1. Part 1: Communication before online conference
2. Part 2: Communication during online conference
3. Part 3: Communication after online conference
Communication is very important – this is a phrase that is repeated by everyone, not only marketers. Theoretically, we are all aware of it, but we know how it is – theory is one thing and life is another. Regardless of whether you are a veteran in the industry or you are just taking your first steps in it, and no matter how much has been written about it, it is worth remembering the most important principles of effective promotion.
This article will show the whole communication cycle, presenting the marketing and communication perspective before, during and after the online event itself. Different aspects are important at each of these stages and today we're starting with what should happen before.
In many ways, communication for virtual events is similar to promotion for any other event. However, we want to show it from our perspective – as people who specialise in organising online events. Some of these elements may seem obvious, but we will also show you some of the additional aspects that can only happen online. So let’s get down to it...
Firstly, by outlining the vision for the whole event, the goal and the target group. We always have to keep in mind the kind of event we are organising: is it a webinar, a scientific conference or any other form of online event? Secondly, we need to determine where it will be streamed: using social media (which implies an open event in which everyone will be able to participate), or maybe we will use a platform like Teams, PINE or Evenea and only let in people who have pre-registered?
Once we know what we are communicating and to whom, the next question to answer is: how? If our target group are our business partners, clients or employees, it is a good idea to use our own tools and database, e.g. sending a dedicated email with the invitation.
However, if we are planning an open event (the format favoured the most by marketers), we have to reach out to people who don’t know our brand very well yet but may become our clients. In this case, it is worth analysing what potential participants of the event like and how they behave:
And what if we don't have our own database that we can use to invite participants? Then try to find out who may have one! When sending a mailing, for example, you can always use the database of one of the larger portals. Event must-haves, i.e. things which definitely have to be prepared, include:
And then it's time to ramp up your creativity and go for the "wow" factor. We are only constrained by our budget and own ingenuity, and also sometimes by time. But apart from that, the sky is the limit!
Regardless of the type of campaign and tools we have chosen, to make sure the messaging is consistent, all content should be directed to one place. It could be an event page on Facebook or LinkedIn, for example, but the most common choice is to have a website. Don’t forget to insert the Google Analytics code, which will generate a mine of data about our recipients and give us the ability to track the source of traffic. Also remember about SEO – supplementing the descriptions, alt tags and all images will increase the probability of positioning this page or sub-page within our domain.
The website can also be used for registration purposes. Depending on whether the event is paid or open to the public, we can also set the option to redirect users to the transaction pages and generate automatic confirmation.
This is the time when the website should go live. For invitations to smaller webinar events, at least 2 weeks of promotion is needed. For large conferences, we need to give ourselves and the participants even longer. In this case, the website will also serve as a tool to provide further information – new topics for the speeches, presenting the profiles of the speakers, etc.
Our base should be at least partially full at this point. This is a good time to send a reminder about exactly where and when the meeting will be taking place. If the base numbers are not at the level we expect, we can check our paid campaigns – it could be worth intensifying these activities on the final straight.
Some people will be getting nervous but if we have everything planned and buttoned up, there is no need to panic! Sometimes this is the point where we turn off sign-up to the event to make sure the guest list is closed. It’s also when we should again send the key information to those who have already signed up. For events broadcast on the website (e.g. the same website where registration took place) or on social media, a reminder of "where" is enough. If the stream is to take place on a specific platform, this is the day when we need to send the link to that tool.
Next we’ll tell you what to do during the event itself. Keep reading!
Proper communication is one of the main success factors for an online event. No matter whether the event is addressed to a closed group or to a wide audience, efficient communication will play a major role in determining whether it achieves its goals. We previously described in detail how to prepare and carry out communication before the event. Today, we will share some practical tips on the actions that need to be taken during the event itself.
Communication during an online event should be tailored to its specifics and purpose. If it is a closed event, such as a sales event, effective communication will make the participant feel cared for and appreciated, which will help to reinforce the attitude towards the brand. For an open event, communication during the event affects the commitment and time devoted to it. Apart from the actual content of the event, it is one of the most important tools we can use to make participants stay involved in the meeting right through to the very end, and either come back to us for subsequent editions or simply recommend it to friends. But the most important thing is...
It is very important that we don’t communicate during the event "on the fly", as it were. The communication schedule, like all other aspects of the project, should be planned and prepared well in advance.
During the event, the organisers always have their hands full with lots of work, which can make it difficult to carry out additional activities. Fortunately, many elements can be prepared in advance, such as the notifications to be sent when a break is about to end, or the thank you message for participating on a particular day. Most platforms also offer the option of setting a specific sending time (which is a great help, but it’s important to remember about it if the agenda changes or there are any delays).
1. First of all, this means the things that always appear at any event – including the welcome greeting and any organisational information.
2. Then come the subsequent items on the agenda, announcements of the topics and the speakers' business cards. Depending on the platform chosen for the event, some of this information may be presented in a dedicated tab, which then means you don’t have to rememeber about it during the event using separate channels.
3. A practical tip is to publish slogans or hashtags that can be used for communication on social media – especially if we want to create an additional buzz on the web around our event. These can be placed in the so-called countdown clock that is displayed just before the start and counts down to “0 o'clock”.
4. We can also raise substantive issues, directly and contextually referring to the content arising during the event, and send interested parties to a dedicated place, on the website or platform, for example, so that they can find out even more. Such communication will encourage participants to speak, stimulate discussions and raise the level of interest in the meeting while the event is running.
First of all, with texts. It is a neutral solution that doesn’t distract the participants from listening to the substantive panels, for example. We can add different types of content in various places: short texts can be placed in a chat or sent as push messages, while longer ones can be posted in dedicated tabs on the platform or sent as an email.
Secondly, remember about the graphics, which can be used to complement the verbal communication. Having animations between the individual elements of the agenda also helps to maintain the audience’s attention. They are often dynamic, with added background music, and they can help us to inform participants about the transition to the next part of the event, or present the next speakers and the subject of their speeches.
Communication about the brand is also important, and with that in mind it’s a good idea to show the company’s logos during the event, or its products if it’s an image or sales event. They can be shown in various forms – either static boards, a board with logos or short product films.
Most of these materials are presented during the event, but we should also share them later, otherwise participants won’t return to them. Only a few platforms are maintained after the end of the event, but it’s a different situation when the event stream takes place on a dedicated website or directly on social media. Then, all the content is aggregated in one place and the participant can return to it freely.
It is also good practice to post links to any interesting content or channels on social media. This allows you to expand your knowledge and drive traffic to the pages you want to promote. It is worth adding the UTM code to the links to better track the source of the traffic, especially if directing users to a corporate website, for example.
We should also remember to use the live event for additional communication, such as informing participants about the next lecture, sending the invitations to thematic groups or, more broadly, telling people about the organiser's offer.
The online mode makes contact easy and enables frequent communication with participants during an event. The functionalities of the platforms allow the use of various tools in the phone app – such as sending emails, desktop notifications or push messages (thus replacing communication by sms). Of course, the platform can also be a dedicated website or social media profile. The choice is influenced by the specifics of the event, the target group and customer preferences. Either way, the streaming location usually also becomes the main channel of communication with participants.
71% of online event platforms on the market have a built-in chat option, which is an extremely convenient and natural place to contact participants while the event is going on. As organisers, we usually recommend turning on the chat option as it stimulates engagement and increases the activity of participants.
It is good practice to run two chats:
A chat gives us an incredible opportunity to build two-way communication between the organisers and participants, which is undoubtedly one of the main advantages of online events. It’s a place where participants can ask questions, and we can respond to their comments or suggestions.
PS. If you are concerned about the quality of the content of your comments, you can always choose for the chat to be moderated by the organiser to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Regardless of the choice of site for broadcasting the event, the second main channel of activity should focus on the brand’s profile on social media platforms. We can show excerpts from the speeches and the animations that are displayed on the platform to encourage people to join (for open events where prior registration was not required).
