“Just because you have planned something doesn’t mean it’s going to happen,” says Jung Lee, celebrity event planner. Most of us would agree. And the hardest blow, without doubt, is a supposedly tested revenue model going wrong. On-camera bloopers, low connectivity, delayed log-ins can be managed. But money going up in smoke leaves behind a pile of ash, just like any junk.
So, without further inspiring quotes and sermons, let’s look at the top 10 ideas on how to monetise virtual events. How ‘top’ 10? Well we Googled it like everyone else, and then compared against a list drawn through real business experiences of events that made money. One of the top pain points of virtual event revenue models is over-emphasis on ticket sales that do not happen. So we have included little tricks in our list to garner revenue apart from online ticketing.
- Create assets: Today’s leftovers are tomorrow’s meal. Gosh, what was that? Well, each time you plan a virtual event, you are planning sessions. And these sessions are your marketing assets for the future. Sell the speeches in thematic chunks, sell product demos to sponsors, and sell personalised business sessions to partners. They would be happy to buy. Sponsors would get product videos at a fraction of the usual publicity budget. Partners love it when you share database and details, imagine their joy (and willingness for more business with you) when you offer them entire videos instead. Nice!
- Invite subscriptions: Virtual events are getting closer to Netflix, and some are more interesting than the family shows already. Announce your event in style, like an Amazon movie release. Build on the hype. And after it goes live, let the content be available on demand for the next 3 to 6 months. Build your subscription model like an internet service provider, luring buyers in with custom content, free downloads and increased access to database. Keep your cool, don’t blow it all. Keep the best for annual or quarterly specials, session combos that round up everything and give industrial sneak peeks.
- Use your database: Penny saved, penny gained. Team up with a virtual event platform that helps you manage and sort your contacts, and are willing to sell you in-depth, industry oriented database. These are based on your searches, invites and business goals, so to make it really effective, talk to your technology partner. Imagine getting tailor-made invitation lists for your next event based on one event and an automated events calendar. If you can save on preparation, you are saving time and a whole lot of money with the overheads disappearing.
- Power up on analytics: Have you chosen a virtual event platform that gives you live analytics with tracking tools and smart widgets to get the data dump you are paying for? Virtual events score above real ones in this aspect. Any event is meant to bring you more business, that is, more revenue. That’s why you are investing in it. And if you have an analytics goldmine in hand, you can build your business, help your partners, sell your sponsors exactly what they want to buy, and well, this sub-list can go on. Basically, check the analytics dashboard and tools of a virtual event platform thoroughly before going for it.
- Gamification rewards: Middle aged adults gathered to talk about the condition of Euro trading are not thinking of winning a shiny blue headphone, right? Wrong. Never underestimate the power of the child in us. We like games. They are immensely satisfying and simple goodies are shared on social media like trophies of a prize fight. Sponsors adore gamification. It’s the best possible way to advertise their products. Make full use of this through your virtual event platform.
- Breakout sessions: Are virtual breakout sessions even possible? Yes, if you choose the right kind of event platform, plan carefully and start work at least 4 months in advance. Turn breakouts into one-on-one meetings, special demo sessions and networking opportunities for closed groups. Ticketing, subscription, sponsorships, partner payments can all be managed accordingly. Revamped breakouts are a virtual, creative twist to events and smell like money.
- Industrial learning sessions: Online learning is a bore, unless it happens to be actually useful. Virtual events are a great way to push in the chance to get professional certification from industry leaders. Consult your virtual event platform managers on how to slot and market this best.
- Increase reach and mix: Virtual events make it possible to tap into ‘difficult’ regions. You can now invite star speakers who have problems with traveling. If your virtual event platform offers studio services, you can shoot special sessions that are so much more ‘real’ than standard VR room backgrounds. Participant and stakeholder mix is obviously more, and that opens up the chance to look at revenue from new markets. Global reach is a wonderful thing in itself, think of the many yummy subscription opportunities that open up.
- Microsite and digital signage: Can the virtual event site itself be a way to earn revenue? Yes, with some customisation and help from your technology partner. Partners and sponsors are willing to pay for prominent placement on the event microsite and analytics on microsite tab traffic. So much better than the banners and pamphlets everyone forgot after live events.
- Finally, smart ticketing: We won’t be leaving out ticketing from the list. You know about this already, but here goes. B2B virtual events are not selling tickets too well. Our esteemed friends and competitors would want you to believe that. Participants are supposed to be more willing to pay for tickets since travel, food and overheads are crossed out. But wishes don’t make for revenue, planning does. That’s why we placed subscription sales, asset creation, even break-out sessions earlier in this list. Yep, we’ve been talking tickets for some time now, but in a newer, smarter, more saleable jacket.
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