Audience Engagement Ideas to Increase Interest & Attendance at Your Virtual Event

As this pandemic continues worldwide manufacturers are getting very creative with their marketing efforts in order to keep their businesses in front of their customers and prospects. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic tradeshows gave us the ability to network face-to-face and generate valuable leads but without these in-person events generating leads has been challenging.

Virtual tradeshows, conferences, and webinars have jumped in to fill the gap left by cancelled in-person events and are proving to be even more powerful lead-generating tools than their traditional in-person counterparts… but only if they are engaging.

So, how do you make your virtual event engaging for your audience? You make your event engaging by providing your audience with unique or surprising things to do and interact with. You want them to feel involved with your event – not simply a spectator. Here are a few creative ideas to help get you started.

1.) Pre-Event and Live During Event Polling
Pre-event polling makes your audience feel that the content you will be presenting at your event will be tailored to their needs and pain points. This helps you in two ways – one, you have the opportunity to create content that is much more relevant to your audience and two, since the content is more relevant to them, your audience is more likely to show up for the event and stay through it.

Live polling is one of the easiest and most used ways to interact with your audience during your virtual event. In fact, a recent poll by Markletic showed that 81.8% of all virtual event organizers use event polling to improve audience interaction and engagement. Consider using multiple choice questions and make sure that you have an end goal in mind for the data that you collect. You want your audience to feel that they are contributing to the event and that you value their input.

2.) Social Media Contests
Your event is going to need its own hashtag so that you can run analysis and fun contests. You will need to make sure that your attendees know what the hashtag is and that you provide your audience with as many possibilities to post creative things, with that hashtag, to social media. Most people are willing to sign up for any good contest, especially if the prize is something that they would really like to have. Maybe ask attendees to post a tagged photo of how they are attending your event, maybe run a contest for the most interesting question submitted, or a photo of your audience member using your product.

3.) Make Up A Game
A great way to increase traffic at an in-person event is to have a game for people to play… the same goes for virtual events. Games are engaging, fun, and are great ice breakers. People also love to win prizes. Maybe assign points for each virtual booth visited, or assign points based on level of interaction. Maybe score people’s virtual backgrounds and award prizes for the most ridiculous or most interesting.

4.) Hire Entertainment
Entertainers are naturally engaging and, well, entertaining. Hiring someone to entertain your audience during brief interludes between presentations is a great way to keep virtual attendees engaged. For smaller events you could hire a sketch artist to take creative notes and doodles which you can encourage attendees to share on social media. Larger events may benefit more from entertainers such as comedians, magicians, or live music. Maybe a live demonstrator would be better for your event to showcase recent advances, new products, and more. Another idea would be to hire a good MC (Master of Ceremonies) to guide the entire event and keep everything moving on schedule. During the interludes between presentations the MC could prompt attendees to stretch and move or play short games.

5.) Goodie Bags
Everyone loves receiving gifts. When you leave a live tradeshow or conference you usually head out the door with a bag or two full of goodies you have collected from the various booths or from the speakers. Consider putting together some quality items that are relevant to your virtual event topics that you can send out to your registrants prior to the show starting. Just be sure the items are relevant, high quality, and items that your audience would actually want. These need to be “must-have” items, especially since you will be taking the time to pack and mail them.

It is even better, and will pay off for your company, if you can incorporate something in the bag into your event. Maybe a card the attendees can fill out and submit, maybe something they can each read live at the event, or perhaps a ticket for a drawing happening near the end of the event. The goal is to keep people online and interested in your virtual event. Giving them a reason to stick around to the end is always a good idea. Sending these goodie bags out can also greatly reduce your event’s no-show rate.

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With over 30 years of experience, The Rico Group specializes in helping industrial manufacturers and job shops grow their business and diversify their customer base. We know how engineers think and what they are looking for. We know your processes, equipment, and materials. We also know that you have very little time to take away from your production and getting your customer’s orders delivered.

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