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So what is it *actually* like to organize and run a virtual summit? You’re going to learn all about it today – in this episode I’ll be debriefing all about my May 2020 Rebel Boss Summit launch.
It’s going to be good – I'm going to give you all the numbers and break down EVERYTHING.
FYI: A lot has happened since I recorded my last episode. I had a baby, I went on maternity leave, and the global COVID 19 pandemic hit, which meant I didn’t have childcare and couldn’t devote a lot of time to new podcasts.
But I’m absolutely stoked to be behind the mic again, and I’m going to talk about a lot of that in our episode today, and how stuff like maternity leave and COVID impacted the summit.
So let’s dive in!
What is the Rebel Boss Summit?
Just in case you don’t know, I’m the founder and host of the Rebel Boss Summit. We started this event back in 2019 (which kind of feels like forever ago now) and the first two Rebel Boss Summits were held in February and October 2019. Both of those summits went really, really well and made about $16,000.
Heading into 2020 I wasn’t sure what to expect – I had planned to host the Summit in February again, but when I found out that I was pregnant with my son and due on February 2nd I knew that wouldn’t work.
It was kind of all like a big giant question mark. Lots of changing dynamics, life events, all of it was just causing me a lot of stress, especially because I love the summit so much and I just really wanted to do it again.
One of the best decisions I made was to not try and hold the Summit three weeks after my baby. I decided to move the Summit to May and was so glad I had that time in baby land. LESSON ONE: Don’t try to host a summit right after giving birth!
I was also lucky with this decision, because it meant that the RBVS didn’t fall right when the world was shutting down because of the pandemic. Not that I could have planned for that, though!
Even though I did plan to host the summit more than four months after I had the baby, I wasn’t 100% off the hook – there was still work that had to be done during my maternity leave. But that being said, I knew what I had to do and I have a great teammate, Alana, who helped with everything Summit related.
Want to learn more about how I planned for my maternity leave? Check out the next episode of the podcast RBL053: How I Planned a 3 Month Maternity Leave from My Business: the Highs & Lows.
The Good Stuff: Summit Results, Numbers and Conversions
I know that what you really want to hear about are my results, so lets dig right in.
Registrants that signed up for the summit: 4000
When people signed up for the Summit it’s completely free – doesn’t cost a thing. All the videos are free for 24 hours the day they’re released, and they expire after that. We had four thousand people opt for that, which was amazing and higher than we've ever had before.
The first summit we had over 3000, the second summit we had about 2800. And then this summit we had over 4000 people register.
I think the pandemic may have been one of the reasons – the summit topic was very much in line with what people in the world needed. The pandemic was causing people to lose their jobs and not be able to work. And then everybody just suddenly realized how something like this can totally snatch the rug out from under them and shake up their entire world.
So people were looking for some kind of security. And obviously, creating and selling digital products is something that can offer stability. It's an alternative source of revenue, which is always safe for people.
I think the Summit was just really timely and that that really contributed to the fact that we had an increase in our registrants.
Product Options and Numbers
There are two product options for the Rebel Boss Summit:
- The All Access Pass – gives the purchaser access to summit materials for life, including the videos (which won’t expire after 24 hours!), detailed notes for each presentation, mp3 downloads and slide decks
- The Product Power Pack – Includes the All Access Pass content as well as tons of bonus content which includes paid digital products shared by our speakers with over $2500 of value, entries into the daily giveaway, and access to three live panels with our speakers.
Both of these products have a tripwire and a regular payment amounts.
Immediately after someone signs up for the free ticket to the Rebel Boss summit, they are taken to a tripwire page. It's called a tripwire because it's a limited time offer with a lower price that’s available for only 20 minutes. After the tripwire expires, the product is available but at a much higher price.
We also had order bumps for each product – for $19 additional dollars you could also get additional videos from a previous Rebel Boss Summit.
What did this actually end up looking like with the numbers?
|All Access Pass (tripwire):||108||Sales $5064||Customers: 29 |
|Product Power Pack + All Access Pass (tripwire)||159 customers |
|Customers – 159 |
|Customers: 61 |
|All Access Pass (regular):||44 customers||Customers: 44 |
|Customers: $304 |
|Product Power Pack + All Access Pass (regular)||39 customers |
|Sales: $6,236||Sales: $380 |
The total? We made $30,243 from the products themselves. WOW. If you remember, each of our last summits generated about $16,000. So to literally double that revenue in the middle of a pandemic was unbelievable.
