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May 2020

Creative online event ideas for businesses

Creative Online Event Ideas for Businesses

By Uncategorized

There's no denying that online events are massively on the rise. If you take a glance at the average business calendar today, you'll likely see event titles that didn't even exist 10 years ago. (Ever heard of a virtual trade fair? I hadn't until researching for this post!)

Of course, as the way we hold events changes, so does the way we market them. In this guide, we talk about some great online event ideas for your business, plus the best tools to help you ensure your event is a success.

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Why should I host an online event?

Quite simply put, the main advantage of a virtual event is flexibility. The majority of the time, all your guests need to get involved is a working internet connection - which is definitely not hard to come by these days!

Because online events are so flexible, people can take part from wherever they are - whether it's from the comfort of their own homes, or from their office 5000 miles away from the actual location. This flexibility means your event can reach a much wider audience of new potential leads.

More advantages of hosting an online event include:

  • Diversify your audience - As well as your audience being generally larger, it also has the potential of being much more diverse. With an online event, geographic restrictions don't apply. As long as you choose a fairly neutral time zone, guests from all over the world can attend.
  • Reduce costs - Hiring a venue, paying temporary staff, organising catering and booking transport are all things that can cost your business a huge amount of money. Although there will be some costs associated with your online event, you will save big by removing all the physical elements.
  • Save time - All the elements named above also take a large amount of time to organise and coordinate. Free up your time to focus on the content of your online event rather than planning the theatrics behind a physical event.
  • Lower your carbon footprint - Many people attending large scale events will have to drive a great distance or even fly to get to the location. This results in an extra amount of carbon emissions which can easily be avoided by hosting your event online.
  • Great for brand image - Although online events are definitely on the rise, in many respects, they are still a very new trend. Hosting an online event is a great way to show your target audience that your business is innovative and in touch with the latest technology.

Types of Online Events

Video Meeting

A video meeting does exactly what the name describes. These types of meetings can take place on any scale and for any use case: no matter how big or small. Here are a few popular examples:

  • Daily briefing meeting
  • Job interview
  • Project status update meeting
  • Project review meeting
  • Department meeting
  • Financial planning meeting
  • Shareholder meeting

For many, an offsite meeting means travel costs, food & drink and possibly an overnight stay all being charged to company expenses. Not to mention the time taken to get there and back is time which could have been spent doing other important work. Holding a video meeting means all participants can join from their respective locations and save the company time and money.

Zoom app on mobile phone ready for a video meetingVideo meetings are also a game changer for remote-based teams to stay connected. All you need to get started is a working internet connection, a headset and a video meeting platform to host from.

Webinar

A webinar is an online seminar most typically used to educate viewers on a particular topic. This could be anything from a step-by-step product demonstration (particularly popular with software companies) to a university-style lecture on a given theme (e.g. How to create a website for your small business.)

Most often, a webinar is a mixture of pre-recorded screen sharing with voiceover commentary; however, the webinar host(s) can also choose to livestream the event in order to allow for interactive elements such as a Q&A session or a quiz. Usually, a webinar won't last longer than an hour.

Webinar recording

Pro tip: When you send out your invitations, make sure you outline exactly what will be covered in the webinar so people will be more willing to sign up. For more great tips on how to market your webinar, check out this guide.

Virtual Summits

This type of online event involves you sourcing established guest speakers from your field to come together and collaborate. Participants tend to discuss a chosen topic (i.e. education or technology), or provide solutions for well known industry problems (e.g. how to increase student participation in your classroom.)

Guest speakers will generally prepare material to present and, if held live, offer the audience the chance for a Q&A session.

Conference event livestream

While this type of event is usually less specific to your business, it is a great opportunity for lead generation. Each guest speaker brings a virtual audience with them; all of which become potential leads for your business.

An event like this is also a great way to establish your authority in your industry and gain key contacts.

Pro tip: To ensure things run smoothly, start planning the dynamics of your virtual summit quite far in advance. It can also be beneficial for guest speakers to pre-record their content to make the event appear more seamless on the day.

Online Course & Training

An online course is a type of online learning environment which can be set up to deliver lessons or follow-along courses on a particular subject. An online course can consist of a series of sessions (i.e. for distance learning or online qualifications) or it can be a one-off event.

If held live, online training events are generally best suited to smaller groups, in order to recreate the classroom experience and allow for participants to ask questions. While there is still an element of presentation, an online course is intended to be a much more interactive experience for those involved.

Boy with headphones using a MacBook

Pro tip: After streaming a live lesson, it's a good idea to upload your video to a portal where participants can then watch it back at a later date.

