Online conferences, often called virtual conferences, are a solid revenue generator for businesses, associations, and non-profits. By going virtual, we can eliminate some of the costs associated with in-person events, while simultaneously reaping the benefit of re-purposing the content for long-term revenue.
One key revenue generator for any conference comes from event sponsors. However, the conference organizer shouldn’t be the only one generating revenue; sponsors should also see a lucrative return on their investment. When developing sponsorship opportunities, stay focused on your sponsors’ business goals, because offering exposure and brand awareness isn’t enough of a return on the investment. To maximize their investment, sponsors need the opportunity to interact and engage with attendees, and to ultimately increase revenue. In this article, we explore the modern sponsorship opportunities that exist with a virtual conference.
1. Event Sponsor
The coveted event sponsor is the premier sponsor. Benefits of this sponsorship may include serving as the title sponsor or naming sponsor. Event sponsors may also serve as the keynote speaker or be given the opportunity to address all attendees at one point during the conference. These sponsors are included in all the printed and digital event promotions and post-event follow up.
2. Exhibit Hall Sponsor
Just as with in-person conferences, online events provide a virtual exhibit hall. Sponsorship opportunities include:
- Exhibit Hall Premier sponsor – The online exhibit hall takes on the sponsor’s brand.
- Welcome Video – The sponsor is host to a 2-3 minute welcome video when attendees enter the virtual exhibit hall.
- VIP Room – Sponsors host a VIP room for guests that fall within the sponsor’s narrowly defined target audience.
3. Live Stream Session Sponsors
An online conference may include multiple tracks with various sessions that conference attendees can choose from. Each session provides the opportunity for sponsorship. In this instance a sponsor might be the speaker of the session as the session speaker, or they may be a ‘brought to you by’ sponsor and not necessarily associated with the speaker.
4. Recorded / On-Demand Session Sponsors
Not all sessions will be live streaming. Conferences may include a resource center where a library of on-demand sessions can be accessed by attendees. One sponsor could sponsor the entire library of sessions, or one of several individual sponsors could sponsor each recorded session, and sponsors would present the session or simply host it.
5. Re-Broadcast Sponsors
With multiple live streaming sessions airing simultaneously, attendees won’t be able to attend every session. So give them access to the sessions via a recorded archive later in the conference, or host a re-broadcast session with a ‘brought to you by’ sponsor. Short sponsor ads or a welcome video can be added to the beginning of the re-broadcast.
6. Mobile App Sponsor
Today’s conferences are not only virtual, they are mobile. Downloadable apps for attendees are often available that post the agenda, speaker bios, networking events, resources, and even participant directories. Businesses that sponsor the event’s mobile app are front and center and go everywhere the attendees go.
7. Q & A Sponsor
An online event can produce opportunities to network with event speakers that you won’t find at in-person events. One example is a Question and Answer chat with presenters. Sponsors can sponsor the chat or, if appropriate, serve as the moderator and showcase their expertise.
8. Breakout Session Sponsor
The breakout session puts sponsors in the same room with attendees. Businesses are likely to sponsor sessions that cover information directly tied to their core business, where they can be viewed as a valuable resource or solution.
9. Entertainment Sponsor
Sponsors can get on the good side of conference participants by sponsoring the event’s entertainment. This might include a Welcome Session, an online gaming session, or scavenger hunt that runs throughout the event.
10. Virtual Event Welcome Bags
Event Welcome Bags have a high open rate of 70-75% on average, because people naturally want to see what’s in there! This tactic provides the best opportunity for sponsors to demonstrate their product or service.
11. Engagement Marketing Opportunities
It’s important to give sponsors the opportunity to directly interact with the audience. There are many times in a virtual conference where you can embed the sponsor into the content provided during the event. There is also opportunity to embed them in the facilitation of the event such as serving as a chat moderator. Read this article on Engagement Marketing for more ideas.
Return On Investment
What’s most important to remember is the sponsorship must create value for the sponsor. Businesses are in business to make money, and simply sharing a logo or link to a website doesn’t generate the kind of revenue businesses need to validate sponsoring an event. Instead, look for ways that create a strong return on investment, whether short term or long term. These types of sponsorships create true value for your sponsor and will keep them coming back year after year.
Want more help with recruiting sponsors for your online events? Download our newest guide, the Online Event Sponsorship Toolkit. The guide looks at a non-traditional way of creating valuable sponsorship opportunities for online business sponsors. You will learn how to use content marketing to embed the sponsors into the event in a meaningful and beneficial way because tying your event sponsors to the event produces better outcomes for the sponsor and more long-term sponsors for your association or organization. This book includes a media kit template in the last chapter.