The total expenses for the summit were $13,919. Here’s the breakdown:
- Virtual Assistant – $1,100
- Detailed presentation notes (freelancer) – $250
- Facebook retargeting ads – $600
- Proof Source (the pop up notifications on the sales page) – $30
- Chatango (our chat software) – $99
- Zoom (upgraded to webinar features) – $40
- Affiliate commissions – $10500
- Speaker gifts – $300
- Donation to the Coronavirus relief fund – $1000
This meant that $18,699 was pure profit. WOW. Again, the previous summits made $16,000 each before expenses – I was very pleasantly surprised!
I'm really glad, obviously, that it turned out this way. I’m relieved that it turned out this way with everything else going on in the world! And I’m just super excited about the fact that this summit continuously gets better and better and better every single time I run it.
Some Key Takeaways and Lessons Learned
Order bumps are KEY.
I’m a big fan of trying to figure out how can we increase conversion rates, how can we get more people to make a purchase decision and buy and also increase the value of every single purchase. That’s why I have an order bump attached to every single potential purchase.
The order bump is that flashing box that says, “hey, add this to your order! It's just nineteen dollars!” It's already on the checkout page, so when people are looking at the order bump they've already decided they're going to buy the product, they're filling out their information and then they click to add that to their order.
- 53% of people who purchased the Product Power Pack (the more expensive option!) added the order bump
- 30% of people who purchased the All Access Pass added the order bump
It’s interesting to me that the people who were already buying the more expensive product were much more likely to add the order bump.
I think this just goes to show that there are some people who only want to spend a small amount of money and they are unwilling to go any higher, and then some of the people who are just willing to spend more money will continuously spend more money.
- 43% of all of our buyers chose to add the order bump (which led to over $2000 worth of sales!)
What is the most important thing you can learn from these numbers? Add an order bump! If you’re wondering if that’s something you should do, my answer is 100% YES. You’re leaving a lot of money on the table if you don’t.
Figure out what you can do that makes sense, add it to your checkout page, and make it happen. For the RBVS the order bump added over $2000 worth of sales. That covered most of our expenses besides the affiliate commission.
When were people buying?
One thing I really wanted to look into during this summit was when people were purchasing the products – before or during the event?
This is what the numbers looked like during the event:
|All Access Pass (tripwire):||13 orders||$611||$57|
|Product Power Pack + All Access Pass (tripwire)||14 orders||$1358||$152|
|All Access Pass (regular):||19 customers||$1843||$190|
|Product Power Pack + All Access Pass (regular)||7 customers||$1379 |
In total, that’s $5685 earned during the summit, including product purchases and the order bumps.
So what does this tell me? This tells me that not a lot of people are purchasing during the actual event itself.
Only 17.4% of our sales happened during the summit, so a vast majority of our sales happen before the summit even kicks off. This really just goes to show you that like the work and major results will happen before the summit.
That being said, if you price your products like I did with increasing prices as the days get closer to the summit, you do have more opportunity to make more money with fewer customers. So you shouldn't just shut down sales when the event is happening!
Just be aware that during the event is not when the majority of your sales are going to come in.
OVERALL Summit Conversion Rate:
8.75% of the people who signed up for the RBVS Summit decided to purchase something.
I’m pretty happy with that – typically, industry standard rate is 1-7%. So to have above 7% is really great!
I think a lot of things factored into this –I think that if it wasn't a pandemic, this would have been higher.
Conversion rates are temperamental, there is only so much you can do. And I do believe I did everything in my power to communicate the value of the products and increase urgency and really just close in on that sale. The results speak for themselves.
The Importance of Affiliates
I cannot stress this enough – your affiliates really, really matter.
As a summit host, if you don't have a really solid affiliate management strategy then you are going to fail. Your affiliates are essentially your launch team and your speakers are your VIP affiliates.
Without them, your launch fails. The summit fails, everything just goes to waste. And it's terrible. It's an awful feeling.
So as the summit host, you want to make sure that you put 110% of your energy into supporting your speakers, really treating them like the VIPs that they are, and giving them every opportunity to succeed.
What do I do to support and engage my affiliates?
1. Set up your speaker onboarding process. During the speaker onboarding process, our speakers are invited. They are guided to sign up for the affiliate program. We double and triple check that every affiliate, every speaker is signed up correctly for the affiliate program.
2. Use ConvertKit (or whatever email service provider you use) to your advantage. My VA and I tag each speaker as a speaker in ConvertKit and manually add each speaker’s ThriveCart affiliate link into a ConvertKit custom field.
