Holding a virtual event? Lead collection and management is just as important for an online event as it is for an in-person event. And the nature of online events is such that the data you gain is often more complete and more valuable than the data you get from a live one. (Learn more about why here.) It’s all in how you gather it—and what you do with it.
Online Events Lead Collection: How-to
Virtual events have been around for a long time, but 2020 quickly made them a mainstay, and many in the event planning industry expect many aspects of virtual events to stick around permanently.
There’s a lot that makes a virtual event totally unique from a physical event. One thing it shares with a physical event is the need to collect data, and, in many ways, online events do that better. It’s much easier to track attendees online at a virtual event than to track where they go at a live trade show or conference. And everywhere your attendees go online, they’re generating useful data.
The simplest and most effective way to collect leads at a virtual event is via the registration process. People who sign up to the event are generally willing to hand over a not insignificant amount of information. This might include:
- Email address
- Job title
Or anything else you feel is useful for your purposes and appropriate to ask for.
Follow up the registration process with a survey page, and you can glean even more data.
And that’s it. The beauty of virtual events lead collection is that the registration process handles it for you. Each attendee has their own unique login identifier, which means they can automatically be tracked as they interact with event content. And each unique user is also associated with the data they already provided, including their email address and other details. You can easily match demographic information to attendee behavior for even more valuable data. You can even advertise to those users elsewhere online with a retargeting strategy.
Next, Manage the Leads from Your Virtual Event
After a successful event, you’ll find yourself with a number of new leads of varying quality. Of course, few leads are likely to automatically become sales. There’s often a process involving several months of relationship management before you actually make a sale off any of the leads you gather at any event, including one online.
As with in-person events, it’s best to have a lead-management strategy ready to be deployed once your virtual event is over. Don’t wait until afterwards to decide how to manage leads! Leave it too late, and you risk losing the momentum you built up during the event.
First, you’ll want to rank your leads according both to level of qualification and priority. These aren’t necessarily the same thing, as some highly qualified leads might not be ready to receive sales messages yet, while others might be ready immediately. The important thing is to identify which is which and treat them accordingly.
For a team that’s used to working live events, this may be a difficult adjustment to make, as it’s harder to read people when there’s no personal interaction involved. Instead, look at what attendees do at the event and where they spend the most time. For instance, you might identify high-priority leads as attendees who spend a lot of time looking at product pages or visit those pages a number of times, and attend a virtual product demonstration.
Once leads are in your sales funnel, the process looks similar to whatever you’d use to nurture leads from a live event. But with virtual events lead collection, you have the added bonus of the extra user-generated data you obtained during the event itself. Those data represent unique user experiences that can help you categorize and rank leads. This allows you to send marketing messages that are highly targeted. For instance, if you send a follow-up email the day after the event, it might include slightly different content depending on what that recipient did at the event. Another option is to let people continue to access the content after the event. For example, if someone signs up for a webinar and then doesn’t attend, email them a link to the content the next day.
Sometimes it can be tough to take the relationships built at an in-person event to the internet. Maybe an attendee really likes having face-to-face conversations and isn’t so responsive when things go online. With a virtual event, you remove this question; everyone who attended is happy to learn and interact online. In some ways, this makes them easier to nurture afterwards, especially if you focus on providing value to attendees. If they’re not ready to buy now, they might be in the future—and you’ll be there, having already put in the work to develop a relationship.
Track Your Results
Don’t forget that it’s also important to monitor leads as they move through your sales funnel—not only because it’s how you decide when to make a sales pitch, but because it helps you determine how well your tactics are working. This is particularly important now, as the effects of coronavirus on the sales cycle aren’t necessarily predictable. While many businesses are retrenching, some industries are experiencing an upturn in business. Keep a close eye on leads as they move through the sales process, so you can make adjustments as necessary.
Online Events Lead Collection Is Simple and So Effective
When it comes to lead collection, virtual events outshine physical gatherings. You get the chance to collect user-generated data about what attendees do at your virtual event with an accuracy that in-person events can’t yet achieve. Use this data to inform and improve your lead-management strategy, and you have a winning formula on your hands.