Following up with the second week of the circuit breaker in Singapore, we want to bring you through preparing for the post-COVID-19 era and talk to you about bringing events offline to online. Our founder, Sharon Neo, is also the founder for Digital Marketing Summit Asia, Asia’s largest virtual summit and networking event for digital marketers boasting over 50,000 regional participants while gaining almost 400% increase in profitability.
Peatix is a global event ticketing platform that provides event organizers with powerful tools to create, promote, manage and sell-out events of all sizes. Event organisers are able to capitalise on the low ticketing fees available and fully customizable event pages to promote, sell tickets to, and manage their events with total ease.
In this “era” of social distancing, how can we continue to look towards transitioning to hosting our events that are traditionally offline to an online summit? We have summarised the video into key takeaways from the insightful discussion between Sharon’s and Michelle from Peatix as they go through questions about migrating an offline event online.
1. Existing Government Grants available for Businesses
Through this period of uncertainty comes a silver lining. Sharon has shared that there are existing government grants that we can tap on to help with businesses continue with their marketing efforts. We have also compiled 6 grants that you can tap on for your digital marketing efforts as well here!
2. Limitations of Offline Events
At the beginning of Digital Marketing Summit Asia in 2015, it was hosted at a venue that has a maximum capacity of 250 attendees. The following year, Sharon had aspirations to expand the event’s reach regionally to enhance learnings. Upon finding out that the cost incurred to run 3 separate events in Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, there was a need to find another way to reach more people across different geographies at a low cost. After making the decision to go online in 2016, the results were phenomenal, with 11,000 people signing up for the event compared to an offline event of a maximum capacity of 250 attendees.
3. How do you go about planning a virtual summit?
Firstly, there is a need to think about the overarching point on why you are doing this event. The purpose and the rationale must be very clear along with the target audience that you have identified. For Digital Marketing Summit Asia, the target audiences are SMEs and startups that did not have the know-hows of digital marketing at that point. In addition, there is also a drive to bring more Asian-focused marketers onto the platform to shine spotlights on them. Secondly, there is also a need to curate content and find speakers that are willing to make time for the event and believe in the purpose to carry out the vision. This would help with planning an event, be it offline or online.
4. What is the main difference between the planning of an online event compared to an offline one?
One main difference is what are the product offerings for both types of events. For offline events, the attendees are familiar with receiving a brochure or workbook along with a free lunch and a chance to meet speakers live. For online summits, the bundle offered to the attendees were different. In the case of Digital Marketing Summit Asia, it was a free event that anyone interested could sign up for during the duration of the event. However, if the attendee wanted an option of assessing information at their convenience, they would have to pay a nominal fee. In addition, they will get access to trials, offers and discounts, consultations and free access to courses. The value proposition of an online event has to be higher as the community is relatively new to this and has to be convincing for them to come on board.
5. What are the ways that have been used to keep your virtual audience engaged?
Firstly, there is the use of Facebook groups to serve as a community to ask and answer questions throughout the duration of the summit. Speakers and attendees could clarify their doubts in the same platform. Secondly, a live session would undoubtedly be better than recorded ones as Questions and Answers can be held with the attendees in real-time. Secondly, there are also Live Panel sessions, where live Question and Answer sessions can be brought in to a panel of speakers to address any doubts or concerns. Ultimately, the platform chosen to host the webinar on should align with what you envision the event to be. In the case of Digital Marketing Summit Asia, there was a need to find a platform that not only allows the speakers to talk to the attendees, but also allowing the attendees to talk among themselves to improve discussions and opportunities to connect. Thirdly, certifications were given out when the attendee accomplishes a predetermined benchmark to encourage attendees to consume content. Lastly, Michelle also shared an interesting way of introducing gamification into live webinars by encouraging the participants to engage in an action to unlock more content to be shared.
6. Are audiences ready to pay for free content now?
The key is the content that is being offered to the audience. For Digital Marketing Summit Asia, the curation of speakers is stringent to make sure that the quality of the summit is high. There would be reviews in place to review the content, remove any elements of upselling of products and try to bring out really good and insightful content into each webinar in the summit. The content that you are bringing forward has to address the pain points of the audience and should seek to solve any problems that the audience might be facing. If the content is valuable to the audience, they would be more than willing to pay in order to save more money in the future.