This may seem like a stupid step and like, why would I even do that? But it comes in handy because I'm using convert kit to send emails to my speakers. I am able to, in every single email, include their unique affiliate link.
I don't know about you, but when I'm a speaker at an event or an affiliate for any kind of launch, it's very frustrating for me if I cannot easily locate my affiliate link. Like that's my pet peeve, to be completely honest, because I have a million accounts in a million different places and I would just rather have it just be easy.
I'm trying to make this as easy as possible for my speakers, because they're doing me a favor. They could be promoting their own stuff, but instead they're promoting the Summit. And I need to treat them like VIPs, and part of that is me giving them their affiliate link in every single email that I ever send them.
If you use ConvertKit, this is as easy as creating a custom field and making sure that that custom field is populated in every single email. I go in and I also tag every speaker as a speaker in ConvertKit so that I can regularly communicate with them and send an email to this specific tag on the specific segment of people.
3. Make a resource file for all your affiliates. You should be doing this for any kind of affiliate promotion! The affiliate resource file includes email swipe copy and social media swipe copy.
It also includes generic and speaker-specific images to promote the summit, so speakers can find images with their presentation title, their picture, and their name totally branded, ready for them to go and share.
This takes a little work in advance – once we get the speaker info and presentation titles, my VA Alana goes in and makes all of the graphics to develop our affiliate resource file. But it’s definitely worth it to get your speakers promoting the event.
4. Don’t forget to communicate regularly with your affiliates! Leading up to the summit, I would say about four weeks before the summit is set to kick off, I am emailing my speakers at least once, maybe twice a week.
The big three things to include in every email are:
- Their affiliate link
- The link to log into the affiliate dashboard
- The link to access the affiliate resource file
Once I finalize the schedule, I also include in every email (note: all of these are technically automated!) their unique speaker presentation page and the time and date of their presentation. I'm able to customize all of this stuff because I'm using ConvertKit custom fields.
I send all of this in every single email because again, is the name of the game is make it easy for your speakers, for your affiliates, to promote the event.
You can also use these emails to keep your speakers posted on everything that’s going on. I’d share updates, and if we made a decision I would let them know. We’d keep our speakers engaged with how many people had registered, or how many sales we’ve made.
I used these emails as a way to keep up the energy and just really get our speakers hyped up.
5. Set up an affiliate information hub for your speakers on your website. My speaker information page pretty much has an answer to every question you could possibly ask as a speaker. And if ever I received a question that wasn't answered on that page, I would add it.
That page has literally everything, all of the dates, and any question you could possibly ask, the answer is there. Again, you’re trying to make it as easy as possible for your speakers to get the answers they need throughout every step of the process.
6. If your promotion isn’t working, it’s you, not your affiliates. In the past, I used to believe that it was just a fact that some percentage of your speakers for a summit wouldn't promote. And I would just accept that maybe one or two of them are just not going to promote the summit.
Well, guess what? I think that that's a load of crap. I'm revising my prior statements on the matter, I don't believe that to be true anymore.
The reason is because this time around, I had more speakers than I've ever had before. Again, I just had a baby and I was super, super busy. And even with everything going on in my personal life, everything going on in the world and everything going on at the summit itself, I had one hundred percent speaker participation in the promotion.
Almost every single speaker made some amount of commission through the promotion process.
So here's what I truly believe. I believe that you are the one who failed if you have some of your speakers that didn't promote. I apologize if I am ruffling any feathers here, so take this with a grain of salt if you must.
But I really believe that if some of your speakers didn't promote, that's more on you than it is on them. Maybe you didn't support them in the way they needed to be supported and maybe you didn't touch base with them enough. Maybe you didn't make things clear. It could have been a whole lot of things.
Ultimately, it's your responsibility as the summit host to support your people and enable them to do as much as possible. I really believe that this time around, our speakers were just so excited and on board with promoting and I think it had to do a lot with the emails and the regular communication I have with them.
I was just being honest and transparent with them. And they were on my team and they wanted this to be a success. If it's a success for me, it's a success for them. And the other way around, it's true.
What I need to improve on for next time…
I feel like I've managed my speaker affiliate management really well. What I don't do well at is treating my regular affiliates the same way.
I actually have over one hundred people who at some point in the past signed up to promote the RBVS as affiliates. They’re not speakers, just affiliates. They’re people that of their own accord decided that they wanted to promote their Rebel Boss Summit.
What I’m not doing, and this is 100% a missed opportunity, is I'm not regularly communicating with those people.
When these affiliates sign up, they receive an automated email almost instantly with access information to the affiliate resource file. But I'm not emailing them on a regular basis in the promotional period.