Virtual Tradeshow

Similar to a physical trade fair, a virtual tradeshow is a type of online marketing event which is held to give participants the chance to present their products to potential buyers.

Most typically, each vendor will have a dedicated "booth" in which they can present prepared material including webinars, tutorials and product introductions. Many virtual tradeshows also have e-commerce integration so attendees can purchase directly.

Although the virtual tradeshow may be the biggest change to the real thing, it is a great strategy for companies who want to cut down on costs, or businesses looking to try innovative new methods to reach new customers.

6 Awesome Tools for Online Events

With online events on the rise, more and more awesome tools are becoming available to help businesses guarantee their events are a success. Below, we have highlighted some of the current leading tools for managing and hosting online events. Skim through the list to see the key features and click through to the operator website to find out more!

1. Zoom

Zoom is currently one of the most popular choices for online meetings.

Zoom video meeting platform for businesses

  • Video meeting platform for up to 1000 participants (with up to 49 videos on screen)
  • Webinar services also available
  • Interactive features such as polls for a more engaging experience
  • Free plans available for basic features
  • Learn more about Zoom

2. Google Meet

Google Meet is a brand new video conferencing platform by Google which replaces their Hangouts Meet platform.

Google Meet online video meeting software

  • Video conferences for up to 250 participants
  • Free plans available for conferences with up to 100 participants (starting offer: conferences can last up to 24 hours until September 30th, 2020!)
  • Personalised plans with advanced features and livestream capabilities available for enterprises
  • Learn more about Google Meet

3. Adobe Connect

Adobe Connect is a standalone, advanced web conferencing software.

Adobe Connect web conferencing software

  • Great for training, online classrooms and tutorial-style webinars
  • Create custom layouts to help control what your audience sees and how they interact with your online event
  • Layouts are reusable and can be used again and again - great for maintaining consistency throughout multiple sessions (i.e. online training courses.)
  • Learn more about Adobe Connect

4. Cvent

Cvent is an event management platform for larger online events.

Cvent event management platform

  • Management options help event organizers process registration and attendees
  • Easy to integrate with other apps and programs (i.e. CRM systems and virtual meeting platforms)
  • Built in email marketing tools and HTML editor for custom email designs
  • Platform provides useful after-event analysis to help determine ROI and event insights
  • Learn more about Cvent

5. GoToMeeting by LogMeIn

GoToMeeting is a video meeting tool with dedicated add-ons for conferences and webinars.

GoToMeeting online video meeting platform

  • Video meetings for up to 250 participants
  • Includes GoToWebinar platform for managing live or pre-recorded online webinar events. After event analysis tools also available. (P.S. Learn more about webinar marketing here.)
  • Support for personalised channels to make your webinar content available on demand
  • Meeting transcription tools available in some plans
  • Learn more about GoToMeeting

6. vFairs

vFairs is a virtual events platform that allows users to plan and structure tailor made online events.

  • 3D virtual event environment for a realistic experience
  • Custom event landing pages and bespoke booths for your product
  • Add on tools for webinars plus e-commerce integration
  • After-event analysis and lead collection for networking
  • Learn more about vFairs

Using Mail Designer 365 to Prepare for Your Online Event

The build up to your online event is just as important as the event itself. During this time, you need to successfully promote your event among your target audience and ensure you have as many sign ups as possible.

The best way to generate attention around your online event is with email marketing. A solid email strategy helps you sell your event to invitees and allows you to follow up with potential leads once the event is over.

Mail Designer 365 has all the creative tools you need to build impressive an email invitation for your online event, as well as reminder emails and follow up campaigns. Check out this post to find out more about email strategy for online events.

Zoom meeting announcement email made in Mail Designer 365

Use this Mail Designer 365 email template to announce a webinar, Zoom meeting, conference, or any other online business event.

Until next time,

Your Mail Designer 365 Team

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How to create an email strategy to promote your webinar

Email Marketing Strategy for Webinars: How to Use Email to Promote Your Webinar

By Mail Designer 365 Newsletter Academy

For B2B organizations, a well-executed webinar is often a great way to generate more leads. However, in order to ensure your webinar is a success, you first need to promote it effectively amongst your target audience. Coming up with a solid email marketing strategy for webinars is one way you can achieve this.

In this guide, you'll find useful tips on developing an effective email marketing strategy you can use to guarantee your webinar is a success.

Jump through this guide:

Getting Started with Webinars

What is a webinar?

