How to Choose the Right Virtual Event Platform
Virtual event platforms have become a necessary tool for organizations to cross borders without limits The need to migrate everything online has influenced many spheres in recent years. Retailers directed their interest to eCommerce, optimizing their websites, increasing eCommerce search usability, speeding up the stores to handle traffic growth, etc. Event organizers also needed to adapt to the new norm.
Online events provide numerous benefits to hosts. For example, would you be able to gather viewers from every part of the world in one place in a few clicks? Online events can. They increase the audience reach, save money, and have a less ecological impact than offline activities.
Image credit: Unsplash
However, a virtual event requires preparation. The first step is creating an environment to exchange information, listen to speakers, and ask questions. Even if you host a hybrid event with in-person and online elements, you need the right event platform to manage online experiences. How do you choose the perfect solution to suit your needs? In this article, we’ll consider several aspects that make the virtual event platform good.
A Virtual Event Platform or a Video Conferencing Tool?
Before choosing a platform for your online event, we need to specify the difference between a virtual event platform and a video conferencing tool like Zoom. This tool has gained traction due to the pandemic due to its simplicity. It allows companies to keep in touch with team members, which is a big deal.
Video conferencing solutions support numerous users, let you share the screen, and offer multiple functions to imitate an offline meeting. For example, you can raise a hand or pop up a question. But it’s not enough to host a professional online event.
Virtual platforms aim to replace offline activities. For this purpose, they provide immersive experiences, interactivity, and tons of extra features for you to feel like a participant in a workshop, trade show, or summit. These may include floor plans, whiteboards, navigating characters, etc.
Top Five Features to Look for in a Virtual Event Platform
1. User-Friendly Interface to Navigate Easily
The first thing you need to consider is how comfortable it is to use the platform. It applies not only to you, as you need to set up the event, track its performance, and process registered users. It’s also relevant to attendees utilizing the platform for the first time.
The platform should provide a polished user experience to quickly proceed to the needed rooms and material instead of wandering around. It’s also important to cater to people with different capabilities. That’s where accessibility comes to the stage. Do you want to host a more inclusive event? Leverage tools with sign language interpretation and keyboard navigation.
A case in point is InEvent. You can hire sign interpreters on the platform and connect them to the presentation. It also simplifies navigation with the ability to use a keyboard.
Screenshot taken on the official InEvent YouTube channel
2. Scalability to Host Large Events
The event should be scalable up and down. You may not need to accommodate hundreds of viewers every time. But the ability to increase the number of them saves time on migrating to another platform, transferring all materials there, and onboarding the team.
Does the tool support multi-speaker sessions? The solution should handle numerous users at a time without affecting performance. It’s possible if the tool is geared towards large events.
It should also sustain a welcoming environment for smaller activities and allow for networking. For example, viewers may need to communicate via DMs or one-on-one video chat.
3. Customization Options to Tailor the Event to Your Needs
Another crucial thing is whether the tool lets you customize the experience. Customization helps attendees understand they’ve come to the right place. For example, a gaming trade show will differ from a medical conference.
Therefore, you should inspect customization features in a tool. They express the brand identity, messaging, and other unique features in the platform with custom online rooms, emails, and tailored landing pages.
The software should also be flexible for hosts. It should let them adapt agendas, meetings, and calendars and control access to various content. For instance, to hide some conferences from most users and show them only to VIPs.
You should also take care in advance whether the program supports the monetization of your online event. Physical events tackled this issue with branded leaflets, lanyards, or banners. Online and hybrid activities have other opportunities to engage sponsors, such as:
- access to on-demand content;
- educational sessions;
- online ads;
Here is how Think Media mentions sponsors and puts affiliate links in the YouTube video description.
Screenshot taken on the official Think Media YouTube channel
4. Possibility to Record the Event
As an event organizer, you may want to record it, download the content, and share the link with participants. The tool should be equipped with recording functionality to ensure everyone can rewatch the video.
It will expand your reach to those who didn’t manage to visit the event and let attendees restore the details in their memory. You can also repurpose the recorded content to promote future events.
A virtual event platform should also support pre-recorded content during live streaming. While live broadcasts let you conduct Q&As and polls, pre-recorded content helps you avoid the risk of glitches and refine the presentation without a rush.
5. Integration with Other Software
The platform for online and hybrid events should come as a comprehensive solution in the first place. It should let you accomplish everything you need. However, you will likely need to integrate it with other tools. Solutions like CRMs enable you to collect data from attendees, personalize communication, and leverage it for future marketing campaigns.
InEvent is compatible with Hubspot, Salesforce, and Marketo to get insights, such as:
- the events a person attended;
- how much time the attendee spent at your events;
- where the lead comes from;
Screenshot taken on the official InEvent website
Integration with Stripe or another payment gateway ensures secure payments, which is a must-have for event professionals. Analytics is also essential for determining the best and weak parts of the event. You can present this information to sponsors and encourage them to partner with you.
So when choosing the right event tool, consider the following aspects:
- how much data the virtual event platform can gather;
- reports it generates;
- the level of security when storing these data.
We’ve looked at what a suitable event platform is all about. You can complete the list of essential features with other criteria that are crucial for you. The solution should not only let you speak through the web camera. It should take visitors to another environment and engage them.
At the same time, it shouldn’t limit the capabilities to present information to the audience and monetize the event. The tool should cover all the steps from registration to creating a virtual stage. It should reflect your brand identity, be easy to use, and provide all the needed solutions at an affordable price.
Virtual and hybrid events will stay with us for a long time. Why? They’re easier to organize, gather people worldwide, and deal with possible disruptions.
According to statistics, 92% of companies opt for online activities rather than physical events. 46% of companies have increased the number of virtual events in 2022 compared to 2021. That’s why hosts should choose a suitable platform to maintain the same engagement level as offline events.
This article was created by Kate Parish, Chief Marketing Officer at Onilab with 8+ years of experience in Digital Marketing and website promotion. Kate always strives to stay in pace with the ever-advancing online world, and the sphere of Magento PWA development. Her expertise includes in-depth knowledge of SEO, branding, PPC, SMM, and the field of online sales in general.