16 Jun Science of Virtual Events
Written by James Harris, CEO & Founder at Seraph Science
As companies seek to rebuild their pipeline, it’s unsurprising that virtual events are proving to be very popular. Not only have client needs changed dramatically, but also one of the main sources of demand generation (in-person events) has disappeared. Consequently, most marketers have turned to virtual events to cover the gap. For CxO audiences, small roundtables are the best.
However, one of the main challenges with virtual events is retention. According to Smart Insights, the average live attendance rate is 36% which means that two-thirds don’t experience your events to their fullest. If you’re looking for some radical ways to improve retention rates, here’s a summary of three tactics we’re using to achieve an 82.1% live attendance rate.
#1 Humanise the experience
This is the big one. With virtual events it’s incredibly important to humanise the experience for the audience. It’s ironic that the increasing capability of virtual meeting platforms means we often leaving it to the machine to do the engagement. Sign up here, download the calendar invite, confirmation email received, reminder day before, 1-hour before, 3-minutes before… all platform generated.
If the message you send a prospect communicates how much you care about them, what does a totally platform-generated experience say? For your audience, if there’s been no human interaction, it’s very easy to say no to the internet and drop out. So, step 1 is to show that you are human; and so are they.
- Send a message from a human to your attendees (even if it is a mass mail).
- Send a message from the host or second voice to say “I look forward to welcoming you”.
- Let the registrants know who’s attending; it doesn’t have to a full list just a flavour.
#2 Dump the on-demand option
Yup, this one feels uncomfortable. But like so many things in life, risk is often a case of perception rather than fact. By providing a live-only option, you ensure that all your prospects get the full experience, which in turn helps with engagement and conversion to a next action. You might lose some people along the way, but we have a solution for that (see point 3).
So let’s look at some stats. Industry data suggests that for every 100 registrations you can expect 36 people to attend live. And of those live attendees about 30% will take a next action, such as download an e-book or accept a call. So that’s 10.8 sales qualified leads. Some of these prospects might then take a sales appointment.
However, if you apply the approach covered in this article your live audience will be higher, your retention will be higher and your next action rate will be higher. The rate we’re achieving (March – May average) is 82% live attendance and 73% conversion rate to a sales appointment with these live attendees. This equates to 60 sales appointments for every 100 registrants (who are senior executives of large firms). There can be considerable reward in live only.
#3 Use co-creation
Thirdly, involve your audience in the creation of the topic. Co-creation is the most effective means of buy-in so ask your audience what they would like to discuss. Even better, make a report out of it that they can discuss at your event or you can present the findings. This also gives you a good reason to arrange a call and spent some time understanding their interests. Our average phone interview time is 36.4 minutes during March, April and May. This also means that if the prospect drops out of the live meeting you still have the relationship in place to build upon.
So there you have it. Three killer techniques that are very effective in driving up retention rates with virtual events. People want to be part of the solution, especially our core audience of C-Suite executives within large, enterprise firms. It creates buy-in because people have invested long before the virtual roundtable takes place. They also value knowing it’s their peers attending. And they like to contribute, so live meetings are always more attractive. As a result, they are significantly more likely to attend, contribute and even invite their peers. It may take time, but it’s very effective. And if you don’t have that time, we’re here to help.
If you’d like to read about one of our virtual roundtable solution click here to learn more. Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments.
James Harris, Founder & CEO, Seraph Science – unlock the c-suite