Online events are what most people would categorize as webinars, GoToWebinar, WebEx, Zoom, webcasts, web briefings, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Google Hangout. The basic idea is that you're getting a group of people together for the common purpose of experiencing the content in a live virtual format.
There are a couple of things to think about when you're planning online events. For starters, who is the buyer persona that we want this online event to appeal to? If we're trying to appeal to everyone, it can be very difficult to be relevant and stand out from the crowd.
We need to understand who we’re producing and hosting this event for. Who is the buyer persona that we want to attract?
Second, we need to understand where that buyer persona is in their buyer’s journey -- what their life cycle stage is. For example, we might have an online event for customers that covers very different topics than an online event for complete strangers who have never before heard of our company or only have limited familiarity with what our company is all about.
Online Events for Prospects
For complete strangers that have never heard of our company, our products, or our services before, we would want to host an online event on a broad topic that is relevant to them. Topics might include their biggest challenges or their biggest struggles.
How do we find out what those are? By building a buyer persona -- buyer persona 101. Ask them what's the biggest thing that's driving them nuts, what's their biggest struggle, or what's their biggest challenge. It becomes a lot easier to invite a group of people, just like the buyer persona, to that online event who are very excited about registering and attending.
Online Events for Customers
Online events can also be used at the other end of the life cycle stage -- when someone is already a customer.
Many times, online events are used to address and answer customer questions or for customer onboarding. Customers have very different questions and concerns. They already know who your company is. You're simply trying to help them utilize your product or service better, so they get more value from their investment.
As a secondary call to action, you might have an upsell or a cross-sell for people that want even more help than what you provided through that online event. But in order for your online events to resonate, first, think of who they're for -- the buyer persona that you're trying to appeal to -- and where they are in the buyer’s journey.
SMART Goals for Online Events
It can also be helpful to have SMART goals set for each of your online events -- goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
How many people do we want to register? How many people do we want to attend? If you’re brand new to doing online events, here’s something that's really important to manage your expectations -- it's extremely unusual to get an attendance rate that approaches a hundred percent. Generally, the closer the relationship somebody has with your company, the higher the attendance rate tends to be.
In other words, for a customer-only event, for an onboarding event meant for existing, paying clients, you’ll typically have a higher attendance rate than you would for complete strangers who don’t have much familiarity with your speakers or your company. There will be a ratio that you’ll want to keep track of over time.
Are there absolutes and benchmarks to pay attention to? Yes and no. It’s more important to benchmark yourself over time and see how this compares to your other events. Understand it’s completely unrealistic for you to expect that if one-hundred people register for an online event, that ninety-five or ninety-nine of them are going to attend unless it's an extremely unusual circumstance.
So we want to pay attention to those metrics, and conversely, you don't want to just have a SMART goal for attendees and registrations. If that online event is designed to feed sales-qualified leads (SQLs) and opportunities to your sales team, more than likely, you’d want to set some SMART goals around that as well. That will help shape your priorities and make sure that you're investing appropriately in the right kind of promotional resources to drive attendance to your online event. This is one of the biggest challenges for promoting and hosting online events.
The Bottom Line
Hopefully, you found this video helpful to start thinking about the right considerations for buyer personas, life cycle stages, and setting SMART goals.
One more quick thing that I'd be remiss if I didn't bring up -- online events also provide you with a great opportunity to create content. In other words, you're online events, like webinars, should be recorded. That is an opportunity to have a high-perceived value premium content asset that can sit behind a landing page later on. You can use it for lead nurturing. You can also take that full one-hour webinar recording and chop it up into six, eight, or ten different shorter videos. Each of those can have a call to action to get the full recording. You can also transcribe that online event and turn it into a printed ebook, a white paper, or Special Report. You can turn it into blog posts with calls to action to get the full recording.
There might be a couple of dozen people who attend this event, but there may be a few hundred or thousand more that should have been at the event. One of the best ways to get the word out to those that missed the live event -- if you're not planning on repeating that event over and over again -- is to capture it and offer it in as many different formats as possible that make sense for each of your buyer personas.
Make sure your online events are aligned with your buyer personas, where they are in the buyer’s journey or life cycle stage, what your SMART goals are -- and be thinking about if the content is reasonably evergreen, how you can get even more mileage out of that online event.
Tell us about the types of online events your company is doing. Share your thoughts in the section for comments below.
To learn more about online events, enroll now in our free 7-day eCourse: Go-to-Market Strategy 101 for B2B SaaS Startups and Scaleups.