Expand the reach of your organization’s event by engaging remote attendees with a live webcast.
By Max Entman, Account Executive, PCI.
Do you want to optimize participation in your organization’s conference, but already have RSVPs for 150% of your venue’s capacity? Have you ever thought about streaming your event live on the web? Webcasting an event can help your organization reach those who are unable to attend because of venue constraints, geographic distance, or work commitments. If you put in the hard work to truly engage online participants, you can help forge relationships and develop organizational loyalty with individuals who have never met your organization’s employees in person.
The following steps will make your organization’s first event webcast campaign a successful endeavor.
Choose a platform.
With Periscope, Ustream, Google+ Hangouts, ScribbleLive, and ON24, there are so many great webcast platforms to choose from. Evaluate your needs and resources to determine the platform that is right for your organization’s event.
1. Determine your allocated resources. You’ll need to consider cost and manpower to choose the best webcast platform for your needs. Some vendors provide webcast engineers to ensure your event runs smoothly, while other platforms are free but may provide little to no customer support.
2. Make a “functionality wish list.” With so many platforms to choose from, it may be difficult to know where to start. Are simple registration pages or polling features important to you? Make a list of your must-haves before comparing vendors so you can quickly narrow down your options.
3. Consider your future needs. Some webcast platforms may be purchased with annual subscriptions, while others are free or a one-time payment per webcast. If you are planning a follow-up event, you may want to consider platforms with subscription options to maximize the value for your dollar.
Get the word out.
What good is a webcast without remote attendees? It is critical to promote in advance to drive attendance.
1. Push event promotion out through your organization’s email and social media platforms. Encourage staff to share from their personal accounts as well.
2. Leverage the online networks of participating organizations, sponsors, and speakers to further amplify the event’s online reach.
3. Consider a digital ad buy on a platform appropriate for your audience. If you are targeting grad students to attend an online open house, for example, you may want to advertise on Pandora or Spotify.
4. Include a simple registration form on the event’s landing page – ideally just requiring name and email. Also include an add-to-calendar widget to ensure people can easily pencil the webcast into their schedules.
5. Let your audience shape your content. Nobody wants to spend their day viewing content that is not relevant to them. Create an optional poll for your registration page requesting suggestions for your event’s content. Even if you do not cover requested content at your event, it may give you ideas for the future.
Meaningfully engage online participants.
Merely streaming your event is not enough. Remote attendees need a visible, acknowledged role in the webcast to feel their perspective and participation is valued.
1. Let attendees participate! Take questions via a social media hashtag or your webcast platform’s chat function. Sure, you won’t be able to respond to all questions, but it will demonstrate that your organization values your remote audience.
2. Conduct polls throughout the webcast. Data is everything, so conduct polls to take pulse of your audience. Are remote attendees enjoying the event’s content? Is your webcast platform working well? Do they wish your event was shorter? All of this data can be used to follow-up with attendees and improve future events.
3. Have your presenter read online questions, and attribute them to their authors. For example, “One of our online viewers, John Smith in Cincinnati, asks…” This personal touch shows online participants that they aren’t just lookers on.
Keep the conversation going.
Engagement shouldn’t conclude when the event is over. Webcast attendees are now primed to engage your brand, so make the most of the opportunity.
1. Use collected data to create targeted follow-up campaigns. All attendees should receive an email thanking them for attending the webcast, a link to the recorded version, and a request to provide feedback. If you identified a segment of attendees interested in a specific topic, however, create a targeted campaign to nurture your new leads.
2. Respond to as many unanswered questions as possible after the event. Recipients of these follow-up responses will appreciate your extra effort.
3. Solicit feedback and recommendations to improve your next webcast.
Once you complete your first event webcast campaign, evaluate its efficacy with metrics from the various platforms used (email marketing, social media, Google Analytics, streaming service etc.) and the feedback received. With this information in hand, you can continuously optimize your webcast tactics and improve attendee engagement and conversion rates of events to come.
Check back next month to learn how live-streaming apps, like Periscope and Meerkat, are changing the marketing game.