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How to Monetize Your Online Events

Updated

Host online events that entertain *and* make it rain.

Say you’re in the market for a new social media software. You watch a really captivating virtual event hosted by Product X, and they promise to help you double your reach in 6 months. You want that software—yesterday. 

But the host doesn’t tell you how to schedule a demo, so you’re left to navigate a disjointed website to find the email of a human salesperson, not a chatbot. 30 minutes pass and you give up. 

So you pick Product Y instead. Sure, you’re not as excited about its features, and its marketing is a little hokey, but at least you can actually buy from them. 

All of this to say: Closing is the only thing that counts. 

You could recruit industry-leading speakers to your events, level up your branding and sell all your splashy features really well. 

But if you can’t back up your good content with a good follow-up strategy, you won’t convert any of those leads into customers… and your CMO will start wondering why all those events you’re producing haven’t actually sparked new business.  

No pressure, right? 

But there’s good news: With some marketing savvy and technical know-how, you can create virtual events that drive sales…. and you won’t need to recreate the wheel to do it. 

Here’s how to design webinars and virtual events that drive revenue and ROI. 

Coordinate, coordinate, coordinate

So you executed a phenomenal event that attracted hundreds of new leads interested in Product X. Awesome. Gold star for you. But your sales team was already slammed before you pulled 400 new leads for them, so none of those leads can actually book a demo for 3 weeks. 

Or your sales team does reach out right away, but they use messaging that’s either way too simple or way too jargony for your leads to respond to. (We’re not normal marketers, we’re COOL marketers!)

In either case, lack of coordination = lack of conversion (and some passive-aggressive Slack messages, and nobody has time for that).

So leading up to your events, make sure your sales and marketing teams are fully aware of the event, its anticipated audience number and its demographic/product focus. The more your sales team knows, the more quickly they can prepare targeted messaging for those viewers.

Integrate your virtual event and CRM platforms for even quicker follow-up: Your sales team will receive your audience’s contact info as soon as the event ends, along with other data to inform their pitches and follow-up communication. 

Create content targeted at multiple stages in the funnel

We get it. It’s easy to get sucked into the quarterly sales goals you need to answer for every quarter. But for your audience and potential buyers, their purchasing decision is a long-term game. 

The event manager might need their CMO to approve the choice, or in the case of account-based marketing, the entire C-suite might need to sign off. Their team might decide they don’t need your software for their upcoming event, but that they’ll start shopping before they host their end-of-year gala. 

So many of your viewers might not be ready to purchase yet. What happens to those “not now, but maybe later” leads? Do they leave? Do they hear from you again? Instead of accepting that half of your traffic will be wasted, why not give the crowd that isn't ready a chance to learn more?

So while you’re telling your audience to “book a demo now,” include an option for following up later. Send a pop-up that asks,” Would you like our sales team to follow up with you in 3 months?” or even more simply, “Are you interested in buying at a later date?” This way, they’re in your sales pipeline, but you know not to spam them with “buy now” emails before they’re ready. 

By communicating value with your content, you can convert more people from unsure to interested.

Then once the CMO you’re targeting has convinced his team they need to invest in your product category, they’ll have your company in mind.

Use mid-session offers to generate meetings and sales

But some customers will be ready to buy right away. You might even convince them to buy before your virtual event session is over. Good for you, champ. 

Time to seal the deal. A lot can go “wrong” between earning a lead and closing the sale, though: They could just log off and forget about you (or book a demo somewhere else). They could visit your site later on, spend 10 minutes trying to navigate your clunky UX, and give up. Their sales rep might not be able to answer their questions during a demo—and make the product seem harder to adopt than it is. And confused people don’t become customers. 

That friction is one of the biggest barriers in the buying/sales process, so don’t wait for bad fortune to strike and engage your audience while you have them

Instead, three-quarters of the way through your session, trigger a pop-up offer prompting visitors to take the next step. With pop-up offers, your guests can book a demo, coaching call, or strategy call—or even purchase a product, right there in the session. This eliminates friction and reduces the risk of error, giving both your lead and your company a smoother experience. 

Pro tip: Invite one of your sales reps to the session and connect them to interested leads directly. In an online event environment, that personal touch is the equivalent of the really nice post-interview thank you note. Good to have, and likely to stick out more than anything said in the session itself. But in the spirit of marketing/sales alignment, ask your sales team about this well in advance.) 

Pop-up offers can appear as full-screen or slide out displays during a session (we recommend triggering them about 3/4 of the way through yours.)


Capture valuable data to optimize your funnel

In the age of “attribution marketing,” data-driven strategies and strapped budgets, the pressure’s on to prove ROI right away. 

