The sun’s out – it casts a shimmer on the pool that's been inviting you for a quick dip and that ice cold drink chilling in your fridge has been staring at you all afternoon.
Feels almost impossible to resist, right?
This scenario isn't too different from what your potential attendees might be experiencing.
So it is no surprise that this thought may pass through your mind: “With the allure of summer, how can I ensure the attendees stay engaged throughout my virtual event?”
It’s a valid question and one that many event organizers face during this time of year - for both virtual and physical events. Summer can present unique challenges for virtual events though. Many attendees are off on vacation, companies often opt for leisurely Fridays, and several people prioritize social get-togethers over work events.
However, the data on this is somewhat surprising:
- When looking at webinars, for example, it was found that ones held in August had the third-highest rate of conversion from registrant to attendee (57.14%).
- June events scored the second-highest conversion rate (58.43%).
- But July events recorded the second-lowest conversion rate, around 50%.
That being said, even though it can be tricky to host these in the summer, it's not if you should do it, it is how you should do it.
The million-dollar question becomes: What can you do to secure your registration numbers and ensure that your audience stays tuned in for the entire event?
Good thing we have a number of strategies laid out for you where we'll unravel the secrets of keeping your audience captivated, even when the siren call of summer is at its strongest.
Let's dive in!
Strategy 1: Timing is Everything
The success of your virtual event relies heavily on how long people will need to be sitting in front of their screen (remember, one of your competitors here is the beautiful weather outside).
People will want to soak up the early morning sun or relax in the cool of the late evening. These are typically hours when your potential attendees are likely to be least engaged with your event.
To counteract this, consider scheduling your events for mid-day.
Research suggests that people are at their cognitive best during the late morning to early afternoon. A study published in the journal "Cognitive Science'' found that problem-solving, logical reasoning, and alertness tend to peak between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
With this in mind, a mid-day timing might give you the sweet spot between the morning's leisure and the anticipation of evening plans, maximizing engagement from your attendees.
Another timing aspect to consider is the length of your event.
The ideal webinar length is between 30 to 60 minutes, which prevents "zoom fatigue" while providing ample time to engage attendees and convey your key messages. If your event runs for a longer duration, consider incorporating breaks every 45-60 minutes to allow your attendees a brief respite.
Even with this in mind, we would recommend keeping the event to about 30 minutes in the summer months if you can.
Strategy 2: Make it for the on-the-go attendee
Post-pandemic there are a lot more people working from home or remotely. As a result, the way people interact with events has changed as well.
People tend to be more mobile focused and the summer months exacerbate being out and about. Basically, your attendees could be anywhere – lounging by the pool, taking a road trip, or simply enjoying a picnic in the park.
So, it's important to cater to this 'on-the-go' lifestyle by making sure your events are mobile-friendly.
The global market for Mobile Data Traffic is estimated at 84.1 Million Terabytes per Month in the year 2022 (trust us, that’s a lot), with more than half of all internet traffic on mobile. This is expected to continue and has likely escalated, making mobile optimization for your virtual event no longer a luxury but a necessity.
Mobile optimization could mean a few different things.
It might involve a mobile-optimized website where attendees can easily find information about your event, register, and access the event itself.
Mobile optimization also means your content should be readily viewable and navigable on a phone (or tablet). This could require choosing a platform that automatically adapts to different screen sizes or creating content that is succinct and clear, considering the smaller display of mobile devices.
If your event requires more complex interaction or specific tools, a dedicated app could be beneficial. Several successful events have utilized apps that provide information, live stream capabilities, and interaction possibilities.
By optimizing for the on-the-go attendee, you increase the convenience factor. This not only enhances the user experience but also makes it more likely that your attendees will stay engaged for the entire event, no matter where summer takes them.
Strategy 3: Keep it light and fun
Try to lean into the summer energy and create an engaging and memorable experience for your attendees. You may think it is tricky to do virtually, but there are a few ways you can do this well.
First things first, try to incorporate some sort of gamification; 89% of surveyed stated that a point system would boost their engagement with an eLearning application.
