WWYDIRL (What Would You Do in Real Life)? This is a question that I often ask my students and clients when we plan organic or monetized digital marketing funnels for their businesses, campaigns or projects. It’s a question that seems basic but we often forget to think about it in our planning processes.
There’s a reason why grand openings and special events have been used by brick-and-mortar businesses for decades (even centuries—the first ad promoting a business can be traced back to hieroglyphics). These marketing tools give us the ability to create anticipation… and anticipation is a leading conversion tool. Fun fact: Research shows that we get more joy from anticipating a vacation than the actual vacation itself provides… our excitement actually peaks during the week prior to departure.
Social media, big data, email marketing and the like have brought with them many new and effective marketing opportunities. Many businesses use these tools to promote their visions, values, brands, sales, and offers… but I notice that they often fall short of using them to create mini virtual events that activate feelings of anticipation.
Let’s say that you’re launching a new product. Whenever I think of exciting product launches, I think about Apple. Remember the images of Steve Jobs in his jeans and black shirt holding iPhones and passionately discussing the benefits of owning one? Remember how you felt like it would transform your life?
This can easily be mimicked online with video tools and even traditional blogs, but it’s important to be strategic about it. Here are three tips for planning a successful, virtual event:
1. Plan the big day. What will you call the event/launch date? What symbols will you use to define it (think Go Red for Women, wearing pink in October for breast cancer awareness, etc.). Remember, real-life symbols carry over to the internet in the form of pictures and video (again, WWYDIRL).
2. Make a promotion calendar. I recommend announcing the virtual event a month in advance and planning three educational videos (or blog posts) each week prior to the launch (pick a specific day of the week to post these videos so that your audience knows when to expect them). What can you say about the product or event that gets people excited? A good formula to follow:
- Week 1: The “why” or transformation behind the product or event. How will this limited time offer or new product change the lives or your ideal customers.
- Week 2: The “who” behind the product or event. Talk about the day-to-day lives of your ideal customer and how converting to the product or limited time offer might enhance the details of their lives (this is different from week one because it gets more granular and step-by-step). Don’t forget to keep the focus on benefits versus features as you plan this content.
- Week 3: The “what” behind the product or event. This is where you can give a “sneak peek” at what’s coming. Maybe there’s a picture of someone modeling the new clothes, tasting an ingredient in the new recipe, or unboxing part of the product. If it’s not a physical item, but say an educational event that you are promoting, then maybe you give a mini lesson or strategy.
- Week 4: This is the actual event. Be sure to plan for cart openings and any other technical capabilities you will need to host the event.
- Week 5 and beyond: Follow up. Manage objections or warm leads who didn’t buy. Showcase testimonials of customers who do buy.
3. Use the right tools in the right places: Place your weekly videos (or blog posts) in as many places as possible online. This includes on your own website, email marketing, and social media channels. Facebook or YouTube live are great ways for beginners to record videos because you can repurpose them to websites and email marketing and the video technology for recording is already embedded in the apps. If you are using traditional blogging for your online event or product release, be sure to use social platforms and email marketing to link those entries to places where your ideal customers will discover them. Finally, don’t forget to make smaller posts introducing and recapping the weekly cornerstone content above on the other days of the week.
Don’t forget that to be successful, online events need to capture customer data. Be sure that there is a path to collecting data in the form of email (and in some cases SMS) opt ins on your website. Also make sure you have a proper email marketing or CRM program to capture those opt ins. Finally, be sure to link to those opt-ins on your social media profiles as well (another often-skipped or -missed step in social media marketing).
Once you plan and implement a few online events, consider monetizing the cornerstone content to reach a broader audience.
Finally, and most importantly, use these events to engage with your new and current customers and audience members. Ask questions to your audience on both social media and email. Engage with replies and answers that you get on every medium. Remember, you would never leave a question or comment unanswered at an in-person event, so don’t do it online. WWYDIRL.