The current global situation has forced an unexpected shift in how companies interact with their clients and customers, with virtual engagement now a necessity rather than a nice-to-have. And it seems these changes will be here to stay.
In the case of all virtual engagement activities, the attendee task demand seems simple enough: to engage with the content they’ve shown to have an interest in.
But this doesn’t just happen. To ensure your interactive activities are a success, you first need to establish a virtual engagement strategy that works.
After all, whether it’s online or offline, good quality engagement follows the same principles.
Establish your purpose
These challenging times we find ourselves in may have forced your organisation to re-evaluate strategy, restructure teams and ultimately re-prioritise what’s essential – and what isn’t.
Having a clear sense of purpose is vital to achieving successful virtual engagement.
Ask yourself: What’s my goal?
Perhaps you want to generate pipeline, build brand trust, showcase a new product or strengthen your customer relationships. Whatever it might be, ensure your virtual engagement strategy is informed by your purpose.
Consider a multi-media approach
Engaging customers remotely is, for some businesses, totally unchartered territory. As you begin or continue to roll out virtual communications, figuring out what medium to harness can be difficult. So, if in doubt, why not experiment with a few different formats?
These are the most popular formats you can use in your virtual engagement strategy – and how best to use them:
- Podcasts – A popular thought leadership tool, podcasts are a great format to use when interviewing an industry expert or discussing a timely topic. Podcasts also give listeners the freedom to choose when and where they listen.
- Webinars – One of the highest converting forms of marketing, webinars provide your audience with the opportunity to ask questions and get real-time feedback. Plus, they’re the perfect platform for making sales without selling hard.
- Virtual roundtables – These enable participants to network, learn and benefit from shared knowledge and experience through moderated dialogue around a specific topic – without leaving the comfort of their own surroundings.
- Virtual networking events – An innovative way to engage with your network in a travel-free, inexpensive and enjoyable way. And, because virtual events tend to be faster-paced, it can be easier to make connections with others.
- Online demos – Virtual demos allow sales teams to reach more customers and provide a more interactive and rich experience. If the demo’s live, you can open the ‘floor’ to questions right there and then which could impact the speed at which customers progress along the funnel.
Offer your customers a choice
Providing your customers with a choice of virtual platforms to engage with your brand is an important tactic to consider. Utilising a non-linear attendee journey not only offers more viewing options but is likely to result in a higher overall engagement rate.
Consider offering your customers a mix of:
- Live drop-in sessions
- Audience-driven sessions
- Pre-recorded content available to view anytime
To maintain non-linear engagement and energy levels, you should offer a range of formats including pre-records, Q&As, live presentations and workshops where ideas can be discussed and developed.
Keep virtual attendees networking
Let’s face it – it’s the coffee and lunch break element of in-person events that are most conducive to building professional relationships. These breaks not only facilitate networking, they also manage delegate flow.
In the case of virtual events, without a physical flow to manage, networking can instead be encouraged by connecting people through the app. Or else by ensuring that moderators in discussion rooms introduce all attendees to help form those initial digital connections.
Virtual engagement can be further enhanced via virtual networking formats that could include the ‘virtual pub’ environment or ‘discussion rooms’ between sessions.
The pub format could attract people to join by encouraging them to pour themselves a drink and enjoy a form of virtual entertainment, whilst virtual chat rooms could be dedicated to particular problem-solving or niche discussions.