Events Across the Funnel: 10 Virtual Event Ideas for Every Stage of the Sales Cycle

March 31, 2022

Meisha Bochicchio, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Goldcast

As a B2B marketer, you already know sales cycles can be long. But did you know that 68% of B2B professionals say their sales cycle has gotten even longer over the past couple of years?

With lengthening purchasing timelines across verticals and niches, it’s no wonder marketing and sales teams are feeling the pressure to speed things up.

Fortunately, virtual events are here to help. 

Companies of all kinds use virtual event marketing to educate prospects, showcase their products, and close deals faster. In fact, since 2020, the share of companies who say webinars are critical to their marketing plan has reached an impressive 99%.

But if you really want to move prospects through the funnel faster, you can’t rely on webinars alone. You’ll need an entire arsenal of virtual event ideas to pull from to align your event marketing with your prospect’s needs at every stage of the cycle.

What we’ll cover: 

  • A closer look at sales cycles and the role of virtual events
  • What are top-of-funnel virtual events?
  • Where do middle-of-funnel virtual events come in?
  • Virtual event ideas for the bottom of the funnel 

A closer look at the role of virtual events in the sales cycle

First things first. If the goal is to use online events to their maximum potential at every stage of the sales funnel, you need to understand where your prospects are within that process.

Let’s start with a quick recap of the basics.

Your customer’s journey through your funnel begins the moment they hear about your company and continues until they reach closed-won status.

That journey is typically defined by three core stages:

1. Top of funnel 👋

Aim: To gain awareness of a problem that needs solving.

Action: Introduce the problem your prospects want to solve. 

       Event goals:

  • Lead generation
  • Brand awareness
  • Establishing a connection  

2.Middle of funnel 👍

Aim: To help the prospect evaluate their options for solving the problem.

Action: Educate prospects on the various solutions available.

Event goals:

  • Qualifying
  • Nurturing
  • Introducing your solution

3. Bottom of funnel 🤝

Aim: To help prospects make a decision about solving the problem.

Action: Continually educate prospects and existing customers on why your product is the right solution for them.

Event goals:

  • Objection handling
  • Closing sales
  • Customer retention

The speed with which your prospects travel from one stage of the funnel to the next, sometimes referred to as ‘pipeline velocity’ for those who follow an account-based marketing (ABM) approach, can vary depending on your company and industry.

But increasing that speed is always a priority. 

Virtual meetings can work wonders for effectively communicating the right message at each stage of the funnel, helping to move prospects forward to the next stage.

For that to happen, you’ll need to be strategic about where each type of event fits within the sales cycle.

What are top-of-funnel virtual events?

For events at the top of the funnel, subtlety is the name of the game. 

At this point, you’re not trying to convince your audience of anything. You just want to provide them with value, establish a connection, and help them get to know you better (and vice versa).

For top-of-funnel (ToFu) virtual events, the aim is to:

  • Provide valuable resources on a core pain point.
  • Collect attendee-level data to inform your ABM strategy.
  • Position your brand as a thought leader to help build awareness.

And for attendees at your ToFu events, the goal is to:

  • Learn new ideas, information, and strategies.
  • Discover various approaches to solving the problem.

At this stage in the cycle, your prospects are still just exploring. Focus on educating and delighting your attendees, and save the selling for later.

Four virtual event ideas for the top of the funnel:

✅ 1. Virtual networking events — Be the brand that cares about facilitating genuine conversations between like-minded people. And while you’re at it, why not gather some attendee insights to personalize your prospect’s next event experience? Think: questions, pain points, key use cases, role-specific challenges, content preferences, and more. Remember to keep these events fun and casual; try virtual games or a virtual scavenger hunt to break the ice and get attendees chatting!

✅ 2. Virtual awards ceremonies — There’s no better time to stock up on brand love than when you’re flattering folks with awards. Whether you’re hosting or sponsoring, awards events and virtual galas are a great way to introduce your brand in a relaxed social setting.

✅ 3. Thought leadership conferences — Other brands will be vying for your attendee’s attention. You’ll need a clear differentiator if you want your event invitation to be the one they accept. Choose an event theme that helps position your brand at the forefront of the industry’s most cutting-edge discussions, and the registrations will follow!

✅ 4. Community events — Whether it’s a hackathon, fundraiser, workshop, fireside chat, or even a full-day multi-track conference, a community event is a great way to bring people together. These events can also get a lot of buzz on social media, so be sure to promote it everywhere your audience hangs out online.

And according to Reagan Hochmeister, our very own Community Growth Associate here at Goldcast, there are four steps to acing community events:

  1. Make them noteworthy
  2. Keep them entertaining (e.g., you could hire a DJ or an impressive illusionist to get attendees out of their seats)
  3. Go all-in on gamification
  4. Provide plenty of networking opportunities.

Reagan uses video chat, 1:1 messaging, roundtables, and breakout sessions to get attendees buzzing at her community events. The way she sees it, “It’s all about providing opportunities to mingle and come together in community!”

👉 Need more inspo for your awareness-building events? Check out these epic top-of-funnel events: Gremlin’s Failover Conf and Waylay’s inaugural Unicon conference

Where do middle-of-funnel virtual events come in?

If your prospects have already engaged with your ToFu content and stick around for more, they’re likely pretty serious about solving their problem.

