In the past, when a physical event was canceled, that was it. There were no real alternatives. However, in 2020, it’s a very different story. Thanks to advancements in communication technologies and streaming services, online events can be just as successful.
In fact, they can completely replace physical events in many situations.
What Exactly is An Online Event?
An online event has become a very broad term that can mean something different for everyone.
In the past, an online or virtual event was something that happened exclusively online and gave the audience a unique way to experience the content and interact with it.
However, in more recent times, just the act of live streaming a game on Twitch can be considered an online event. In other cases, doing a meeting online via Skype could be one.
And in some cases, companies will have camera crews within a physical location who stream it online and the audience can choose what to watch during the event. It lets the viewer attend the event even if they can’t make the trip, which adds an entirely new audience.
The point is that the definition of an online event has changed over the years as the number of ways to run one has increased.
If COVID-19 has taught the world one thing, it’s that we must have the ability to work and learn remotely available to us at all times. The cost of having to cancel an event can be enormous and in some cases, it could end up with the “Out of Business” sign on the door.
However, you can mitigate the damage by having an online option that captures the event or transforms it entirely to an online one. And in many cases, you could even earn more money by adding an online audience to your event.
Luckily, there are a lot of methods to help you do so.
Make Sure Your Events Are Worth Visitor’s Time
The best way to ensure that you no one cancels your event is to make sure the value in attending is too high to miss out on. This can be achieved by a few different methods.
The first way is to make visitors feel like they are missing out on a one-time opportunity. This is a type of FOMO marketing, and it can be highly successful no matter what type of product you are selling.
The most important element is that a show provides what it claims. If it is a workshop to help new web developers learn PHP, it should ensure that they learn the basics. Whatever you promise should be achievable.
Many events come packaged with other items that are exclusive to attending. This ensures that even if a visitor decides they will not attend the event, they may be willing to keep their ticket if it means they can get the packaged Item. This could be an ebook, access to a special day, or something else.
Types Of Online Events
Before we get into the benefits of online events, its important to understand how many types of them exist. And this is important because a different type of event has its own unique set of benefits.
The term is extremely broad, so I will try to limit it to the most popular types. But, there are plenty that this list cannot cover.
1. Live Conferences
Live conferences are some of the biggest events that happen both physically and online. These are the huge presentations that are delivered from a company that outlines new products, services, or future plans (like tech expos). Thes are often recorded in front of a live audience of attendees and, depending on the industry, media.
However, these are not just reserved for large companies. Even a smaller one can have their own live conference. The value is limitless and as a result, the live conference industry is larger than the music industry.
2. Work Conferences
Interactions between employees are critical for your business running like a well-oiled machine. However, one of the big problems with very large companies is everyone’s schedule.
They often simply do not line up. And when the business reaches a global scale, it’s very unlikely everyone is at one location.
Thus, work conferences were created to correct this problem. They allow staff to interact with each other regardless of location and allow you to share company plans to large groups of employees in an interactive way.
Regardless of what industry you work in, there are plenty of experts you would love to get advice from. And that is exactly what a webinar hopes to achieve. Webinars can be any size, but the larger ones will invite industry experts to share their tips with the audience.
The events take place online, which allows for everyday entrepreneurs to attend without having to take a trip. This also helps the host build strong connections with industry experts, which is a huge benefit.
4. Online Education
Learning online has been around for decades and it is one of the fastest-growing live events out there. Not everyone has time to focus on going to college or a vocational school. Instead, online learning provides an opportunity.
Teachers and instructors are able to interact in real-time with students from all over the globe.
And the best part is that you can learn just about anything online. However, it is important to be properly certified. Without the proper degree or license, you will not even get an interview.
5. Live Streaming
Livestreaming has taken the internet by storm. For years, live streaming platforms like Twitch and Mixer have been growing every year. As a result, other large platforms like YouTube and Facebook have also moved in on the live stream market.
A live stream allows an individual to talk directly to their user base and interact with them. This can be anything from playing a video game, to demonstrating a product, or to just answering questions from the chat.
