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The Fundamentals of Running Online Events

Posted on 2.02.2014

One of the best ways to spread the word about your brand in today’s digital world is through content marketing.

A strong content strategy, however, includes much more than just blog posts and infographics. In fact, some of the most engaging content types are interactive, such as webinars and video hangouts. Yet, preparing an online event like a webinar or Google Hangout can be a bit overwhelming. This is because everything from the event’s creative to its marketing plan must be considered prior to launch. Luckily, event coordinators can get started by getting familiar with the fundamentals of online events below.

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Identify the Objective

Prior to launching an online event, it is important to have objectives set in place. For instance, the event’s goal could be to educate prospects about a brand or specific product, or the goal could simply be to obtain conversions and grow leads.

For the best results, try to identify a hot topic within your industry, as it will be sure to grab the attention of potential attendees. For example, an email service provider might create a webinar titled “Designing for the Small Screen,” in order to capitalize on the popularity of mobile. Conversely, a beauty retailer could create a Google Hangout to promote a new eye shadow kit through a professional tutorial.

Regardless of what the objective may be, it is vital to define it before planning or promoting the event. In fact, if you are launching a webinar, the objective will also help to determine if it should be free or charged. Keep in mind that free webinars are great for generating a lot of leads, while paid webinars usually have less, but higher-quality, leads.

Plan and Practice

Once the objective is defined, planning the event is the next step. First, it is important to know where you will host the event. 

Google Hangouts on Air, for example, is a platform that enables users to host up to nine guests and discus any type of topic. Once the Hangout is finished, it is accessible from the coordinator’s Google+ and YouTube page. Prior to starting the Hangout, it is important to create an outline of talking points so that the event stays both on track and on topic.

Conversely, there are a variety of Webinar platforms available on the ’Net, including GoToWebinar, Cisco WebEx and WebinarsOnAir. Once the webinar platform is chosen, it is time to assemble the presentation. Typically webinars feature a combination of PowerPoint or Keynote presentations and real-time online activity.

During the creation process it is important to keep the goal of the presentation in mind so that the event meets the expectations of attendees. Presentations should also be engaging and broken up into a format that is easy for attendees to digest. For instance, breaking the presentation into three larger sections and recapping each section before moving onto the next can help make the content more understandable and keep attendees paying attention.

Selecting a moderator is also part of the planning process. Essentially, the moderator’s job is to introduce the presentation, keep it on track and manage attendee questions. That said, presenters should provide moderators with several generic questions prior to the live event. Although most presentations will spark questions from the audience, it is always good to have some questions on the back burner to get the ball rolling. Once the planning is finished, it is important to practice a few times before the live event.

Promotion Time

To maximize your live event’s ROI, it is essential to promote the event about a month in advance across all channels, including your enterprise’s website, blog, social profiles and email marketing messages. If the event has any sponsors, those companies should also make a point to promote the event in their marketing channels.

When it comes to social promotion, try to use an image as well as intriguing copy, like a question or an eye-catching stat. It is also important to include a link to the event registration page, which should be informative and include a quick form for consumers to fill out. When it comes to email marketing, however, brands should not only promote the event to their subscriber list, but also follow up with registered prospects by sending thank you messages and event reminders.

Last but not least, brands can consider promoting their events through paid advertisements. Advertising the webinar or hangout through ads on Google or social ads can increase visibility. Therefore, paid ads have the potential to increase overall attendance numbers for the event.

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