June 17, 2020

While we were unable to join last week’s HITMC chat on virtual events, we were so interested in the topic that we were inspired to sit down with our client, Elizabeth Glaser, AVP of Strategic Marketing at 2bPrecise, a precision medicine software company, to discuss what it takes to run a successful virtual event in the healthcare IT world.


Read on for insights about how she develops webinars for 2bPrecise and attracts attendees, and what she thinks the future of events will look like in a post-COVID world.


As an attendee, what is most important for a virtual event or webinar? Topic? Speakers? Timing? Technology?

One of the most important aspects of a virtual event definitely has to be the topic. And more broadly than that, the content. You can have an interesting topic, but if the content isn’t meaty, it won’t hold people’s attention.


Second to content, the virtual event also needs to have a good, credible speaker who can engage with the audience and explore the topic at hand more broadly if questions arise. The speaker needs to bring a perspective or insight to the conversation that is valuable. If the speaker is just pushing a product or if the presentation feels too salesy, people won’t stick around for long.


Does the technology for the webinar/virtual event matter? What features do you want to see?

In terms of technology, the specific brand or platform isn’t critical. What’s important is that it’s a stable platform that performs well and is user-friendly for both the presenter and attendees.


For features, interactive tools are a priority. Features that allow attendees to ask questions in real time are important as people will forget their question if you wait for them to submit at the end. The functionality to do real-time polling during a webinar is also important as it’s another way to engage with attendees and tailor the content of the presentation based off the audience.


For longer virtual events, I’d like to see more features to enable breakout rooms so attendees can collaborate and talk about a topic together. Not only does a feature like that help break up the event, it can help simulate some of the experiences you get at in-person events, enhance the exchange of ideas and encourage collaborative solutions to common challenges attendees are experiencing.


What steps do you take to build out engaging content for your virtual event or webinar?

I begin by doing background research on what is already out there on a topic. I interview my sales team to identify gaps, problems and frustrations in the market that would be interesting for us to explore in a webinar to ensure we address real issues people are facing.


From those initial internal interviews, I then find people who can speak to these issues from a non-commercial angle, typically thought leaders or experts in the field who can provide valuable insights. Given 2bPrecise focuses on topics related to genetics and genomics at the point of care, we love to have clinical experts, including physician leaders from our customer organizations, present at our virtual events since they can really speak to an audience of their peers and share the “boots on the ground” perspective.  


Additionally, as we look to build out content for a webinar, it is also important for us to consider how the topic fits into our broader marketing campaigns. For any virtual event, the content should be related to the messaging you’re already pushing out and offer a new, yet complementary, perspective to the topic.


Could you share some best practices for recruiting attendees to your webinars or virtual events? What has worked well?

Personalized invitations are one tactic that we’ve seen help drive attendance to our virtual events. Taking the time to review the target list and identify and tailor outreach to people who might have a connection to us in some way has been extremely successful.


We’ve also worked with our team at Aria Marketing to execute paid LinkedIn campaigns to drive attendance to our webinars, which we’ve found incredibly helpful. Social media offers robust targeting that makes it easy to drill down to the specific skills, interests and fields of study that could be a fit for our precision medicine content. We can also tailor and customize the messaging in the social post to highlight the most interesting aspects of the virtual event to a specific audience, which has helped us in driving registrations for events.


How do you encourage attendee engagement, participation and even networking during your virtual events?

Leveraging the technology such as the chat or question function, and building in time for people to ask questions, is definitely important for encouraging engagement.


It is also important to extend the impact of virtual events beyond just a single point in time by building on the presentation content and creating an ongoing conversation so people don’t forget about the topic and what they learned. Offering attendees something to do after the webinar – like signing up for another webinar or reading a related white paper– can help keep the conversation going and engage the audience with your content beyond the event.


Do you think virtual events will ever replace in-person events?

The last few months have taught us there is a lot more that can be done remotely than we previously thought; we were just unwilling to make the leap before. And while not every conversation needs to be face-to-face, you do lose some of the spontaneity and free-flowing exchange of ideas that can happen in-person, so it’s hard to imagine in-person events will disappear completely.


Virtual events won’t completely replace in-person events, but they’ll be sticking around and continue to grow in popularity as more organizations learn how to execute them successfully.


Thanks so much to Elizabeth for chatting with us on this topic! Be sure to follow the #HITMC hashtag on Twitter to see more of the conversation from last week’s Tweet chat and follow us at @AriaMarketing for more insights on healthcare IT PR and marketing.

Blog post written by:
Danielle Johns
Author: Danielle Johns
Account Director