Social media may also be the place where you decide to broadcast the event, as that could also help you to build a much larger reach than just using one external platform.
No matter whether the meeting is an internal one (for employees) or an external one open to anyone, we can create an "Event" on the brand’s social media profile for participants and exchange opinions with them there.
The additional value of online events offered by some platforms (e.g. PINE, Hopin, Coffee) is the possibility to organise an Expo zone. This is a space on the platform devoted to the products or services of a given brand. It consists of graphic and multimedia materials, and descriptions, and offers the possibility of contacting a company representative live or via the chat. An Expo zone is perfect for presenting new products in your range or new projects if it’s a scientific, technological or educational event. You can use the dedicated tab of a selected partner to add pdf materials or links to other pages with additional information.
a. Landing page
b. Dedicated platform
c. Push notifications
a. Social media
1. Prepare the DURING THE EVENT communication plan well in advance.
2. Use a platform to connect with the participants, and turn on the chat.
3. Build a buzz around the event on social media channels.
And now, last but not least, get ready for the next stage, which is the post-event communication. This is extremely important for maintaining the relationship that has just been established, so next we will look at the key points that you really should not forget!
We now know what to prepare before the event, and how to communicate with participants (and others) during the event itself, so now it's time for a summary. Communication with the participants after the end of an event is sometimes neglected, but this is an important aspect that can enable us to build long-term relationships and leave a lasting good impression.
Marketing has gained a lot from psychology, including knowledge about two phenomena called the primacy effect and the freshness effect. In brief, what do they refer to?
We can maintain the freshness effect by posting, after the final board at the conference, information about what we will be doing the next day or a few hours later. By doing so, we can emphasise the main points that we want them to remember or present our best product again in a non-intrusive way.
This is the time when we can build a special bond with the participants, showing them our brand as an entity that cares about this relationship. It also provides confirmation for the participants that they are important to us. The project does not end simply because the conference, webinar or other online meeting has finished.
What should be communicated to participants after the event?
It is also a good idea to send a dedicated email to those people who joined late or who may have simply forgotten. It is still good practice to send conference materials and any additional content to them as they are people who have expressed interest in the subject. For the purposes of your own analysis, you can always ask the question “Why didn't you participate in the conference?” and then draw your conclusions for the future on the basis of the answers.
We can also direct dedicated ads to those people who received information about the event (but did not participate). This is the right decision since these are people who have already engaged in a certain degree of interaction with our brand and they will be more susceptible to our messages. Remarketing is very important here. We can also use automated systems for this, such as programmatic campaigns based on databases. Through cooperation with a good partner, we can stay in touch with such people through personalised ads displayed to them through ad servers.
Coming back to remarketing – remember that we can reach those who:
We can create separate campaigns for these two groups, with different slogans, dedicated graphics and redirects to pages with different content.
Events carried out in the online world are recorded and monitored. That means we get hard data. The statistics may mainly concern the number of people – i.e. how many of those who registered for the event actually participated in it? Or which session was attended by the most people? By sending an email from the platform, we can also receive basic statistics such as the open rate. If we also add the results from the feedback, we then have a comprehensive overview of the evaluation of the conference.
Marketers set great store on what the agency can provide right after the event, i.e. the video footage that is produced. High-quality recordings – whether they are of the whole day of streaming or of individual sessions – are an amazing source of information and a great starting point for content marketing activities. What are the best ways to use such recordings?
Bear in mind that what happens after the emotions have subsided and the streaming has finished should all be planned out well in advance. This will allow you to keep control of the deadlines and ensure that all the elements are in place.
It may appear that communication before, during and after the event is relatively simple. That is true, of course, as long as we follow the rules outlined above. The most important thing is to remember that everything should be written out well in advance. If you do that, it will take away the worry that something may have been overlooked, and also give you the confidence that if any unexpected situations do crop up, you’ll be able to handle them.
And finally – good luck! The online world is a friendly and accessible place for everyone. 😊