From IRL to URL: How and When to Use Virtual Events

Kiana Ghassemi

Human beings are social creatures. As the world continues to change, the need for connecting authentically and having a sense of belonging has remained constant—a constant that has never been more important. Now more than ever, decision-makers care about the company they are buying from as a whole: brand identity and associations make a massive impact on purchasing decisions. It’s more than just the product you’re selling, it’s more than the story you’re telling, it’s how and why you deliver that story and the experience you create for the buyer.

Whether you’re a B2B SaaS company, a government organization, an HR company, or anything in between, there’s a good reason and impactful use case to host a virtual event.

Let me make it clear that virtual events are here to stay alongside (not replace) traditional in-person events. Virtual events will be forever valuable, now let’s talk about why.

What are the Advantages of Virtual Events?

At this point, you’ve likely experienced one or more of the positives associated with a virtual event. They are micro-commitments, meaning a reduced barrier to entry on more than one level (especially for those with physical disabilities). You don't need to leave the office early, find parking, plan for a babysitter, etc. People from various time zones all over the world can attend the same event together without having to get on a plane or in a car. In short, you don’t need to rearrange your entire day to commit to these kinds of events.

There have been numerous studies that show the importance of the “social” aspects of office life. When you know your colleagues and peers, you feel more connected. Not only does this lead to less turnover, but it also leads to better work. And as more and more people stay and/or transition into permanent remote work, virtual events are a way to bring the social parts of the office and work to your remote office.

virtual events for conferences

Virtual events are also simpler to host— you can put on multiple events a month. While there are logistics involved to collect some information and ship items out (both things Postal can help with), virtual experiences are ultimately less of a lift than a similar in-person event.As there are many reasons why virtual events are important, there are also many use cases and personas that can benefit from these kinds of experiences. These include:

  1. Sales and account-based strategies
  2. Customer success and appreciation
  3. Team building/company culture
  4. Supplementary to a larger event/conference
  5. Part of a webinar

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of hundreds of virtual events - varying in scope, size, and purpose. Below, I’ve provided tactical details regarding how different events can be held for various use cases, all of which can be found within the Postal Marketplace.

*Postal Pro Tip: All of these events below can be tailored to fit your agenda. Don’t be afraid to create room in-between the activities for your own content.

Use Case: Sales

Many organizations host virtual events as a lead generation play when in reality they are effective revenue drivers throughout the entire sales funnel. Organizations that excel in hosting virtual events for sales will do so strategically throughout the buyer’s journey.

Top of Funnel Virtual Events

“Lead collector” events - These sorts of events should remain light and short (under 1 hour). Choose an event that does not need a physical item to avoid being charged per person and to keep registration open longer. In other words, a low barrier to entry for both sides. Some examples:

  1. Trivia challenge
  2. Second City comedy show

Exclusive Top-of-Funnel Events - These events are for a smaller audience so you can allow for questions and include a tailored demo or pitch for 5-15 minutes. You can even use event kits to maximize attendance and engagement. Examples include:

  1. Single cocktail class
  2. Side-by-side Coffee Tasting or Cold Brew Tasting

*Postal Pro Tip: Give your events a seasonal spin to make it feel more timely.

virtual events for customers

Virtual Events for Warm(er) Leads

The event itself can be a bit more complex as we don't really need to spend any time teaching attendees about the product. In fact, it could be just for fun. Use this event to leave a good taste in your prospect’s mouth (literally!). These will likely come in at a  higher price point but that’s true of any tactic you use to move prospects down the funnel. Examples include:

  1. Chocolate + cold brew tasting
  2. Artisan chocolate tasting + learning experience
  3. Wine and charcuterie pairing
  4. Olive oil and balsamic tasting + cheese
  5. Beer/wine tasting
  6. Whiskey tasting

Use Case: Customer-Facing

It goes without saying that customers are important. Not only does keeping current customers happy reduce churn and simplify the renewal process, it can also lead to expansion. Virtual events for customers can be a bit longer (not too long) so your experience can have more flexibility.

