is compelling enough, you’ll add followers not only from attendees, but also from their friends and followers.

One good way to boost this number is to get guests to engage with your social media during the event itself. There are a million ways to do this, from contests to photo ops. If you’re using NextME to handle your waitlist, be sure to include your social media links on your customized marketing page.

Clients and Sales

Top KPIs to Measure Success at Your Next Event - NextME Waitlist App

Conversions – This is the main goal, right? How many of those leads turned into sales? Depending on your industry and the length of your sales cycle, this number may not be immediately available. But be sure to review before you plan your next event to see how well you really did.

Increased Sales – In addition to conversions, experiential marketers also need to look at overall increased sales. By nature, this type of marketing can turn attendees into brand ambassadors. So you might see an uptick in sales from people who didn’t make it to the event but saw it on a friend’s social media.

Brand Loyalty

Referrals – If you do an event right, people will want to share their experience. Be sure you let them do so by encouraging referrals. You can offer an incentive of some sort or simply ask attendees who you should invite to your next big event. Either way, once you’ve created some level of brand loyalty, people are likely to give you plenty of referrals if you just ask.

Sharing – A marketer’s dream is for their event to go viral. And plenty of good events have. But even if you don’t see millions of shares and a trending hashtag, be sure to keep track of how people are talking about your event. Word of mouth is still a powerful tool for any marketing effort. And social media shares are the digital, measurable version of word of mouth.

Brand Ambassadors – Consider launching a brand ambassador program. This can be a higher level of your brand’s loyalty program or can be a completely separate effort like a street team. Either way, once you’ve got some loyal brand fans, it’s time to let them help you spread the word.

Select only ambassadors who already have a social media following and are likely to be able to share your message with a broad audience. Then, offer them perks. Keep them in the loop with a special newsletter or webpage detailing what’s coming up for your brand. Give bloggers prizes for contests on their site. Let ambassadors be the first to sample new products. Give them swag like t-shirts and stickers. And of course, give them samples or coupons to hand out to friends and family.

No matter how you measure it, experiential marketing is a great way to get people excited about your brand. And if done right, it can turn leads into ambassadors in a way few other marketing efforts ever could!