Five Ways to Pivot Event Content into a Virtual Platform

Hamilton Exhibits

As seen in the June 2020 Issue of Event Marketer magazine.

1. Define your objectives and how to meet them

This step is just as important for virtual as it is for in-person. Why are we here and what do we want to achieve? Be clear about your goals for the virtual event and how you will measure your success. Ask yourself, is the digital setting a full replacement for a live event (probably for now) or is it a complement to a live event (perhaps in the future)? Integrate with your CRM database and invite participation via automated email campaigns. Build in general analytics for anonymous visitors via social media postings. Provide incentives for “virtual badge scans” with opt-ins for further communication. Incorporate strategic calls to action at each step of the attendee journey.

2. Remember “content is king”

Content strategy first, platform design second. Content should drive your choice of platform rather than trying to conform your content to fit a specific platform. (More on that later.) Your online presence should reflect your brand experience—make your brand come to life in the text, the graphics, and the interactivity. Tell a cohesive story that is centered on your attendees, with solutions that will enhance their lives.

3. Keep it short and sweet

Adapt content to the digital space and respect the time limitations of your remote audience. The 2-hour keynote address doesn’t hold up. Strive for “snackable” content and design it for mobile devices. Keep it dynamic and interactive to retain interest and attention via Q&A, polls, and surveys. Know that a visit to a virtual exhibit will likely be a quick one, and participation in a full conference might mean a session here and there, arranged within a workday.

4. Know your audience and keep them engaged

How you design your platform should reflect who your audience is. Make their journey a personal one—using technology to customize the audience experience based on job type, specialty, or other segmentation. Understanding time constraints (see #3), drive interaction and engagement. Enable “conversation” among attendees, and directly with your brand via chat functionality, breakout sessions, and social media integration.

5. Choose the right partner

Many marketers are focused now on off-the-shelf software, which may or may not provide the flexibility you need to tell your story in a compelling way. The virtual space brings new challenges, and if you don’t already have a system in place, you’ll want a partner—not a vendor or software package—to help you understand the various elements that will enable your success based on your unique situation.

It is indeed a brave new world, but it doesn’t need to be a scary one. Trust your instincts and remember that the best virtual experiences are ones in which the human connection is front and center.