Before the COVID-19 outbreak, live events were one of the best ways for businesses to generate leads. Companies could show off their products at industry exhibitions, and show off their thought leadership at conferences, talks, and symposiums.
The pandemic has forced companies to cancel physical events and get creative with their promotional strategies. Many businesses have chosen to move their events or product launches to online spaces to continue generating warm leads.
What Is a Warm Lead?
There are three main kinds of leads you’ll encounter as you run your business: cold, warm, and qualified leads.
Cold leads are those who have never heard from you before or given you their contact information. Qualified leads lie at the opposite end of the spectrum. They are ready to buy and are just looking for the product that best meets their requirements.
A warm lead is somewhere between these extremes. They may show interest in your product by following your social media accounts, signing up for your email newsletter, or reading your blog. In other words, they want to hear about your brand and products.
How Can Online Events Help Generate Warm Leads?
An online event can help you generate warm leads at least as efficiently as a physical event. Online events are far cheaper to host since you don’t have to pay for the venue or the food. Since they are also much cheaper for prospects to attend, the barrier to entry is lower.
Online events also allow you to accommodate an unlimited number of participants and to attract leads from anywhere in the world.
An online event can be a great opportunity to get to know your prospective customers. You can use it to learn about their expectations, needs, and intent to make a purchase from you. This information will allow you to market to them more efficiently.
Plan a Brilliant Event
Just like planning a physical event, setting up a great online event requires thought, strategy, and careful planning.
Follow these steps to plan an amazing event:
Focus on What Matters to Your Attendees
First, you need to focus on the value you intend to provide the attendees. Why should they spend their time attending your virtual event? You’ll need to make sure that they can derive useful information and real benefit from the event.
Give your event a title that succinctly sums up what attendees can expect to learn. That’s what the Young Professionals Salt Lake City did:
Your topic or theme must be relevant, current, and actionable. Remember to ensure anything you cover is still relevant in the context of COVID-19 and its impact on businesses.
Choose the Right Platform for Your Event
The platform you choose will also depend on your goals. In practice, most virtual events are held using online video conferencing software such as Zoom. However, different platforms have different levels of functionality, so consider the following as you choose your platform:
- How many attendees do you expect to have?
- How many people will be speaking or presenting?
- Will you need to share your screen or display a presentation?
- Will the event have participatory activities such as a Q&A session or breakout rooms?
You should choose a platform that is free for your attendees to install and simple to use. If the software is too complicated, people might simply not bother.
Invite the Right Guest Speakers
You may wish to invite guest speakers to join your online event. Your speakers should be both subject matter experts and excellent speakers. If you’re considering inviting someone to speak at your event, see if you can find a recording of previous presentations they have given. This will give you a good idea of their style.
Reach out to your prospective speakers in plenty of time. Send them a brief email summarizing what you’re asking for and what you are offering in return. Most people will be flattered to be asked and will accommodate your event if they can. You should pay your speakers if at all possible – they are busy professionals and their time is valuable.
Plan Your Presentation
If you will be presenting, make sure you plan your presentation in plenty of time and rehearse until it’s just right.
Your presentation should be succinct and to the point. Anything above 45 minutes is probably too long unless it is broken up by other activities and chances for the audience to get involved. Make sure that most of your presentation is geared towards providing the value you promised your audience.
Invite the Right People
Your event will only generate warm leads if you can get the right people to attend. This means you’ll need to invite decision-makers and those who are in a position to hire you or purchase your product.
Who these people are will depend on the nature of your business. If you’re selling an email marketing solution, you will want to invite CMOs and Marketing Managers. If you’re selling an ecommerce platform, you’ll want to invite current and prospective online store owners. And so on.
Want to invite a company representative but don’t have their contact information? Here’s how to do it:
Search for the company name on LinkedIn, then go to the “People” section and search for the position of the individual you’d like to invite. Remember, different companies use slightly different titles for similar job roles, so look carefully.
Once you find the right person, you can use an email finder to search for their email address. All you need is the domain and the person’s name.
Once you’ve got their details, send an email invitation:
Your email invitation should contain all the relevant information, but also be brief and to-the-point. Remember to include the date and time (don’t forget the time zone!), a short description of the event and speakers, a link to more information, and a call-to-action button. Use an image in your email, an enticing subject line, and personalize it with the individual’s name to maximize conversions.
