The most effective strategy I have found online to grow your email list and get more customers while still making a profit has been from online virtual summits. My own personal summits have been responsible for over 23,000 subscribers and now reaching over $100,00 in revenue both directly, and indirectly, related to an online virtual summit launch.
And this was in the health space, a market where summits are extremely prevalent.
During the 4 summits of my own, and others I have worked on for clients, I have seen a lot of combinations of tools and software to use. It is easy to be blinded by the newest “bright and shiny” tools and tactics, but usually they don’t make a major impact unless you have the basics down first.
My summit mentor, Navid Moazzez, also has an active Facebook group which has given me insight into what tools most people are using with success. Below is my list of the 10 essentials you need to get started plus 3 bonus options for those who get excited by bonuses.
Before I begin, I want to say that I have tried A LOTTT of tools…..a lot! Finally, after 2 years of struggle, I made a decision to keep my business as simple as possible, and my expenses as small as possible. And not only did it make my life a thousand times easier, but my revenue sky-rocketed. The tools below are about taking advantage of the free and affordable bits and pieces, while not having to pay for over-priced software and apps like a few I won’t name. (eg. Kajabi and SamCart..hehe!)
The below Virtual Summit Launch Toolkit adds up to about $450-$500 in up-front costs and about $150-$200 in monthly costs. The tools I like to use are a combination of quality, affordability and flexibility. Pretty reasonable over heads for a business that can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars, right?!
Let’s get into it:
I’ve used the same webcam for 3 years now. Not only do we record summit interviews with this particular gem, but it is also good enough to use to record our online programs, recipe videos and more. I often get asked who does our editing, or what camera set up do we use when people see our videos. When I reply with how basic it is, they are completely amazed! Introducing, the Logitech c920 HD. The quality is great, it’s small enough to take travelling and you will make a great first impression with your virtual summit guests.
I’ve used a few different microphones over the last few years. I have also been travelling a lot for the last few years. So for that reason my biggest and most affordable recommendation I have is the Samson GoMic. Is it super great quality? Nope! Is it pretty good and definitely ok for summits? Yep! Of course, if you don’t travel so much you could spend a little more and get a Blue Yetti or something similar, but for price, quality and convenience I can’t go past the Samson GoMic.
When free options are good, use them! We are often praised for the quality of our summits. The number 1 tool we use for summit video recording is Zoom. The free plan. Zoom’s free plan is fine if you are just doing 1-on-1 interviews. If you are doing something innovative like interviewing a panel of speakers at the 1 time you will have a 40 minute time limit with the free plan (at the time of writing this blog).
Bonus Tip 1: 40 minutes or less is a good duration to keep your interviews at anyway.
Bonus Tip 2: If you are doing a Live Hangout to get your Online Summit Launch Party started, YouTube live is your best option (also free).
Again, when you have something free…use it! For my fellow Mac users you can’t go past iMovie. You will be amazed at what you can do with iMovie if you really want to spend a few hours learning. I once sat down for about 4 hours and consumed all of YouTube’s videos on iMovie to help my skills out. Are they “out-of-this-world good”? No! But iMovie has been a huge catalyst in helping me get leads for $0.60-$1 for our summits and over 300% return on ad spend with the videos we create. Results talk!
For PC Users? Sorry, don’t have any recommendations for that one. I only ever share what experiences I have had and I have not used a PC in over 8 years. And all I can share is that once you go Mac, you don’t go back!
We are on a roll for free software right now! Introducing, Canva, a free online app to help you create professional graphics and images. If you have been building an online business for longer than a week and haven’t heard about Canva yet, you must have been looking in all the wrong places. When I discovered Canva it literally changed my life (and my design quality). There are tonnes of templates to use for inspiration to get you started. The more you use Canva, the easier it gets.
I am pretty sure I have spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on WordPress Builders and Themes. One that has definitely emerged as a leader in the space and are continuing to upgrade their products is ThriveThemes. I am so impressed with ThriveThemes that I have most of their products, but for the purpose of this article, technically all you need is ThriveArchitect. ThriveArchitect is a user friendly, versatile website builder with a lot of cool little features built into it like an image compression feature to minimise image sizes automatically when you upload them into WordPress to keep your page load speed at a reasonable rate.
I could write an entire blog post on the features of ThriveArchitect and the rest of the products by them but for now take my word for it that it is a solid choice and most of the others who are building successful online virtual summit websites are now using ThriveArchitect or ThriveThemes.
