If you’ve ever channeled your inner-David Bowie when you’re “Under Pressure,” you’re not alone — It’s a classic for a reason.
That said, it’s probably not your top pick for your event planning career theme song.
And the effort to create a top-notch event shouldn’t cause lying-awake-at-night, tossing-and-turning stress that leaves you staring at your bedroom ceiling and counting questions like sheep:
- Who will show up?
- Will people network?
- Will the attendees get the most out of the event?
- Will the speakers present the way I envision?
- How will my leadership team perceive the event?
- Will our sponsors be happy with their participation?
- How will I ensure a high level of engagement?
You want to do something to relieve the pressure, something to improve your return on investment (ROI), but what?
The key is in the last question — finding the right tools to increase engagement — which makes that long list of questions much more manageable.
Of course, every event will have a different way to measure their return on investment — it may be leads, community involvement, or sponsorship engagement. The one commonality between most of these Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)? Engagement.
Increased audience engagement tends to lead to deeper conversations, an audience more likely to share content on social media or speak with a sponsor, and a higher likelihood that they will be a warm lead.
However you measure it, consider these five engagement-increasing tactics as the first steps toward boosting your next virtual event’s ROI:
Tactic #1: Interact with attendees via chat
It seems obvious, but it might surprise you how many people don’t engage their audience via virtual chat.
Chat makes greeting guests easy — it just takes a little event planning finesse. When you introduce yourself and get to know attendees, you also increase the chances they'll have fond memories of you and your event. This also increases the likelihood that they will share their experience within their networks (which can attract more leads).
This can make a big impact on engagement. Experience creators who use chat see a 55-100% increase in engagement.
An increase like that is pretty powerful. But observe the difference between enabling and encouraging. Organizers who enable chat for segments, using Hopin Stage or Sessions, average a 55% increase in the share of attendees who stay engaged until the end of that segment.
While organizers who encourage over half of the attendees to take part in the chat average a 100% increase in the share of attendees who remain engaged until the end of the segment.
If you want to add more fuel to boost your ROI, begin by encouraging engagement. It is a simple practice that earns compound interest (pun intended). The key to capturing that interest is interaction. Here are some conversation starters to consider:
- Ask attendees where they are joining from.
- Share a favorite anecdote from the previous session.
- Ask attendees to share what they would love to see at the next event.
Simply by initiating a conversation, you give relationships with attendees the time and space they need to blossom. By being engaging and personable in the chat, the odds that attendees will return increase.
Tactics #2: Incentivize poll participation
While event organizers typically use polls to collect feedback, polls are also a powerful way to increase engagement. They get attendees talking, thinking, and sharing their opinions — all without putting them on the spot. And when you incentivize poll participation, you sweeten the pot.
Who isn't eager for the chance to win something? Incentives make it fun to take part in polls, which results in more engagement. Just how engaged?
Experience creators get a 25-53% boost of engagement when using polls.
Hopin’s researchers found those event organizers who enable polls for their segments average a 25% increase in the share of attendees who remain engaged until the end of the segment.
What's more, organizers who encourage more than 10% of attendees to respond to Polls average a 53% increase in the share of attendees who remain engaged until the end of that segment.
This means that using polls in your content intrigues your audience and helps you gather valuable information you can use in the future.
For example, you can ask attendees what they enjoyed most and least about the event. Then, for the next event, you can double down on the positive aspects and step away from the negative ones.
Also, you can use polls throughout the virtual event venue. You'll likely receive the most responses from the Stage keynote speech. But you can add them to intimate sessions for more niche feedback. With the right platform, you can notify the audience about new polls with notification pop-ups.
Tactic #3: Host a Q&A session after each segment
While polls and chats are excellent icebreakers, Q&A sessions dive deeper into the content.
Why do Q&As work so well? One key factor is time. Speakers have more time to share their content and interact with the audience during Q&A sessions. After asking their most pressing questions, a satisfied audience benefits from a more intimate connection with the speaker and content.
Since Q&A is such an effective tool for interaction and engagement, it’s expected that most events will host Q&A. Now, attendees and speakers crave a quality discussion at the end of a session.
In fact, experience creators see a 24-40% increase in engagement when they activate a Q&A.
Simply by enabling Q&A, organizers average a 24% increase in the share of attendees who remain engaged until the end of that segment. Engagement soars to 40% for organizers who encourage more than 10% of attendees to participate in the Q&A.
Highly engaged attendees will also likely give the event high ratings and return for another event — thus increasing the ROI of your event.
If simply adding a Q&A increases your share of attendees remaining to the end by 40%, you can easily impress stakeholders and speakers alike while learning what’s top of mind for your audience.
Tactic #4: Share recordings with attendees and no-shows
When it rains, it pours — Bowie understood that everyone is under pressure, and we should, too. When considering how to accommodate for this while boosting your ROI, the answer lies in Bowie’s lyrics: “Can't we give ourselves one more chance?"
Maybe a potential attendee was a no-show, or an attendee joined but was distracted or had to step away. Without access to the sessions, they miss the opportunity to learn, and you miss the opportunity to connect. Fortunately, recordings give everyone more chances.
Depending on the platform you choose, recordings are the ROI-increasing tactic that keep on returning. Some virtual platforms even automatically upload recorded sessions to the platform's backend.
This means that, as an organizer, not only can you access and rewatch the event. You can also download the material in 1080p and post it to your event website directly from your backend. So, all registered users can access the event recordings for as long as you allow them to.
After an event ends, experience creators can increase engagement 25-50% by using Replay.
Organizers who use Replay for their content average 25% more attendee engagement with those segments, and the most successful segments average well over 50%.
This is a game-changer for organizers because participants who missed the event can still interact and learn from your content. Without Replay, you might exclude a large segment of attendees that can engage with your content.
Since including your audience and encouraging them to interact clearly increases engagement, using these four data-driven event planning tactics should take some of the pressure off. But collaborating with an experienced partner can help you see a significant ROI.
Tactic #5: Find a partner who understands engagement
Bowie’s lyrics hit home for many event planners who find launching an event on their own (or with their team) stressful. An event partner who has seen it all can help create opportunities to:
- Interact with your audience in the chat.
- Pump up the benefits of participating in the polls.
- Use Q&A sessions to give your event community chances to learn and share.
- Give your community access to event recordings.
Are you thinking about planning your next event? If so, reach out to one of our dedicated team members to see how Hopin can help reduce stress while increasing your event’s ROI.