Amid the uncertain future of the events industry, we’re seeing some amazing planners working around the clock to pull together their virtual event setup. But so many others are still skeptical about the potential of going this route.
Virtual events have been around for more than a decade, yet the idea of adopting this approach still makes organizers anxious. Why do planners get cold feet when it comes to virtual events? At first glance, pulling them together looks like an easy task, but when you get into the details, it’s just as complicated as an in-person event. The real challenge here seems to be how do you create revenue when there are no physical spaces for companies to book their spots?
Not every event is looking to make huge profits, but the common goal is to ensure brand awareness for their sponsors. Regardless, you expect some part of the turnover to come from these events—predominantly by selling tickets.
The truth is there are many unexplored ways for planners to monetize these virtual events. To keep yourself from burning your fingers, here are some proven ways that can help generate revenue for yours.
Before the event
Multiple ticket class
Much like in-person events, virtual events can offer tiered tickets based on the access level to event content. An effective way to balance this is to keep your events open for everyone to attend and restrict access to some exclusive sessions.
What if you don’t want to restrict your sessions? Don’t worry—another proven strategy for categorizing the tickets is by the resources attendees receive after the sessions. Virtual events are primarily about the content, and people are always willing to pay for quality content. For instance, one class of tickets can have view-only access, other tickets can have the session transcripts or permission to take part in the live Q&A, and the all-access ticket can additionally give them video/audio recording of the sessions. This will ensure more flexibility for your attendees to choose the right ticket class.
Elaborate sponsor proposition
While attendees are at the heart of your event, sponsors are the ones helping you fuel it. Virtual space offers ample ways to exhibit a sponsor in a non-intrusive way. However, before all that, it is best to categorize and make sponsors packages that clearly show the value your event would bring them. Packages can be based on different commitments, positioning, and price points.
Cost of tickets
Typically, online events see more registrations. If it is a free event, the numbers are always astounding. The distinction between an in-person and a virtual event is hard to bridge in the minds of the attendees. The catch here is, people are not willing to pay the same amount as they do for an in-person event ticket. It’s best to keep your pricing at the lower end so as not to push people away.
Speaker slots for sponsors
As an event planner for a virtual event, you’ll be spending countless hours shortlisting sessions and working with the speakers on their presentations. Most of the speakers are going to be hand-picked, but some events also choose to open a few speaker slots for sponsors. In this way, they can conduct a promotional session at the events.
Email signature mentions
Your emails are going to be a significant source of communication with your attendees. After creating a clear email workflow for confirmation, reminder, and feedback emails, decide on the mention of the sponsors on the signatures of these emails. You can also work on an email shout-out or consider the inclusion of a featured partner’s section on the emails and tickets.
During the event
Commercial ads—good or bad?
Many planners look at these sessions like videos on a video-sharing platform; naturally, they are inclined to think of running a short commercial ad in between. This can be very tricky as attendees have the power to log off if they get annoyed or distracted.
In fact, an ad longer than 10 sec can do more harm than good. It’s best to make it as relevant to the session as possible.
Your networking partners
Live Q&As can serve more purposes than one. We are well aware of its role in networking, but it also gives a sweet spot for you to include sponsor mentions. Additionally, planners can even conduct some games—like quizzes sponsored by the partners—that will help them foster connections. This way, they get to fulfill promises of brand awareness while keeping attendees engaged. Now that’s a win-win.
Shout-outs on social media platforms
Amid the lockdown, social media platforms have seen a significant increase in engagement. There’s no time like the present for using your social media presence to spread the word about events. An easy way to promote the sponsors is by exchanging social media shout-outs, which can be of great mutual value.
Encourage audience behavior
Consider incentivizing attendees with branded giveaways, prizes, or referral points that they can redeem at the sponsor’s store or platform. Awarding points based on the level of interaction they have at the event can also boost interactions at events.
Tip: Don’t forget to promote your next event at the end of your last one.
Extend reach to a target audience
Since virtual events are not restricted by geographies or venue capacities, they have the upper hand when it comes to reaching a wider range of audiences. This makes it even more beneficial for the sponsors and planners to monetize. Create a very defined set of target audiences based on attendee details that are collected in the registration forms and implement these insights while positioning ads.
Ad spaces on event websites
Once you spread the word about the event, your event website is going to be flooded with traffic. Some organizers choose to sell ad spaces on their sites. Keep in mind that the best approach is to run ads that are most relevant to your event.
Another way to incorporate branding is through scrolling text at the bottom of the screen commonly knows as ticker tape; some planners also hyperlink it to sponsor’s website.
Unique shopping experience
We all love to shop online—it’s easier, faster, and hassle-free! Now imagine if attendees get this experience at virtual events. How cool is that? A virtual trade show with products or services that can entice the audience would make it much more appealing. Let’s say you have a product launch; for that, selling branded merchandise can work well. Aim to provide the same ease and convenience as the online consumer shopping experience. Also, leverage cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.
After the event
Aside from exclusive content access, offering complimentary content in the form of handouts, brochures, and presentations is something attendees look forward to. If done right, it can increase an event’s interactivity. You don’t need to do the work yourself for this one; just a simple compilation of all the assets in a file on Google Docs, Dropbox, or Zoho Workdrive would do.
Ads for recorded videos
For the organizers planning to upload or distribute the recording of their sessions, a great way to maximize sponsor visibility is to consider a full-screen bumper or an interactive ad on these recordings that can increase exposure. If you’re looking for some inspiration, think Youtube.
These are just some of the ways you can get things going; virtual events have great potential. There are ways to monetize events at every segment of the planning process. While it’s tempting to use as many ways as you can, keep in mind that it may hamper your efforts towards giving attendees a memorable experience. You need to strike a balance so you don’t end up overdoing it. What was your strategy to monetize your virtual events? Let us know in the comments below and stay safe.
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