For example, a cooking class might be too much for a prospect to commit to, but a customer is already committed. You can even allow them to invite a +1. Family-friendly events are also always a win, oftentimes the kids are just as engaged! Examples include:

  1. Cookie decorating
  2. Pumpkin painting
  3. Cheese/charcuterie board making

Your customer advisory board provides extremely valuable feedback - and you don’t need an in-person happy hour to show them they are VIPs. Host a high-end tasting where each beverage (eg wine or whiskey) is paired with a curated food item.

advantages of virtual events

*Postal Pro Tip (and the one I will scream from mountaintops): Be intentional with your content. Eg: for a cooking class, after the cooking is done and the group is eating, use that time to talk about new features being released in the product and/or do a customer Q&A. For the Customer Advisory Board pairing event, after the second pairing, pause for a discussion on a set agenda item.

Use Case: Team Building and Bonding

Team building is one of the most important investments you can make for your people. When done right, team building leads to a more engaged and unified company culture which ultimately leads to a better bottom line.

Today’s “office” has changed quite a bit. Many workforces have adopted some sort of remote or hybrid approach and consequently, a lot of team-building activities have been put on the back-burner. Team building should be viewed as an investment and not a treat. And through Postal, you can easily host a virtual team bonding event to gather your entire company or a subset in a way that promotes development and boosts morale. In fact, any event in the Postal platform can accomplish this since the purpose is truly to have fun together. Ideas:

  1. Bodyweight workout
  2. Plant/Terrarium building
  3. Craft beer experience
  4. Wine tasting and popcorn pairing
  5. Farm fresh cooking class
  6. Hot sauce making

*Postal Pro Tip: Work with Postal’s Concierge team to include customized swag in each kit like a branded pint glass for a beer event or yoga mat for a workout class.

Use Case: Virtual Conferences / Webinars

While we have seen a slow down of in-person conferences/events, that is definitely not the case with virtual conferences and webinars. Virtual conferences and webinars are typically packed full of educational and valuable content but just because we are not in a convention center scanning our badges doesn’t mean the social parts of the conference need to disappear. Some examples for ideas that you can add in addition to your own already programmed conference or webinar include:

  1. Add a coffee tasting at the beginning of the meeting to get everyone buzzed and focused for the event to come (bonus - the coffee is guaranteed to be better than the vat of hotel coffee!)
  2. Add a happy hour post-event for networking and/or debrief
  3. Host a simple lunch and learn for a break that keeps content flowing
  4. Have a tasting event that intertwines content and discussion for an executive track
  5. Tailored improv comedy event hosted by professional comedians with opportunities for audience engagements
  6. Yoga/stretch break and include one or multiple stretch breaks in between sessions -  keeps your attendees engaged and displays your commitment to wellness
virtual events for HR

How Do You Engage with Participants During a Virtual Event?

Ok, so you’ve decided on the persona you want to focus on, you’ve picked the event you want to execute. Now what?

Lucky for you, should you decide to host on the Postal platform, all the logistics are managed for you. Forget worrying about sending the necessary details to the vendor to fulfill or where the tracking numbers are. Nor do you need to worry about sending reminder emails or calendar holds. So, what should you do with all this extra time? Consider your content! Consider what you want to say and when you want to say it—this will vary not only on the use case and persona but also on the specific event.

Some other tactical tips to up the quality of your virtual event include:

  1. Include a welcome slide and mention any necessary items guests need to have on hand for the event (eg a wine glass, knife, and plate, etc).
  2. Make sure someone from your team can act as a pseudo host and ask questions/encourage others to ask questions as well as keep the event on track if there is a specific agenda.
  3. If you will be speaking about products, make sure there is a person available to answer any potential questions (this can be the same person as above or different).
  4. Don’t forget to have fun! This seems obvious but sometimes it’s not. Don’t be afraid to make the event your own. If there is a theme, lean into it! If it’s a team event, encourage everyone to wear something specific. Good engagement comes from great content and doing things against the grain.

Virtual Events Are Here To Stay

Ultimately, the possibilities for virtual experiences are endless. Whatever your use case may be (and you likely have more than one), hosting a virtual experience will move the needle and get you closer to your goals. Caring is cool and it’s crucial to show your prospects, your customers, your team you care. Get started with Postal to explore the hundreds of engaging experiences, ready to go out-of-the-box in our marketplace today. There’s no better time than now.

Account-Based Marketing
Kiana Ghassemi

An event planner, marketer, and member of the Postal family, Kiana Ghassemi is known for wearing a lot of hats. From product management to field marketing, she can be credited with developing the events product, producing Postal’s events, and executing various high-impact projects. Outside of the office, Kiana enjoys the beach, live music, and her two dogs.