Launch a Virtual Summit
With everything going on in the world right now, attending a live in-person conference isn’t really ideal (or safe) for most business owners. Not to mention, even before the pandemic, attending an in-person conference was a time-consuming and expensive process.
Unless you lucked out and were able to catch a local conference, the expenses necessary to attend a conference could quickly add up. From the high cost of the conference ticket to travel fees to meals and more, attending a conference could easily set you back thousands of dollars.
As a business owner, if you were hosting a conference, that was entirely different bucket of worms and expenses that you would have to deal with from the cost of renting an event space to catering to travel and transportation for speakers and more!
Luckily, you have the opportunity as a business owner to launch a virtual summit!
A virtual summit is an online conference. A host (a business owner looking to grow their online business) brings together experts for interviews which are broadcast for a certain period of time online for attendees to watch and learn from.
A virtual summit could could provide incredible benefits to an online business owner such as:
- Increasing your email subscribers
- Growing the membership in your online community
- Increasing your revenue
- Building relationships with influencers
- Establishing your authority in your niche?
Virtual Summit Example
You’ve probably heard about virtual summits before and even attended a few in the past. Let’s walk through a successful example of a virtual summit so you can get a good understanding of how it should work.
One of my favorite virtual summits for 2020 is the Mamas Talk Money Summit. This virtual summit has 45 speakers, live Q&As, and lasts for 5 days. The event is all about helping moms to feel more confident about their money and reach their money goals.
As an affiliate for this particular virtual summit, I am able to get a behind the scenes view at how Chelsea, the virtual summit host for Mamas Talk Money, is running her summit.
It’s very obvious to me that she had a very well-made outreach plan for summit speakers, affiliates, and her target audience. Her first email communication to me inviting me to be an affiliate was very professional. The message and instructions in this email are very clear.
While I’m not a speaker in the event, I can only imagine that her email to potential speakers was just as concise.
Her follow-up emails, keeping me in the loop with progress of the virtual summit, are just as great! Once she had all of her marketing materials ready, she sent a detailed email with log-in credentials, a link to an affiliate webinar, marketing resources, and important dates.
In terms of promoting her virtual summit, Chelsea hosted multiple FB live events, recorded informative YouTube videos (like the trailer above), created social media graphics (like the one below made for Facebook), hosted giveaways and created a really informative blog post that explains 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Miss Mamas Talk Money 2020.
Another important component of putting together a virtual summit is creating an informative registration page that explains exactly what your summit is all about, who the speakers are, and the benefits of attending. Here’s a snapshot from the Mamas Talk Money registration page.
You can see that the very top of the registration page includes a countdown timer (which is good for building a sense of urgency) and a call to action button that says “Save My Seat!” (you’ll want to include your call to action button multiple times on the page).
The simple navigation bar at the top give you links to learn about the speakers, see the event schedule, and tells you about the giveaways. Giveaways are actually another great promotional tool and lead generator to entice readers to register as summit attendees. Give your speakers and/or affiliates the opportunity to offer a product or services as the giveaways. It’s a win-win because you save on expenses while the speakers and affiliates get additional exposure!
Note: As a part of my partnership with the Mamas Talk Money Virtual Summit, I gave away a copies of my Affiliate Marketing Income Planner to all registered attendees.
As you can see in the above image, the registration page goes on to explain the benefit of registering for the summit. You want to make sure that your registration page speaks to those burning issues that your target audience faces.
Persuasively explaining how your virtual summit will address those burning issues combined with your lineup of speakers, topics, and good signup incentives will improve your conversion rate.
The example used above is for a virtual summit that recently launched. The results are not in yet, but based on what I’m observing as an affiliate and as a mom who intends to be a summit attendee, I’m willing to bet this will be a successful online event!
For online entrepreneurs, hosting a virtual summit is an amazing marketing tool that could really elevate your business to the next level.
To help you get the ball rolling, here are 10 steps to help you launch a virtual summit.
How to Host a Successful Virtual Summit
Step 1: Plan the logistics and content for your virtual summit.
Your virtual summit has logistics that should be determined from the very beginning!
- When will your virtual summit be held?
- What the event dates?
- How long will you allow your interviews to be viewed for free?
Most of the virtual summits that I’ve attended have lasted 3-5 days at most. The content presented on each particular day is usually available to view for free for 24 hours. After 24 hours, the content can only be viewed if you have purchased an All-Access Pass.
Additionally, you need a plan for your content. As a host, you are responsible for the overall creative direction of the entire online event!
- What is the name of your summit?
- What topic(s) will your summit cover?
- What guest speakers would you like to feature?
- What topics are you interested in having them speak about?