A webinar is an online meeting or seminar where participants are invited to discuss a range of topics within a certain field. Usually, the webinar is lead by an expert or group of experts in that field who will present information and answer any questions. The size of a webinar can range from just a handful of people to hundreds of attendees.

Especially in B2B, webinars are also often used as a way to introduce a product or service to potential new leads by means of a tutorial or case study.

Following along with a webinar

Benefits of hosting a webinar

Hosting a webinar gives you the chance to demonstrate your expertise in your field. It is a unique form of content marketing which, when executed correctly, helps establish you as an authority figure to your audience and creates a sense of trust. For example, the team at Really Good Emails upload weekly videos about email design which clearly establishes them as a leading authority in that field.

Here are some more great benefits of hosting a webinar:

  • Lead generation opportunity - Participants signing up for a webinar are great potential leads whose data can help you in future campaigns.
  • Advertising - A webinar is a clever way to promote your product or service to a new audience by showcasing its potential in unique ways. Case studies, live demos, and follow along tutorials are just a few examples.
  • Make your business relatable - Hosting a webinar helps both existing customers and new leads put a friendly face to your business. This works wonders for your relationships with customers.
  • Get to know your audience - One of the hardest aspects of marketing is finding out what your target audience wants. In a webinar, viewers can submit questions and feedback which gives you an insight into their needs and helps you optimize your product or service accordingly.
  • Affordable - A webinar offers many of the same advantages as a physical event but comes without the added costs (i.e. venue hire, travel, food & drink.)
  • Flexible - Your webinar can take place whenever you like, wherever you like. Geographic restrictions don't apply.

Email Marketing Strategy for Webinars

Once you've taken the first steps in deciding you want to host a webinar, you now need to make sure it's a success. Here is our 3 step email marketing strategy for promoting your webinar.

Step one: Email Marketing Strategy in the Build Up to the Webinar

In the weeks building up to your webinar, the focus is on promoting it to the right audience and ensuring you get as many sign ups as possible.

Identifying your target audience

The first step in creating an email marketing strategy for your webinar is identifying your target audience. This will allow you to segment your email list accordingly, and choose the appropriate tone for your email.

Think about the content of your webinar and who will find it most relevant. This will become your target audience. For example, if your webinar is an introductory walkthrough of your product, you will most likely want to consider new sign ups or demo users as a target audience.

Make your invitation a teaser email for the webinar

Once you've identified the segment of your email list you want to target, you can start designing the email invitation. We like to know what we're getting into, so the element of surprise is not desirable here.

In the initial announcement email, be sure to include a preview of the key topics your webinar will be covering. This will help get recipients hyped up for the event and also helps your recipients assess whether the webinar is relevant to them. Whatever the aim of your webinar is, you only want participants who are genuinely interested, as they are more likely to engage.

Webinar invitation email by Teachable

This email by Teachable makes sure those invited know exactly what is being covered in the webinar.

Helpful hint: Using your subject line to convey the main topic of your webinar is a great way to capture readers' attention from the first point of contact with the email.

Make the sign up process easy and straightforward

The best way to encourage more sign ups is through a clear and effective CTA (call-to-action) button. If your recipient has read your email invite and still can't figure out how to register for the event, something has definitely gone wrong.

As a general rule of thumb, your CTA button should...

  • Stand out against the rest of your email,
  • Display a simple and direct command (e.g. "register here", "secure your place"),
  • Lead to a sensible target link (i.e a dedicated landing page or registration form).
Webinar invitation by Litmus

Not only do Litmus choose a striking color for their CTA button, the text is also short and snappy.

Be sure to include all of these characteristics in your email invitation to improve your chances of a high sign up rate.

Time your invitations right

Sending out the invitations to your webinar at the right time is key and bad timing can often lead to you missing out on a huge chunk of potential leads. If you send out an announcement last minute, many of your target audience will already have plans in place - especially if you are targeting busy business users. For this reason, it's important you give invitees plenty of notice for your webinar.

On the other hand, sending out an invitation too far in advance is also not recommended. This not only increases the chance of customers forgetting about your webinar, but could also deter others from signing up if they don't know how their schedule will look that far in the future.

We recommend you send out your first email a few weeks in advance to give attendees the chance to pencil you in to their calendar. Don't forget to also create a calendar event for the webinar and link to this in your email.

Step two: Email Marketing Strategy just before the Webinar

A few days before your webinar takes place, you need to make sure everything is in order. This involves reminder emails, last minute checks and providing key information.

Send out reminder emails with key information

Many of us have super busy schedules and it's natural for things to slip our minds. For this reason, it's important to make the experience as straightforward and accessible as possible. The last thing you want is for previously interested leads to not take part on the day because they forgot about the webinar, can't find the email invitation, or are missing relevant information. You need to be on the ball.

