A virtual event is any organised meet-up that takes place online rather than in a physical location. These events can range from small meeting to a large-scale conference with thousands of attendees. There can be a plethora of ways to take your event online and there can be a number of pitfalls which you can fall into. We’ve developed this overview of tips, tricks and technologies for delivering your online event successfully.
Start with a plan
As with any event, your plan is vital for success. Start by asking yourself some key questions:
- Will the event be live, on-demand, or both?
- Will access be gated or free?
- When is the best time for the event?
- Will I require event registration?
- How will you promote the event and when will you start?
- Do you require attendee engagement, two-way communication or polling?
- Where will the event be filmed, in a production studio?
- Will there be remote presenters? Are they local? What time zone are they in?
- Do you plan to work with a sponsor or other partner?
- Do you want people still have access to a recording of the event once it’s over?
- What analytics and data do you want to track?
Choose the date and time carefully
Picking the right date and time for your event is important, particularly if you’re hosting it live. Before sending out your invitations make sure the date doesn’t clash with public holidays, if attendees are likely to be international find a time that will enable them to come that’s not in the middle of the night or on a weekend. For global events where it’s not possible to find a time to suit everyone, make sure the content is available after the event for those who couldn’t make it. Many virtual and hybrid solutions from basic video conferencing to webinars and professional webcasts have recording capabilities. Remember, if you’re hosting a smaller virtual event or one where attendees may participate n the discussion it’s best practice to notify everyone that you’re recording the session. If you want more tips on hosting a virtual event read our article Top 10 Tips For Effective Video Conferencing.
Have a professional design for your virtual website and communications
If you want your event to be perceived as professional, it needs to look professional and provide a good user experience. This includes everything from the registration page, payment page (and process), content pages, presenter bio pages and graphics. Most streaming platforms offer customisation and branding such as logos and brand colours as well as sponsorship exposure opportunities. Encore’s webcast solution delivers a complete branded experience online that can look as an extension of your brand or totally customised to suit your event.
Promote the event
Obviously you need to let people know the event is happening, but the way you promote it is key to getting people to register or purchase tickets. Why should they attend? Who’s speaking? What will they learn? Make sure the benefits and ROI are clear during your promotions.
Share the event details by email, advertisements and social media. Choose your media carefully to make sure you reach your audience. If you’re working with an event partner or sponsor, ask them to promote the event too and ask presenters to promote the event via their channels. The more noise you make collectively, the more people you’ll reach.
Carefully plan a timetable for your communications and ramp it up as you near the event date, most registrations and sales happen closer to the deadline.
Word of mouth provides a great opportunity to grow your audience. Offer last year’s attendees a promotional offer if they bring a colleague. Other promotional offers include early-bird rates and special prices for group bookings.
Drive revenue with sponsorship
As your audience potential grows exponentially now that time and distance are redundant, your event with its millions of eyeballs, can become a very attractive sponsorship opportunity to the right brand. Sponsorship can be an efficient revenue stream to further increase the ROI of your event.
Sponsorship has other benefits too, such as building positive associations with companies that share your values or purely providing your audience with the entertainment factor as sponsors get creative with their valuable placements. We all watch the Superbowl for the ads right?
A key benefit to online sponsorship over traditional sponsorship like physical banners and event announcements is the opportunity to demonstrate the benefit to your sponsor via digital data reporting. Other sponsorship deals also allow you to share the customer data with them such as registration details for their own marketing purposes. From branded elements on the event’s website to in-stream callouts and segments and digital swag bags, we’ve shared 10 virtual event sponsorship tactics to help drive revenue.
Guard against technical issues
There’s nothing worse than after all your hard work viewers can’t get access, see a buffering window, glitchy audio, sites crash or registrations max out.
Choose a reputable event technology company with lots of experience delivering the kind of event you need. Make sure they’re there in the lead up to the event and on the day to make sure everyone runs smoothly and any technical difficulties resolved quickly.
Adequate band width is important for your remote presenters, in your studio and for attendees. There may be nothing you can do if online viewer internet is poor, but if they have paid to attend a live event and can’t it’s good to have a record as back up which they can watch when they have better internet access.
If possible, run a rehearsal. Make sure switching between presenters, slides videos etc. is seamless. Encore’s range of virtual solutions provides virtual stage management to ensure each speaker’s presentation is optimised and helps direct the overall flow of the virtual event.
Interactivity and engagement
Activities that allow your attendees to get involved are powerful. They increase learning, recall of your content and increase attention and are likely to keep them coming back if the experience was positive. There are many ways you can achieve this.
Q&As are a great way to involve your viewers and they have the added benefit f enabling your to cover content that attendees really want to know about.
Live polling is another great way to get attendees engaged and also be part of the event, they can vote and even post questions, plus the results of polls and surveys can be shown live on screen to generate further discussion. Our Chime Live streaming app is feature-rich and designed to keep engagement levels during a virtual or hybrid event.
Measure all available analytics
Measuring your event serves a number of benefits. You can demonstrate return on investment to stakeholders and sponsors to show how many viewers attended, how many more viewers attended on last year, how long they watched for, which sessions they watch, how much exposure they got, etc. It’s obviously great for sponsors to show exposure to their brand, clicks to their site and so on.
There are so many valuable insights available from online event data, including number of people opening and clicking on your email, how many people who went to the site for more info actually registered, how users came to your site – email versus social media, partner promotions etc..
You won’t know what your online audiences experience was of your event unless you ask! A post-event survey I a great way to get feedback on your event, find out if they had technical issues on the day or during registration. You can use longer comments as promotional tools for next year’s event as testimonials on your website and communications.
You can increase the number of replies by offering a prize this might be an industry book through to a more premium gift such as a night in a five star hotel.
The responses from your survey are another great way to demonstrate return on investment to your stakeholders with data such as 95% of responders said they were delighted with the event, would recommend the event to a colleague, would attend next year.
Partner with the experts in virtual events
There are many different pathways to a successful online event. However, they all start with taking that first step. Encore has helped hundreds of brands deliver successful virtual and hybrid events, as well as helping brands pivot virtually. We’ve developed a broad range of online solutions to cater to varying event requirements from video conferencing for remote boardroom meetings, to interactive webinars, online content repository for large multi-day tradeshows as well as ‘all the bells and whistles’ webcast. Most importantly, when you partner with Encore you can enjoy the peace of mind your event is in expert hands who’ll provide planning guidance, show day production and virtual stage management to ensure everything runs seamlessly. Successful events all start with a conversation so let’s have one today – get in touch by sending an online enquiry.