This is a guest post from Emily Wiseheart, Content Manager for Constant Contact.

Events aren’t always attended in person. In this day and age, many events are attended from a living room, or anywhere in the world, as long as there’s an internet connection.

The best part? Online-only, or “virtual events,” give you the opportunity to reach so many more people than those only in your geographical location. That’s an opportunity to expand your brand awareness and engage an audience you may not otherwise have been able to connect with.

The benefits of hosting an online event

Many businesses choose to host an online event, like a virtual workshop or webinar, because they’re cheaper and easier to manage than in-person events — while still extremely effective. They can also help you expand your network, and build your list of contacts.

Fewer logistics: You don’t need to print and mail invitations, sell physical tickets, or spend time looking for the perfect venue for an online event. Virtual events are easier on your attendees as well. They don’t have to jump in the car and fight traffic to make it in time — they don’t even need to wear pants!

With a virtual event, you can send around a recording to registrants afterwards, so they don’t even technically have to attend live to benefit from the content you’re sharing.

Real-time engagement: Another benefit of hosting a virtual event is the variety and amount of engagement with the attendees. Because this audience has your full attention, you can have them ask or answer questions. It’s not uncommon for people to get nervous during in-person events, and sometimes they feel more comfortable asking those same questions during a virtual one.

Depending on the online event tool you use, you can even use polls, or ask people to send you a response via a chat window. The information you collect from your attendees is invaluable, and can help you build or refine your business strategy in the future.

Lower budget: Physical events tend to be much more expensive than online-only events. Think about the costs associated with feeding 300 people, printing out promotional materials, or hiring staff. Online events can be run with much fewer people, promoted online with email marketing, and attendees can feed themselves in the comfort of their own homes or offices.

Ideas for your next (or first) online event

You can have different goals when hosting an online event. Although many virtual events are for awareness purposes, you can also use them to build leads, promote products, raise funds, or to sell the content itself, with attendees purchasing tickets.

Whatever the case may be, your event needs to have enough value to drive registrations. Here are some examples of virtual events to help you choose the type that works best for your business or nonprofit:

  • Teach a workshop on your business expertise
  • Interview an industry influencer
  • Show how to make your most popular cupcake
  • Host a series of courses on perennial gardening
  • Run a question and answer session about your business
  • Demo your brand new product
  • Run an awareness webinar prompting attendees to donate to your cause

How to promote your online events

As mentioned above, one of the many benefits of hosting a virtual event is the ability to do all of your marketing online. With online marketing comes marketing automation, streamlining all of those typically manual marketing tasks into easy, automated processes, like email marketing.

Here are a few ways you can promote your virtual events online:

  • Send out an email invite to your contact list
  • Promote your event on social media
  • Have guests register or buy tickets online
  • Add your event registration link to your website and email newsletter

Don’t worry — “automated” does not mean “robotic.” In fact, email marketing automation allows you to personalize and target your communications to provide the most relevant content to your audience. A great way to use email marketing is to create a series of automated email messages that roll out over time.

An example of an automated email series could be:

Welcome emailsThank customers for joining your list after they register by sending them an automated welcome email that reminds them of the event details, provides contact information for your business, and offers any current promotions.

Invitation emailsSet up an automated email series of invitations to your event prompting your prospects to “sign up before it’s too late!” – becoming more urgent as the event gets closer.

Reminder emailsIn the weeks leading up to your event, send an automated series of reminder emails to make sure your registrants have all the information they need to attend.

Follow-up emails:  Send out a “thank you for attending” email that includes a recording of your virtual event, and invites them to future sessions. Registrants appreciate the extra engagement, and become more likely to attend your next event.

Virtual events make real connections

Events always have a way of bringing people together. It’s time to invite your brand and your audience to an online event.

It’d be a shame to miss out on the potential sales and engagement you wouldn’t otherwise have received from people who are too far away from you. So get started, and share your expertise and value with the world.

Get inspired by how one online events series put these lessons into action. Read their story: How Aurora Training Advantage Grew Revenue 10X by Leveraging Automation.

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