The world has changed in many ways since 2020, and the live event industry was hit particularly hard. Circumstances beyond anyone’s control have forced conference organizers to pivot and come up with creative ideas to reach people in hybrid or purely virtual event formats.
Read our tips below on how to put together an unforgettable virtual conference that attracts sponsors.
1. Sponsored Q&A Sessions
Q&A sessions are an excellent way for sponsors to reach event attendees. Having a virtual platform in which they can outline their content and services in real-time via video and text chat is an easy way to encourage engagement. For best practices, arrange for someone besides the speaker to moderate Q&As and ensure all questions get answered.
Recommended Resource: Virtual events don’t have to be any less engaging than the real thing. Here are 15 proven ways to maximize audience engagement during virtual and hybrid events.
2. Logo Placement
Instead of just having the option of placing a sponsor’s logo on a sheet with a group of other logos, a great way to attract sponsors is to offer a logo placement opportunity on the welcome page of the event. Here, high-level sponsors can place standard logos or video messages geared toward the attendees. You can also offer customized pages within the virtual event, in which sponsors can post live product demonstrations, eye-catching video footage, and more. Other ways in which sponsors can be showcased include:
- Online exhibit hall;
- Main stage;
- Networking spaces;
- Social media channels;
- Rotating ad banners promoting breakouts;
- Gamification with sponsor messaging; and
- Digital show bags where attendees store event content of interest
3. Virtual Booths
At virtual exhibit booths, buyers and sellers can connect in real-time during live presentations, chats, and one-on-one video conversations. Sponsors gain valuable insights into their target audience through Q&As, polls, and surveys at their booths. After the event, they receive the contact info of booth visitors as well as engagement data, such as dwell time, repeat visits, and frequently asked questions.
Recommended Resource: Virtual and hybrid events are here to stay, but there is no reason they should not offer a comparable experience to real-world events. Learn how event sponsors and exhibitors can utilize virtual booths to recreate face-to-face interactions with their attendees at virtual and hybrid events.
4. Sponsored Sessions
As with in-person events, virtual sponsors can host sessions and roundtables led by experts and influencers. Sessions are promoted through multiple channels, including emails, text messages, and push notifications to attendees who expressed interest in the topic. These efforts can create opportunities for deeper connections, as well. For instance, during the speaking session, exhibitors can invite attendees to participate in follow-up, small-group video chats, and one-on-one meetings with experts.
5. Increase Sponsor Visibility via Social Media Channels
Many virtual event providers also feature high-profile speakers in video segments that are shared far and wide through social media. This technique can build sponsor visibility through event highlight stories distributed to media and stakeholders. Also, providers can include video highlights in content promoting the next year’s event.
6. Tiered Sponsorship Opportunities
In today’s economy, many exhibitors will not have budgets for speaking sessions. One way to overcome this obstacle is to create tiered sponsorship options. For example, a sponsor may kick off education sessions with five-minute speaking slots. Smaller sponsors can share brand videos and invite attendees to visit their virtual booths. At the other end of the spectrum, let major sponsors follow up their speaking sessions with intimate ask-the-expert sessions. This option will encourage meaningful dialogue between buyers and sellers, as the problems in communication with large groups will be overcome in this scenario.
7. Branded Event Swag
Consider incentives as well. Some exhibitors offer branded giveaways, such as online books and one-pagers, to deepen connections with target audiences. Just because the event isn’t in person, doesn’t mean the attendees don’t want something they can “take with them” after the event.
8. Sponsored Notifications
Notifications can be sent out to every attendee notifying them when a session or an overview of a new product will begin. This practice enables event organizers to create and monetize very simple packages that they can then offer to their sponsors. For example, organizers can offer event-level or session-level sponsorship or both allowing them to easily give sponsors value and show the value of the event to the sponsors. These options can incentivize the sponsor to put more funds toward their marketing efforts at the virtual event.
Recommended Resource: Learn how to bring your virtual and hybrid events to the next level by following virtual event best practices and garnering a thorough understanding of event planning problems and solutions.
9. Sponsored Pre- or Post- Event Gatherings
If it works for your event, consider having a sponsor organize an exclusive VIP session or gathering either before or after your main event — the same way you would for a physical event. Whether it's a special happy hour networking opportunity or a bonus session, work with your sponsor to plan a special meeting or activity that only VIP ticket holders will be able to access.
10. Add Sponsors to Event Apps
Mobile event apps are not just for in-person events; virtual experiences can utilize them as well to drive traffic to virtual exhibit hall booths, increase engagement, support networking opportunities, and communicate with attendees. By sending push notifications via a mobile event app, event sponsors can communicate important information and updates with groups of attendees effortlessly, regardless of their physical location. For more on how to utilize event apps during virtual and hybrid events, refer to our virtual event guide.
11. Sponsored Event Data
Enrich sponsorship and exhibitor packages with robust ROI reports and share data on virtual booth traffic, leads, sessions, and demos. Leverage insights from surveys and alertness checks. For example, let sponsors and exhibitors see how and when their content is being consumed. Data-rich reports provide deep buyer insights that companies can use to bolster their marketing with personalized event follow-up.
While things may look a lot different at a virtual event than at an in-person one, many of the same principles apply when attempting to attract sponsors. The bottom line is that sponsors are still looking for value in an event. They want to make sure that it is worth their time and money. So, utilizing strategies outlined above such as offering premium and basic virtual conference sponsorship package levels, developing creative sponsorship levels, and presenting unique virtual trade show ideas will go a long way.
If you’re still wondering how to get sponsors for a virtual conference and having trouble thinking of sponsorship package examples, think about what YOU would look for as a potential sponsor. If you wouldn’t opt for something being promoted at your virtual event, your sponsors wouldn’t either. So, get creative, get in the mind of a sponsor, and refer to the tips up above when planning your next event. The world may have changed, but that doesn’t have to stop you from organizing a successful event!