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How to involve sponsors or partners in your virtual events

If you are planning a virtual event, you may wish to monetize it. Doing so can allow you to offset your costs and even generate profitable revenue streams. Commercial events can do this through ticket sales, but this won’t be an option if you’re organizing an internal company event. The solution can be to create attractive sponsorship packages you can sell. Whatever type of event you are planning, it can certainly pay to involve sponsors or partners.

If you’ve got experience running in-person events then you’ll probably be familiar with creating sponsorship opportunities. Popular options might include sponsorship of complete session tracks or simply individual sessions. It could extend to sponsoring coffee breaks or networking spaces or post-event drinks. In more recent years, the need to stay connected has seen sponsorship of conference WiFi, or charging stations present opportunities. Sponsorship of delegate bags offers another way to boost visibility.

In the online space, these physical options may not exist, but as well as the many advantages that virtual events have over in-person events, there’s a wealth of digital inventory you can monetize.

Here are some of the ways you can look to involve sponsors or partners in your virtual events:

Display ads

Take advantage of display ad inventory available in your virtual event platform. Some platforms provide display units in IAB-compliant sizes, allowing sponsors to re-use creative assets from their display advertising campaigns. As with display advertising, multiple ads can be served in rotation and be hyperlinked to the sponsor’s website or landing page. Display ads can also link to the sponsor’s virtual booth in your event or to their sponsored webinar listing.

Individual or complete session tracks

Just as brands might sponsor a one-off session or complete themed track at an in-person conference, you can present sponsorship opportunities for your online sessions too. Webinar sponsorships are attractive opportunities because they typically include giving sponsors a list of attendees who viewed the webinar. For sponsors, this can be the biggest factor in determining their sponsorship ROI. You can also allow sponsors to place their brand elements in the webinar console. In addition, you can include sponsor handouts including a call-to-action in the presentation. Alternatively, you can sell sponsorship of vendor-specific webinars. This allows exhibitors to take center stage and provide a presentation on a topic they choose. These can be attractive for internal events where you have existing partners or providers who would be happy to support your event and get the chance to explain their benefit or proposition to your employees.

Networking and social spaces

They may not offer the same in-person occasions to meet and mingle, but virtual events can offer time and space to network with colleagues and contacts. This can be to discuss specific topics related to the event’s proceedings, or opportunities to have more informal time to connect. Sponsors can brand online meeting lounges or sponsor social activities and this can be a great way to boost awareness and branding across the duration of an event.

Email blasts

When you schedule email blasts to promote your virtual event, include a listing of your sponsors. In addition, list your sponsors in your auto-generated confirmation and reminder emails. It’s a great way to deliver branding and exposure for them, build or boosting familiarity and tying in association with the event.

Games

Gamification can be an effective tool for generating and sustaining attendee engagement. Your sponsors or partners can engage attendees in your event’s content and support attendees’ connections and networking. You can sell sponsorship packages around individual games, enabling sponsors to incorporate their branding and messaging in the game. You can also provide a game dedicated to a single sponsor, allowing them to dictate the content (e.g., a trivia game, in which the sponsor provides the questions and answers).

Custom sponsor badges

Attendee achievement badges are a great way to encourage engagement and participation in an event. Create custom sponsor badges that encourage attendees to engage with sponsors (e.g., visiting their booth and chatting with a staffer). Attendees can be rewarded with a badge that displays on their leaderboard. People love recognition and they’re also inclined to collect things. Tap into this phenomenon with badges.

Video ads

Provide sponsors with the ability to present short video ads that are placed in selected areas of the virtual event. These can be set up to be ‘click to play’ (as opposed to auto-play) and the virtual event platform could track the number of video views. You could also show these ads during breaks between sessions, or as pre-roll commercials as a part of a specific session.

Marquee messaging

Marquee messaging refers to the scrolling ticker that appears in the digital environment. Your event can include a series of marquee messages that rotate throughout the event or can be scheduled to appear at specific times. Utilize marquee messaging to promote your sponsors. The marquee messages can include hyperlinks to external web pages or to digital spaces within the environment.

Prize centers

If your virtual event includes prizes and giveaways, the prize center is the space in which you can show images, provide descriptions and rules and conditions for the prizes. You can sell sponsorship of the prize center, allowing one or more sponsors to be associated with the giveaways.

Personalized briefcases

A personalized briefcase allows virtual event attendees to save and store content from the event (e.g., white papers, product sheets, case studies, etc.) You can have content from one or more sponsors available to be added into attendees’ briefcases, just like the conference bag you pick up at registration.

In-event emails or announcements

Use in-show emails to push out a sponsor’s message to the event attendees. It is a highly valuable and direct form of contact that attendees respond to. For example, an in-event email or scheduled announcement can drive attendees to a sponsor’s booth, where they’ll engage with sponsor sales representatives.

Event microsite

No matter what opportunities you offer, remember that your event provides a fully-functioning online website with lots of useful information, including the title, date and time, schedule, speaker bios, registration form and more. Be sure to leverage your event microsite to list and promote your sponsors. Listing their logo and linking to their website provides a valuable additional benefit to sponsors, associating them clearly with your event and as a valued partner


The above are just some ideas you can consider, and find the ones that are right for you. Creating the right packages is more art than science. The following additional tips may help you to involve sponsors and partners in your virtual events:

Create tiered packages

Include a variety of features and options at different price points. A tier of packages allows your top sponsors to receive all the benefits they’d like, while providing first-time sponsors with a lower entry point.

Create a clear delineation between package tiers

Ensure sponsors see a clear difference in value from one tier to the next. If the $15,000 sponsor package looks too close to the $10,000 sponsor package, it becomes too easy to select the $10,000 option. Be sure there’s a clear reason for a sponsor to step up from one level to the next.

Use a small set of packages

Less choice makes things easier for sponsors. It’s also easier for your sales team. We recommend that you create no more than five sponsorship packages.

Use scarcity to your advantage

Making a single Platinum sponsor package available can encourage your sponsors to ‘one up’ each other in their bid to secure that package. In addition, it places a sense of urgency around the selling process.


This overview should have given you some options you can consider to involve sponsors or partners. Not just before and during an event – but after too. Unlike an in-person event, your virtual event environment can live on way beyond the live event dates and can be updated and promoted for months afterward. Do promote this fact when speaking to potential event sponsors, as it can offer significant additional value for them.

If you have any questions on any aspect or would like to work with us on your next virtual event, contact us today.

About the author

Maribeth is the Global Marketing Director for Digital Events at the Cloud Communications division of NTT Ltd. She has broad experience in business communication technologies, contributing through her career in product management, sales consulting, and marketing roles. Maribeth is passionate about collaborating with diverse and international teams to promote the benefits and value of virtual event solutions.

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