Offer an Enticing Bonus
Because there are now more online events than ever before, competition for attendees and their attention is high. A great bonus will help you attract more registrants and gain more exposure for your brand.
The bonus should be related to your business and the topic of the event. For example, you might offer a downloadable ebook on a relevant subject, or entry into a raffle to win a gift card. A free trial period of your software or a heavy discount on your product is also a good option.
Limited-time bonuses are particularly effective in encouraging early sign-ups for your event. These induce a sense of fear of missing out (FOMO) and nudge people into taking the desired action.
Whatever you offer, remember it must be relevant and valuable.
Focus on Pain Points to Deliver Real Value
Your participants signed up for your online event because you promised them useful content. The best way to make sure you deliver on this promise is to focus on the pain points and problems your prospective customers face, and offer solutions to them.
For example, this virtual job fair addresses a specific and highly relevant pain point: the struggle to find a job in the middle of a pandemic:
The event includes talks given by career experts, resume-checking sessions, and a series of webinars on topics ranging from fixing one’s LinkedIn profile to professional branding. In other words, everything is geared around addressing and fixing a specific pain point.
Identifying the problems your target audience members are facing and providing them with actionable advice will help ensure your online event’s success. As part of this, you can include references to why your product or service will help address this problem. However, your online event is not a sales pitch, and your attendees should leave with valuable information even if they never buy from you.
Use the Right CTA
The call to action (CTA) is one of the most important aspects of your virtual event. This is where you tell attendees what you want them to do next. It should come at the end of the event and must be clear, specific, and easy to act upon.
Since your goal is to generate warm leads, your CTA must be something that helps towards that goal. In other words, something that gets attendees into your marketing sales funnels so you can start cultivating a relationship that moves towards a sale. You can use sales funnel software to make the necessary sales page.
CTA depends on the nature of your business and the event. You might ask attendees to join your mailing list, contact you for a free consultation, or sign up for a free trial of your product. Make it easy for your attendees to follow your CTA by providing a clickable link or a simple online form.
Start Turning Those Warm Leads into Customers
Your work as an event organizer doesn’t end once you switch off the camera or close your laptop. In fact, this is where the hard work really begins. You now need to start working to convert all those warm leads into customers.
Start by sending a follow-up email to those who attended your event. Thank them for coming, send them a link to a replay of the event or a copy of your slides, and promise to provide more relevant content. You can also reiterate your CTA and, if applicable, your limited-time special offer.
You should also follow up with people who signed up but didn’t attend. Use a subject line like “Here’s what you missed at our event”, then attach the replay video and slides. If you have other events planned in the future, let them know about those. If you wish, you can also include an offer for this segment of your audience. After all, they were interested enough to sign up, so it’s worth maintaining the relationship.
Your email marketing strategy following the event should align with your sales process. Your event has made your audience aware of your brand and hopefully gotten them interested in your solutions. Now it’s time to make them want to know more about your product and, ultimately, choose yours over your competitors’ offerings.
Keep in touch with your warm leads to push them through your marketing funnel by sending them regular emails with valuable content. You might wish to send reports, white papers, case studies, explainer videos, and blog posts. As you move them through the funnel and get closer to making a sale, you might also want to offer a bonus with substantial value. This bonus could be a premium trial of your software solution, access to exclusive extras and plugins, or a heavy discount on your premium product.
Your online event planted the seed by showing your prospective customers how your product or solution could help them. Now it’s time to nurture that relationship until those warm leads turn into loyal customers.
An online event is a hugely effective way of making meaningful connections with prospective customers and relevant decision-makers. It allows you to impart useful knowledge, establish your company’s credibility, address your audience’s pain points, and demonstrate that you have the solution to those problems. Simply put, online events are a great way to generate warm leads for your business.
The act of signing up for an event is an indication that the person is interested in hearing what you have to say. If you follow all these steps to put on a great event, you’ll sustain that interest through the presentation, call to action, follow-up, and beyond. Before you know it, you’ll have a host of new quality leads in your pipeline and your conversion rate will soar.
Disclaimer: This article was written by Owen Baker, Content Marketer at Voila Norbert.
Passionate about technology, entrepreneurship, and marketing, Mansoor Ahmed Khan is in computing since he knows how to type on a keyboard. His daily life is rocked by his family, projects, and his screen. Probably in this order, he likes to be convinced at least. You can reach out to him at [email protected].