How Virtual Events Can Engage Investors
COVID has cancelled many aspects of our lives, from birthday parties to business trips. For the financial services community, one particular loss has been the cessation of in-person investor events. This year, major financial conferences and events continue to be cancelled or held virtually. The JP Morgan Healthcare conference – the premiere industry gathering held for the last 38 years – cancelled the in-person event and held the four-day summit by webcasts.
And while vaccine distribution in the U.S. is accelerating, virtual events are here to stay. In fact, ninety-three percent of organizers plan to invest in virtual events moving forward, according to a survey by event technology company Bizzabo.
The Digital Advantage
Virtual events will never replace the energy and personal connections that are formed in-person across a conference table, over drinks or at dinner. But with proper planning, imagination, and resources, they can be an effective way to tell your story, and even enable companies to reach larger numbers of people without the confines of a physical space. In fact, last spring, the CEO of software company Okta told Business Insider that holding its annual tech conference online last spring generated 4,000 sales leads –more than its usual Las Vegas in person event.
Without footing the bills for travel, hotel and entertainment costs, virtual events can also be less expensive than in-person events. Yet to make online events successful, investments still need to be made – in technology, in creative production, and in paid media to garner pre-and post-event attention. And given the chance that investors will be multi-tasking during your event, it pays to differentiate your approach to delivering content to a distracted audience.
Our FTI team has not only surveyed the landscape of virtual communications, but also produced several for our clients. When advising clients to stage virtual events we recommend following these core principles:
- Think Like a Movie Producer: Some of the best virtual events are webcasts produced like feature films with voice over, slick video segments capturing the strategy, and additional motion graphics to explain proof points. The best also often segue to a 30-minute live section at the end of the webcast allowing investors to ask executives questions and have them answered in real time, just like an in-person investor event. And don’t make people download a new application, just run your webcast through a browser.
- Use Data Visualization: Investors love data. It is the raw material for their financial models. But you can’t show a spreadsheet in a webcast. Screen-based storytelling provides an opportunity to be more creative with animations and graphics to distill complex investor theories and data-heavy presentations into easily consumable content.
- Invest in Paid Media: Equally critical to content is designing a paid media strategy to raise awareness and registrations for the event among your core audience, as well as lookalike audiences to attract potential new investors. Designed well, such campaigns can increase participation in the event itself and increase website traffic. Targeted social media ads on Twitter and LinkedIn are particularly effective at reaching professional investors, who spend ample time on those platforms researching companies and gathering market intelligence.
- Learn from the Data: One value of digital engagement is better understanding audience interactions. Paid social campaigns offer metrics to gauge effectiveness, such as click-through-rate, conversion rate, and time spent watching the webcasts. These learnings can be used to improve your content strategy and development. They can also be applied to other communications opportunities, including quarterly earnings, annual and ESG reports, executive changes, governance announcements, and responses to policy or legislation.
The coronavirus has profoundly impacted how we communicate to each other, in the office, and to investors. Even though you can’t see them in person, investors still need to know how the virus has affected your market position and go-forward strategy. Virtual communications supported by smart creative and social media campaigns will give you the visibility, reach, and impact your message deserves.