Learn the 10 essential types of virtual events for marketing your brand and see which one is right for you.
Virtual events have evolved by leaps and bounds. Today, they aren’t simply a (lesser) digital rendition of their IRL counterparts.
By leveraging the latest technologies to meet new consumer expectations, marketers and event planners can create virtual experiences that are as rich as, if not more, than traditional in-person events. In fact, they have become an indispensable marketing tool for successful brands.
Like physical events, there are different types of virtual events to achieve various business objectives. Choosing the right event type will help you get the highest ROI from your investment.
A virtual event creates an online environment where participants can interact via the web to watch a presentation, join a discussion, or have a conversation. These events can be of any size, ranging from a video conference with dozens of attendees to a broadcast with millions of viewers.
These events are gaining popularity because they’re easy to set up and scale. They also offer many opportunities to deliver personalized experiences to build audience relationships and increase conversions. Using advanced digital tools, Organizers can engage with the audience, analyze data, and generate market insights.
Meanwhile, attendees can learn from industry experts and meet like-minded individuals from anywhere without special equipment besides a smartphone or computer and an internet connection.
Here are the various online event formats, what they entail, and how you can use them to meet your marketing objectives:
Webinars are one of the most popular types of virtual events. They are used in almost every industry to share knowledge and provide training at a relatively low cost.
Webinars typically consist of a presentation (e.g., slideshow) and often include polls, chat, quizzes, and live Q&A to engage the audience. These interactions also allow organizations to gain insights into their audiences, customers, donors, partners, and other stakeholders.
Webinars can help marketers increase customer trust, improve community engagement, establish thought leadership positioning, share valuable insights, generate leads, and provide post-sales support to improve customer loyalty. You can also offer the recordings on-demand after the live event to reach a wider audience.
Webinars aren’t just for dry business topics. Any business can use this virtual event format to showcase its expertise, drive engagement, and connect with customers. For example, Bevridge creates webinar-type events to feature spirits aficionados, distillers, and industry veterans to reach a niche audience that want to learn about whiskey and the distillation process to drive sales for its sample kits.
Pro tip: Embed webinars on your website to deliver an on-brand experience.
These events replicate the multidimensional nature of in-person conferences, where presentations, panels, breakout sessions, and virtual networking events take place simultaneously.
An online conference often includes the main stage, breakout rooms, networking hubs, vendor areas, and contests to drive engagement. Real-time communication and collaboration functionalities are key to delivering an interactive event experience.
Although it takes more time and resources to orchestrate a virtual conference, you'll have more opportunities to monetize the event, such as offering VIP access, getting sponsorship, and selling ads and/or event merchandise.
For example, Legal Accelerators leveraged virtual event technologies to continue running its annual conference during the pandemic to support its mission of hosting all-inclusive gatherings for Europe’s law and technology thought leaders.
Pro tip: Use Sequel’s Networking Hub to create opportunities for attendees to meet each other and replicate the serendipity of in-person events.
Virtual trade shows (or trade fairs) can help you reach a global audience and grow brand awareness in the international market.
These events typically revolve around a virtual exhibition hall. Exhibitors can showcase their products and services in virtual booths and interact with attendees. There may also be other components, such as webcasts, webinars, or keynote presentations.
Trade shows and expos are B2B staples, giving industry brands the opportunities to connect with target accounts and build relationships with decision-makers. You can also become an event sponsor to get featured and increase your presence.
These events are typically hosted by one moderator who facilitates conversations and discussions among interviewees, speakers, and panelists.
The content presented in a virtual summit revolves around a theme and builds up to a call to action (CTA.) Many virtual summit organizers record the sessions and later repackage them for sale as information products or use them as lead magnets to build their lists.
You can build credibility by inviting industry leaders and influencers to speak at your virtual summit. These speakers can promote the event to their audiences, introducing them to your business so you can grow your brand presence in the market.
Pro tip: Use Sequel to add CTAs on the screen at the right time to drive conversions.