Virtual event platforms capture ultra-specific engagement data from each of your events: how many people had the event’s tab open in their browser at every 5-minute interval, which individual guests submitted Q&As and poll answers, which guests clicked banner ads and pop-up offers, etc. 

This super granular information can inform your sales strategy and help you troubleshoot. You can identify your most engaged leads, your most lucrative sponsors, your most effective CTAs and more. 

This way, you can pinpoint exactly what’s driving revenue and fix what isn’t—before your CEO starts grilling you about it. 

Integrate with your favorite email and marketing automation tools

But data is only as useful as the people using it. And if, in the craziness of wrapping up your event, you forget to email your attendees to your sales team until three weeks later, you’ll lose out on a lot of those leads. 

Instead, integrate your virtual event platform with the CRM and MAS tools you’re already using. This way, your event’s data will flow straight to your sales team minutes after the session ends… no Google Calendar reminders or follow-up emails necessary. 

Or integrate with your favorite email provider, you can trigger automated emails to follow-up with video viewers or webinar attendees (no.

And as virtual event platforms become more mature, they’re rolling out more and more integration options. 

For instance, BigMarker has deep, native integrations with Marketo, ActiveCampaign, Drip, HubSpot, Salesforce, and more, so your team can use your hard-earned data to drive business. 

Automate your business

Imagine if you could do business 24/7. No company can (or should) physically do this, but through automation, you can make your content available to audiences whenever they need it. All you need to do is pre-record your content one time, then host it on an evergreen webinar, which people can join it as if it's happening live, 24-7-365. 

(Note: These sessions may be pre-recorded, but they’re not just one-dimensional sales videos: If you integrate your webinar with Slack, you can use your phone to conveniently answer questions from prospects in real-time as they're interacting with your content.)

Once your team creates the webinar, your content will do the heavy lifting for you, generating leads, appointments, and sales around the clock. This is especially useful if you’re targeting international audiences in incompatible time zones. 

Better yet, with all the time you save, and the income you generate from the additional webinars you host, you can create even more relevant and innovative content for that audience. With that comes even more traffic, and you’ve got a self-perpetuating sales pipeline on your hands. 

Success Story: DealRoom, a software company that speeds M&A acquisitions by 30-40 percent, conducts long-form product demos and onboarding through its webinar series. Topics include improving M&A processes, introducing agile workflows, and fostering more effective communication across teams. This allows them to spend less time qualifying leads and more time selling. 

“We wanted to create more value through our content. There’s a shortage of educational resources in the M&A industry, and if we can fill some of the gaps, then we can create win-wins, helping practitioners be more successful, and acquiring more customers along the way."

Drive consistent demand with on-demand videos

ROI isn’t just about raising revenue. It’s about getting more out of the investments you’ve already made. So if you’ve already spent 20 hours planning, executing and marketing a webinar, why air it just once? Convert it to on-demand, then post it in your company’s media hub or knowledge base. This way, your 20 hours of work will generate a sales pipeline that sustains itself, and generates tangible business, months after you’re done filming. 

If you charge a subscription fee to your media hub, you can monetize your content while also creating a new community of premium subscribers. 

All you need to do is film an hour of excellent content once a week, or every two weeks, then add it to your stockpile of on-demand sessions. As your collection grows, so will your audience. (Hosts can do even more with media hubs—learn more here.) 

Convert with a great CTA

Now more than ever, we’re lazy (read: selectively budgeting our energy), indecisive, and overscheduled. We’ve all done it, we’ve all seen it, and the entire field of behavioral economics proves it. 

Nobody in your audience will prioritize buying, say, a B2B software over the 428 other things on their to-do list unless they need it by EOD, at which point they’ll just buy the first minimum viable product they find, information and clever copy be damned. 

So you don’t just need to convince your audience to buy. You need to convince your audience to make buying a priority

Start with a compelling CTA right in your webinar: one that vividly tells your audience how your product will make their lives easier, then tells them exactly what steps to take next. When you’re making your pitch, include a clear CTA. 

(Pro tip: If you find yourself overthinking the copy, think about the benefit you’re giving people, and how quickly your product can deliver it to them.) 

Follow up immediately (in 90 minutes) with a clear "call-to-action" steering your audience towards what you want them to do next. 

Don’t be afraid to overexplain: As mentioned, confused people don’t become customers, so the risk/reward of adding that extra step to your messaging works in your favor, here. 

Pro tip: Ever forgotten to cancel a free trial, then get charged the GDP of a small country to use a service you decided against after 10 minutes? Same, and it stings. So if you’re not collecting credit card information from trial participants, tell them so! It’ll make a difference, and could push people from passively interested to actively trying. 

Want to learn more about how the world's most innovative companies are using online events to drive business results? BigMarker's Account Executives are here to help! Contact us at sales@bigmarker.com to schedule a demo and get started! 

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