I know I could be and I arguably should be, but I haven't. The reason why this time around was because of my maternity leave – I had a limited window of opportunity to work every single day and I wanted to spend that time with the speakers, my VIP affiliates.
How do I plan to do better?
In the future, I already know I am going to be hiring somebody to manage that part of the affiliate process. I'm not sure what that's going to look like yet, but I know that I'm going to be spending more money and energy on making that happen.
I also can be pitching other affiliates. So just like I pitched speakers, I can be pitching other affiliates as well. Because the RBVS has a name for itself now, I think I'll have an easier time pitching other affiliates.
Another thing that I would like to be doing is leveraging my past speaker network. My speakers from previous summits already know the power of the summit, so I'd like to invite those past speakers to just be part of our launch team, not as speakers but as people who believe that the Rebel Boss Summit is an event that people should be at.
Hopefully they will take that opportunity to share the event with their people I tried doing this last time but didn’t plan enough, so I definitely think that if I do this with more forethought I hope that it would be more successful.
I’m also going to work on tackling Facebook and Instagram ads. They can be a money pit, but if you know how they work they can definitely help. If you’re not losing on ads, then you’re winning.
Last time it wasn't in the budget for me to hire it out and I did not have the energy or emotional stamina to try and figure it out myself.
I ultimately decided I am only going to be doing retargeting ads. That meant I'm only creating ads that will be shown to people who signed up for the summit but didn't purchase an upgrade – a much warmer audience than just cold ads.
This ended up working really well, I had a very significant conversion rate for that and it did earn a lot of money.
Summit prep: planning for maternity leave, pitching speakers and our process
As I’ve mentioned a few times already, right around the time I wanted to start planning for the summit, I was going to be having a baby.
Right from the beginning I decided I wanted to have my end of the work done a few weeks before February, just in case I went into early labor.
I started pitching all of my speakers at the end of 2019 before the holiday season. This was way earlier than I ever would have pitched speakers, but it ended up being really great because I didn't have a lot of people say no, mostly because no one was committed at that time yet. Who reaches out for an event like six months in advance?
My goal was to have our entire speaker line up pretty much solidified by the time I had the baby and I was successful with that after I pitched speakers. The rest of the onboarding process was either automated or tasked to Alana, my teammate.
After I sourced the speakers and invited them, Alana takes the wheel and does everything else – completing their questionnaire, getting the basic information, setting up the website. Then literally the only thing I have to do is record introductions for every session with the speakers.
A quick disclaimer: let me just say that this is my third summit. A lot of the processes that are important for running have already been created. I didn't have to reinvent the wheel. But another huge help is having tools and systems in place, and that is where I can’t recommend Summit in a Box (owned by my good friend, Krista Miller) enough.
Krista and Summit in a Box: how to plan a summit the easy way
At this point, I have to shout out Krista Miller, the owner of Summit in a Box.
I truly don't believe that my launch debrief would really be complete if I didn't share more about Krista. I’ve known her for a long, long time, even before she was running seminars and I was running summits.
We had lost touch, but I had bumped into Krista talking about summits right around the time I was thinking of running my first summit while she was talking about her experience having run a successful summit. And that's how we reconnected.
At that point I just latched onto Krista and learned everything I possibly could from her. She was the reason why I ended up deciding to run my first summit. When I did it, how I did it, was all thanks to her.
Since then I’ve continued to run summits and I relied on her a lot. For every single summit I've run, I'm always in touch with Krista about something.
Because I love it Krista so much, and I really believe in everything that she does, I wanted to point you to some resources that Krista offers totally for free that can help you learn how to host a virtual summit and also help you take legitimate action steps to getting your virtual summit off the ground.
- Krista’s free workshop: The 3-Part Framework to Triple your Monthly Revenue with an Engaging Virtual Summit (while building your list for free). This is a workshop that is recorded so you can watch immediately when you sign up for it. Highly recommend attending, and make sure you’re ready to take notes!
- Krista’s 5-day on demand challenge: she’ll help you actually take action steps to start your summit that sells. Stop dreaming about growing your visibility and income and impact and actually start taking action to plan and strategize and launch your profitable online summit. Once you sign up, the first day of the challenge will be instantly delivered to your inbox, and you'll be able to start implementing and learning really quickly.
Honestly, you should like be a sponge when Krista is in the room, because there's just so many amazing pieces of knowledge that she just she's just so generous with. Check out both of those free links to get started planning your own summit!
//LINKS IN THE SHOW//
Check out Krista's website: Summit in a Box