Take the time to send out a reminder email a day or so before the webinar to finalise all the important details participants need to know in order to be prepared. This includes key information such as:

  • The link to join the webinar
  • The date and time it's taking place (remember to think about time zones if you are targeting people in different states/countries)
  • How long it will last
  • What the format is (e.g. Q&A, case study, presentation)
Webinar email by Asana

This email contains all the key info about the webinar which helps attendees get prepared.

With this information all at hand in one helpful email, your participants can look forward to the webinar whilst also feeling sufficiently prepared.

Chase up lost leads and target last minute opt ins

In some cases, your original invitation email may have gone unread, or the recipient may have forgotten to act. To ensure you don't miss out on any potential sign ups, it's also a good idea to chase up any lost leads you may have by sending a secondary invitation email.

Split your original list segment up into leads who signed up and leads who did not. Then, send those who aren't already signed up another email encouraging them to register for your webinar.

Try using time-sensitive language such as "last chance" or "only x hours left" to really emphasise the importance of signing up and generate a sense of urgency. You could also create a sense of urgency for your webinar by implying a shortage of spaces. This plays on the recipient's 'fear of missing out' and may be the final push they need to sign up.

Step three: Email Marketing Strategy after the Webinar

Your webinar has taken place and everything went well. However, the after-event follow up is still a key part of any good email marketing strategy for webinars.

Send out a follow up email with a clear CTA

Now that your webinar is over, you need to make sure you meet your original goal. No matter how many took part, in the end, it's their actions that really count. Be prompt and send out a friendly follow up email shortly after the webinar has finished to target your leads while the content from your webinar is still fresh in their minds.

In this follow up email, be sure to thank participants for joining in with the webinar before leading on to your main call-to-action. For example, if this was a demo of your product, now is the chance to encourage customers to buy. If the webinar was purely informative, pointing new leads to sign up to your email newsletter or follow you on social media is also a proactive way of expanding your audience.

Finally, you should also include the chance for participants to provide you with feedback. This could be feedback to their general experience with your business, or targeted feedback about the webinar. Either way, you can use this to improve for next time!

Create an on demand video to send to customers

Sending a reflection email to share a recording of the webinar has many great benefits. Firstly, participants who tuned in live on the day can watch back and go over any key points they might have missed or want to play back. They also have the chance to share the content with coworkers or other potential new leads; simultaneously promoting your business via word of mouth.

Secondly, an on demand video can also be a good way for those who signed up but did not tune in (i.e. due to illness, lack of time, unforeseen circumstances, etc.) to catch up on what they missed and experience your content in a different way.

Lastly, you could also send this video to other segments of your mailing list in future, to help promote your webinars in general. By giving new users a taster of the great content you produce, you increase the chances of more people signing up next time.

Webinar email by Email on Acid

Email on Acid do a great job of promoting a past webinar by including a link at the end of this email newsletter.

Key Takeaways

Here are the 4 key emails you should be sending as part of the email marketing strategy for your webinar:

  1. The invitation email
  2. The reminder email
  3. The follow up email
  4. The reflection email

Designing an Email Series for Your Webinar

Mail Designer 365 has all the creative tools you need to design email templates to use as part of your webinar email marketing strategy. Here is an example of a webinar email invitation template now available in Mail Designer 365. Sign up free today to try it out for yourself!

Webinar email invitation made in Mail Designer 365

Webinar email invitation Design Idea - exclusively available in Mail Designer 365


You might also like:

How to Convert Keynote or PowerPoint Slides to Email - Our Quick Guide

Design Effective Onboarding Campaigns to Increase Customer Engagement

How to Get More Responses for Your Email Survey - 6 Easy Tips

Until next time,
Your Mail Designer 365 Team

Get started with Mail Designer 365 today

Start your 7 day free trial and use your Mac to create stylish email newsletters for your business.

No credit card required
OS X 10.11 - macOS Big Sur
Sending internal emails during the COVID-19 crisis

Sending Internal Emails During the Coronavirus Crisis

By Mail Designer 365 Newsletter Academy, Mail Designer 365 Newsletter Academy

The ongoing coronavirus crisis makes the way you use internal emails to communicate with your team more important than ever. As well as providing colleagues with much needed support and guidance during these difficult times, it's also critical that you're able to keep spirits up and continue encouraging productive work.

As businesses all over the world are facing new working environments and constantly changing safety guidelines, your internal communication channels need to be effective. Here are some key pointers on sending internal emails to keep your team motivated and reassured during the coronavirus crisis.

