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Emma Labrador of OnCrawl: “Provide valuable,external content”

Gather a line-up as good as if you were organizing an in-person event: I’s all about delivering a great experience to the attendees. Bringing together speakers with solid expertise and a community that actively follows them will allow you to increase the visibility of your event. For example, during our first webinar series last April, […]

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Gather a line-up as good as if you were organizing an in-person event: I’s all about delivering a great experience to the attendees. Bringing together speakers with solid expertise and a community that actively follows them will allow you to increase the visibility of your event. For example, during our first webinar series last April, we brought together 23 speakers who all actively promoted the event, which certainly allowed us to bring additional visibility to the event.


As a part of our series about “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emma Labrador.

Emma is the Head of Marketing & Communications at OnCrawl. She is in charge of managing all the marketing channels from content creation to events or paid marketing. Her main challenges are to always provide value to the customers, make technical SEO easy to understand and work on OnCrawl’s brand awareness across the world.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

Absolutely! I grew up in a small town in the center of France where there was not much to do on the weekend. I have always been curious and willing to try new things ever since I was a child. So I experimented a lot of things during my childhood. I went from swimming to painting classes, gymnastics, athleticism, classic dance, ping-pong, modern jazz, flute, piano, guitar…. I now stick to guitar and fitness and it’s more than enough!

During high school, I chose the French Literary track as my major orientation because I wanted to become a journalist. Or a rock star, haha! I have strayed a bit from my childhood dreams but I am still very proud of my journey and fulfilled in my work.

Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?

Nothing breathtaking: I didn’t know what I really wanted to be as a child: I went from architect, to fashion stylist to journalist in a couple of years. After high school, I started an information/communication bachelor’s degree in order to become a journalist. In 2012, after a year abroad in the lovely town of Sunderland in the UK where I studied media/marketing/communications, I became interested in how brands communicate and how digital marketing was shifting consumer habits. Back home, I started a digital marketing master’s degree. My second internship brought me to OnCrawl.

OnCrawl became my second school to learn digital marketing and SEO in the field and I have truly grown there as a digital marketer and leader.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Well, I will always remember when I sent an email series with a forgotten code extract {{ first_name | fallback:”¨TEST FIRST NAME” }} to a 10K database with big prospects during my first internship. The lesson here was pretty clear and I’ve never forgotten it: check and double-check everything before you hit “send”!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I really like this straightforward quote: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. It inspires me through optimism, possibilities and the ability to turn negative into positive. If you are lucky enough to have important opportunities in your life, don’t pass them up. Seize them and make the most of them to prove yourself!

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit about your experience organizing events in general?

As Head of Communication & Marketing at OnCrawl, I have to say that events have always taken a prominent place in our marketing strategy. When your company evolves in the B2B sector, and more specifically in SEO, trade shows are really important in order to create a network and generate new business.

At first, I worked alone on OnCrawl’s involvement in industry events, but as the marketing team grew, we hired an Event Manager.

We started by getting involved in the big events in our niche by buying sponsorship packages. To name a few, we have become regulars over the years at major events such as SMX, Pubcon and BrightonSEO.

Beyond sponsorships, we are also keen to share our expertise by offering some of our in-house experts the opportunity to lead conferences.

As I gained a better understanding of how events and brands interacted, I wanted OnCrawl to be able to create our own events. We started with small events, bringing together around 50 people, in the format of OnCrawl Afterwork. Once a month, we would organize these afterworks in a city in Canada, the United States or France with a partner company and offer a conference followed by a moment of exchange around snacks and drinks.

These smaller events allowed us to build our skills before we took it to the next level by creating We Love SEO in partnership with Myposeo. This is a Paris-based SEO event that we created from scratch: at the time, there were few events that brought the French and European SEO communities together on their home ground.. After 6 editions, it is eagerly awaited by SEO professionals, has spread beyond the borders of Europe, and brings together several hundred people every year.

Today, all of these events work together for us; they have become a key piece in our marketing strategy.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience organizing live virtual events? Can you share any interesting stories about them?

As far back as I can remember, we’ve always participated in webinars and podcasts as guests; it’s a very common format in our industry.

We found it was an effective way to share a message on a hands-on topic and the guest-driven format fit in well with our brand’s strategy, so we started hosting our own webinars, as well. We would hold regular webinars with external guests on a specific topic and then offer it for free on our YouTube channel.

Then, I would say that COVID-19 accelerated everything. With the impossibility to attend the big events of the year, an important part of our marketing strategy and new business collapsed.

To overcome this lack of visibility, we decided to create our own virtual events. In April, we launched the “SEOSpaceLab” webinar series which brought together more than 23 speakers and 4000 participants for 10 webinars.

This series was such a success that we decided to virtualize our annual “We Love SEO” event by launching the first “We Love SEO Virtual Summit” in October. It was a great success too, we had a lot of positive feedback from the attendees and speakers and generated more leads than we would have normally.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we got involved in a dozen virtual events and they have so far allowed us to generate 4 times more leads than during traditional trade shows and a lot of high-quality content that we can later reuse for our blog or social networks.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job creating live virtual events? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

I would like to mention Digital Olympus, an event organized by Alexandra Tachalova. In my opinion, Alexandra was a pioneer in terms of organizing virtual events in the SEO sphere. Long before the COVID-19 crisis, she started organizing these online events that lasted one or more days and were accessible to SEOs worldwide.