If your brand sells through channel partners or affiliates, these events can help you keep valuable members of your program engaged. After all, they’re your sales force!
You can share the latest product knowledge, success stories, and business roadmap. Besides presentations, these live events often feature a discussion forum where partners can ask questions about your products and services, market trends, pricing, and more.
These events can help ensure that everyone representing your brand is aligned with the same message and presents a consistent image to your customers to strengthen your presence in the market.
A product launch event is a cost-effective way to gain brand exposure while introducing a new product or service to audiences worldwide.
The format of a product launch event depends on the nature of the product or service. For example, a software company may incorporate a demo of its product’s latest features, while an apparel company can turn the event into a virtual fashion show.
For example, Trek Travel uses virtual events to announce new bike tours. After a presentation, the host has past clients share their experiences, leaves ample time for attendees to ask questions, and gives them a discount code to sign up for a tour.
Online festivals deliver a wide range of digital content and experiences where participants can interact with each other.
Typical components of an online festival may include keynote speakers, workshops, panel discussions, group activities, a social element, and even performances to create a dynamic, entertaining, and immersive virtual environment.
Many event organizers add activities such as yoga, dance classes, happy hour, virtual networking events, and more to enhance the brand experience. This virtual event format is ideal for deepening relationships with your VIP customers and turning them into brand advocates.
A virtual roadshow showcases your products and offerings to different audiences to spark interest and drive excitement.
While you aren’t physically on the road, these events have a similar vibe as if you’d meet prospects and customers in different places. They often deliver more personalized and intimate experiences, with smaller groups, Q&A, and networking opportunities.
Virtual roadshows are ideal for presenting localized content to audiences in different markets. You can deliver the events in local languages and invite local influencers to create a highly relevant experience.
AMA can help you engage with your community and increase transparency about your brand. Fireside chats often feature a guest speaker and a moderator to deliver an intimate experience while building connections with the audience.
These types of events allow the audience to get to know your brand at a more personal level. They offer the perfect opportunity to put a face to the company name and humanize your brand. Live polls and Q&A sessions can help spark conversations and break down barriers.
AMA and fireside chats provide opportunities for team members and leadership to interact with the audience, building credibility and accelerating the “like, know, and trust” factor. It’s also great for building personal brands.
Pro tip: Use Sequel to add interactive elements such as Q&A, poll, and chat to increase audience engagement.
You can offer entertainment as a standalone event or part of another virtual event to spice up the experience and keep your audience engaged.
These events include live concerts, virtual scavenger hunts, photo booths, standup comedy, and other types of performances. They can help you build relationships with participants by creating a shared experience.
Like sponsoring real-life concerts and events, online entertainment can give you a halo effect when you associate your brand with an influencer or celebrity your audience loves to add a positive dimension to your brand image.
Virtual events aren’t just for external audiences. They can also help you connect with internal stakeholders and rally your team around new initiatives.
Internal virtual events can take many shapes and forms: Small team gatherings to brainstorm ideas, all-hands meetings to get all stakeholders aligned with a new initiative, town hall webcasts to rally the troops, and retreats to facilitate team building.
In the age of remote work and distributed teams, these internal events can help marketing leaders ensure that everyone is rowing in the same direction. They can help you align multi-disciplinary teams to deliver a consistent and seamless customer experience across multiple channels and touchpoints.
Which type of event should you use, and what format is best for your business needs? Here are some questions to consider:
Thorough event planning is the key to hosting a successful virtual event. You must build engaging content, recruit the right talents, implement effective promotional tactics, and most importantly, use a robust virtual event platform to create a seamless, on-brand, engaging experience.
Look for these features in a virtual event platform to help you deliver a memorable event and meet your business objectives:
Sequel offers all these key features and more in a single solution. You don’t have to cobble together different apps (e.g., Zoom) and hope they’ll play nice with each other. Plus, you can embed the virtual event on your website without writing a single line of code, so you can minimize distraction by keeping the audience on your online properties.
Book a demo to see how easy it is to produce a virtual or hybrid event to meet any business objectives with Sequel.