2021: Virtual is the New Normal
JANUARY, 14 / 2021
With business still largely in a state of flux, working from home and changing preferences for online collaboration mean it's time to level up your online customer events for big results in 2021.
Back to the Future; 2020 here we go again
2020 was a year for adapting. We all made our best efforts to pivot to virtual. Reimagining our in-person events and conferences as webinars and virtual events, we got acquainted with video calling — and then overdosed. We made do, and we kept things moving.

While the adaptations we made in 2020 were enough for the short-term, now is the time to reevaluate. As we get stuck into 2021, we can see clearly that the new normal of WFH, webinars, and Zoom calls are here to stay. A recent McKinsey survey highlighted that the pandemic has accelerated the digitization of customer interactions by at least 3 years. As Marketing, Sales, and Success professionals, we need to reflect honestly on our performance in 2020 and rethink our approaches to customer engagement online.

It's clear that now, more than ever, is the time to make an impact with virtual.
Customer Event Best Practices
Although predominantly virtual for now, 2021 will require a mix of engagement modes as we ebb and flow toward open economies and the day when large in-person events are a logical and desired form of doing business again.

As such, it's important to start adopting best practices for each mode of engagement that we've learnt over the last year. This will enable us to best set the stage for meaningful content sharing, customer interaction, and value exchange.

Understanding how to design and deliver either a physical, virtual, or hybrid customer event will be key to being successful in 2021, and beyond.

Core Principles across all Event Formats
Regardless of the way you engage, there are certain truths that hold true. For us, having reflected on a year of intense engagement across all three modes, we see five factors as being key to success:

  1. Customer remains king. Think deeply and stay focused on the problem or opportunity space to provide the best possible participant experience.
  2. Harness technology thoughtfully. How can it reduce cost? How can it accelerate engagement? How can it enhance the experience?
  3. Start with simple formats and use cases. Then, build off these successes to more to higher complexity.
  4. Don't focus on the technology. Rather, focus on the end-to-end customer experience through the event.
  5. Review and reflect honestly after each event you deliver. What will you reuse? What will you remove or rethink? What will you add next time?
How to maximise the value of your virtual events
Virtual events demand new considerations. Pivoting from physical to virtual, we learnt some hard lessons — and you probably did too. But these missteps helped clarify our approaches to virtual events and made us more effective with our customer interactions in all contexts.

So, what are our top tips to take into your next webinar or online event

Have empathy for your audience

We're all in the same boat and we're finding what works for each of us individually. Your customers are likely still WFH and balancing personal and professional responsibilities. So, show empathy, compassion, and respect for where and how their work is now being performed. Make time to support your audience with clear pre-event instructions and reference materials. During the event, be sure to meet each of them wherever they are, whether in terms of their location, mindset, technical proficiency, or otherwise.

Less is more; keep it simple

Remember your customers are only human and have a limited attention span when participating online. Your event needs to either be very narrow in the scope of the discussion or you might need to break up larger topics into multiple mini-events. Be realistic as to what you can cover, don't try to do too much, and make it easy for your audience to interact. Never present for longer than 15-20 minutes at a time and immediately follow up with an activity to engage with the content you shared.

Help your audience be successful

It involves a lot of technology to deliver a great event online. So, it crucial to get your tech foundations in place to avoid any hiccups. Reduce the number of platforms and tools you use to avoid moving participants between them and losing some along the way. Ensure your internet and audio is fast and clear. Have backup plans and support teams in place to identify and correct any issues quickly — avoiding interruptions to the event for you and your participants.

Engage and give a sense of autonomy

Unlike in physical events, it's harder to give a personalised experience virtually. It's more challenging to capture and respond to individual questions and provide follow-ups to specific areas of interest. Q&A platforms are useful and have a place in many online events, however, a more powerful element is to enable your customers to choose their own adventure through the topic area. And this is where Superslide comes in.
Time to take action
If 2020 was a year of lack-lustre virtual events and yet another webinar for you, Superslide is here to turn things around.

Superslide provides frictionless, on-demand access to the content and resources your customers want. It's easy — and quick — for your audience to take action. With one-click access to your content, they can view, save, explore, and share what they care about. And you get a rich behavioural dataset to drive next best actions.

No longer the inferior choice, virtual events powered by Superslide enable you to get actionable insights into your customer needs and interests and event performance, like never before. Your personalised report is available straight after your event and equips you with all the data you need to optimise your content and tailor your next best actions for every customer.

Learn more about Superslide and start boosting your virtual event performance, today. So, what's your super slide?


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