Everything you need to know about virtual events
Virtual events are events that take place online. Instead of gathering and consuming content at an in-person event, virtual events allow attendees to join the event from wherever they are – their homes, office, another country, etc. More and more companies and organizations have pivoted to online and virtual events as many of us were isolated in our homes. Virtual events allowed us to continue to engage and connect even though lockdowns restricted our movement.
How does a virtual event work?
A virtual event takes the familiar experience of in-person events and places it in a virtual or online arena. As simple as that may seem, virtual events may be more complicated as the industry is relatively new. Virtual event companies like InEvent are expanding daily to offer engaging features that will rid attendees of their screen fatigue once and for all.
As with any event, virtual events have many components. Most importantly, virtual events have two aspects – the technological and the social aspect. The technical part includes platform and event management capabilities such as online event registration, payment integration, customizable forms, video conferencing, and other features that you might need for your event to be a success. The social aspect of virtual events includes how your attendees will consume the content presented to them and how they will engage with not only the content but also other attendees.
The best virtual events are successful because these two aspects coincide with one another and enhance the attendees’ experience.
Why are virtual events important?
Virtual events have proven their value at an unprecedented time such as this. Not only have they helped many businesses and organizations find new ways to generate revenue in a time of crisis, but they also helped us connect with like-minded individuals in new ways. Virtual events opened us up to unique networking opportunities, where our restricted movement was no longer a reason to limit ourselves. Still, instead, it expanded our boundaries to networking with more people than those already in our networking bubbles. Virtual events gave rise to networking across borders and industries.
Why host a virtual event?
With all the unpredictability that we have experienced over the past few years, going virtual is a great way to save yourself from the cost of future unexpected lockdowns. Unlike in-person events, most virtual and hybrid events offer event insurance, which could save you hundreds of dollars should another crisis arise.
Connect across borders
Apart from the pandemic, the transition to virtual has opened up many growth opportunities, with attendees being able to share knowledge and experience across borders.
Are virtual events effective?
Virtual events can be very effective, but it requires you – the event organizer – to establish event objectives in advance. It is essential to ask yourself some crucial questions in the planning stage. Here are our top 3 questions that you could ask yourself to help you:
- What is the objective of this event?
- What will be a marker of success for this event?
- How will I measure the success of this event?
Once you know your event objectives, you can set up event planning KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that will be aligned to the success of your event.
Are virtual events profitable?
Virtual events can prove to be significantly profitable. If one considers the cost of multi-city, multi-country, and even multi-day events, they can turn out to be quite expensive. Considering the cost of event venues, travel, catering, branded material, audiovisual equipment, etc., hosting virtual events comes out on top, with lower expenses involved.
Traditionally, profit margins were an essential measure of event success. Today, things have evolved tremendously, with event organizers utilizing new ways of measuring success. It is also possible for event organizers to measure success by leveraging the analytics of virtual and hybrid events.
Virtual events were kicked off with webinars. Webinars have already been around for many years and across many different industries, including education, health, tech, and finance. Webinars usually feature speakers presenting, while attendees can join from anywhere in the world, as long as they have access to a stable internet connection.
Virtual conferences are very similar to webinars, except they are on a much larger scale. While webinars might be a once-off event, virtual conferences can take place over several days. They are also able to accommodate much more attendees than the general webinar. The need for virtual conferencing has increased substantially over the past few years, as most people isolated in their homes. Event organizers found the silver lining in this process: virtual conferences were much more cost-effective than in-person conferences. This means that virtual conferences will be around far beyond the post-pandemic moment.
Brands like Apple have embraced virtual product launches with at least five virtual product launches in a row. Even their most crucial conference Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in 2021, was virtual. They featured more than 200 sessions, including showcasing updates to iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, macOS, and watchOS.
Virtual trade shows allow event organizers the opportunity to engage warm leads by immersing them in a virtual world. Not only does virtual trade shows will enable you to increase your profits through engagement, but it also opens up your offering to a whole new audience as you can access attendees from around the world. Virtual trade shows offer ease of access to your website or online store, which significantly reduces the steps in the sales funnel.
Are virtual fundraising events successful?
Pivoting from in-person fundraising to virtual fundraising can be rather rewarding with the perfect strategy. Going virtual could lower the cost of your fundraising event if executed correctly. Viral challenges are a great starting point, as they can be a great way to spread the word about your campaign and for brand awareness. To elevate your virtual fundraising, you can also appoint influencers as campaign ambassadors to get the word out there. Coupled with Text to Give options, donors can text a keyword, and the text will prompt them to donate with their debit/credit card in an instant.
Virtual events usually require specialized event organizers who understand the technology behind them. As with any event, you need a dream team to put together the perfect virtual event. Consider roles such as virtual events manager, professional host and moderator, virtual events marketing specialist, virtual events technical producer, virtual events technologist, virtual events curator, partnerships manager, virtual events designer, videomaker, backstage ambassadors, and support staff.