From here, you’re ready to help usher prospects through the middle of the funnel (MoFu), a.k.a: the evaluation stage.

For prospects, a stellar mid-funnel event will provide:

  • An educational deep-dive into possible solutions to pain points.
  • Credible, research-based insights.
  • Tips and tactics for evaluating their options.

Once you nail your MoFu events, now you’re able to focus on:

  • Arranging 1:1 sales convos.
  • Preparing for hyper-personalized follow-ups.
  • Forging a need-meeting relationship your attendees won’t forget.

With the right event strategy and platform, you can capture key attendee-level insights that make all of the above easy to accomplish.

The virtual event format for mid-funnel magic ✨

✅ 5. Webinars — These events are so widely used, they've unofficially been given ToFu status in the eyes of many marketers. But with the right engagement features, a webinar won’t just inspire and educate your audience; it will keep them deeply engaged via live video Q&A, polls, private chats, and more.

At Goldcast,  Kelly Cheng, Head of Growth, knows all about creating mid-funnel virtual events with that extra splash of magic. In Kelly’s experience, you know you’re onto a winner when you can make it immersive.

👉 Ready to recreate the magic of an in-person event? These virtual event experiences can help you turn registrations into closed-won opps.

Virtual event ideas for the bottom of the funnel 

Congrats! You’ve reached the big finale. 

By the time they get to your bottom-of-funnel (BoFu) event, your prospects have had excellent experiences with your top and mid-funnel content, including some seriously stellar virtual events.

Now, it’s time to make a decision. 😰 

Losing an attendee’s interest at this point can feel like a lot of wasted time and energy, but the truth is that even at this high-intent stage of the funnel, your prospects are still evaluating.

In most cases, they’re likely deliberating a couple of crucial factors, including:

  • Can they fully trust what you’re selling them? 
  • What really sets you apart from other solutions?
  • What else do you have to offer?

In the age of info overwhelm, everyone wants more, and everyone’s a skeptic. And with the number of stakeholders who will likely be affected by this deal, that is totally understandable.

A stellar BoFu virtual event will:

  • Prove beyond any doubt that you can walk the walk.
  • And really sell what sets you apart. 

So, how do you go about acing your final mission? 

Well, with 73% of business buyers saying most sales interactions feel transactional, it can’t hurt to start with a personalized experience.

Three virtual event formats to boost bottom-funnel conversions

✅ 6. Customer showcase — Everyone loves a good story. And if a customer’s willing to share their experience working with you, that’s some seriously powerful BoFu event content. In the eyes of your prospects, your customers are less biased and probably more engaging than most self-produced pitches and slide decks. Better still, they’re living evidence that you deliver on your promises.

✅ 7. Product showcase — Prospects are people too. Drop the hard-sell approach and take a new spin on the classic demo by centering your content around solving your audience’s core pain points and getting them engaged in trying your latest features in real-time.

✅ 8. Field events — If you’ve perfected your funnel conversion strategy, you’ll have fewer mid-funnel leads that are more likely to convert. If this is the case, a more intimate virtual event can be the way to go. With an exclusive roundtable, attendees get the full VIP experience: 1:1 networking opportunities, more quality time with your in-house team, five-star entertainment, and instant access to product demos. Think of these events as a replacement for a swanky in-person dinner party. 

Amrutha Sridhar, Field and Event Marketing Manager at Goldcast, knows all about creating an exclusive and inviting atmosphere. She likes to experiment with different hands-on experiences like virtual happy hours, cooking classes, game nights, and more to show top prospects a little love.

👉 Bottom-of-funnel events aren’t just for prospects. Learn how the event marketing team at Alyce uses virtual gifting events to increase client retention.

BONUS: Two virtual event ideas to keep customers in the sales cycle 🔁

The sales cycle is over, and you’ve waved your prospect off into the blissful land of customer account management. But that’s rarely the last you hear from them, nor should it be! 

With an ABM strategy, ongoing customer success is everything. When a contract is ready for renewal, or an upsell opportunity arises, virtual events can once again be a gamechanger.

Here are a few ideas for virtual events that can keep you top-of-mind with customers: 

✅ 9. Customer conference — An exclusive event just for customers! A VIP virtual conference experience is a great way to reduce churn, organically introduce upsell opportunities, and help customers make the most of your product.

✅ 10. Product launches — Customers love to feel loved. If there’s a new product to shout about, invite new and old customers to check it out. Because you never know when a product launch might be all you need to increase your average contract value.

At Goldcast, Belinda Joseph, Head of Events and Community, believes in the power of virtual events for retention and advocacy. Educating, connecting, and celebrating customers is just one way to show the value of these relationships.

Access All Stages: Full-funnel virtual events can increase revenue across the board

Whether it’s educating a brand new audience or keeping your existing customers close, virtual events can help accelerate every stage of the sales cycle to drive more revenue for your organization—especially when you’re working with remote teams or distributed team members. 

While it’s important to be able to align your event with your prospects' level of intent, it’s also important to know that it’s totally ok for virtual events to serve more than one stage of the funnel.

Because with the right canvas, you can structure your virtual events to drive more revenue opportunities no matter which stage of the cycle they’re in.

Prove your event ROI. Try Goldcast for your next event.

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