15 Things I’ve learned from running Virtual Summits

By Mark Jones

January 4, 2020

1. Trolls will be trolls.

No matter what you do, certain people will drop negative vibes all over your ads, posts etc. Either reply constructively or delete their negativity right out of your feeds.

2. Always have a backup plan.

We needed it on our first. Even if you don’t need it, it’s such a comfort blanket knowing we can “Get out of jail” if we need to.

3. Create a Master Summit Timeline.

We took time 5 weeks ago to map out every single task we needed to complete (into weekly Trello columns). Now when we run a new Summit, we clone it, set due dates then use Planyway to show a really cool timeline view. You may be interested to know the total number of weeks we work on a Summit (Before and after) is 11 weeks.

4. Email isn’t reliable.

Our biggest pain is emailing going into junk / promo. We need to find other ways to tell people about the events and more importantly ship the All-Access Pass goodies. SMS here we come. Also, have a site chat client on all your major pages as you will be contacted.

5. People do fill in surveys.

I hate surveys, but I tried asking our Attendees to answer 7 questions. We got 430 really valuable responses, which gave us signals on what we need to improve on. That’s around 5% of respondents.

6. M-V-P is the best way.

Last night, we released a new “beta” concept called “ChatJam”. It’s really basic. In the feedback we got, we hadn’t even thought of the things we’d need eventually. Learning here … ASK people what they want, don’t go building what you think they need. In fact, this goes for everything. We do a lot of manual stuff at the moment. Only when we’ve done it over a few conferences and felt the pain, will we automate it.

7. Call for Speakers

This doesn’t really work how we have it now and it will get worse. We’re now creating a bespoke process based on our needs using Microsoft Forms, Flow, SharePoint and ActiveCampaign.

8. EBooks are popular.

We write up our sessions into EBooks. They’re costly to produce, either we write them or we pay for help to write them. It’s worth it, people love ’em! You can then sell them as part of our All-Access Pass.

9. Look after your speakers.

This is the most important one for me. There isn’t enough money in Summits to pay speakers. Some spend days carefully creating their session so if you can think of ways to help them, do it. If we make a surplus then send them a thanks voucher. Plus, set-up an affiliate scheme and have them sign up to that. These are good ways for them to get a little back for their time and effort.

10. Run the Summit as a proper event.

I see some Summits just posting a video on a page and then releasing it for a few days. If you do this, it’s “ok”, but you’re missing out on so much by getting everyone together (at the same time) to discuss the session.

11. Don’t go “live” for an event.

Doing a live event is fraught with issues. You will have no end of slow internet connections, bad resolutions etc. If your speakers are sharing their screen attendees need to be able to see it. It also limits what speakers can do if you force them to go live. Instead, have them create a pre-recorded session and turn up on the day to chat. With not too much effort you can create a page to play a video at the correct time. Failing that you could use a streaming service like OneStream or Restream, but this does introduce poorer quality (and stress!).

12. The Chat transcript is golden.

We get asked for a copy of the Session Chat transcript all the time. This is a great way to add even more value to your attendees. So many questions get answered.

13. A 3-page funnel works best.

  1. Offer Free pass
  2. Offer All-Access Pass (you will need a video on here as it converts 4-5% better)
  3. Thanks page (Ask them to share and also give more information about the event)

We’re about to introduce UpViral on our next that will ask attendees to reshare the Summit in return for some Ebooks.

14. Facebook Ads

You can spend some serious cash on FB Ads. Your cold lead targeting is the most important. Retargeting as you’d imagine, is by far cheaper. You’re more than likely better off creating a video / blog post related to your Summit content and running an ad to that. Then in a second ad retarget the readers / viewers.

15. Follow-up Email series

To get our attendees prepared for the Summit, we like to drop LOTS of value in the form of Ebooks, articles straight into their inbox. (We gave away 3 Ebooks on this one). Obviously, the content needs to be very closely related to the Summit’s agenda.

Hope that helps 🙂

Mark Jones

About Mark Jones

My goal is to help 1000 Microsoft experts have more freedom by selling their skills, working from wherever they choose.

To achieve this, I want to help educate via these sites:

👉 Collab365 Summits - Massive virtual conferences for Microsoft products
👉 Collab365 Today - Aggregation site for the best community blogs
👉 Collab365 Community - Huge blog site including plenty of Microsoft content

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