How to Use Virtual Events to Drive Prospects Further Down Your Funnel
Most organizations use a mix of inbound and outbound marketing tactics to attract leads and convert them into clients. Choosing one strategy over another depends on a visitor's funnel stage.
A prospect at the bottom of the funnel is familiar with your brand and products. Therefore, you need to find a way to make your offering stand out and move the customer further down your sales funnel.
At this stage, it's essential to nurture your leads and get them to take action. You can do this through:
- Personalized messages
- Special offers
- Free upgrades
- Or other incentives
Webinars, product demonstrations, and other virtual events can further increase your conversation rate. The key is to plan things around your customers' needs and deliver highly personalized experiences.
Not sure where to start? Below are some strategies to optimize the bottom of your sales funnel with virtual events—read on to check them out.
Leverage virtual events to improve your sales funnel
Virtual events can make it easier to differentiate your products and give potential clients the final push to make a purchase. Depending on your business goals, you could host live demos, virtual conferences, virtual roadshows, new product releases, and more.
B2B companies may host VIP events and video conferences to bring thought leaders and executives together and push them further down the funnel. Live product demonstrations, on the other, allow potential clients to get a feel of your brand.
Wynter is an excellent illustration of this in action with its regularly hosted Wynter Games virtual events. The company brings together experts in the field for a series of video interviews or webinars, with each event focusing on a different topic or theme.
Here's the intro video for Wynter Games 13 shared by the company's founder, Peep Laja:
Each "Games" is done live. But, the content is recorded and re-purposed in other places—then later shared in its own YouTube playlist on Wynter's channel:
As a marketer, you can leverage virtual events to remove any areas of friction that prevent prospects from becoming buyers. Consider it an opportunity to drive sales and continually motivate customers to engage with your products or services.
Large and small organizations invest tens of thousands of dollars in event marketing for a good reason. In 2020, 40% of companies moved to virtual events; about 67% increased their investment in webinars, while 44% focused their efforts on video content.
Online events have several advantages over in-person events, such as reaching a wider audience. This approach also involves lower costs and provides more flexibility.
A 2020 survey on over 100 global companies, including HP, Nestlé, and LinkedIn, revealed that 91% of respondents were satisfied with the outcome of virtual events. In addition, about half of all organizations reported hosting online events to drive customer engagement, and nearly 20% used this strategy to increase brand awareness.
The same source reports that 52% of companies host four virtual events per month. Roughly 30% organize anywhere between five and ten online events, from webinars to product demos.
Prospects at the bottom of the funnel already know your products and have a relationship with your sales team. It's up to you to close the deal and give them a reason to return for more.
A striking call-to-action is essential, but you must also deliver authentic experiences that provide value to the target audience. For starters, take these steps to drive prospects further down the funnel with virtual events.
Anticipate your customers' needs
The bottom of your sales funnel consists of prospects ready to buy. However, they may still have doubts or are in the process of comparing different brands.
At this point, it's essential to address their concerns and answer any questions they may have. Therefore, make sure you design your events based on these aspects.
For example, your prospective clients may want to know the following:
- What are the specific details of this product?
- How does it compare to other products in the same category?
- Is this product right for me?
- What if it doesn’t work?
- Are there any additional costs?
The content shared at your event should answer these questions and make prospects feel like they've learned something new. Moreover, it needs to include data-driven insights and social proof.
If you're hosting a video event, plan your content in a manner that can give customers the final push to make a purchase. Share relevant insights that align with your buyer personas and address their pain points.
Most importantly, position your product or service as the answer to their needs—just ensure you don't come off as overly promotional. Use hard facts, testimonials, customer success stories, and real-life examples to prove your statements.
The 2021 Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue event did a fantastic job of opening up the event to attendees to make it a unique experience for them as individuals and help them to address their most important questions:
Attendees could ask questions directly to event organizers and speakers through social media channels, which were also posted on a social wall for the event so everyone could learn from the subjects being discussed.
Deliver highly personalized experiences
Companies that invest in personalized experiences see revenue increases of up to 10%, reports Boston Consulting Group. Starbucks, Walt Disney, Wells Fargo, Netflix, Fabletics, and other popular brands all leverage the power of personalization to attract and engage customers.
In this digital era, buyers have more options than ever before—and they expect brands to anticipate and meet their needs. As a result, more than 90% of consumers are more likely to purchase from companies that provide relevant offers, notes Accenture.
