Virtual events existed in some ways before the pandemic but their popularity skyrocketed as a result of COVID. However, since we shifted to virtual events to maintain public health, it has become more sophisticated as a means of conducting events of all kinds. By the time it becomes totally safe to meet in person, many will still consider hosting events fully virtual or in a hybrid format.
We’ll cover tips to help you make the most of your virtual event through the points below:
- Virtual Event Management 101
- Create a virtual event management strategy
- Choose the right virtual event platform for your event
- Virtual Event Management To-Do List
Let’s dive in to explore!
Virtual Event Management 101
To get started with managing virtual events, you need to know some basics such as the benefits of hosting virtual events and some other general information that are covered in the FAQ section below.
The Benefits of Virtual Events
Virtual events bring a new dimension to how conferences and events are experienced, and this comes with many benefits for conference organizers, attendees, and partners alike. Here are some of the benefits of virtual events:
- Cost-effective: On the part of the organizer, virtual events eliminate the cost of rentals, catering, and travel for speakers and the event team. This brings the cost of organizing the event down significantly, meaning you can organize more events with a lower budget. On the part of the attendees, it eliminates the cost of long-distance travel which means attendees only have the obligation of paying for ticket fees to attend any event or conference of their choice.
- Broader audience: Another notable benefit of organizing virtual events is increased audience reach. Events that were previously domiciled in certain physical locations are now gaining acceptance with a wider audience, and this means an increase in ROI.
- Content can be recorded and used for a longer period of time: With virtual formats, event contents can be pre-recorded and made available for attendees and other prospects on-demand.
- Virtual events can attract new supporters: With the possibility of marketing your event to new areas, your virtual event can attract new sponsors and partners who will become long-term partners.
Overall, virtual events are easier to manage, and you can record higher profit margins with extended audience and partner reach.
Virtual Event Management FAQ
Here are some useful answers to frequently asked questions and general information people seek about virtual event management:
- Which organizations can host virtual events? Both small and large organizations can host virtual events. The events can be for small groups of 10 – 50 and they can also be as large as hosting several thousands of attendees. In addition, any organization can host virtual events whether or not the organization has any previous events experience.
- How do you organize a virtual event? A virtual event can be organized very much like in-person events are organized:
- Find a need
- Look for speakers, sponsors, and partners
- Organize event content
- Find a suitable venue (in this case, a virtual event platform)
- Promote event to find attendees
- Host event
The only difference is rather than renting physical space and other event equipment, you will only need a virtual event platform.
- What are some ideas for virtual events? Virtual events can be learning-oriented, networking-oriented, or a combination of the two. Whatever shape your event takes, you can also have trivia, fireside chats, sponsored demos, virtual happy hour, virtual concerts, and more.
- What tools do you need to plan and manage a virtual event? Any basic project management tool will help with planning and monitoring the flow of your virtual event plans. However, you will need some tools to implement specific parts of your event such as email marketing tools, an event microsite, registration software, and a virtual event platform.
Create a virtual event management strategy.
You will need a management strategy to ensure that your event stands out and you are able to deliver beyond the expectations of attendees, sponsors, and partners. Here are some ideas for creating a strategy that will help you plan a successful virtual event from the bottom up.
Choose an engaging virtual event idea.
A virtual event will be success-inclined if the original idea that inspired it is engaging. Engaging ideas are those that meet the basic needs and aspirations of the target audience. It may be to proffer solutions to challenges in an industry or professional discipline or to create awareness and sensitization on a growing concern or trend that is peculiar. If the idea is about issues that are already a point of discussion among the target audience, it’s likely to be more engaging.
Decide upon the most effective format.
One of the advantages of virtual events is that you have the option of pre-recording your content ahead of time or presenting it live. However, it’s important to know when it’s okay to pre-record and when to stream live. For a conference, you may have more of your content pre-recorded with live interactions with the speakers in the comments section. However, for a networking-themed event, presentations should be live so the speaker and attendees can interact live.
Connect with sponsors and exhibitors.
Virtual events offer interesting ways to sell sponsorship and help sponsors create brand awareness and lead generation. Look for potential sponsors who are targeting your kind of audience, and make value propositions to them based on the sponsorship packages you are willing to offer. It is worthy to note that sponsors might be reluctant to partner with a virtual event, so they need to be convinced with data and an innovative plan to help them reach their target audience through your virtual event.
Promote your virtual event on multiple platforms.
