We recently hosted the first-ever virtual KubeCon + CloudNativeCon EU, which drew nearly 19k attendees. With a higher attendance compared to a traditional in-person KubeCon event, the CNCF marketing committee met to discuss the lessons learned and best practices for participating as a sponsor in a virtual event. Special thanks to Lisa-Marie Namphy (CNCF Ambassador), Michelle McLean (StackRox), and Gary Kevorkian (Cisco) for presenting on the call! 

Here are some key takeaways your marketing team can keep in mind for future virtual events: 

Establish your goals ahead of time

During the discussion, many of our members brought up that having focused marketing goals for the event is critical. Establishing clear goals helped shape the coordinating marketing elements especially as they related to a virtual booth. For example, StackRox and Cisco were interested in generating new contacts. In order to do so, they created specific journeys to nurture these contacts, including targeted landing pages, content, and timeline for further engagements. StackRox, for example, prioritized leads for follow up by BDRs based on the quantity and type of content booth visitors watched or downloaded.

Content is (still) king!

Members honed in on the importance of relevant content as it relates to gathering leads in virtual events. As the event brought together various geographic locations and skillsets, targeted content was important. For example, both Cisco and CNCF leveraged their digital assets as a pre-qualification. Did the lead watch a demo or download a whitepaper about a particular project or product? Follow up with other relevant content or opportunities to connect with subject matter experts.

Members also agreed that it is important to have content that’s relevant to cloud native beginners, intermediates, and veterans. Even though we’ve all been at this for a while, not everyone that attends KubeCon is at the same stage on their journey to going cloud native.

Customize the virtual booth experience

At an in person event, it’s all about the Expo Hall and drawing people to the booth. How do you do it virtually? For KubeCon + Cloud NativeCon EU, StackRox gave away “virtual” swag — for example, anyone who visited the booth was entered to win an Amazon gift card. Other companies offered free trials and software downloads. Also, the entry videos were effective. Unlike at an unperson even where you are competing for attention in a crowded, loud expo hall, here you have a dedicated stage to showcase your company overview, and product intro messaging in a 1:1 setting. Same goes for the demo, and the feedback from several silver and gold sponsors was that this medium worked better for delivering booth demos.

Once they are in the booth, how do you qualify the leads? Traditionally, leads are “qualified” during in-person events, but in a virtual format the process changes. At StackRox, they created a survey as a way to pinpoint interest to further qualify leads. From there, extensive vetting and review of the responses helped categorize leads that funneled into various journeys. In the end, from the intro video, to the downloadable collateral and product trials, to the demos, recorded and live, and right down to the swag, creating a custom experience is important.

Be creative and flexible

As the world of virtual events is still evolving, the committee members encouraged everyone to be creative and flexible. For example, during the event, Lisa-Marie highlighted that Slack was an important way for attendees to engage with sponsors and the broader community. As we look to KubeCon North America, Diamond, Platinum and Gold sponsors now have the option to create their own custom Slack emojis (as a sponsor benefit). Our members also discussed finding ways to condense down content to avoid overload. For example, StackRox offered a mix of short videos, brief technical blogs, and long-form eBooks with detailed security guides.

How are you adapting your marketing strategy as it relates to virtual events? What best practices or learnings would you like to share? Let us know! 

A friendly reminder that KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America Virtual 2020 is happening November 17-20. New and exciting Marketing Promotional Opportunities (MPOs) like virtual happy hours, wellbeing events, diversity scholarships, and more are available through September 30. Learn more here