This is a guest post by Larry Weil, nationally recognized sponsorship expert and founder of The Sponsorship Guy, a sponsorship marketing agency.
In wake of the pandemic, many event brands are taking the steps to move online. Even if you’re one of the lucky creators who can pull it off and still make a profit, you may still wonder how to recoup sponsorship revenue from your live event.
And not just some throwaway logos in your newsletter. From email messaging to post-event data, here’s how to keep sponsors happy during your virtual transition.
Virtual event sponsorship activations for email
Email is one of the most powerful ways to communicate with your attendees no matter the circumstances. Just make sure the emails featuring your sponsors are informative and newsworthy. Otherwise, they could be viewed as spam.
- Offer sponsors an email bundle where you email featured content to attendees — even to your whole email list if the messaging aligns.
- Include your sponsors — and links to their websites and social media — in the company newsletter.
- Email out a guest blog as part of your event updates. Bonus points for using your email data to target a specific audience.
Virtual event sponsorship activation for social media
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are all key social media platforms for sponsorship promotion. Before making posts on all of them, however, make sure you are choosing the platforms with the audience that aligns best with your attendee demographics.
- Leverage Facebook Events and Groups for sponsorship engagement. Activations can include exclusive giveaways leading up to the event or a sponsored recap after it ends.
- Create a LinkedIn group for your virtual event, too. Post sponsor content there and encourage attendees to mark that they are attending on the event page. This will help create desirability around your event and provide a platform for sponsors to reach out and set up meetings with interested parties.
- Video is a popular way to present information, especially in a short format. Use it as a tease on Instagram or Twitter to promote your sponsor’s role in your upcoming virtual event.
- Go beyond simply calling out your sponsors in your social posts. Include links to their website, or insert their content. But be sure to give it context!
Pro tip: Encourage your team members to repost or forward the content you post on LinkedIn or Facebook. Wide dissemination is key!
Virtual event sponsorship activation for your website
Throwing on a logo isn’t enough to retain sponsor interest. Your website is endlessly customizable, so use it wisely to strengthen relationships and retain revenue for the long haul.
- Be sure to have a sponsor page on your event website. Create short blurbs for each, details on what they are sponsoring, and a link to their websites and contact info. If you have speakers who are being sponsored individually, be sure to mention this in their bio page, once again with links.
- Create a whitepaper based on the sponsor’s area of expertise. In my opinion, this is one of the best lead generation tactics around. In addition, sponsors will love it if you request contact information with the download.
- One of the most overlooked website sponsorship opportunities is making sure you utilize event sign-up questions. To your sign-up form, consider adding job title, company name, location, and interests. This way, when you are pitching sponsors, you can provide specific information about the attendees that will help you close the deal.
- Keep in mind that with a virtual event, you can promote your sponsors for months in advance and reshare content from the event long after it concludes.
Pro tip: Consider a Digital Event Bag. This is essentially a landing page with offers from sponsors. These could include a video with a discount, a special offer, a prize, or downloadable white papers or ebooks. To get access to the landing page, attendees must fill out a form, generating valuable data and performance metrics for your sponsors. Promote the link through all channels in advance of the event and even after.
Virtual event sponsorship activation during and after your event
Just because your event is over doesn’t mean you can call it one-and-done with your sponsors. Make a good impression by taking advantage of these essential opportunities to show your event’s impact.
- Be sure to include key sponsor mentions. If your platform offers the function, you can include logo placements as well.
- Capture the broadcast and offer it for download. Send the file or link to the event attendees as a gesture of thanks, but also offer the content to your entire network — you can use it as an opportunity to exchange the content with contact information if that works for your audience.
- Take the best segments and continue to distribute them, or re-use them in future whitepapers, Digital Event Bags, and email newsletters. Allow top sponsors access to sections of content in which they participated.
- Collect data so you can send a performance summary to sponsors. How many attendees stayed for the entire event? How much social media buzz did your event generate? How many clicks on sponsored links? There are so many things you and your sponsors can learn from this data.
Pro tip: Send the performance summary to your sponsors and survey them on what worked for them and how it could be better next time. Then you will know what to focus on when you are pitching your next virtual event.
Your checklist to keep virtual event sponsors coming back
- Use the same best practices you use for live events
- Prepare each sponsor a recap of their benefits and the overall performance of the event, including attendance, social media performance, click-throughs, and related content downloads.
- Send them copies of the event recording.
- Keep them informed of their placement in the Digital Event Bag and their social media mentions in relation to your digital event.
- Set up a call to present the results to them live. Send a copy right before the call, and then review together.
- Listen, and use their feedback for your next event.
The keys to monetizing all these benefits is to keep them relevant. Of course, use your best judgement as to frequency and placement, but the risks may be worth the rewards.
This is a time of unprecedented change in the events industry, but remember: with virtual events, you have a much broader reach than with in-person ones. Barriers to attending are few, and the potential ways you can impress sponsors are endless.