Workshops are generally on a smaller scale and last for one or two days. However, they make up for this by focusing entirely on one topic. Unlike conferences and webinars, they have less structure and are not as formal.
However, they provide attendees with a unique opportunity to learn more about a specific topic or skill. Attendees can ask questions and interact more with the host in many situations (really depends on the size and structure). And it’s all from the comfort of your home.
The Benefits of an Online Event
Now that we know about some of the types of online events, we can take a look at the benefits that your website or brand can take advantage of. However, they are entirely dependent on the type of event you are hosting or planning.
For example, a webinar will have its own set of benefits versus a blogger doing a live Q&A on Twitch. Thus, it is important to realize that not everything that appears on this list will be relevant to you.
1. Build Relationships
Without a doubt, the biggest, and often ignored benefit of running an online event is the connections you build with other experts in a field. For example, if you run a blogging webinar and invite successful bloggers to speak about their success in the field, you are creating a golden opportunity to start collaborative projects with others.
This can put your blog or site on the fast track to growth if other successful bloggers are mentioning your event and blog themselves. This can be applied differently to every field, but the principle is the same, making business connections is always positive.
2. Its Own Business Model
Online events have grown tremendously over the years and are still advancing. When people think about ways to make money online, they consider blogs, podcasts, YouTube content, and more. However, there is a lot of competition when it comes to these businesses.
That is not an issue when it comes to online events.
Hosting a large scale event is not easy and requires a particular skill set. However, if you run your own and succeed at marketing online events, consider doing it for others. You can make a lot of money.
3. A New Audience
If you are adding an online event to an already existing physical one, you are adding an entirely new audience to the event. And as such, you are providing yourself with a new stream of income.
This can help turn events that were just breaking even to becoming wildly profitable.
This has been gaining popularity for popular events that get sold out quickly due to limited space. Set up cameras and create an interface to help visitors navigate the event just as if they were there. It’s the next best thing to attending, and since there are no lines, it might be the best way for some.
4. Strengthen The Community
If you create content for a specific topic, you might find a lot of success in creating an event for the community, especially if it is a niche. This often attracts far more viewers than intended since many niche groups don’t have many events planned.
And online events are a great way to connect.
This can help bring the community together and strengthen it. In some cases, you might even have friends convince each other to attend for you, so expect a sizable audience.
5. Improve Your Communication Skills
Whether you are speaking at the event or setting everything up from behind the scenes, I can assure you that you will be doing a lot of speaking no matter what. It may be face to face, over the phone or done through email, but you will need to communicate with each other.
If everything goes right, your communication skills will certainly improve as a result. And if not, you’re learning a valuable lesson about the importance of communication.
6. Become An Industry Leader
In the process of building connections with industry leaders, you often end up becoming a leader yourself. And as a result, it earns you the trust of your community and puts you on the fast track to growth.
The end result is often opening a host of new business opportunities.
Beginners tend to underestimate the importance of being viewed as a leader or a figurehead for a community, but let me assure you, it is important. When your name becomes the first recommended by the community, your going to experience a lot of growth.
Don’t Hide the Cancel Option From Customers
You may have heard a tip that says to make your cancel button hard to find, but I can assure you, this is not something you should do.
Some “experts” will attest that you don’t want to let people cancel or get a refund, so make it hard to find. Some consumers will give up and just accept the loss, and companies take advantage of that.
However, I can assure you that the customer will, in most cases, never come back.
This is nothing but a short term gain that comes at the cost of your brand’s trust. If you want to keep long term customers, make the cancel option easy and clear to find. If customers know they can cancel at any time, or at least up to a certain date, they are more willing to commit to the purchase.
Great Events Get The Word Out
If you have a great event and the attendance isn’t very high, don’t worry. When it comes to events live or online, word of mouth can help you grow. Attendees will tell friends that are interested in the topic.
This is a place where great social media marketing can really shine.
Many beginners believe that marketing before the event is the most important, but marketing after the event is just as important. In fact, it’s more important because it is the initial marketing for your next event!
If you can get people talking about how great your event was on Facebook or Twitter, you can expect a much larger audience next time.