In terms of the number of speakers you need, there is no magic number. However, you can aim for 10-30 speakers if you need a number. The more speakers you have, the more logistics you have to work out, so keep that in mind.
Step 2: Choose Your Technology
A virtual summit will require software and tools for the live event portion and the recorded replays that will be made available after the live event ends. Other than your computer and internet connection, you will need a good web camera, microphone, landing page software, payment system, and affiliate system.
Here are a few suggested tools:
Recording Speaker Interviews
You can use Zoom to record the interviews with your speakers. If you are looking for a good web camera and microphone, here are the affordable tools that I use to record interviews, explainer videos, create online courses, and more.
Hosting Your Recorded Summit Videos
Both the Teachable platform and the Thinkific platform have built-in features that make it very easy and affordable to host a virtual summit. These platforms have built-in templates for sales pages, an affiliate system, and the ability to drip content over time to registered attendees. You can also easily accept payments and create a membership site with both of these platforms.
Related Article: How to Turn Your Physical Event Into a Virtual Event
Step 3: Convince guest speaker to join your summit.
Speaker outreach is essential! You want to reach out to experts/influencers in your field who are a good fit for your virtual summit. Ask them to be a guest speaker by positioning the opportunity as a collaboration. Let them know that the collaboration is an opportunity for them to gain exposure, increase authority, and grow their email list.
As an example, from one virtual summit that I participated in, I was able to gain exposure and grow my email list. I added another 1,000 subscribers by offering virtual summit attendees access to two of my online courses.
Step 4: Create a sales funnel.
Your sales funnel is basically an automated email sequence that is triggered when someone opts-in on you registration page. The sales funnel you create for your virtual summit does not have to be super complicated. You will need and opt-in/ registration page, and upsell page for the All-Access Pass, an order page, and a confirmation page. Here are a few of my favorite templates for landing pages.
I’ve used ConvertKit in the past for creating sales funnels. Here’s how I make really easy sales funnels.
Step 5: Record your guest speaker interviews.
Recording interviews with your guest speakers is clearly a crucial part of the virtual summit creation process. You need to be prepared to ask direct questions (preferably questions you have sent to your speakers ahead of time so they can be prepared).
Make sure that your audio quality it excellent (again, a good microphone and pop filter will help tremendously). Keep all of your interviews to 30 minutes or less.
Step 6: Prepare your virtual summit landing pages.
During the execution of your summit, you need an online space to broadcast the interviews live for a short period of time. This is best done by using branded landing pages that you create in advance.
Step 7: Prepare the membership site for those who purchase the All-Access Pass.
One of the primary ways that you are able to generate revenue from your virtual summit is by offering an All-Access Pass. Those who purchase this pass get lifetime access to the membership site where all of the guest interviews are stored after the free access period has ended.
All-Access Pass purchasers can also be given additional resources and content in the membership site as a benefit of having purchased the upgraded pass.
Step 8: Set up your affiliate program.
By offering a financial incentive through an affiliate program for your summit speakers, you are encouraging them to effectively promote your online event. Your affiliate system needs to be integrated with your sales funnel. You will assist your speakers in signing up as affiliate and provide them with the swipe copy and graphics they need to share the summit.
Step 9: Promote your virtual summit.
For the first few weeks, you will be promoting your summit to get as many attendees to register as possible. I encourage you to use every promotional outlet available to you. Consider:
- Podcast interviews
- Guest Blogging
- Facebook Groups
Share you virtual summit links on all of your social media platforms and run paid ads. You don’t have to go crazy with an ad budget, but the more social shares you can get, the better the better the exposure, turn out, and conversion rates for your virtual event will be!
Step 10: Host your virtual summit!
The final step is executing your virtual summit by broadcasting the interviews live at the designated times each day of the event. Make sure you post them on time each day and be prepared for tons of email questions from attendees.
Follow-up on important tasks.
Your virtual summit is over, but you will still have some follow-up work to be done.
- Make sure your All-Access Pass purchasers have access to the membership area
- Make sure your affiliates have been paid and that there are no issues
- Follow-up with your speakers to thank them for participating
It’s smart to keep in touch with your guest speakers so that you can leverage those relationships for future collaborations.
Hosting a virtual summit is a wonderful way to boost your authority, create new leads, build revenue, and more in a relatively quick time frame. Clearly, there is a good bit of organization and planning involved, but the potential results are worth the effort! Good luck!
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Still curious about the process for hosting a virtual event?
You may enjoy these resources:
7 Tips to Turn Your Physical Event into a Virtual Event
How to Make Money Creating and Selling Online Courses
How to Market Your Side Hustle