Tips on Internal Emails During the Coronavirus Crisis

Create clear guidelines and reenforce them

Right now, the emphasis on health and safety is critical. Any business operating during these times will have safety guidelines in place to ensure the wellbeing of staff and customers alike.

Of course, as the situation changes, your safety guidelines will also need to be adjusted accordingly. Use your internal newsletter to let your staff know about the guidelines you have put in place and continue to reenforce these in every newsletter to emphasise their importance.

Internal newsletter built in Mail Designer 365

List and reenforce your business's key guidelines in each internal email newsletter.

If anything changes (e.g. mandatory face masks, new rules for lunch breaks, etc.), your internal newsletter should be the first place you communicate this. This helps prevent false information from spreading and keeps everyone on the same page.

Make sure communication is regular

When it comes to internal newsletters during the coronavirus crisis, consistency is key.

Compiling all of the most important information into a weekly or bi-monthly internal newsletter helps everyone stay up-to-date with the latest guidelines and shows your coworkers that you are committed to keeping up the channel of communication.

Sticking to a clear sending schedule also helps your staff know when to expect a newsletter and makes it less likely that important emails will go unread.

Use a clear layout to present key information

How your internal newsletter looks is just as important as what's inside it. If your newsletter layout is a mess, your colleagues will struggle to take in the information effectively and may not even finish reading.

As well as a healthy balance of text and images, you should also divide your email up into clear and concise sections with bold headlines. This helps anyone skim reading get to the most important information and also makes the whole thing much easier to read and process.

Tip: Lots of information to cover? Try using a different color for coronavirus updates. This will help coworkers in a rush to identify this information faster.

Internal email for coronavirus being designed in Mail Designer 365

Using a different color (e.g. red) for coronavirus updates helps your team identify this information faster.

Be reactive and keep up to date with current news

The situation is changing rapidly every day and most of us find ourselves frequently checking up on the latest coronavirus news. Whilst doing this, it's also human nature to question how the latest developments will affect us.

To avoid confusion and speculation amongst colleagues, use your internal newsletter to react to any news that you know will directly impact your business. Some current examples could include:

  • Sick pay
  • Furlough leave
  • Work from home regulations
  • Mandatory masks in public spaces

Inform your colleagues about mask regulations or other important developments which could impact them.

The faster you react to this type of news and put a statement together for staff, the more reassured they will feel.

Use a survey to find out how coworkers are feeling

It's not just external news you should be responding to, but also the general feeling within your team. This is a worrying time for everyone and your colleagues will no doubt have a large amount of questions and concerns which they may want to air.

Use your internal emails to grant your colleagues the chance to tell you how they are feeling in regards to the coronavirus. One great way of facilitating this is via an online survey platform such as Google Forms or Survey Monkey.

Creating an anonymous team survey helps you get a general idea of how your team is feeling so that you can address their issues or problems directly. Anonymity will also encourage colleagues to be more honest without worrying about what others may think.

Create a short, anonymous feedback form to find out how your staff are feeling.

Tip: If possible, sharing the anonymous results of the survey in the next newsletter may also help reassure team members that they are not alone in their concerns.

Point out helpful resources 

Take advantage of your internal emails and use this communication channel as a way to also share useful resources with your team.

This could be anything from official government resources, to an inspiring blog post, or just handy life hacks to help them get through the crisis. Your team will be bound to appreciate this kind of information.

Sharing useful resources with your team is a great way to help them through the crisis.

Most importantly, you also need to let your coworkers know that help is available if they need it. Make sure to point out any relevant support systems your company has in place should anyone be feeling affected by the situation.

Provide a balanced mix of content

Lastly, in addition to all the serious content surrounding the coronavirus, it is also a good idea for you to include some lighthearted, happier news in your internal emails.

Content such as funny cartoons and memes, GIFs, positive internal announcements (e.g. birthdays, engagements, new babies, etc.), tried & tested recipes, or just general feel-good news stories are all great additions to your internal newsletter that will help keep spirits up within the team.

A funny GIF or meme will help to lift spirits.

Creating Internal Newsletters for the Coronavirus Crisis

Internal emails are an essential part of your business's internal communication channels - especially during difficult times. For more general tips on creating an internal newsletter, check out these resources:

How to Create an Interesting Company Newsletter that Your Employees Will Want to Read

Maintaining Your Internal Newsletters - Keep Co-Workers Engaged and Interested in Your Newsletter

Until next time,

Your Mail Designer 365 Team

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