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Are online summits still a viable strategy for connecting with audiences in the digital age?
The digital age, the huge change in the numbers of new entrepreneurs, the pandemic and a bunch of other factors has changed the way we connect with people. And unfortunately, it’s made it harder for businesses to build lasting relationships with their customers.
That said, there’s no reason why online summits shouldn’t still work in today’s world. To do so, however, you need to be more strategic about how you go about running an online summit. In this article, I’ll share my top strategies for success as well as some possible pitfalls to avoid when planning your own online summit.
What is an online summit?
An online summit, or “online conference,” is a form of online marketing that allows you to connect with your customers in a more intimate setting than a standard marketing email. Getting your customers together online in a “real-life” setting allows you to share content, ask questions, evaluate solutions, and discuss challenges with other people who are also experiencing the same problems.
This type of marketing is becoming increasingly popular because it allows you to be more personal and provides you with a chance to build relationships with your customers that can ultimately turn into long-term business partnerships.
Online summits are usually free for registrants to participate in, they draw together between 20-40 expert speakers who share their content in the form of an interview or training and in return for exposure to their ideal client on your event, they promote the summit to their followings and email list.
Online summits are also a great option for entrepreneurs and businesses that want to create a more engaging and interactive experience for their customers. Online summits can be useful for companies who want to engage with their customers beyond the marketing process or those who are looking to create an experience that’s more entertaining than standard marketing emails.
If you’re thinking about hosting your own online summit – start here.
Why do online summits work?
We’ve been getting more and more comfortable with the idea of companies reaching out to us on social media, email, and other platforms. As more people get used to the idea of being contacted by brands, online summits become even more powerful.
Online summits give you a chance to connect with your customers one-on-one, which creates stronger relationships and builds trust between you and your clients. In addition, online summits are also a great option for businesses that want to create a more engaging and interactive experience for their customers. This means that you can use online summits for everything from training and education to training and advice.
Strategies for Success
Before you put on your virtual boots and head out to the online summit circuit, it’s worth considering what you can do to maximize the success of your event.
Here are a few of the top strategies you can use to maximize the success of your event.
Consistent engagement is one of the most important keys to success when it comes to running an online summit. While you want to make sure that you bring the best speakers, workshops, and content to your event, you should also make sure that you’re attending your own events with consistency too. That said, consistency is especially important during the planning stages of an online summit. If you’re constantly revising your event, you should make sure that you keep the planning process as consistent as possible.
Build a Bright, Visual Online Summit Funnel:
Building a funnel for your online summit is a great way to get your customers excited about the event, as well as keep them engaged with the whole process. Remember, you don’t have to build a funnel from scratch — you can also take advantage of site builder services such as Weebly and Squarespace, both of which offer a variety of site builder packages designed for online events. But I will always emphasize that summits should be built with dedicated landing page software that can offer a better conversion process.
Use Social Media to Communicate Key Information:
Focus your social media posts on key information related to your online summit. If you’re hosting an online summit on a specific topic or service, make sure that you include posts that explain the importance of that topic or service.
You should also include social media posts that help to build excitement for your online summit. This includes sharing material related to topics that you’ll be discussing during your event, as well as highlighting the speakers and other highlights of the event.
Also use social media to connect and communicate with your summit speakers/experts. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel with non-social chat platforms like Mighty Networks etc. No shade to those platforms but 99% of your speakers are already on platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, so just create a group there and keep speakers informed that way.
Add pre-summit revenue with Sponsors to your event:
You might be asking – how and why would anyone want to sponsor ME with my summit? Well you’d be surprised. Since adding in sponsors to my summit producing offer for my clients, I’ve seen hosts rake in thousands of dollars for their summits before they even get close to launching. Sponsor dollars help defer costs of building out the event and can even get you into cash-positive status before anyone ever registers for your event.
All you need is some good offers for your sponsors and a way to process those payments. I wrote a whole article on how to create your sponsorship packages here.
Have an Extremely Tight Call-For-Speakers Process:
You may be tempted to accept all of the potential speakers that apply to be on your event, but you should actually accept only the CFSs that you know you can accommodate, who are a perfect fit, and who most importantly have YOUR IDEAL CLIENT in their following and their email list.
Way too many summit hosts go after and accept the wrong speakers for their summits and it spells disaster all around, from building and managing the summit to having speakers promote the event.
Your call for speakers process needs to be buttoned up, and always start with a page in your funnel that sets clear expectations and requirements for every speaker.
Follow Up with Your Attendees:
You may have run a successful online summit, but if your customers don’t actually know that you exist, then all of the hard work you put into the event won’t have yielded any results. That’s why it’s worth following up with your attendees. This can be as simple as sending them a follow-up email or making sure that you’re following up on all of the social media posts related to your event.
Set up a dedicated email address for event-related communications:
Remember, it’s important to keep in touch with your customers after they attend your online summit. That’s why it’s worth setting up a dedicated email address that only receives communications related to your online event. You can use this account to keep your customers informed about the next steps related to your event, as well as make sure that you respond to all communications related to your event.
Make it Easy for Your Customers to Review Your Event:
In an effort to ensure that your online summit is well-received, you should make it easy for your customers to give you feedback related to your event. This means that you should have a dedicated section on your website related to your online summit, or a pop up Facebook group they can connect in, as well as a way to provide your customers with a way to rate your event. You can also make it simple for your customers to rate your event by using a rating system that’s easy to navigate, such as a five-star rating system.
Create irresistible VIP/All Access Offers:
Most summits are free to register and I will always recommend they stay that way, but what doesn’t get enough attention are amazing and irresistible VIP/All Access Offers for your summit. These are the best way to monetize your summit event and are a simple and easy add on. You can create 1, 2 or even 3 bundle offers that are a great addition to the summit that offer the recordings of the speakers, maybe a workbook, a call with you or your team, a half day VIP… endless opportunities.
Online summits are a great way for businesses to build stronger relationships with their customers. That said, it’s also important to remember that these events are not a substitute for face-to-face communication. That’s why it’s worth remembering that you don’t have to rely solely on online summits to build relationships with your customers.
These days, it’s easier than ever to build lasting relationships with your customers. That said, you can maximize the effectiveness of your online summit by following these top strategies for success.
Want to host a summit that attracts your ideal client, sells tons of VIP packages AND your offers? Talk to me today about how to make that happen.