Kimberly Schmitz Sep 2, 2020 12:00:00 AM 7 min read

How to Make Your High-Touch Digital Event More Meaningful

Since the rise of COVID-19 in March, we have been watching and tracking large-scale tech events in our ongoing audit and analysis of 60+ digital events—brands are moving quickly to transform their content and objectives into digital offerings. 

Without many opportunities for in-person interaction, we’re all seeking deeper, longer-lasting and impactful connection and it’s no different for corporate brands. In a time of rampant uncertainty, smaller “high-touch” digital events bring participants together in intimate conversation, where key objectives and messaging can be cultivated and communicated with more thought and precision. 

High-touch events have, more traditionally, come in the packaging of sales kickoffs, leadership offsites, VIP events hosted by c-suite leaders and other in-person events of 500 or fewer attendees. Now, these same principles are being applied to digital breakout sessions at large events, online events targeting regional audiences and webinars. 

Marketers have always understood the value of connecting with customers, both online and offline, but there is a fine art and science to truly engaging with the audience and keeping their rapt attention in a 100% digital event environment.

Here are a few ways to ensure your high-touch event hits the mark.

One of the most essential first steps in any event strategy is to properly align the experience to your goals. What are your top-line business objectives? Whether creating brand awareness, seeking lead generation or trying to accomplish some other priority, make sure that your call to action is clear and spotlight an actionable roadmap and journey that you’d like attendees to take.  This work is often supported by empathy mapping and consideration of the overall audience experience.

From preparing your speakers and choosing the right technology platforms to providing engaging and interactive content, attendee engagement needs to be a top priority for any event strategy. This is especially important at a time when there is a saturation of competition for the audience’s attention—including work-from-home distractions and the temptation to multitask.

There are a few no-brainer presenter tips that are relevant to speakers at any event, but you can also explore webinar tools like polling, breakout rooms, chat functions and live Q&A to promote more interaction. We like audience participation tools, such as IdeaFlip’s online sticky notes, AhaSlides to launch a fun quiz or VoxVote to add some gamification to your delivery.

"Marketers have always understood the value of connecting with customers, both online and offline, but there is a fine art and science to truly engaging with the audience and keeping their rapt attention in a 100% digital event environment."

For high-touch digital events, the true measure of success will always be quality over quantity and this couldn’t be more relevant in today’s business environment. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all, but the specific metrics you track will be unique to your own business and outcome goals. In addition to attendance numbers, you’ll want to track depth of engagement through 1:1 meet-ups and live chats, externalized sentiment through social media interaction and use surveys to capture feedback. Ultimately, conversion rates will always be where the rubber meets the road.

It’s now very common for larger-scale events to provide an online repository of content available on-demand after an event, including recordings of breakout sessions. In fact, some choose to release this content for extended periods of time to stretch the brand experience even further; we see this shift from a one-off event strategy to a long-term engagement strategy as a critical inflection point in the event industry. 

When designing your high-touch digital event, reflect on what content should be recorded in order to extend and deepen engagement. However, if your goal is to create an intimate environment where participants feel comfortable being more vulnerable than usual, recording the session may stifle creativity or connection.

The crux of it is, we are humans and we will always crave meaningful connections. When brands are thoughtful and thorough with their engagement strategy at high-touch events, connections will come more easily and naturally—as will brand allegiance. 

If you are looking for a partner to provide a meaningful, aligned and engaging digital event, take a look at Impact Point Group’s high-touch digital event management services. 

—Kimberly Schmitz