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How to Take Your Event Virtual: Lessons From CAB

Aly Kline

Head of Advocacy & Community @ AdRoll

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At AdRoll, we love our Customer Advisory Board (CAB) members. This group of roughly 30 customers from across North America traditionally meets twice a year. We cherish the time spent with these marketers (from cities both small and large), who meet with our product, customer success, marketing, and executive teams. Our goal for these meetings is to discuss candid feedback on our product roadmap, share best practices around new marketing channels and measurement, and foster sharing and learning among our awesome CAB community. 

By the same token, we value doing right by our customers and the greater community. Because of that, we’ve taken precautions to avoid unnecessary risks given the current health climate with COVID-19. We decided to make our first CAB of the year a virtual event so that all members can safely and comfortably join us from the convenience of their own homes and offices. As many of our CAB members are naturally dispersed around the country and already connect with us virtually, we hope that moving to a virtual event will serve as a seamless way for us to connect and catch up. 

With many companies now facing the same situation of having to move their offline events online, we want to share the five tricks we’re using to ensure this is still a memorable and engaging experience: 

Be Transparent and Communicate Plans Early

The appetite for our CAB this year had been a huge reason why we didn’t outright cancel this event. With over 25 customers registered after our first invitation, we quickly made plans to shift from a physical to virtual experience and subsequently had to communicate that plan to our customers. Veronica, our Customer Marketing Manager, communicated the reason for the change and used it as an opportunity to gather feedback from customers on what they’d like to see in this virtual format.

Find Ways for the Group to Connect Virtually Before and After Your Event

In addition to a calendar invite to “save the date” for our virtual CAB, attendees also received an invite to a private Slack channel (part of our broader Growth Guerilla Collective community). Veronica plans to use the channel to communicate relevant CAB event updates and answer any questions leading up to the digital event. We’re also encouraging all of our members to introduce themselves prior to the event (name, company, title, and a fun fact) to help put faces to names once we meet virtually.

The Slack channel is both a great resource for communicating with our CAB members leading up to the event and a way for us to engage with them all year long. We plan to use this channel to share exclusive content, answer top-of-mind questions, and continue to foster relationship-building among our fellow marketers. This Slack channel is a great value add that fits perfectly in our new virtual event landscape. 

Streamline Your Virtual Agenda

Our typical CAB agenda spans two days (clearly not viable for a virtual event), so we scaled down the day to only include the most important sessions. Before we scoped the agenda, we discussed the top three things we want our attendees to take out of each session, as well as the top three things our team is hoping to uncover. We ended up with a 2.5 hour, highly interactive agenda, including virtual, roulette-style meet-and-greets, polls, chat boxes, and supplementary content pieces. 

Inject Some FUN Into the Process

It’s our top priority to make our first virtual Board meeting as engaging and fun as if we were all together. As we adapted our agenda to this new format, we asked our Customer Advisors to complete a short three-minute survey on what they’d like to get out of the event and how we could optimize the experience to best fit their needs. To show our gratitude and collect feedback, we worked meal delivery gift cards, pre-event direct mail, a “know before you go” digital packet and post-event surveys into our plans.

Educate, Educate, Educate

The current situation has proved challenging for everyone in the e-commerce space, but as partners to our customers, we have the opportunity to educate them on the opportunities direct-to-consumer (D2C) businesses now have. Our advice? Provide your audience with useful content on how to navigate uncertainty and share relevant news articles or blogs that will help make their work lives more manageable.

On a Final Note

We hope that you find these tips useful for creating an engaging event experience. They’re currently helping our team navigate through this challenging time, and we’re confident that taking our CAB digital will open new doors to connect with our customers more often throughout the year. We’re excited to present this new format to our customers and can’t wait to hear their feedback post-event. After all, we’re in this (new virtual world) together!

For additional reading around how your business can prepare for a new normal, download your copy of Tips for Acquiring and Retaining Customers Through Economic Change.

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