Even before the COVID-19 global pandemic in 2020, virtual events have created a lot of buzz in various industries. Webinars, for example, have been really effective in generating high-quality leads for various businesses in various industries for the past half-decade or so.
However, it’s no secret that the fact of how the global pandemic has forced the cancellation of in-person events throughout 2020 has caused a massive increase in popularity for virtual events.
While many virtual events were conducted as replacements for these in-person events, soon many people realize that virtual conferences, webinars, virtual concerts, and other forms of virtual events can offer some unique benefits not available on traditional events.
With that being said, planning and organizing a virtual event can be challenging even for experienced event planners who are more familiar with the traditional, in-person format. While many of the same event planning principles can still apply to virtual events, some unique approaches are also needed.
In this guide, we will learn how to host a successful virtual event and let us begin right away.
Unique Benefits of Virtual Events
Why hosting a virtual event in the first place? If you can’t answer this question, then you can’t leverage these unique benefits to host a successful virtual event.
A virtual event offers some unique advantages over in-person events, such as:
1.Relevance to the post-COVID era
In this age of Zoom meetings, virtual events are becoming the norm, and are an ideal way to accommodate the increasingly remote, always-online audiences. Many people are still reluctant to visit in-person events, and this reality is here to stay.
When hosting an in-person event, renting a venue is often the most substantial aspect of the event budget. When hosting a virtual event, not only can we eliminate venue rental costs, but we can also eliminate other costs ranging from travel to accommodation to venue decoration.
Virtual events allow businesses to attract more attendees from other cities and even other countries, as well as people that lack the time or resources to travel and those living with disabilities. We can also get talents and speakers from other countries to participate in the event without having to worry about lodging and travel costs.
It’s easier to monitor and evaluate the performance of virtual events. Event organizers and businesses hosting virtual events can easily get in-depth reports of the event detailing attendance metrics, engagement metrics, revenue, and other relevant data. This is part of the reason virtual events are especially effective as a lead generation tool.
5.Reusable digital content
We can more easily repackage the content of the virtual event into other digital formats: ebooks, blog posts, videos, and even podcasts. Meaning, we can get more value out of each virtual event beyond the event itself.
How To Host a Virtual Event: Actionable Tips to Try
While the mantra “know your target audience” is true for any event, it is even more important for virtual events.
Make sure to first identify the purpose of the event: to support a product launch? Generate leads? As an internal event to boost morale? And so on. After you’ve defined the purpose of the event, you can decide the ideal audience that can help you fulfill this purpose.
You’ll need to create a clear buyer persona for your virtual event, including their pain points, interests, and behaviors. Design your event to cater to this audience, and not the other way around.
2.Content is everything
In virtual events, content is not only king, but everything.
When hosting an in-person event, we can leverage other selling points than the event’s content: great foods, great venue, decoration, networking opportunities, and so on.
In a virtual event, mostly we can only rely on the content.
When planning your event’s content, it’s best to start with the end in mind: what’s the idea you’d like to convey? Then, go backward on how to best communicate this idea to your target audience.
3.Choose the right technology
In hosting an in-person event, arguably selecting the right venue is one of, if not the most important factors that will make or break the event’s success.
For virtual events? It’s technology.
You should invest in an event management software solution to streamline various aspects of your event from team management to managing event registrations and check-ins to sponsorships and other elements.
Also, it’s crucial to choose the right virtual event platform according to the type of your virtual event. For example, if you are planning to host a webinar, then choose a reliable webinar platform like GoToMeeting.
4.Timing is key
When hosting a virtual event, you are technically competing with other virtual events from all over the world. Your attendees can simply choose to join another webinar and not yours, and so it’s crucial to choose the right date/time for your event while considering:
- Different time zones of your potential attendees
- National/religious holidays in various countries
- Competing events on the date of your event
5.Optimize the user experience
Make sure it’s as easy as possible for your attendees to navigate the virtual event and your digital content. Make sure to clearly communicate the technical guidelines for the event to ensure an optimal experience for everyone. Also, consider accessibility for attendees that live with disabilities, children, and other potential attendees that might require special accommodations.
6.Invest in cybersecurity
Unfortunately, many cybercriminals are targeting virtual events, so cybersecurity should be an important concern when planning any virtual event. Choose your virtual event platform and supporting technologies carefully, and make sure to have a cybersecurity plan in place to protect your and your customer’s confidential data.
While organizing a virtual event can be challenging, it shouldn’t be a stressful experience.
With the tips we’ve shared above, you now have a solid foundation on how to plan, organize, and host a successful virtual event ASAP.
Remember that the key is to design your virtual event based on your target audience’s needs and preferences and not the other way around.