Virtual events have become very popular in the last two years. Thanks to the continued development and improvement of technology and equipment they have also become more accessible. Like live events, those streamed also rely on sponsorship to cover costs, grow an existing customer base, and gain new leads.
Before we look at how you can use sponsors in an entirely digital event, let’s first explore the benefits of hosting one.
Benefits of hosting a virtual event
Some might think that a digital gathering will attract fewer people than an in-person event. There’s also the concern that it may lack atmosphere and ambiance compared to a live one, and would anyone want to sponsor it?
These are a few benefits that could put those fears to rest:
- A virtual event carries less cost than an in-person one. You could save on venue costs, personnel to do crowd control and hosting, lighting and audio equipment, and a few others. There’s less support staff needed as well for a digital gathering.
- You can reach a wider audience irrespective of their location. Those who are disabled, ill, or without transport will have an opportunity to attend.
- As an organiser or sponsor, you’ll also have access to the attendees’ information allowing you to build a database of potential leads or clients.
- A virtual function or meeting is much easier to cancel or postpone than an in-person event. Rescheduling a live performance can be costly. Not only can you lose a deposit on a venue but also charges related to equipment hiring and catering.
Finding sponsors and how to use them in a digital event can be overwhelming. We’ve put together a few ideas that might be useful:
Use your lower thirds
The ‘lower thirds’ are a great place to display sponsorship information. The location allows the sponsors to display their logo or product for a significant time without negatively impacting the viewer’s experience. You can display it as a banner, either flashing or scrolling.
Make the most of your email communication
We all know how important it is to send attendees event timelines, speakers, and updates in the lead-up to the event. These are perfect opportunities to display sponsorship information directly to the viewers embedded in the email comms.
It’s also more effective if done in a creative and captivating way. Grabbing the audience’s interest before the event could be more meaningful as you’ll have their undivided attention.
Sending out an events program is another way of getting the attendees’ sole focus on what you have to say. It may not be a very popular modern-day method, but it's ideal to promote the benefactor’s brand and share other important information.
Use your reporting and analytics
A benefit of digital events is that you have access to your attendees’ data, including their demographics, log in and out times, viewing times, poll responses, and so much more. Many companies value this data and would gladly sponsor an event in return for the information.
The data can help benefactors decide how to advertise their products, services, or upcoming events. It gives them an idea of what captured the attendees’ attention most and what content they downloaded.
Use your social media accounts
If you have a large following on social media, you could use this to offer sponsorships. They can experience greater exposure when you post the sponsors’ information on your accounts with links to their websites.
You could ensure that your followers view the content by creating hashtags and encouraging them to repost by offering a giveaway that the sponsor donated.
Use breakout rooms, pre-event, and post-event slots
A sponsored breakout room is a great opportunity to remind your delegates of your sponsors’ offerings. You could display a short video, an advert, or a logo of your benefactors’ choice.
The first few minutes before the function or gathering is another chance to capture the audiences’ attention. First impressions are important, and using those first minutes can be impactful if done effectively. Using the waiting room before the event starts is one way to achieve this.
When the event comes to a close, you can display the sponsors’ details in closing credits. Again, it would need to grab the viewers’ attention to prevent them from rushing off. You would need to apply some creativity and ingenuity.
You can distribute a recording of the event to the viewers sometime afterward, in which you can add some advertising information from your sponsor. Digital correspondence expressing your thanks for their participation could be another form of ‘post event’ notification where you can include an advert from your benefactors.
Use an event microsite
A customisable micro-site, like the ones we build at CEG for our events, can be tailored to the clients’ wishes and so it’s possible to promote your sponsors on your event site directly.
Gifts from sponsors
Sending the attendees a gift from the sponsor is another option. Have a look at the following ideas:
- Everyone enjoys an unexpected gift or a souvenir, and at the same time, they get a tangible item that represents what the sponsor has to offer. Aligning the gift with the event’s theme will make it more memorable. You can also use any merchandise that the benefactor may have as a promotional item.
- If you have more than one sponsor, you could compile a goodie bag or gift box with a souvenir from each company. These could include brochures and product samples, and if advertised before the event, it could draw more guests and increase your revenue.
- Another perk that can benefit both sponsors and attendees is an exclusive discount or a voucher. It paves a pathway for patrons to visit the business in person or shop online.
Have creative ‘ad breaks’ to promote the sponsors
A creative advertisement shown in between speakers or segments is a great way for sponsors to show off their product or service offering. Using a celebrity or a well-known person to promote the brand is another innovative way of capturing the attendees’ interest.
You could also host a competition with a special giveaway during these breaks. The guests could either enter before the event, or you could have a live interactive session. If it’s a spectacular prize and advertised while promoting the event, it can increase your audience and benefit your benefactor greatly.
The sponsors can also host a fun activity like an ice-breaker during one of the breaks. You could do this through the hosting platform or an app that allows cellphone users to participate.
Another method used to engage the attendee is gamification. The aim is to create a similar experience to playing a game. It entices the participants to engage while at the same time marketing the product or service.
Use any event apps you have
If you use an app for attendees to register for panels and communicate with each other, you can also use it to promote your sponsor. While the benefactors may not be aware of the promotional opportunities that come with virtual events, there are many fun and creative ways to connect your sponsor and attendees by using these and other channels.
A mutually beneficial relationship
You might not be able to use all of these ideas as they might not suit your or your sponsors. Whichever ones you choose needs to create the most interaction between your sponsors and audience.
Any benefactor will gladly partner with you if they can benefit from the exposure they get from your event. In the end, you, together with your sponsor, can create a mutually beneficial relationship and a great return on investment.