Hosting a conference has been one of the most efficient ways to promote your organization, expand your network, and boost your lead generation. In 2021, though, conferences are no longer bound by conference halls or meeting rooms. In the age of the internet, you can host an online conference to give your attendees a great experience from the comfort of their own homes.

While some might be skeptical about the success of hosting a virtual conference, the recent COVID-19 situation has shown us that with the right tools and an internet connection, you can make it work. Be it online classes or hosting an online fair, technology has enabled organizers to host memorable events from a distance. Not to mention that online conferences will allow you to reach a bigger audience, cost you less, and save you valuable time. 

To help you host your online conference, here are five easy steps you can follow to reach your goals and amaze your attendees.

1. Choose An Exciting Conference Topic

To host an online conference, you first need to select your topic and find your speakers. Like your “offline” conference, you need to find a great idea to intrigue your attendees and lead them to registration. However, what you should be careful about is that your conference needs to focus on something specific. For instance, selecting a broad topic that will last for hours may be tiresome for your attendees.

So, when you come up with a virtual event idea, try to highlight the value and objectives of your online conference the moment your attendees take a look at it.

In this example, you can see how NHS Providers specifies the nature of their conference, offering additional information on the topic:

landing page example

Keep in mind that a virtual conference can take days or weeks to set up, so the simpler it is, the faster you’ll manage to organize it.

2. Find The Right Online Conference Platform

When you select your topic and find your speakers, it’s time to get the right tools to make it happen.

Out there, you’ll find a plethora of event platforms to choose from. Nevertheless, to host your online conference, you need to make sure that you’ll get the most efficient virtual conference platform with the best features.

Auditorium in hybrid events

Among others, you should look for a tool that:

  • lets you create a mobile-friendly and customizable virtual lobby for your attendees 
  • offers real-time chat tools to allow your audience to take part in conversions and answer important questions
  • allows you to share your informative presentations and video content with your attendees
  • lets participants attend your conference without installing additional software
  • gives you access to other features to make your conference fun and educational such as trivia quizzes and leaderboards
  • increases your attendee’s engagement with event location tools 
  • has advanced reporting and analytics to measure the performance of your online conference 

Of course, when you select a tool, you shouldn’t only look at its capabilities but also at the support you will get throughout the online conference experience.

As mentioned earlier, an online conference can take days to set up, so you need all the support and expertise you can get to host your online conference as smoothly as possible.

3. Choose An Email Marketing Platform

When you select your online conference software, you should also find an email marketing service provider (ESP).  The reason why you need an email marketing platform is because of your conference’s lead-generating abilities. To do that, you need some of the best email marketing services like Moosend or MailChimp to power up your lead generation efforts.

So, when new attendees sign up, you can capture their email addresses and use them to:

  • send online conference updates
  • share company news and even cross-sell relevant products/services
  • engage your audience with sneak peeks and content upgrades 
  • create an online course and invite your attendees to join

Here’s a great example by the Smashing Magazine, showcasing their conference schedule:

smashing conference email example

Growing your mailing list through your online conference will help you get your business to higher heights.

Now, let’s take a look at how you can promote your online event.

4. Promote Your Online Conference

If you have a mailing list, then the easy thing to do is create an email campaign to get your audience to sign up. What you need is copy that will let your subscribers know what your online conference will be about and a clear CTA to let them register and boost your conversion rate and ROI.

Here’s an example of how Harney & Sons Fine Teas informs its subscribers about its upcoming conference:

an example of a promotional email

But apart from using your mailing list to promote your online conference, you can also leverage the power of social media to reach a bigger audience. 

For example, Facebook is one of the biggest social media networks you can use.  A verified Facebook page – best if it’s a business page, too – is great to let followers know you are hosting an online conference. With Facebook events, though, you can increase the visibility of your event more efficiently.

What’s more, when you can take advantage of Facebook events, don’t forget to optimize your event page. This way, you can provide your social media users with information about your online conference, let them book tickets, and more.

Social media can be a powerful tool when you host an online conference.

Along with Facebook, you can also leverage other popular social networks like Instagram, Twitter, or even TikTok to post updates, share stories, and excite your audience about your upcoming event.

5. Collect Valuable Feedback

To call your online conference a success, you need to know whether it resonated with your attendees or not. Collecting feedback will show you if they found it useful and whether you should improve your conference hosting recipe for the future. Sending a follow-up email with an online survey is the best way to engage with your attendees after your online conference.

What’s more, you can also segment your audience based on their engagement with your email and retarget your non-openers with a different campaign.

Like Iterable, you can create a specific campaign to collect feedback from your attendees and use it to improve your virtual conferencing skills:

an example of a post-event feedback email

After you collect your feedback, you can also target your attendees by sending them videos and transcripts of your conference to keep them engaged.

Hosting an online conference can be a lot of hard work. So, if this is the first time you are about to organize one, make sure to check this in-depth online conferencing guide to help you out!

Conclusion

In 2021 virtual events are more successful than ever. Be it due to the convenience they offer or due to the new COVID-19 situation, knowing how to host an online conference will give you access to a cost-effective channel to reach a bigger audience.

To make it happen, come up with a great topic idea, get the right tools to materialize your vision, and collect your attendees’ feedback to help you become better.

With all these, you’ll manage to host an excellent online conference to boost your lead generation, increase engagement, and create lasting bonds with your audience.

 

Author bio

Guest Writer - Marilia Dimitriou

Marilia Dimitriou is a Senior Content Writer working for email marketing automation software Moosend. When she’s not writing articles, you’ll find her enthusing over marketing tech, SEO, and social media.

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