Want to unveil a new product, answer your customers’ questions about your latest features, or give folks a better understanding of your brand and what you have to offer — all in real time? Hosting a virtual town hall is the way to go!
We recently hosted our first-ever virtual town hall for our customers, which was a success. In this post, hear from Jean Merlain, Product Marketing Manager at Wistia and one of the masterminds behind the event, about the benefits of hosting a virtual town hall for customers, how we did it at Wistia, and how you can pull one off yourself. Dive in to learn more!
Town hall meetings are all about bringing everyone together and making announcements, sharing updates, and having open discussions. Typically, they take place within the company and involve leadership and staff, but we think there are benefits to holding one for your customers, too!
Inviting your customers to participate in this event is an excellent way to show them that you care, value their opinions, and want to involve them in shaping your brand’s journey. Plus, if you’re already used to hosting virtual meetings internally, hosting a company town hall for customers won’t be much of a leap.
If you want to add live virtual events to your business’s video strategy, this is a great way to get started!
At Wistia’s first-ever company town hall meeting for customers and prospects, we offered a roundup of our latest product updates and releases. This event complemented our monthly Product Spotlight series, which keeps customers in the loop about recent developments.
We also pulled back the curtain on our product roadmap to share what we’ve been working on and how it’ll impact our platform’s overall user experience.
“We know customers don’t get to read every email we send or watch every Product Spotlight video. As a result, we believe the benefit for them attending the town hall is learning about some of the features we’ve released.”Jean Merlain
Product Marketing Manager
Our co-founders, Chris Savage and Brendan Schwartz, took the stage to showcase our new artificial intelligence (AI) tools, built-in background music library, and more. But it wasn’t just a one-way conversation! We actively engaged our customers, encouraged them to ask questions in real time, and provided instant answers for a dynamic and interactive experience.
Hosting this event gave us an excellent opportunity to connect with our audience in an authentic way — and it brought us a few more benefits:
Town halls can be an exciting chance to build a stronger connection between your customers and your brand. You’ll get to spend time with folks who are thinking about trying out your products or new features and provide them with a deeper understanding of how your products or new features can help them, answer their questions, and address any concerns. This is a prime opportunity to quash any hesitations they may have about choosing to use your products.
By showing your customers the value you’re providing on an ongoing basis, town halls can help increase user engagement, product adoption, upgrades, and retention.
Virtual town hall meetings will give you the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with your customers about your products and features.
You’ll get to ask for clarification or more detailed feedback from your audience, which can make them feel empowered and valued. Knowing that their opinions matter and they’re being heard can foster a sense of loyalty and satisfaction.
“The general feedback that we got from customers was that they loved the town hall; it allowed them to learn more about the new features we released and how they can immediately take advantage of them. We saw excitement from users who caught a glimpse of our product roadmap.”Jean Merlain
Product Marketing Manager
There’s also value in giving your customers insights into your product roadmap. People like being in the know, so give your customers a peek at what’s on the horizon, what they can expect from your business, and why you think they’ll love what you have in store.
Letting your customers in on your future product plans during a town hall gives them a chance to offer their insights and suggestions, which can influence your product development in meaningful ways. Teasing what you have cooking behind the scenes can also help your customers stay engaged with your brand as they eagerly await new features and updates.
“Our customers frequently ask about our product roadmap, approach to various aspects of the product, and the potential integration of AI technology into the platform. By revealing some of our plans and demonstrating how they will simplify video creation, we hope to provide our customers with visible value more quickly.”Jean Merlain
Product Marketing Manager
There’s something to be said about having an open dialogue in a real-time environment with your customers about your future product releases, too. Getting feedback right on the spot and being able to respond candidly is much different from just putting up a video on social media.
Want to host an online town hall for your customers? Here’s what you gotta do:
As the saying goes, preparation is key. Let’s take a look at a few things you should do to plan your event.
Much like our monthly webinars, we planned the Town Hall weeks in advance and ensured all stakeholders and collaborators were on board with the strategy.
You’ll want to nail down the content you want to cover, your speakers or any guest speakers you want to present, videos you’d like to play during your presentation, and the order of everything.
Our product marketing team took the lead in creating the content for the town hall webinar.
They also worked with our product and content teams to develop a slide deck that captured all the exciting company updates we wanted to present.
Building a high-quality slide deck is an important part of your presentation you don’t want to overlook. Slide decks, by nature, can be tedious and boring, so it’s worth the time to create an interesting and engaging one. It’ll help keep your audience’s attention and make it easy for them to follow along.
When it comes to the logistics of going live, you’ll want to consider which live streaming platform fits your needs.
We turned to our webinar and live event hosting feature, Wistia Live, which has the accessibility, interactivity, and presentation features we needed. Our product marketing team worked closely with our co-founders and video production team to produce a polished live event experience in our in-house video studio.
We used Wistia Live to stream the town hall, but we also employed Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) and a camera switcher setup behind the scenes to create a TV studio-like environment. Chris Lavigne, our Director of Production, aimed to provide our audience with a multi-camera experience and facilitate our navigation through various on-camera components.
While the setup had an elevated appearance, we kept it simple for our viewers, making sure that it was not too overwhelming for those who wanted to replicate it for their own events.
“We didn’t want the town hall to solely be a moment where Chris and Brendan shared a presentation on screen and navigated through those slides the entire time. We wanted to create a dynamic experience that allowed us to incorporate various video elements throughout. We worked closely with some key team members to record different video segments to add more flavor to the overall experience.”Jean Merlain
Product Marketing Manager
Promoting your virtual town hall is another important piece of the puzzle. Here’s what you’ll want to do:
The first step is to create an event landing page for folks to sign up for your event. You can drive them to your landing page through an email campaign, on social media, or your other go-to promotion channels.
When you host your live event with Wistia Live, Wistia will automatically create a landing page for registrations. You can customize this registration page with a more detailed event description and some sweet artwork to serve as the thumbnail for your event.
You should take advantage of any existing email lists you have to send out your town hall meeting invitation.
We developed a list of customers and prospects to invite to the town hall and promoted the event to them in the weeks leading up to it. We also opened our email list to capture even more users with the town hall email invitation.
Ahead of the event, we had Chris and Brendan record a personal video message to invite our customers to register and join us for the town hall. The video message was used in email communication and shared across Chris’s and Brendan’s social media channels.
Before the big day, you should do a dry run of your entire presentation. This will help you test out everyone’s setup and iron out anything that could cause a hiccup.
Because we employed OBS to create a multi-camera experience for our viewers, it was vital that we tested everything in advance. We also wanted to make sure our speakers felt comfortable and were ready to roll.
During the question and answer (Q&A) session, we knew we wanted Jean on camera while presenting audience questions to Chris and Brendan.
We encouraged our audience to engage in the chat and the Q&A during the event. We made sure to acknowledge their questions in real time, as promised. In addition to the hosts tackling questions, we had a moderator behind the scenes handling the chat and Q&A to ensure nothing was missed. All of this was made super easy using Wistia Live’s Q&A feature.
If you decide to host a town hall for your customers, we think you can learn a lot from our experience. If you’re already a webinar pro, developing a virtual town hall strategy for your business will be a breeze. Give your customers the opportunity to get their questions answered by your co-founders or folks closest to your product. Plus, Wistia Live can make it even easier!