You can implement interactive elements such as quizzes or polls throughout your event. These fun activities not only serve as mental palate cleansers but also provide a chance for attendees to interact with the event and each other, creating a more immersive experience, and increasing the likelihood they will stay for the entire duration.
For instance, take a leaf out of TEDxSydney's book. They implemented 'Fast Ideas,' a segment where attendees pitched ideas, and the audience voted for their favorite one, culminating in a lively and interactive experience.
Using bright and engaging visuals (think summer colors, tones etc.) can also make your event more on brand with the summer vibe.
Don't shy away from incorporating colorful infographics, slides, or videos that capture the essence of summer. It will put people at ease and may want to stay and see if there are any fun summer games, information, or prizes.
Consider a laid-back dress code (Hawaiian shirts anyone?). This doesn’t necessarily imply everyone in swimsuits and flip-flops, but a less formal approach can help attendees feel more comfortable and relaxed.
61% of employees feel more productive when the dress code is relaxed. So keeping with a summer-themed event can help create a more interactive environment and ensure that those attendees are staying for the full 30 or 40 minutes.
Just remember to strike a balance between fun and professionalism. While it's important to incorporate elements of fun to keep the mood light and the attendees engaged, it's equally vital that your event delivers the valuable content your attendees have signed up for.
This balance will make sure that your virtual event is both enjoyable and enriching, creating an unforgettable summer experience for your attendees.
Strategy 4: Say it out loud (on social)!
During the summer, with downtime by the pool or beach, social media use often sees an uptick.
So, use these platforms to build anticipation for your event.
It is always important to make sure you have content that stands out in your audience's feeds. Stick with your theme for your event and think vibrant, summer-themed graphics or short, engaging videos that highlight key aspects of the event.
You can also consider creating a unique and catchy hashtag for your event to track the buzz that is happening before, during, and after your event.
Hashtags can be an effective way to consolidate all conversations related to your event, encouraging attendees to share their own experiences and thoughts. #AdobeSummit, Adobe's annual conference, which encourages attendee participation on Twitter, resulting in huge visibility and engagement.
Think about hosting social media contests or challenges related to your event – before or during it. You might ask your followers to share a post or story about why they're excited to attend your event, with the chance to win a prize.
During your event, make sure to also share live updates, snippets from sessions, or behind-the-scenes glimpses. This will help maintain a connection with your audience, even if they can't attend live, and generate FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) amongst those who didn't register.
Strategy 5: Provide On-Demand Content
Using all of the strategies above, it is most likely that there will still be a few attendees who will not be able to attend your live event – from clashing schedules to spontaneous summer plans – can affect live attendance.
That's where on-demand content comes into play.
On-demand content is not just a contingency plan, but an important strategy in its own right.
This provides flexibility for those who couldn’t make the live event to engage with your content at their leisure, perhaps while lounging poolside with that tempting cold drink.
Another form of on-demand content could be keeping your event live after the main event to keep discussions going or have Q&A threads that remain active after the event. This can help foster a sense of community among attendees.
On-demand content not only allows for greater flexibility, catering to your attendees' varying schedules and preferences, but also extends the life of your event, keeping the engagement going long after the live sessions have concluded.
Navigating the allure of summer and maintaining high engagement levels during virtual events can be a daunting task. However, by incorporating strategic measures, it's possible to turn the challenge into an opportunity.
- Remember, timing is of the essence: aim for mid-day slots when attendees are at their cognitive peak.
- Cater to the on-the-go attendee with mobile-friendly content and platforms.
- Embrace the summer energy with light, fun elements, such as gamification and vibrant visuals.
- Leverage the heightened social media activity during summer to amplify your event's reach.
- And finally, remember the value of on-demand content, allowing your attendees to engage on their terms and extend the lifespan of your event.
These strategies aren't just ways to mitigate summer's impact on virtual events, they also serve as ways to innovate and enhance the overall attendee experience. After all, the goal isn't just to compete with the charm of summer, but to create an event that becomes a highlight of the season itself.
So, put on your planning hat, embrace the warmth of summer, and let's make your next virtual event a total success.
If you are looking for some advice on how to host the best summer virtual event, reach out to our team today.