7. What are some ways an event organiser can monetize during an event and post-event?
In the case of Digital Marketing Summit Asia, they have adopted a freemium model where the base content is free for anyone to enjoy during the duration of the summit. For added bonuses and lifetime access pass, that is where monetisation will kick in by providing much more value to the paying customers. With regards to post-event, monetisation can be applied with the huge database that Digital Marketing Summit Asia has accumulated over the years.
8. What’s usually the time that you see people starting to lose attention and dropping off streams?
It would be very dependent on the topics but as a rule of thumb, a timeframe of 45mins to 1 hour would be suggested. Most importantly, the content provided to the audience has to create value for the audience in order to keep them engaged.
9. Is there an ideal time to hold live-streams?
Technically, you can choose any time when you want to hold the live-streams, For Peatix Group Chat, Michelle has identified that lunchtime was their chosen timings to fit into the schedule of those working from home to take a break and listen to quality content curated, Another timing could be early evenings to transition towards the end of their official work duties. Ultimately, it depends on the type of live-stream content, if it is entertainment it would warrant a different time slot altogether compared to a professional video or a fitness content altogether. To know best, a test and feedback method would work best to best understand the behaviours of your audience.
10. There is a large market for corporate events like Dinner & Dance since the early 80’s and the market is still swamped with these gigs. Is it possible to bring such events online?
This would have to go back to the purpose of the event and the audience involved. The possibility is high, but it depends if there is a right fit. For example, younger crowds tend to feel comfortable sharing or attending an online event and implementing a virtual corporate event would work.
11. Pricing Mechanics of a Virtual Events
Drawing the actions of the fitness industry in the time of COVID-19 lockdown, a lot of fitness studios create a lot of live classes online to maintain their engagement with the audience and build affinity with new users. This would help give a preview to the audience what they can expect before progressively introducing them to a paid service. Slowly, they transitioned their operations to hosting both free classes at a lower frequency and paid classes that have more dedicated experiences and exclusive attention from the instructor at the right price point.
12. Do you think online conferences (corporate/summit) will work for the SEA region? Do you think the crowd is ready for this?
It is definitely viable! Travelling is one of the main concern in terms of cost in terms of attending physical events and virtual events would prove to be an effective solution to help lower the costs to attend such events. In addition, SEA region is well-known for consuming video content which shows that they are familiar with using such tools and it will not be something that is drastically new for them to adapt to.
13. What are the best practices when marrying online & offline events into a hybrid event?
Firstly, the technical tools supporting the event have to be good in order to bring it online. Secondly, the value proposition has to be clear for the audience to choose between an offline and online setup. Thirdly, as an event organiser, we have to take into account the needs of the sponsors if they require a booth on the offline event to reach out to customers. Lastly, a hybrid event has several variations: both offline and online events running concurrently, a recording of offline events and selling of it online, offline events supported with online tools, etc. It is important to evaluate which one fits your business best and understand the pros and cons of each option.
14. Which virtual platform did you use to host your live streaming?
Firstly, there is StreamYard to broadcast on Facebook Live as it allows co-streaming to be broadcasted live. Secondly, YouTube Live was also used to conduct Digital Marketing Summit Asia’s live panel sessions due to the quality and the bandwidth to handle large amounts of traffic. There are also new resources and solutions that are available like Adobe Connect, Amazon Chime, etc. Ultimately, you are looking for a tool that can serve your needs.
We end off with a short discussion on the upcoming workshop that Sharon will be conducting in conjunction with SMU Academy targeting specifically the Events and Entertainment Industry named: Surviving & Thriving in The Isolation Economy: Business Model and Technology Innovation for Concerts, Conferences, Meetings, Exhibitions. With about an estimated 1.3million Singaporeans are entering into “hibernation” mode where social interactions are kept to a minimum, there is a high level of uncertainty on the current situation and this brings about a new set of challenges for businesses. In the course, companies can learn about how they can adapt in this time period, the solutions that are currently on the market, how they can identify new opportunities and important financial knowledge. This course is also heavily supported by Skillsfuture and SMU Academy to provide affordable learnings for the participants. There are also courses for Food & Beverage (F&B) Industry and Education, Enrichment & Tuition Industry by The Isolation Economy so be sure to check them out in the links above.
A copy of the video discussion can be found here and on Peatix’s Facebook Page. If you have any other questions regarding Digital Marketing Summit Asia, government grants, digital marketing or any other relevant questions, feel free to reach out to us to schedule a chat here.