At the time when we were flying every month to meet our industry professionals at large trade shows in different countries, the concept seemed rather revolutionary. As the success of the event grew, through its ease of accessibility and its always-qualitative line-up, it made me realize that virtual events were bound to grow no matter what.

To replicate the success of Digital Olympus, I think you have to start by understanding and meeting the needs of your industry. Just because the event is online doesn’t mean that quality shouldn’t be there! In addition, Alexandra put a lot of effort into keeping the event interactive and rewarding; she also brought sponsors into her event that offered giveaways to attendees.

What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to run a live virtual event? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Just because the event is virtual doesn’t mean it requires less organization. Don’t fall into this trap!

A virtual event is prepared months in advance. Depending on the importance you wish to give it, you must expect to dedicate a certain amount of work to making it happen.

So, prepare well and set your goals for this event. If you want to offer a quality event, I also advise you to invest in a platform that will make your life easier by preventing technical problems, in addition to offering a better experience to your participants!

Finally, the key lies in the content delivered, as I said before. Most of your time should therefore be devoted to bringing on board speakers with good visibility and real expertise, and to accompanying them in the creation of the conference. Don’t neglect the rehearsal sessions; they will be appreciated by your speakers and will allow you to detect problems you might have missed.

Which virtual platform have you found to be most effective to be able to bring everyone together virtually?

For our annual We Love SEO event, we used Swapcard and we are very satisfied with it. This platform made it easier to organize the event from a technical point of view, but it has a lot of features which deliver a true experience. We have been able to offer our participants a global virtual and networking experience from the event platform itself. Such solutions offer ways to easily attend conferences, access replays, and exchange with speakers and other participants. Visitors also have the opportunity to visit virtual booths run by our partners and sponsors and to get in touch with our sales representatives. In my opinion, it’s a great way to get closer to the big classic tradeshows while keeping all the advantages of the virtual format!

Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. An in-person event can have a certain electric energy. How do you create an engaging and memorable event when everyone is separated and in their own homes? What are the “Five Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Here are my five things you need to know to successfully run a live virtual event:

  1. Gather a line-up as good as if you were organizing an in-person event: I’s all about delivering a great experience to the attendees. Bringing together speakers with solid expertise and a community that actively follows them will allow you to increase the visibility of your event. For example, during our first webinar series last April, we brought together 23 speakers who all actively promoted the event, which certainly allowed us to bring additional visibility to the event.
  2. Animate a forum: try to engage the discussion, to exchange with the attendees. The forum is a major feature for online events. It is important that participants have the opportunity to exchange during the conferences and ask their questions. You can also stimulate your audience by asking questions yourself or by organizing surveys to be integrated into the conference context. In our experience, private messages between participants also work very well, allowing them to exchange with acquaintances or meet new professionals.
  3. Add video as much as possible to keep it dynamic. Videos allow you to bring a certain rhythm and level the latency between two conferences for example or even to create a link between your team and the participants. If you have the opportunity, prepare an opening speech and film yourself to broadcast it at the launch of your virtual event. Do you have sponsors? Ask them to create small videos to be integrated before or after a conference. This will humanize the event and create a link with your audience and sponsors.
  4. Provide valuable,external content. If you have interesting content related to the subject of your event, such as ebooks or case studies, do not hesitate to share it with your audience. This will always be appreciated by your participants! You can also share resources from another leading blog in your industry as long as it makes sense in relation to the topic.
  5. Organize a contest. Organizing a contest is a good way to entertain your audience between two conferences and give them the chance to leave with gifts. For example, you can organize a contest on social networks with the hashtag of your event to boost your visibility or even propose a lottery system involving all your sponsors to engage the discussion between the audience and the sponsors.

Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a live virtual event that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

I would recommend that you start by listing your goals. Your goal must be clear in your head in order to unravel the whole strategy of the event: Is it to generate leads? Is it to boost the visibility of your brand? To create a discussion around a theme that is important to your company?

Once this is done, determine the framework of your event: the tool you wish to use, the duration and date of the event, the number of conferences you wish to hold and the themes to be addressed.

The next step will be to recruit speakers and create content and promotional materials.

Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

There is a cause that is important to me and that we have been supporting for several months with OnCrawl: it is the defense of children’s rights around the world, especially access to education. 258 million children, adolescents and youth around the world are not in school in 2018, representing 1 in 6 children. All at our level, we can do something to change this. With OnCrawl, we have decided to support Plan International by raising 10K dollars to help them finance their project. We have involved the whole SEO community which has been incredibly supportive and helpful. We hope to run this type of campaign on a regular basis to help democratize access to education.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Well, I do have two names in mind: Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google. Working in the SEO industry, I have a lot of questions to ask them! Building something like Google is an incredible achievement and I believe that meeting these two people would be extremely beneficial on technologic, business and marketing fronts. And if they can give me one or two SEO secrets to rank higher in Google, that would be even more incredible!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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