How to host virtual events
Virtual events, like any event, need a good strategy. Start planning your event with a theme or topic. Ask yourself what the objective is for your virtual event. Once you have a clear understanding of your purpose, you can start curating content that surrounds this topic. Content is king for virtual events.
Here are some points to think about when hosting a virtual event:
Speakers – who will interest your intended audience? How will they be able to add value to the experience of your attendees?
Activities – how can you keep your audience engaged? Could you include conversation prompts or networking sessions in your virtual event?
Content formatting – How will your content be consumed? Will you include video content? Will it be a webinar? A conference? A once-off event? Or a series?
Virtual event platforms – will your virtual event platform be able to cater to all of your needs? For instance, will the platform have the capability to accommodate multiple speakers, interactive capabilities like chat and polling functions? Will you be able to provide your intended audience with resources like documents or video content?
Ensure that your audience will be entertained and engaged throughout your event. Most people are frustrated with being home and behind a screen all day, so find a way to offer your audience something new and exciting that will grab their attention. Give them a reason to believe that attending your event will add value to their lives.
Here’s a recap of how to host a virtual event:
- Create a strategy
- Choose a theme or topic to center your event
- Curate content that is aligned with your theme or topic
- Engage your audience
- Add value to your attendees’ experience
Virtual event checklist
Once your team has been assembled, it would be good to draw up an online events management checklist of tasks that need to be completed and assign the person responsible for each job. A list will help you keep track of all necessary tasks you need to complete.
- Establish your purpose
- Find out who your attendee is
- Create content
- Choose a suitable platform
- Set a budget
- Find partners and sponsors
- Pick a date and time for the event
- Prepare your attendees
- Train or brief your speakers
- Market the event
- Email engagement
Day of the online event checklist
- Virtual event etiquette
- Encourage attendee engagement
- Record sessions for on-demand content
Post-event online events
- Capture data
- Follow up
To make it easy for you, you can download InEvent’s editable virtual event checklist.
How to market virtual events
Marketing and promoting your virtual event is a crucial part of the success of your event. You can plan the most exciting, engaging virtual event, but if no one knows about it, you might as well have flushed your time and money down the drain.
Here are some tips to help you market your virtual event:
- Know your intended audience
- Communicate your purpose with your audience
- Set up a landing page for registration at least 2-3 weeks before your event
- Create an email marketing campaign to remind your attendees about the event
- Get your sponsors, partners, and speakers to spread the word
- Spread the word on social media
B2B marketing for virtual events may be slightly different in terms of strategy than B2C virtual events. With B2C virtual events, your intended audience is the general public, which means that depending on your intended audience demographic, your marketing material can be more playful. Whereas when you cater to a B2B market, your content might be more professional in terms of the way that you communicate your message. With that in mind, here’s how you can market your virtual event to a B2B audience:
- Use email-marketing tools to trigger actions, remind your audience about important dates and create excitement.
- Make use of analytics tools to get insight into your audience and personalize the sales journey
- Integrate calendar functions to ensure that your attendees don’t miss the event
- Use social media to engage your audience
- Use LinkedIn to share your message
An intelligent way to market your event would be to get your attendees to market your event.
Here are our 6 steps to get your attendees to market your event:
- Understand your target audience
- Identify enthusiastic attendees
- Connect with these active individuals
- Align your interests with your intended audience
- Create an exclusive online community where your attendees feel safe to share
- Incentivize your audience for sharing your content. You can do so by resharing and mentioning them in your posts.
There are many ways to create a truly immersive virtual event experience. Let’s start by taking a look at cultural centrism.
- Understand your attendees
- Offer culture-centric content
- Create a safe virtual space for attendees to share
- Allow flexibility at your virtual events
- Be authentic
Fun virtual events ideas
Screen fatigue has been something that all of us had to deal with this past year. One way to resolve this is to include some fun activities in your virtual event program.
Here are some fun virtual games to include:
- Quizzes and trivia
Who doesn’t love a great quiz or trivia from time to time? You can choose whether you want it to be linked to your event or perhaps break the ice from a stat-heavy conference by including a quiz or trivia that is entirely unrelated to the content. This could be a great way to get attendees chatting to one another or to help them take a quick breather.
- Virtual escape rooms
A virtual escape room is a great way to get teams to work together. Essentially, teams are given clues to unlock virtual doors in a set amount of time.
- Virtual board games
Depending on the number of attendees, you can play some of the classics online – think hangman, Pictionary, checkers, and so much more.
Take a look at our list of the best games for virtual events for more creative ideas.
As Covid-19 took the world by storm, all of us went virtual without thinking twice. But at this moment, all of us are wondering how Covid-19 will change the future of events. While all of us are excited to enter the ‘new normal,’ virtual events will continue to be a big part of our lives. With hybrid events taking center stage as we face this moment of uncertainty, virtual elements will continue to be a highlight. With additional tech innovations transforming virtual events, the virtual event market has expanded significantly over the past few months and will continue to do so well into the future.
Many companies and organizations found that virtual events are more cost-effective than in-person events and can connect more people worldwide.