How to personalize virtual events
It seems that these days, virtual events are a dime a dozen. Because they are more efficient and much cheaper to organize versus in-person events, many companies and institutions have resorted to staging them – even after pandemic restrictions have been slowly easing.
So how do you differentiate your online events from your competition? Personalization is key!
Personalization can be simply defined as the process of making something suitable for the needs of a particular person(s). When your webinar or virtual conference is catering to the needs of your audience, then you are already one step closer to making sure that they will respond positively to your virtual event invitation, and that they will become engaged and active participants when they attend your online event.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the following 8 key tips to inject personalization into your events:
- Identify your overall goals and target audience
- Map the event experience into their “journey”
- Use customized registration
- Employ tailored marketing
- For exhibitors – provide ability to personalize booth designs to their brand
- For attendees & participants – give audience ways to engage
- Provide networking and breakout sessions
- Don’t forget your post event follow up
If you want to learn more about creating engaging online events, check out our related blog on Best practices 2022: Creating a human experience in a virtual world
Creating an engaging, personalized experience with your virtual event
1. Identify your overall goals and target audience
When planning any event, start by asking yourself why you need to hold one and what do you expect to come out as your results. Setting your event goals will then help you to pinpoint the type of audience to target. From here, the rest of the decisions you need to make regarding your event will need to tie in with your overall goals and target audience – including determining content, identifying event formats, as well as choosing the right event platform.
What happens when your event goals, audience and content are not aligned? You waste time, effort and money organizing something that does not resonate with your audience. This can hurt your company – not only for this particular event you are planning but for the rest of your future events and marketing endeavors – as you alienate your audience by pushing irrelevant content and objectives to them.
2. Map the event experience into their “journey” with you
When creating personalized events for your target audience, it also helps to review where they are in their “journey” with your company. Consider for example an organization who is holding a product introduction webinar with their potential and current clients. For would-be clients without any previous experience with your product, you will need a basic introduction as well as a very detailed discussion of the products’ features and functions. It will be very frustrating (and boring) for current clients to be subjected to the same information which they already know. At best, they should only be presented with the products’ new or upgraded features. To manage this, schedule beginner and advanced level topics separately.
Another example – many companies would have a VIP client base. They could be the company’s big-spending clients and/or those who have been loyally subscribing to their products and services for a long period of time. You would be committing a “customer relations no-no” if you lump these VIP clients to attend an event alongside your regular clients without offering them any special benefits and privileges.
3. Use customized registration
When it comes to registration form, it should not be “one form fits all”. Ask for attendee details that will allow you to get to know them – and serve them – better. Apart from standard information like name, email address, job title and the like, ask about their topic interests, knowledge level and promotion preferences.
For existing customers, you probably have some (or all) of this information already collected. Perhaps you can take them to a pre-filled registration form so they do not have to give you their details again, but still give them the opportunity to update their information, if needed.
4. Employ tailored marketing
When it comes to promoting your event, you can use customized reminders, notifications & alerts. If you have multiple topics or sessions in your webinar, allow your audience to create their own calendar of preferred sessions and send them reminders to attend these sessions only.
Of course, you would want the audience to attend all the sessions you have prepared as much as possible. You can send them one or two messages inviting them to the sessions they have not yet signed up for. But after you have done so and they still did not show interest, then that’s your cue to stop. There is no point to keep reminding them to attend these sessions. You will just risk annoying them and lose interest in all the other topics and sessions because they feel you were not paying attention to their preferences.
5. For exhibitors – provide ability to personalize booth designs to their brand
Give your exhibitors the ability to differentiate themselves from the rest through personalized experiences. Using logos, product videos and images, even use of avatars or virtual assistants are ways they can customize their booths in your virtual event.
Make sure you partner with the right virtual event platform provider to be able to do this. Read our related blog on 8 Most Popular Online Conferencing Tools/Platforms to learn more.
6. For attendees & participants – give them ways to engage
Nothing keeps your audience feel more connected to you and your event than by giving them means to actively participate and be listened to. You can do this through any of the following means:
- Pre-event and live polls
- Q&A and AMA (ask-me-anything) sessions
- Games and contests
- Post-event surveys and feedback
7. Provide networking and breakout sessions
Just because it is an online event does it mean that you can do away with networking and breakout sessions. In fact, it is a must if you want to differentiate your event from others, as well as provide high degree of satisfaction to your audience. Many virtual event platforms already have this functionality available so there is no excuse for you to skip it.
You can go one step further and even offer invitation-only virtual lounge access to your VIP clients. Organizers (and sponsors) can offer limited access, one-on-one meeting opportunities with special guests or top CEOs, exclusive product launch invitations, and other premium experiences in this special virtual lounge.
8. Don’t forget your post event follow up
Apart from being a hallmark of good manners, sending a “Thank you” email to your attendees shows your appreciation to their precious time and attention spent with you. This email is also a good opportunity to send out your post-show survey and feedback form.
You may also want to send a “We missed you” email to those who registered but were not able to attend your virtual event. Use this occasion to let them know that you will have more events to come, and that you hope to see them in one of these events soon.
Find out what other post-event activities you can do at part 3 of our Virtual Event Playbook.
Personalization is more than just addressing your audience by their first names. True personalization is understanding and addressing their needs – starting from the event goals through to the content, format or delivery, engagement features and even post-show activities of your event.
Check out other GEN Blogs available at https://globalexpo-net.com/blog/ for more articles and tips about virtual events.