I’ve tried them all. They are all the biggest headache you will have in the summit launch process, but if you want to make it a bit more simple for yourself, use MemberMouse. For the first two years I used WishList Member and it was ok, but what I really like about MemberMouse is that I don’t need to have a cart because they have a pretty good one included.
MemberMouse will integrate directly with onsite payments like Stripe, Braintree and Authorize. As well as offsite payment processors like PayPal, Clickbank and even CoinBase (for those crypto nuts!! PS if you wanna host a crypto summit hit me up).
Other reasons I like MemberMouse include:
Pretty simple and you probably already have them, but the best options that most people use are Stripe and PayPal.
There have been some changes with different Video Hosting platforms lately. From certain companies charging significantly more to their users from 1 month to the next, to other problems. For the first year I actually used YouTube Unlisted videos, but as your business grows you need to invest in something a little more professional. For that, Vimeo has been reliable for us for a long time now. I have had clients use Wistia as well, but if you are looking for a reliable and affordable option, Vimeo will work perfectly fine for you.
My buddy Navid Moazzez, Virtual Summit Mastery creator, has tested every single option out there for an email service. I have seen his reviews and he finally settled with Active Campaign. I have been with AC for about a year now and they are a good option. This is one part of the Virtual Summit Launch Toolkit I decided to pay a little bit extra for. I began this journey with aWeber, but they weren’t cutting it. AC have some really advanced automation features that are extremely helpful with online virtual summits. Also, if you are considering making your virtual summit an evergreen product, definitely go with Active Campaign. ** One thing to note: AC Support isn’t that great. So best to find someone who is familiar with it to help you out if you are unsure.
So that wraps up my 10 Essential and only tools you need for your Online Virtual Summit Launch. Below I have included 3 bonus tools that we do use with most summits, but are only optional. It depends on your strategy and goals with your summit launch.
Most people think that if you produce a summit, every speaker will automatically promote it for you and you will build a massive list. Wrong! There are definitely some speakers who will promote and you should be incredibly grateful for them, but you should also be grateful for those who didn’t just for their time and knowledge. We don’t rely on affiliates, most of our subscribers are generated by Facebook Ads.
**Update: We used to recommend iDev, but they have cost us 10’s of 1,000’s of dollars in revenue due to poor customer service and no commitment to looking after their customers. So stay away from iDev Affiliate completely. We are now using and recommending ThriveCart for payment processing and affiliate software.
What is Deadline Funnel? It is a pretty cool tool to use as a countdown timer to create scarcity and genuine one-time offers. ThriveThemes also have Thrive Ultimatum, but it’s no where near as good unfortunately. In fact, I have had a lot of trouble trying to use Thrive Ultimatum for summits – so give them a miss this time. Implementing Deadline Funnel can be a little aggressive if abused, but we managed to double our conversion rates once we started using it. But be sensible!
Deadline Funnel is also essential if you want to turn your Virtual Summit Launch into an Evergreen Summit.
We also get asked a lot who we use for hosting. Again, I have tried many but the best Hosting Company I have found by a long, long way are LiquidWeb. They are known for their “heroic support” and they are 100% correct. The amount of hours and dollars they have saved me is incredible. Sure, they are a premium hosting company but I have been with the budget ones and it is definitely worth paying the extra $30-40 per month.
That’s my list! If it updates at anytime I will do my best to come back and update this post. If you are curious about Online Virtual Summit’s but not sure if you want to spend hundreds of hours doing the technical and advertising work yourself then hit me up. Get more information from the homepage here.
What is EarlyParrot? EarlyParrot is a referral marketing platform that can be easily integrated with your Virtual Summit funnel to turn your hard earned subscribers into active referrers. Think of it like this. Imagine you can turn your subscribers into mini-affiliates who will promote your summit in exchange for a reward. Your referrers will be able to promote your virtual summit on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, chat apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook messenger and also direct email invites!
What to expect? Higher quality, more engaged referrer subscribers for a fraction of the cost. This is the main reason why key players in the Virtual Summit industry are using EarlyParrot.
Mitch Asser has been using Online Virtual Summits in his business for over 2 years. For his own summits and his clients he has assisted in generating 10's of 1,000's email subscribers which have been responsible for multiple 6-figures in sales from summit sales alone. Online Summits have helped him build a successful Health & Wellness Media company and he now assists clients in helping them launch successful online virtual summits.