Multiple platforms are available for you to explore for virtual event promotion. They include email, social media, direct mail, PR articles, and others. Some of these are highlighted below:
- Email promotions: Marketing emails thrive on having a pre-qualified list of contacts based on audience demographics. It involves using relevant and catchy email titles, short and persuasive email content, and magnetic CTAs to generate leads to your event landing page or registration page.
- Social media: This is an opportunity to reach your target audience in their familiar zones. Use social media strategies such as the use of custom event hashtags, posting about trending topics, and paid ads to promote your event on social media.
- Direct mail: Direct mail is still an effective means of reaching target audiences. Send them an event-branded postcard, mention why it’s important for them to be part of your event, and invite them to check out your event page for more information and to also register.
- PR articles: Create event-themed PR articles and distribute them to online blogs and magazines both in the event industry and associated industries of your target audience.
Your delivery style may vary with different platforms but be consistent with your event message, theme, and branding across all platforms.
Choose the right virtual event platform for your event.
Your virtual event success depends a great deal on how versatile your virtual event platform is, and there are specific features that will help you to achieve your learning and networking goals. Some of these features are highlighted below:
The real-time chat feature helps foster interaction between attendees and with speakers. Attendees can make comments or react to an ongoing presentation using live chat. This increases the engagement level at your virtual event.
Gamification is another feature that should be on your virtual event platform. Gamification can be activity-based games or other games that help foster interaction.
Activity-based gamification is based on point allocation to attendees. Such activities might include networking, participating in Q&A, answering a poll, making a 1:1 video call, joining an exhibitor virtual booth, or posting in a discussion forum. The scores are displayed on a gamification leaderboard showing the people topping the chart. The platform should also allow incorporating other interactive games and trivia.
Live Webinars with Automated Reminders
Since your virtual event platform is the event venue, it has to have a feature for live webinars which should also have interactive tools. The live webinar feature should have an automated reminder that sends notifications to people who have chosen a webinar session. You can set reminders for 3 hours, 30 minutes, and 5 minutes before the session respectively.
The platform should also have feedback features such as live polls, live chats, and session ratings so attendees can provide feedback on their experience at the event. Rating the sessions and speakers can also provide additional insights to measure the success of your virtual event.
Pathable’s virtual event platform provides all these features and several other features that will help you create immersive learning, networking, and sponsorship experiences for attendees and partners.
Virtual Event Management To-Do List
To ensure that you are not missing out on any important thing, here is a to-do list for your virtual event management strategy.
Budget your event.
Ensure that you have a virtual event budget to work with to stay on track financially. Start by listing out what you will need for your event such as virtual event platform, registration software, audiovisuals (AV) for recording and streaming, honorariums for speakers, and other essential items that you might need to make your virtual event engaging and successful. Check our full guide on virtual event budgeting to learn more.
Send invites and instructions.
Send out event invites to attendees via email or other means and ask them to register so you can capture their data. After you have set up the event platform, open your virtual event platform to attendees and provide instructions and guides on how attendees can use the platform effectively.
Manage your attendee data profiles.
Use an event registration software that can integrate seamlessly with third-app software. It will be much better if your virtual event platform has a native registration app so there won’t be a need to be moving data here and there.
Use the registration data to set up unique user profiles for attendees. Additionally, request that attendees update their profiles on the platform to include additional information that can help them interact and network more with others. Care should be taken in handling attendee data. Ensure that your platform is secured to prevent data breaches or loss.
Distribute feedback surveys.
While you can measure engagement using polls and Q&A during the virtual event, you will also need to prepare and send post-event feedback surveys so attendees can share their event experience and provide additional feedback. You can use the surveys to measure the impact of each session and speaker and help sponsors and partners gather marketing information.
Send out your event content for future use.
Once your event is over, allow attendees access to event recordings. You can send downloadable links to them or place the content on your event platform for on-demand access. If you have extended use of your platform you can provide year-round access.
Stay in contact with your attendees and speakers.
Keep the lines of communication open with attendees, speakers, and sponsors. You might have an offer to share or a new event idea. If you’ve been in touch, it would be easy to get things across instead of starting all over again.
Planning virtual events can look pretty straightforward, but you will have many things to consider when planning large conferences and events which require multi-track sessions and multiple sponsors. That’s why you may need the services of a stellar planner.
Take advantage of Pathable’s premium planning services alongside our virtual event platform and get all your virtual event needs sorted in one place. Contact us today to get started!