A large majority of industries have been affected greatly by the recent COVID-19 pandemic. However, the education industry has arguably seen one of the most drastic changes. With technological solutions driving online education for much of the past year, education events should follow suit. Now is a perfect time to take your education trade shows online. 

If we have learned anything from recent events, it’s that virtual events are great alternatives to physical events. This is true for the education industry, as well.

Before we can get into how you can hold virtual education trade shows online, let’s discuss what virtual events and trade shows really are. 

What Is a Virtual Event?

A virtual event is held virtually over the web instead of a physical location. Virtual events can offer space for lead generation, networking, presentations and even increase sales. Participants can use their desktops, laptops, and even smartphones to attend these events.

A virtual event is more than just a simple meeting held online. That’s because the goal of a virtual event is to emulate the physical aspects of a live event as best as can be done. They’re grand in scale and can have a lot more participants than simple online meetings and webinars.

The interaction and collaboration between the participants are at a much bigger scale, and it’s in the host’s best interest to make it work for everyone involved.

National Oceanography Centre UK

What Is a Virtual Education Trade Show?

A virtual education trade show brings companies, speakers, and presenters together to showcase their products or share their expertise in an online venue. With many recent advances in education technology, trade shows are an important way for experts to stay on top of the trends. But all of that is now done online, in a virtual environment.

How to Take Your Event Online

Let’s get down to what you’re going to need in order to conduct a successful education trade show virtually, and how you can work on them. 

  • Establish clear goals and objectives based on past events. Consider that attendance rates could increase compared to previous events, while engagement metrics may fluctuate comparatively. 
  • Choose a virtual event platform with features and services that help you hit the goals you’ve set. Event platform sales teams can help you see where there are opportunities to engage your audience and boost your results. 
  • Reach out to a broad audience. While in-person trade shows usually target geographically, virtual trade shows offer you the space to attract more visitors from across the world.
  • Create digital event collateral. Printed brochures, sales sheets, etc. can be converted into PDFs, infographics, or even interactive downloadable documents. 
  • Educate potential exhibitors, sponsors and attendees on the value of virtual events. Promotional materials should show people why your virtual education trade show is worth their time.
  • Build your event agenda around a virtual audience. If you’re hosting a lot of presentations, either time for refreshment breaks or offer on-demand options for people to view on their own time.
  • Incorporate accessibility features into your event. Diversity and inclusion don’t need to take a hit when your education trade show goes virtual. In fact, virtual events offer lots of support options for attendees of all abilities! 
  • Keep engaged with sponsors and attendees during the event. Check in with them over chat, and monitor activity to ensure they’re getting value out of the event.
  • Review metrics following the event. Take advantage of the detailed event data virtual trade shows offer. You just can’t get that kind of info from an in-person event!

NOC UK

How to Attract an Audience

You have the option to add more people, but where exactly do you start looking for them? The answer: the internet! 

With no constraints, you are not limited to just reaching people near you. You can look into online marketing for this. Usually, event organizers have blogs for their promotion, which they use to build up a list of followers, by getting them to sign up for their email newsletter.

Blogging

If you don’t have a blog, or don’t want to go through the trouble of creating one, you can simply write guest posts for other blogs (in your target niche), and then get people to sign up from there. This can be a good idea for a single event, but if you want to establish yourself as a reputable organizer in the education trade show niche, creating a blog is highly recommended.

Email Marketing 

Email marketing is also an effective marketing tool, it’s a part of online marketing. All you need to do is find a list of potential leads that may be interested in the event. And the rest depends on how well you can promote your event so they will want to join.

Social Media Marketing

You can also dabble into advertising. Use social media like Instagram and Facebook and get people to like your page. This is also cost-effective, you can gain a pretty big following even on a short budget. Google ads on other blogs can also be helpful. Not to mention, social media presence increases your credibility and reputation.

The main idea is that you find a way to get your target audience to follow you, be it on social media, or by giving their emails through which you can stay in contact with them. Once you have the presence, you will need to find ways to promote your event. 

How to Promote Your Event

Once you have amassed a following, built your reputation, and made some initial contact with them, it’s time to email them about your event specifically.

Email Marketing

Look into how to write emails that have the best conversion rates so you’re able to get maximum attendance. In short, high converting emails are supposed to be enticing and persuasive. There are several tips that you can apply when writing up invitation emails for the event to ensure that your recipients convert and don’t just ignore it.

