Every successful virtual conference also has a plan in place for what happens after the conference is over. The good news is that most of these steps are very similar to the follow-up process for in-person events, so if you are switching to a virtual conference due to social distancing or similar requirements, many steps will remain the same.
However, follow-up is particularly important for virtual events, because traditional hand-shaking and networking aren’t possible when everything is virtual. The connections you make after the event is over can help make up much of that potential networking: Here’s what your brand should plan for.
Have Your Follow-Up Email Ready and Waiting
The follow-up email should go out either a few hours after the conference, or the next day. These follow-up emails are vital for continuing engagement, and should include several basic things:
- A thank you to the participant for being part of the conference
- A brief summary of how the conference went and what excited you most
- Any important announcements you made in the conference (and related links)
- Contact information for your team so that people know where to go to learn more
- A link or attachment where people can download PDFs and video files of the key content in the conference
This is also why it’s very important that your web forms for guests should always collect email addresses!
When Appropriate, Send Out More Direct Advertisements for Services and Products
Your follow-up email should only contain basic links to more information, since you don’t want to immediately spam guests with ads after the conference ends. But in the following days, it’s a good idea to send out an additional email that includes a direct advertisement for your products or services that were highlighted at the conference – as appropriate. Tie this advertisement to the conference so that it’s easy to tell why the user is receiving the message, and think about adding a special discount for all conference guests as an extra incentive to pay attention.
Update Your Webpage and Blog
A good virtual conference also includes an announcement or sign-up page. When the event is over, don’t fully retire that page quite yet. Instead, update it to announce that the conference has come to a successful conclusion, and maybe provide a few details about attendance. This is also a great landing page for including downloads for video files from the conference, sign-ups to learn more, and PDFs of any slideshows or any other materials.
It may also be a good idea to watch traffic to this particular page over the coming weeks, and if it’s still getting a reasonable amount of organic hits, you can continue to leave it up to help inform the curious.
Consider a Live Discussion Group
If your conference inspired a lot of conversation and some great questions, as well as customers interested in diving into the details, then think about taking it further. You can use the same video platform you used for your conference to set up a discussion group, or create a text-based forum event with a similar purpose: Dive deeper into a particular aspect of one of your topics, or allow for continued questions. If it looks like there is long-term energy here, this may be a good time to set up a Facebook Group or similar page for interested guests to join.
Think About Sending Out a Survey
Online surveys are available through a variety of tools, and are an excellent way to gather very specific information about your conference. If you are planning more conferences in the future and want to improve your process, use surveys like these to ask what guests liked and what needed improvement. You can also ask questions about particular products or sessions that you would like feedback on.
Sending out surveys and questionnaires separately is an option, but you may see better results if you include it in your follow-up email, which means it needs to be ready beforehand.
Regardless of sending out a survey or not, use what tools are available on your conferencing platform to examine analytics for your event. Find out when people joined, from what regions, and how long they stayed, as well as what times of the conference got the most attention.
Schedule Additional Social Media Posts Out a Couple of Weeks
Prepare several social media posts for your preferred platforms, and schedule them to go out periodically in the following weeks. These should be simple, friendly reminders of your conference, a thank-you to the guests, and a link to additional resources for learning more (this is a great place to link to your updated conference web page). This helps keep the conference fresh, and links your brand to important events.
Final Note: Keep the Guest List For Your Next Conference
Always incorporate your guest list information into your customer data management – but also keep the list around separately as preparation for the next conference. This is a great target audience when first sending invites for a new conference, and you can create more personalized invitations based on their past attendance. When used properly, content from the conference can last months or even years into the future of the company!