Virtual events and classes have catapulted to superstardom over the past year. From Pilates to paint night to pastry-making, the options are endless when it comes to hosting online events that delight your customers.
Even if you haven’t jumped on the virtual events train yet, you probably will (or should!) soon. Because virtual everything is here to stay – even in the after-COVID times. Companies have moved much of their business online, and customers are seeking that interaction more than ever. 6Connex, an online event platform, reports a 1000% increase in their virtual events last year. 1000%!
Think hosting online events is intimidating? We’re here to show you that it can be easy – and, dare we say it, fun. Yes, it’s a different vibe than in-person, and yes, it involves a few good stints with technology, but you got this.
Hosting Online Events for Your B2C Business? Follow These 8 Success Tips
Whether you’re a virtual newbie or you’ve got a few events under your belt, our tips will help you feel like a hosting pro in no time.
1. Engage with your customers
You might be thinking this all sounds fine and dandy, but how do you know what your customers need or are interested in? Well, ask them. It doesn’t have to be a formal sit-down – a quick email, text, or chat will do.
Then you can come up with a game plan – what type of event or class, how often, the duration and any costs.
Studio on the Common, an art studio in Massachusetts, did just that. They heard from their customers that they needed ways to keep their kids busy at home while they worked. So, they put art kits together and videotaped a series of classes for kids to take using all the supplies. The children were busy having fun and the parents could work. Genius.
2. Set up your tech
Figuring out how (and when and where) you’re going to host your online event is an important step. Whether you’re keeping it simple by using the “live” feature on social media or you’re going big with custom event hosting platforms, you’ll need some time to figure things out.
Review all the instructions and ask any necessary questions. And make sure your customers know what to do, too. Email them step-by-step instructions with login, payment, and any other logistical information.
Now you might be wondering, what platform should I use to host my online event? The answer depends on your budget, tech skills, and needs. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at this list of the top virtual event companies and platforms.
3. Do a dry run
Once you have all the logistics down pat, a critical part of virtual event planning is to practice a few times. Get an employee or a friend to connect to your tech platform and pretend they’re a customer. And don’t forget to do your thing on your end – teach your class or host your event from beginning to end.
Hopefully, it’ll be a smooth dry run, but if not, you’ll have time to work out the kinks before you go live with your customers.
4. Say hi and introduce yourself
This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often it’s overlooked, especially if you’re nervous or feeling rushed. Introducing yourself is especially important if you have new people joining – you want them to feel welcome.
Simply say good morning (or afternoon or evening), state your name and title, and maybe even share a quick (or fun!) fact about yourself or your business. If time allows and your event is small, you can even include your customers in this part—be sure to be clear about what you want them to say and keep it short to not detract from the event.
5. Read the room
We know what you’re thinking: It can be challenging to read the room when you’re not in the room. But here’s where some detective-like skills come into play. If no one is engaging with you or people are distracted on their phones, maybe it’s time to take a quick break.
If you notice people aren’t doing things correctly, try a recap of the rules or a pause for questions. You can also encourage using the comment or chat feature to help you understand people’s concerns or challenges. It can be helpful to have a moderator help you get a sense of what’s happening in the comments.
6. Keep things engaging
This is where your camera comes into play. It’s important to keep it on the whole time. People want to see you, especially if you’re demonstrating something. And don’t forget to look directly into the camera.
This ensures that you’re making virtual eye contact with your attendees. Keep your tone encouraging and give kudos throughout for a job well done.
7. Record for later
Most virtual event platforms have a record feature, so definitely take advantage (and make sure your attendees agree to you doing so). It might feel silly to watch yourself on the big screen (so to speak), but it’ll provide you with important clues on what to stop, start, and continue doing for the future.
So, sit back, watch your recording and take some notes. Also, some customers might want to take your class or attend your event on their own time, and recording it offers them (and you) that flexibility.
8. Make edits as necessary
You did it! Give yourself a pat (or two) on the back. The first online event is never easy, but you can feel proud of yourself once it’s under your belt. You’ve already recorded your event and made notes of edits to make. You can also send your recording to an objective party and ask them their thoughts.
And don’t forget to ask your customers what they thought post event, too. Send a quick email asking for feedback and work any edits into your next one.
How will hosting online events transform your B2C business?
And there you have it – our top tips for successfully hosting an online event that will dazzle and delight your customers. Virtual classes, conferences, events and seminars are here to stay – and are even projected to grow at 23.2% annually in the next few years. With a little technological know-how, and a lot of practice, they can be a powerhouse tool in your digital marketing toolkit.
If you want to go more in-depth on how to host a virtual event, check out this comprehensive guide. Need more inspiration on hosting online events? Vistaprint’s got you covered with our Digital Marketing site.