This week, I had the opportunity to be part of a panel discussion at Marketo's Good to Great virtual event. The topic was making online events awesome. Tom Grubb from Marketo posed three questions to the panel:
What makes a great online event versus one that's just good?
What are the hot trends in online events?
What effect is social marketing having on online events?
This post is the first in a three-part series sharing my take on each question. What advice would you add for marketers?
What Makes a Great Online Event Versus One That's Just Good?
I think the single biggest thing that sets a great webinar apart in a sea of mediocre online events is PLANNING. Great events don’t happen by chance – a lot of time and energy went into every aspect of making them successful. Don’t shortchange yourself by not allowing adequate time upfront.
At ReadyTalk, we recommend starting the planning process at least 4 to 6 weeks prior to the live event. Each event can take 20-25 hours of preparation and planning.
Take time to consider your audience: What is a topic that is going to catch their attention? Who is the right speaker? What’s the best format for the event? Your job is to deliver content that is compelling to your audience in an interesting way.
Spend time on the event title and abstract – it can make or break your event. Tell people what they will learn and why they should give you their valuable time. Promise them actionable takeaways. Consider other formats like panel discussions or expert interviews vs. a traditional 1-hour webinar with slides.
Pull together a comprehensive strategy for promoting your event. You’ll need more than a mention on your website and an email invitation to drive registrations. Plan to leverage social channels, partners, your speaker’s professional network, community sites, paid search, and other tactics to get the message out there.
Don’t overwhelm prospects with a long registration form. Keep it short and sweet to increase conversions and then learn more about your audience during the live event.
Make sure everyone involved is prepared for the live event. You definitely don’t want to wing it. Hold a full dry-run with your speakers so everyone is well-versed on their portion of the presentation, in sync on hand-off points, etc.
Audience engagement doesn’t happen organically. Encourage it by building in opportunities throughout the session. Sprinkle in 2 or 3 polling questions. Invite your audience to join the conversation on Twitter. Ask attendees to share their own stories and ideas via chat. Don’t subject your audience to “death by PowerPoint.” Weave in other types of content like video clips to keep things interesting.
Finally, have a follow-up plan before the event ends and act on it. Send your follow-up emails as soon as you can – preferably within hours of the live event. Get hot leads to sales right away so they can strike while the iron is hot. Answer any outstanding questions from the audience in a timely manner. Get your hands on the recording and start putting it to good use.
What tips do you suggest for planning for a webinar or web event?