Top Strategies for Monetizing Online Events

June 16, 2020

Jen Laloup

Jen Laloup is CEO of Mobile Growth Association. She brings to Mobile Growth Summit a wealth of experience spanning, publishing, media and news. Her skill set focuses on driving growth and performance, operations, organizational management and content strategy and distribution.

Virtual conferences have now taken a firm hold in the event world, and as organizers grapple with the challenges of recreating physical experiences online, one of the main obstacles they face is boosting monetization. 

While the conference experience is no doubt a different one when shifted online, that doesn’t mean it delivers any less value. In fact, in many aspects, digital events can provide new and exciting opportunities for attendees, sponsors and organizers alike, which all stem from its virtual nature.

Virtual conferences require the same amount of planning, creativity and hard work as material ones, and the need for diversified revenue streams that drive monetization are just as necessary. Here are our top strategies for boosting monetization in online events.

Optimize the space for sponsor promotion and engagement

Events organizers can increase monetization in their online events by recreating the exhibitor booth hall model on an online platform. This means not only providing ad space for sponsors but also placing them on the same tier system that you’d have in a physical hall.

Just as bigger sponsors would have their booth front and center in the conference, top-tier sponsors should occupy a bigger space in a more central spot on the virtual platform. Providing different pricing options for sponsors that relate to their virtual booth size and location takes online events as close as possible to the original monetization model and offers guests a more varied experience when it comes to brand interaction.

In addition, organizers can optimize platform space further by allowing sponsors to feature on banner ads in certain sessions and live-streams, and promote offers on their products with pop-up ads on relevant pages.

Provide data insights for sponsors

Shifting to an online model provides a whole host of data insights for events organizers that they wouldn’t have otherwise had. Now, event hosts can track who went to each booth and attended which sessions, levels of interaction with the speakers and content, and the ways in which attendees networked with each other. 

By requiring guests to fill out a form while registering for the conference, organizers also receive useful demographic information, while other digital processes provide data on sales leads and session feedback. This plethora of data insights is not only valuable for the conference hosts, but also for the sponsors, allowing them to better target their audiences and make more data-driven decisions. Organizers can monetize this information by selling it to current and potential sponsors, enabling them to fine-tune their strategy for follow-up marketing efforts ahead of the next event.

Offer tiered access 

Another great way to increase monetization in online events is to offer different levels of access to attendees. These can go from basic packages or single session access all the way up to a full VIP experience.

By offering a more basic tier, those potential attendees that would prefer a “lighter” version are catered for, and by providing the opportunity to upgrade to access more sessions and features over the course of the conference, organizers are able to monetize through upsells.

For VIPs, event hosts can create breakout rooms that are only accessible to those that have purchased the highest tier. Here, VIP attendees, speakers and exhibitors are able to network and generate potential sales leads with high-profile players in their industry. Organizers can also drive sales by creating special care packages and promotions, which combine different access rights, ahead of the event.

Virtual events can be powerful, valuable, and engaging — even without the usual physical element. However, for organizers to ensure that they create the most meaningful and memorable experience possible, they will need to uncover new and creative ways to monetize and replace previous methods that now don’t apply. Using the above strategies, event hosts can drive monetization in ways that benefit all parties involved.

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Partner Voices

As event professionals and destinations adjust, adapt and evolve in these uncharted waters, it is imperative that substantial resources be put in place for all of the people responsible for planning and executing trade shows, expositions and conventions. An example is Mohegan Sun, which built an industry-leading, COVID-19 Resource Center with a combination of pictures from recently held successful events (the property reopened on May 1, 2020) along with several widely available and informative documents, such as an evolving operational framework: