Running multiple event environments can be a daunting task. Separate registrations must be set up for each environment, they must be configured and thoroughly tested, sponsors must be re-added, content must be re-added, and users have to reregister time after time (and then update their profile with the same information).
Persistent Digital Environments
If you’re running an event each month, members might get tired of filling out the same registration, non-members might be turned off to the platform, and ultimately monetization will decrease. Not to mention, all of the content has a limited lifespan. Is your environment a 90-day archive, 120-day archive, or more? Create reasons for people to return and consume this content throughout the year in a one-stop, persistent digital environment.
Persistent environments are intimidating for a simple reason: lack of education. It is uncharted territory for many of you. The following questions are quite common:
- How is the reporting structure set up?
- How do we differentiate campaigns?
- Can we communicate with specific groups?
- What can be done in a persistent?
If you are having questions like this now, feel free to contact me. Given it is such a new concept, I am more than happy to assist you with develop a winning strategy.
Full-Service vs. Self-Service Environments
There are two types of environment services, but which one is right for your organization? Full-service gives environment owners the luxury of knowing items are being completed with accountability. Simply hand over the content and pay an hourly fee for the work. If your budget can afford it and you have limited organizational resources, this is the best choice.
For others, self-service is the best option. Self-service affords you monetary savings, flexible configuration and management of the environment. In addition, you directly control the deadlines and manage many aspects of the event. Not to mention, self-service users can explore hidden uses of the environment that may solve a business need.
Once you’ve defined this, you’re ready to think 365!
Five Basic Strategies
Assuming you have the environment basics like a provider, marketing, and scope, let’s take a look at five basic persistent environment strategies you should be thinking about.
- Monetization & Sales
It is important to know your attendees, but in a persistent environment you must define who has access to what content. The first objective of this strategy is to determine how many live events your organization will conduct throughout the year. This is extremely important because you are going to tie all of your reporting structure to the event launches.
You will develop multiple attendee types/packages based on your strategy with unique registration pages, external messaging, and content security/availability for each package.
By creating unique attendee packages, reporting and business intelligence can be specifically drilled down to understand marketing efforts, content consumption per campaign, re-visits per campaign, and more. Don’t worry: you can also take a look at the entire use of the platform by creating reports for all packages and events.
If you are an association or membership-based organization running this persistent environment, think about charging an annual subscription to the environment. This can be a revenue generating opportunity to help pay for the environment and educational content.
Within a persistent community, you have the ability to reach your entire audience with one or multiple external communications. Define a communication plan that is non-invasive and concise to ensure the attendees are current with environment activities.
It is important to limit your communications. You want to create an informative plan that keeps attendees engaged and coming back for more of your live and on-demand content.
Remember discussing different attendee types and packages? You have the ability to target campaigns based on topics to the specific attendee groups within your environment. Use this to your advantage because different communities require different communication campaigns. You would not send a release in French to your Spanish speaking attendees…would you?
We all know, or should know, that content is king…or queen! In a persistent community, there are many areas content can be used and delivered. Just like your communication strategy, a content strategy must be developed.
Will you launch weekly webcasts in bite-sized segments throughout the year? Will you launch monthly, 4-hour events with subject matter experts? Maybe content is distributed quarterly. However the strategy is developed, ensure your attendees are informed and receiving the most important elements of content.
Don’t forget, quality is the most important. From smooth audio or video format delivery to engaging topics and stimulating subjects, quality content will keep your community buzzing with anticipation for the next offering.
This is another opportunity to develop members and multiple attendee types. Again, remember the attendee strategy of multiple packages? Content can be secured or locked to specific groups, which may entice non-members to join you.
Monetization & Sales
I have written a few posts about monetization, audience generation, sponsor packages, and more, but this brings a whole new twist to selling virtual. For traditional events, sponsors are sold on a single or multiple-day event with an archive period. This is often difficult because the event owners are relying on one or few days of activity to fuel the sales pipeline.
Not for persistent event environments…at least not entirely.
Strategies can now look at event-based, quarterly, monthly, or weekly sponsoring subscription models. If your environment houses 5,000, 10,000, or 100,000+ attendees, you have facts and figures to provide sponsors on potential activity throughout the year.
Then, specific campaign models can be monetized for one or many sponsoring brands. The combination of sponsorship packaging is endless. From webcast series sponsors and event ads to meeting rooms and exhibit halls, work with the account executive to determine the best approach for your entire 365 monetization program.
The platform is last, but certainly not least.
People ask all the time, “What should my environment include?” There are major components like the following:
- Home landing page – call to action typically
- Social media integration
- Tie-in external webpages (This allows your attendees to stay inside the platform to gather any and all relevant information.)
- Meeting rooms
- Auditoriums or theaters
- Webcasting products (One may fit all needs, but you may need to use multiple types)
- Exhibit/Sponsor directories
- Resource libraries
- Learning management areas if applicable to continued education or other credits
- Additional languages if applicable
- Identification, credential, and achievement badges
- Profile Configuration
- Help desk(s)
- Data portal (Administrative back tools for understanding the community metrics.)
Trust me – there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. You will never introduce 100% of the features at the beginning of your project either. This solution should be developed with your provider’s (or agency’s) account executive or account team. Working with the provider is highly recommended to create successful event environments, monetization strategies, next steps, training, and discuss upcoming enhancements to the product.
Persistent communities are moving full force into the future because they are valuable to the attendees, content, monetization, and engagement strategies of the organization. Plus, it cuts down on the management of multiple event environments and content.
The recommendations of strategies within this post are meant to be an introduction to get you thinking about persistent environments. If you feel that your organization is ready for the next phase of a live or hybrid digital presence, put this on your radar.
It may help your organization keep track of user database in ways never experienced. Not to mention, it will put the power of marketing and business intelligence at your fingertips 24x7x365.
Post contributed by Matt Goodwin