Landing Page

You will also need a landing page for the event. A landing page is a specific, focused web page that lets the viewers see the details for your event and gives them the option to sign up for it. Think of it as a physical event poster or brochure that shows all of the good stuff about the event.

Much like email marketing, there are tips on how to create high-converting landing pages as well. You will need to make sure your landing page has a catchy headline, a persuasive sub-headline, an aesthetically pleasing design that makes good use of colors and graphics, and even some highlights from the last time the event was held. You can also use the highlights if the event was held physically last time, and add how going virtual this time around has benefits for the attendees. 

Try to present what problems you’re solving through the event, and what value the attendees can get from it.

How to Ensure Your Education Trade Show Is a Success

For any event to be successful, virtual or physical, you need to figure out what your target audience wants, what your business goals are, and how to merge the two together. Here, we have provided you actionable steps you can take to increase the chances of the success of your education trade show:

Provide an Intuitive Virtual Environment

This is a key factor in deciding whether or not your virtual event is going to be a success. As said previously, the goal is to emulate the real environment, so it’s important to provide a virtual environment that at least feels like the real thing by letting the audience move about in a virtual 3D space, creating lobbies and auditoriums, giving customized booths to the exhibitors, and providing chat features that allow participants to interact with each other. 

To provide these, you’ll need the right virtual event platform that supports these features. In addition to that, you will also need pre, mid, and post-event, real-time support to ensure that the virtual event goes as seamlessly as possible.

Make Collaboration Between Participants Easy & Convenient

Trade shows are meant to facilitate collaboration, and for an education trade show, this part is even more important. If all the participants are gathered together with similar goals in their minds, such as providing solutions to common education-related problems, it would benefit everyone if collaboration between them were made easy.

The virtual space should allow for easy, real-time communication helping participants network with a varied group of people. The virtual event platform should also facilitate sharing of materials, cards, and brochures so that participants can download and access these files at their convenience. The exhibitors can use the event collateral as a means for an effective followup strategy.

Consider the Needs of the Attendees

The presence of a broader, larger audience presents you with the challenge of taking several types of needs into consideration. 

To start with, you need to factor in the technical skills and abilities of the participants. Someone not acquainted with virtual events and the virtual event platform may have a hard time getting through the event, or they may even be unable to attend at all.

While the support aspect mentioned before is supposed to mitigate this, providing a short, easy-to-follow getting started guide, a simple training manual, or even a basic document that explains how the attendees should participate can be extremely helpful, and also the professional thing to do.

Next, time constraints may be an issue, so it’s possible that a number of people who were invited, or who even proceeded to register, may not be able to attend. You can record different aspects of the event (e.g. webinars) and upload them on the event platform for participants to access them whenever they want. These recordings also help promote to people who might’ve missed the event. Such recordings can increase attendance of future events as well, especially if the content provided offers value. 

Additionally, you can make accommodations for people who would prefer to attend in their native language. Easily include text translations in your virtual venue, and offer the option for people to hear webinars in their native language with the help of platforms like KUDO or Interprefy.

Make Use of Data Analysis

An advantage virtual events provide over in-person events is the easy availability of event data. This includes metrics like attendance rates, traffic within your event, and even individual user journeys.

You can make sense of data like this by using analytical techniques and turning it into reports. Some of the queries you can ask are: “what was the average time a person spent in a typical booth?”, “when did we see the most traffic?”, “how many participants were involved throughout the event?”, “what was our attendance rate, exactly?”.

You can also determine the success rate of each exhibitor and the interaction they got. You can get a good idea of what did well, and what didn’t land with your audience. Going forward you will then have an idea of what type of exhibitions work and which ones don’t.

Not only that, you can also get individual-specific data; e.g. how much time the person spent at a particular session. Then you can form an extremely personalized and effective followup strategy upon analysis.

Final Thoughts

We have looked at what virtual events, trade shows, and education trade shows are. We’ve shown what is required to take a physical, in-person education trade show online, and shared some ideas on how to get those things done.

So, if you decide to hold virtual education trade shows, it will definitely help if you build an online presence through outreach. Additionally, promoting the idea of virtual events itself will help educate more potential attendees from around the world. 

Want to learn more?

Check out our Hybrid Event solution page for more!

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