At Eventbrite, we’ve seen firsthand how event-based brands have responded to shuttering event spaces with innovative online events. Although many of these online events started as on-the-fly ways to continue business, they’ve quickly blossomed into permanent fixtures that are expanding audiences and amplifying growth.
We spoke to creators who are using Eventbrite to tap into global audiences and transform their business models to see how moving their events online has revitalized their businesses, expanded their audience base, and introduced them to an entirely new revenue stream.
Shifting tactics, remaining authentic
“We got the message that we needed to work from home on a Friday, and we started the virtual classes project the Monday after,” explains Alexandra Horne, Senior Manager of Events and Education of New York-based cheese shop Murray’s Cheese. In short, Murray’s and many other brands didn’t have a lot of time to brainstorm.
Fortunately, the Murray’s team members soon realized that this sudden shift to online events didn’t mean they had to start from scratch and change what the company is. In fact, success came through staying authentic to what makes the brand special.
“We’d thought about just doing some basic question and answer classes that didn’t involve product shipment,” says Horne. “But our big selling point here is the cheese. So that’s what we want to get to you, we want you to be able to eat it alongside us. That’s the most important part of our class.” Naturally, shipping cheese to attendees before live events became a key part of their online strategy.
For the popular San Francisco community center Manny’s, online events were a way to continue its goal of bringing people together and fostering community.
“Online events are very much in line with our mission,” explains Emanuel Yekutiel, the founder of Manny’s. “In fact, they actually further the mission by doing exactly what we were doing before, which is just to create opportunities for people.”
Transitioning to online events doesn’t mean you need to change your brand’s identity. Instead, knowing your business and what makes it special is the key to responding to this moment and making an online event that captures the power of your brand.
Daybreaker, a morning dance party, has seen serious success in moving their popular in-person event online. They’ve doubled the amount of attendees on livestream compared to their in-person events in the same time the year prior. They’ve also reached over 30K people from 85 different countries in their first 11 livestream events, making their once location-specific event truly global. Compared to their usual 400-person live events, the online streaming iteration welcomes over 2,000 people to each event. After going online, Daybreaker LIVE will be a permanent fixture, connecting people from around the world.
Getting the logistics right
To launch memorable online events, you need the right tech solutions. For CraftJam, a crafting studio based in New York, that meant leaning on Eventbrite to ensure each attendee had the right tools and instructions they needed to participate in art classes.
“It’s hard to imagine doing these online events without Eventbrite,” says Nora Abousteit, founder of CraftJam. “Eventbrite made it easy to inform people of our events and get more information out to them.” For instance, each Eventbrite ticket included a link to a PDF that explained all of the materials needed to participate in the online class. This has helped CraftJam double their returning attendee rate to almost 30%.
Eventbrite’s integration with Zoom has also made it easy for attendees to log into the event. Creators simply need to include a Zoom link right there on the Eventbrite ticket, making the whole process of attending an online class seamless.
Keeping content fresh and engaging
Due to the clear benefits of online events, many brands see them as a permanent event option going forward. That’s why businesses are finding creative ways to keep these online events fresh and engaging so that customers keep coming back.
For instance, Murray’s has plenty of fun themed events planned, such as a class that highlights cheese-related references in popular TV shows like The Office. With new Murray’s programming all the time, cheese lovers will have more reason to come back and try a new class. And with a 233% increase in email subscribers for virtual classes in three months, it’s clear that people are hungry for exposure to more events.
Manny’s has found that keeping talks short and easily digestible has been key to boosting attendee engagement. “You want people leaving an event wanting more,” says Yekutiel. Additionally, varying the subject matter of these talks — and limiting the number of talks that are about COVID-19 — has helped keep the content fresh. Allotting 10 minutes for Q&A in the Zoom chat has also added an effective interactive element to Manny’s talks.
And while students can’t be in the CraftJam studio together, that hasn’t stopped Abousteit and her team from building community in these online classes. “We make everyone a panelist so they can actually talk and participate,” she says. “We just wanted to make sure it felt more like a fun group hangout.”
Opening the conversation
For Crowned Sparrow Craft Company’s owner, Steph Newman, crafts are just about the perfect way to bring people together. “I’ve always thought of crafts as a form of therapy,” she says. “It gives people that chance to slow down and to take their mind off things, which is especially important right now.”
But when moving to virtual classes, Newman was a bit worried that her crafting sessions would lose that personal, communal feeling. Fortunately, she quickly found that online classes still had that warm and welcoming tone that had made her in-person classes so popular.
“In my classes I always want people to feel like they’re just hanging out with their friends and crafting — and I’ve found that the online experience still very much promotes that,” says Newman. “For instance, in Zoom I leave the audio on for everybody, which makes it easy for us to have discussions while we craft.”
Better yet, the conversations are more diverse than ever thanks to the wide reach of Crowned Sparrow’s online events. Students who might be thousands of miles away from each other are able to come together toward a common hands-on goal.
“I’ve really enjoyed being able to reach people from all over,” says Newman. “And I definitely think that, moving forward even after all this is over, I’ll probably keep doing at least a few virtual events every month so that I’m able to grow my presence and grow my brand beyond the local area.”
“Of course I’m definitely looking forward to doing live events again,” says Newman. “But I’m actually just as excited about moving forward with more virtual and online events and trying to reach more people like outside of my area.”
Many brands have seen tangible benefits from holding their events online. For instance, Murray’s has been able to share its love of cheese with people around the world — and not just the tourists who are able to make it to its stores in Manhattan. In fact, the cheese company has seen a 59% increase of ticket sales for virtual classes vs. in-person classes over the last three months. And Manny’s has been able to connect with new inspiring speakers that they might not have been able to book in person, such as Senator Cory Booker.
When COVID-19 hit, independent Chicago-based publisher Haymarket Books had just completed building a brand-new event space and had a calendar full of speakers lined up. It would go unused, because like many businesses in March 2020, Haymarket had to improvise and move to virtual events exclusively. But what started as a necessary adaptation has quickly turned into a winning model that’s built to last.
“We’re certainly going to continue doing online events after all of this,” says Dana Blanchard, Haymarket’s event organizer. “And more importantly, we’re going to offer hybrid events that will occur in person but also have a livestream component.” This adaptation will enable people who couldn’t make the event in person to still watch the event after the fact — which is necessary given Haymarket’s increasingly far-reaching audience.
Creating these events for your brand can be simple. With Eventbrite on your side, you can quickly organize, launch, and promote online events of all types. So join the many brands that are realizing the power of online events, and create your own today.