We’re very sure that there are plenty of brands or companies who have never had the opportunity to explore the world of virtual events before. There might even be some who are wondering how to make that change.
Once considered a niche market, virtual events have become an integral part of daily life in the time of COVID-19, and it looks like these events are here to stay. It’s likely that you’ve had to re-imagine your event schedule for the year. But while the landscape for in-person events is still unsure, you don’t necessarily need to put your event plans on hold.
There are some brands and companies that have recently pushed past traditional virtual event boundaries to broaden their reach, thanks to the available technology and tools. With the right ideas and a few virtual event best practices, you can tap into new markets and keep events going even as circumstances change.
Today, we’re looking at 8 virtual event best practices and how it can help you run a successful virtual event.
Before planning your virtual event, you must understand the significance of knowing the target audience well. Creating a target audience helps you understand who you are reaching out to and strategize accordingly.
A buyer persona is a projection of real-life data on an ideal person. If you’ve run previous virtual events before, it will be especially useful for gathering the demographic information of your audiences as they typically attract larger audiences from various positions all around the world.
Building a persona may suggest that your target audience tend to interact over smartphones or social media. You may then want to approach them more on these sites where they would prefer to be. A persona defines your target audience clearly to be able to understand their pain point and market accordingly.
In this new world of virtual connectivity, you’ve probably become familiar with the likes of various forms of virtual event platforms. But each of these platforms will offer different ways of presenting or interacting with your audience.
Before you begin, you must have a clear picture of the goals you aim to achieve through a certain event. Whether it’s a virtual conference, virtual career fair, virtual trade show, or any other event, you ought to first define clear objectives in order for your team to organize and configure their respective event.
Ultimately, the format for your event should link back to your objectives and what you’re aiming to achieve. Your selected platform should also work well for your attendees overall.
Picking the right date and time for your event is important, regardless of size or platform. Before sending out your invites to your audiences, do a little research. Make sure there are no competing events or holidays that would interfere with attendance.
You should also take time zones into your planning as well. If your event is going global, try your best to pick a time that works for as many of your audiences and followers as possible. If that doesn’t seem possible, make sure content is accessible after live presentations for those who couldn’t make it. It may also be worthwhile to plan multiple networking sessions and different virtual events for different time zones.
For most virtual events, it takes about 8-10 weeks for an event to be set up and running. However, it is highly recommended to plan your event in advance so that you can build it up to perfection and have enough time to market it to your audience as well.
Essentially, virtual events are very different to in-person events and the content you create should reflect this. To grab your audience’s attention, make sure the content you’re delivering is useful to them. You will need to know what your audiences want from your virtual event, and what will make them want to tune in to your event.
To do this, you will need to start planning your online event and make sure it’ll be worthwhile for your audience. With virtual events you need to concentrate much more on maintaining engagement from your audience. You need to ensure your content and event structure keeps them engaged.
While this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to completely restructure your planned content, you should certainly be looking to review what changes need to be made in order to provide the best possible experience for your audiences.
Ultimately, content plays an essential role. Whatever the form your content takes, you have to ensure that your content will be the voice of your brand during a virtual event.
While virtual events have no geographical restrictions, time differences can still be an issue. You need to choose the time according to your audience’s preferences. If you plan your event to be global, choosing the right time will require a lot of research and analytics.
This is where on-demand content becomes a crucial virtual event puzzle piece that is designed to fit the online experience. You should embrace this “anytime, anywhere” mentality that can allow virtual events to be more effective, and allow your audience to easily embrace the unique opportunity of the online experience.
If there’s one thing the shift to on-demand content has improved, it’s accessibility. Make sure clear language, large fonts, and high colour contrast is used at all touch points—including presentations. Provide captions and visuals where possible for audio, and provide descriptions where possible for visuals.
Overall, on-demand content gives you significantly more control over the quality of content delivery. Ensure that you have high-quality, on-demand content released as soon as the session is over.
Virtual events have the ability and the potential to reach out and engage with your audiences on a scale that physical events cannot compare to. As such, having a good user interface has a great impact on your attendees. It is significant to ensure that your environment replicates the entire live experience of an in-person event, or comes close at least.
Your audiences are more likely to engage with brands and organizations when it’s a two-way conversation, especially on virtual platforms. Therefore, it’s crucial to allow for audience involvement in the form of online Q&A, polls, or even quizzes.
Make sure your virtual event platform includes networking capabilities, such as one on one chats, discussion forums, breakout rooms, and more. This will drastically boost your audience engagement rates and ensure that your audiences are involved throughout the virtual event.
Data is so crucial in your future events. With most virtual event platforms, you’ll be able to collect useful information such as knowing which sessions had the most questions from attendees and who the most engaged attendees were at your virtual event. This already allows you to get to know who your audience really is and think of content or campaigns that will meet their needs and motivate them towards a specific goal.
By collecting valuable feedback from your audiences, you’ll have the means to make your event even better than before.
If physical events have hitches, virtual events have glitches. Sometimes, tech issues happen and there’s nothing you can do about it. But try and minimise these by being prepared, choosing the right technology and having a trusted partner on hand to help.
So, It’s always good to test your chosen technology and platform, and then test it again. Ensure your Internet connection is working. You don’t want to have an entire waiting room of your attendees waiting for your Internet connection to restart. Having backups of visuals and presentations just in case is also a very good practice to follow. The sooner you identify problems, the sooner you can identify solutions.
It is also good to remember that not all of your guests are tech savvy. Anticipate the troubles people may have by preparing easy to follow guides or FAQs. If you have the resources to provide support, even better. Make sure it’s easy to find where and how to ask for help.
One of the best benefits of having a virtual event comes from the data and the insights that you can glean.
With virtual events, you know the participation numbers, plus how they engaged and when they dropped out of the session. You’ll get to evaluate your attendees’ data during the event, so you can gain information on your attendees’ interests through matchmaking data and session participation.
Because of this, you gain a lot of trackable metrics that will help you learn more about your event and improve it in the future. A virtual event is essential for providing these sorts of metrics and insights, something that you simply cannot properly measure offline.
Whatever your results are, ensure to bear them in mind when you’re planning your next event to continually improve and evolve your event schedule. Cross-reference your success measures with the feedback attendees give you to draw conclusions on how future events could be improved
Further, if you have sponsors, they will also be able to receive essential info on booth traffic and attendee engagement, helping them prove a positive return on investment.
While the idea of hosting a virtual event might be overwhelming to many businesses, a majority of organizers have been able to come out stronger by hosting successful virtual events. Ensure that the key elements and some essential planning are made available in order to make your virtual event fun, informative, engaging and successful.
With fixed objectives in mind and the right virtual events provider, achieving exceptional results is one of the most realistic aims for your business this year.
At Milestone Production, we’re well-versed with plenty of experience in virtual event planning, from the platform we use down to the different ways to improve interaction between virtual attendees. Our solid team will ensure that all your virtual event needs are met, with customisable solutions for events of any size.
Embrace the new norm of virtual events. Go virtual. Go global.
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