Going Digital: How to Host a Virtual Event

August 11, 2020
If a few years ago you had asked someone why not run a completely online event, odds are they would have called you crazy. Fast-forward to 2020, and companies are being faced with the need to adapt to fully virtual conferences or cancel their plans entirely. Most importantly, this decision is bringing to light how many organizations lack the tools or the structure necessary to run a successful event, which puts them at risk of losing all the potential gains related to said event in the first place.

While some organizations have quickly adapted to this new reality, not all have been able to pivot to virtual. Some businesses are struggling to catch up, going as far as to think that once the current crisis is over, there will be no need for this type of knowledge, tech or infrastructure. Why bother changing the way you do things, when you can just wait it out?

However, the search for virtual events ideas and even a virtual events platform is not new. While many may think that online gatherings, meetups, and conferences have emerged solely due to covid-19, in the last few years, some of the largest conferences worldwide have gone partially or completely digital. Things like live tweeting or live streaming an event have become common currency, allowing people to be connected in real time across the globe. Essentially, the benefits and opportunities of ‘going digital’ have been there for quite some time – it’s just a matter of deciding to take advantage of them.

Benefits of hosting an online event

Circumstances may push you in 2020 to pivot towards a virtual conference, but there are many reasons why organizations choose them on a regular day:

How to host a successful virtual event

For those companies who were unprepared, running their first virtual event may seem daunting at first. Here’s what companies need to consider, from strategy and common pain points to how to choose a virtual events software:

1. Defining goals & outlining the plan

It’s pretty simple: if you’re unsure of what the goal is, how will you know if you’ve reached it? Set clear objectives that are agreed and understood across the board, and craft a plan suited to meet those goals. Keep in mind that each team involved in your event may have different ideas: the marketing team may be looking for leads, while your customer success team may be focused on reducing churn. As long as everyone’s clear about their needs, this isn’t a problem: you can take all of these into account while setting up your game plan.

Having clear objectives will help keep you focused as you develop your strategy, and will avoid you steering too far in the wrong direction when someone brings a new idea to the table. Also, don’t forget to make sure that these objectives are measurable. Later on, this will help you gain a clear overview of your event’s results.

2. Choose the right virtual events platform

What your ideal virtual events software will look like will depend on your event goals. The ideal platform will be robust enough to handle your processes and workflows, while also being flexible enough to adapt to the specificities of your event. Also, make sure the platform’s reporting capabilities let you to collect valuable insights in terms of metrics and analytics. This will let you tailor your approach to future events and make them even more powerful.

It’s good to keep in mind that while 80% of people join virtual events for educational purposes, the next biggest reason to join is networking. Choosing a vendor that allows you to facilitate networking opportunities will help you add value to your event and attract more potential attendees. Through the power of a matchmaking platform, people will be able to set up what they offer and what they’re looking for in advance and send or receive meeting requests before and during the event. Having successful meetings will translate into higher attendee satisfaction, which will go a long way in ensuring they come back for your next event.

3. Draft your content & engage with speakers

As said before, people attend virtual events to learn, so you need to think carefully about what exactly is the content you’re going to offer your attendees.

This content shouldn’t just be valuable in terms of topics, but it should be tailored to your audience according to their expertise level so that you attract the attendees you’re looking for. In addition, this content needs to be delivered by stellar speakers that add value to these topics by being expert subject matters. If you don’t have quality speakers, people simply won’t register for your event.

Inviting customers to speak at your events is an incredibly effective way to deliver your company’s message through third-parties. Potential customers are always interested in finding out what other companies are actually achieving with your product!

4. Promote your event

While virtual events drive more registrations, it’s also true that drop-off rates are higher – after all, there’s less of an economic impact for not attending a virtual event. This means that in order to reach your event goals, you’ll need to drive registrations, which is were promotion comes into place.

A highly valuable event may go unnoticed without a proper communication and promotion strategy. Leverage the power of targeted email marketing campaigns, ads and social media to make sure your target audience knows about your event and has the chance to attend. Also, encourage your speakers to share the event with their networks and your sales teams to promote it to their prospects. And make sure your event landing page is clear and mobile optimized!

After: measure your success

In order to make every event better than the last, you’ll need to get valuable insights from your virtual event’s results. This means anything from landing page metrics, email campaign CTRs and results, attendance & drop-off rates, and social media postings engagement for a real understanding of your efforts and their success. A robust virtual events platform will have reporting capabilities embedded in its tech. This will provide you with valuable information and actionable insights for next time!

That’s it! Hosting a virtual event can seem like anything unlike what you’ve done before, but with a bit of strategy and a great technology partner, the results can be spectacular. Check out our virtual events solution embedded with b2b matchmaking capabilities and start planning your next conference today!

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