But, what's the best way to personalize virtual event experiences? Let's see a few examples:
- Send personalized invitations
- Customize your event landing page for each customer group
- Set up in-platform broadcast messages and push notifications personalized to their specific interests
- Select a platform that allows you to customize your logo, fonts, and brand colors
- Personalize your virtual booths
- Integrate networking tools into your virtual events
Let's say you're hosting an online conference for executives and mid-level employees. In this case, you can create two versions of the same invitation, each focusing on the sessions relevant to the group you are targeting.
Likewise, you can set up multiple landing pages promoting the same event to different audiences.
For example, mid-level employees may be interested in training programs or other career services you offer. But, on the other hand, executives will want to know how these services would benefit their teams and the company's bottom line.
Keep your attendees engaged from start to finish
Have you ever heard about virtual event fatigue? As it turns out, it's a real thing.
GovExec reports virtual event attendance decreased from 70% to 35-40% over the past few years—and it makes sense for two key reasons.
- Staring at a screen for long periods can be mentally draining
- Sitting in front of that screen for hours can cause physical aches and pains
As a marketer, the last thing you want is to see your attendees fall asleep during your next big event. Therefore, thinking outside the box is essential and find ways to keep them engaged from start to finish.
The experts at GovExec recommend scheduling a break every 25 minutes during virtual events. Another option is to turn your event into a series and spread it over several days.
You could also leave space in the schedule for mastermind sessions, Q&A sessions, and virtual networking. Virtual breakout rooms can be a great choice, too, especially for webinars.
These activities will engage your attendees and provide them with personalized experiences and the opportunity to build connections. Plus, they will have the chance to interact with your team on a deeper level and get to know the people behind the brand.
A great example of this is the iSMG Cybersecurity Summit, which focused on cybersecurity, information security, fraud, and risk. The Summit played to an international audience, and because of the diverse subject range, iSMG used a “social wall” to keep its attendees engaged throughout the Summit:
The social wall included real-time updates on social media from everyone attending the virtual summit and speakers involved in programming throughout the day.
This type of social wall is an excellent example of a tool that can keep everyone engaged throughout your programming and ensure people don’t fade out.
Diversify the format of your content
Video conferences, product demos, and other virtual events have a standard format, but this doesn't mean you must stick to it. Instead, you should experiment with different audio and video content to keep your audience engaged before, during, and after the event.
For example, consider sending your prospects short videos that capture the essence of your event and branding message. Do it before the event to give them something to consider.
Meanwhile, seek alternative ways to deliver your message through group conversations, podcasts, virtual whiteboards, or live chat sessions. You can integrate these activities into videoconferences, live product demos, and other online events.
The whole point is to deliver a memorable experience that evokes emotion instead of focusing on sales.
Research suggests positive emotions improve attention span and memory, helping people remember things more easily. Your prospects are more likely to take action and recall your brand if they associate it with an emotion, such as joy or excitement.
They may not buy your products immediately, but they will remember how you made them feel and contact you when needed.
The world-renowned Consumer Electronics Show did an admirable job of building in a diversity of content during their 2021 virtual show during the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. CES knew they couldn’t get by with a “huge Zoom call,” so they instead built various experience options to allow attendees to make the show what they wanted it to be:
There were traditional networking options, but also the ability for people to:
- Listen to music
- Play games together
- Watch the musicians who were invited to the festival
This diversification was a great call, as we all know how much we needed a little fun in our lives during this period.
Personalize the event experience to drive sales and customer loyalty
A personalized event marketing strategy can drive more conversions at the bottom of your sales funnel while increasing customer loyalty. The key is to nurture your prospects before, during, and after the event.
While there's no one-size-fits-all approach to event marketing, your best bet is to deliver relevant content along with a fully branded experience. Research and segment your target audience, create content for each group and build excitement around your brand message.
Don't be afraid to think outside the box and diversify the format of your content. Think of virtual trade shows, podcasts, networking sessions, live keynotes, and interactive challenges.
Lastly, create events that spark emotion and provide value while instilling a sense of urgency. If you can do all these things, you'll get more sales and stay competitive in an oversaturated marketplace.
It's no easy task to get a virtual event off the ground. Securing speakers, making sure they turn up, curating the content—and that's all before you've even thought about getting attendees signed up!
But hopefully the ideas in this post will help you to understand:
- Why virtual events can be a valuable part of your overall conversion strategy
- How to put on a virtual event that stands out from the sea of mediocrity