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Making the most of your event budget in 2016

Making the most of your event budget in 2016

Some lesser-known ways online events can leverage your marketing budget.

“We need to do an event! Can you lead it?”

If you’ve ever organised a customer event, you’ll understand how much preparation and detailed project management is needed to ensure success. The reaching-out to your audience. Handling bookings and cancellations. The delicate dance between cost-per-head and value-per-customer.

It’s true: creating successful webinars, webcasts, web events and virtual events can be just challenging as those at real-world venues. Content remains king; your online event needs exciting material and excellent presenters like any other. But there’s one key difference: virtual events can be a great deal more cost-effective. And not just in the obvious ways.

If you’re looking ahead to your 2016 events spend, here are some benefits to consider

First, the obvious: a broader reach

Of course, a virtual event is open to a larger audience than a single-venue event in one city. But it’s not simply a case of cutting down on attendees’ travel time. When you need to justify your event budget, think about incremental cost of service.

Adding one more delegate to a real-world event often means a proportionate increase in cost. (That extra ticket mailed, extra costs for refreshments.) But the incremental cost of one more delegate at your virtual event is close to zero. Which means basic business ratios like amortisation and ROI-per-attendee look very enticing. (Great news if you need to justify speaker fees.)

One company managed to triple attendees by going virtual… while cutting costs by 77%

So why limit your attendees to those in your home country? Opening up an event to other timezones gives you an international audience for a domestic-sized budget.

Online events let you time-shift audience attention

A real-world event is there for a day or two, then it’s largely forgotten. But an online event can have a life of months or years, if you take the simple step of recording sessions for later use.

And with today’s conferencing and collaboration tools, “recording” doesn’t just mean a video of your keynote. You can share (and add to) whiteboarding sessions. Present your slides alongside the Q&A. Provide links to other material. An online event is a set of “living documents”, not static handouts.

The TED organisation has built an audience in the millions by sharing 2,000+ conferences and webcasts.

Over time, a library of online events becomes a marketing resource. Your best speakers, your most compelling presentations….all stay in play on your website or intranet. Sometimes for years and even beyond. (The best content is evergreen.) So when considering your events budget this Christmas, think about how an online event is a gift that keeps on giving.

How to turn content into customer conversations

There’s a side benefit to any online event. It lets you extend the conversation with your audience – who, in 90% of cases, you want as customers.

Most real-world conferences include a feedback request and a thank-you email. But these are box-ticking exercises. Why not invite your audience to continue talking about the topics and ideas – with you, with your Sales team, even with each other?

70% of people would rather video conference than travel to a meeting.

Keep your audience in the loop, and conversations can continue on discussion boards, follow-up sessions, virtual breakout groups, and third party media like LinkedIn and Twitter.  Turning your “events budget” into a broader customer relationship budget.

Leveraging your star content

With focus, your online event can even be a profit centre. Did your speaker give a performance worthy of an Oscar? Did your teleconferencing Q&A produce some searing insights? Think about putting some monetary value on the conference materials…. even selling them.

Your “Highlights reel” at £299 may not become next summer’s blockbuster. But simply putting a figure on it increases its value in the minds of your audience. (Those who actually attended, of course, get the resources free or at a vast discount.)

The global market for online learning alone is around $50bn.

Respected conference brand TED has always attracted a valuable (and high-paying) audience, but the series achieved an audience far beyond its Silicon Valley delegates with TedX, which licensed its brand to less well-known but equally interesting speakers with strong quality control checks. Today, nine out of ten TED members consume its content online.

Virtual events return real-world statistics you can use

There are other benefits. You can count heads at a real-world event, but it’s much harder to gauge their levels of involvement. But online events with conferencing and collaboration solutions offer you far more valuable and concrete engagement metrics.

What kind of metrics? Not just who joined your online event, but how long they joined for, and whether they participated in some sessions more than others. How many questions they asked. How many people they connected to. You can even find out if your audience were multitasking and using other applications on the their PC!

And, of course, it’s easier to collect feedback from your online delegates. Instead of a forlorn URL or scraps of paper handed out at the exit, you can ask attendees for their thoughts there and then, with a simple survey or web form.

Summing up: online events amplify your influence

That’s how online events can leverage your events budget. It’s not just about a larger audience or a longer lifespan. It’s about the value of connecting – turning contacts into conversations and making the most of each one.

Takeaways

  • Online events aren’t just about opening up to more people
  • Virtual events aren’t just cheaper than real-world ones; they’re different
  • Imagine turning conference costs into a profit centre!

To discover how to cut the cost of your next online event and increase attendance, watch this video webcast: Arkadin Asia Pacific Webcast Success Story

 

About the author

Damien is one of Arkadin’s veterans, having joined the company in 2001 in order to develop its sales activity in France and Europe. Currently, he is Managing Director for Conferencing & Events. Prior to Arkadin, Damien occupied various sales, marketing and consulting positions with France Telecom, Framacom and L'Oréal. Damien graduated from the HEC Business School.

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