Virtual Event Management: Adapting to the New Normal
If someone suggested hosting virtual events a few years ago, you probably would have ignored it. Fast forward to the post-pandemic world, and virtual events are the latest trends in the meetings and events industry. According to Statista, virtual events have increased in popularity by 35% since 2020, while hybrid and in-person events decreased by 32% in 2020.
Whether it is a one-hour long webinar or an elaborate multi-day conference, the events industry has quickly adapted to this new normal. And they have also realized the benefits of virtual events for the marketing team—higher attendance and leads, greater reach, better data tracking, and lower planning costs! This is why 61% of marketers intend to boost their investment in online events in 2022, and 87% marketers believe that the leads generated from virtual events are a success.
So, how do you plan and host stellar virtual events? What are its key elements? How do you engage attendees and track data? Read on as we address some of these questions in our complete guide to virtual event management.
What Is a Virtual Event?
Virtual events replicate the experience of an in-person event in an online setup. These allow you to attend or host a global conference, trade shows, or product launches virtually, using a mobile or a laptop and a steady internet connection.
Due to the growing sophistication of virtual event management solutions, online events provide the near-same experience of a physical event, such as networking, breakout sessions, and sponsorship opportunities.
Major Elements of Virtual Events
The average human has an attention span of eight seconds, forcing event organizers to create content that grabs immediate attention. In a world where virtual events are on the rise, planners need to stand out and create events that quickly appeal to their audiences. No wonder virtual events can be hard to execute without proper tools and strategy.
Building an event centered around attendee engagement, content, and data is essential to cutting through the noise.
Virtual events comprise many elements as any other physical event, including event agenda and speakers. Even though such events save F&B costs, they demand top-notch video production quality and event websites along with steady internet connectivity.
Here are the other elements that comprise a virtual event:
- Event website: Build a beautiful, branded website that provides all event-related information to potential participants.
- Event registration: Sell tickets or generate leads by allowing attendees to confirm their participation through online event registration.
- Live presentation content: Create engaging sessions, presentations, and speaker profiles that add value and bring attendees a step closer to your brand.
- Live, one-way audio/video: Use the right virtual event management platform that allows screen sharing and one- or two-way communication between attendees and speakers.
- Question and answer: Give attendees a chance to ask questions to speakers and panelists and stay involved throughout the event.
- Live polling: Increase attendee engagement through live polling while also gaining valuable insights into your attendees’ preferences and behavior.
- Recorded video/ audio content: Record your event, send it to no-shows, promote on digital platforms or repurpose it for marketing other events in the future.
- Interactive video conferencing: Encourage networking among attendees and allow them to have 1:1 meetings during the breakout sessions.
- Feedback surveys: Understand the pulse of your attendees through feedback surveys and measure the performance of your event.
How to Host a Virtual Event
Nailing the execution of a virtual event is not easy, especially if you do not have prior experience planning such events. Here are the steps to keep in mind when planning virtual events for your brand.
1. Set Clear Goals
You need to have a compelling reason to host a virtual event—big or small. When you know the reason, it is easy to create a strategy, execute the actual event, and create an immersive experience for the participants.
However, setting goals is only the first step to planning an event. Create ways to measure the event success—what are the key metrics, and how will you track them?
2. Decide the Format and Theme
Finalize the format of the virtual event based on your goal and purpose. Decide the event theme, design, timing, speaker topics, and attendee engagement opportunities. You can host a webinar or an online conference depending on your budget and event goal.
3. Fix a Date and Identify Your Target Audience
Understand the target audience for the event based on your theme. Are you planning a B2B or a B2C event? Is it for the c-suite or techies? Can anyone join it? Will it be paid or a free event? These questions will help you understand your audience. The next step is to set a date, time, and day.
If the event spans an audience from multiple geographies, then keep in mind different time zones and set the time accordingly.
4. Finalize the Speakers
Reach out to speakers who you think align with the theme of your event. Collate all speaker ideas before reaching out to the shortlisted ones. Reach out to the speakers well in advance since you will face rejections, no responses, and time constraints. There is also a possibility that several speakers will seek monetary compensation for their time. Use your judgment to decide which ones to go after based on your budget.
5. Shortlist a Virtual Event Platform
To replicate the experience of a face-to-face event, select the right event management platform that is easy to use for not only you but also your attendees. The right platform will depend on your event format. For instance, if you are hosting a webinar, Zoom can be a great option. Similarly, if you are hosting an event that feels like an offline event, consider a more comprehensive solution that has breakout sessions and lounges.
6. Promote Your Event
This is a no-brainer. You cannot expect people to know about your event unless you promote it. You can run social media campaigns, send emails, and do other digital ads. Ask your guest speakers, if you have any, to promote it from their social media accounts. Create some share-worthy content for social media, use hashtags, do outreach campaigns, and use your email signature to promote the event.
7. Monetize Your Event With Sponsorship
Getting sponsors for your first virtual event might be difficult but not impossible. With a sleek presentation and a clear value proposition, gaining sponsorship may be easier. In the presentation deck, mention “what is in it for the sponsors?” Having sponsors can help you improve the ROI of your event and offset the fee of guest speakers.
8. Plan Content in Advance
Plan all the speaker introductions, agenda, in-event demos and videos, live polling, and other event-related content. Create some questions for the speaker in advance. If you don’t see as much engagement during the event as expected, then someone from your team can ask those questions.
9. Do a Dry Run
Do a test run of the event before the actual day to eliminate any chances of technical glitches and ensure everything runs smoothly. While testing the event, look out for the camera position, light, internet connectivity, and voice quality, among other things.
Ways To Engage Attendees at Virtual Events
Networking is one of the many reasons why people prefer attending events. However, with online events replacing physical ones, engaging attendees has become the biggest challenge for event planners. It is often a challenge to replace physical happy hours and one-on-one appointments with online sessions that are engaging and worth attendees’ time.
To create virtual events that are as engaging as offline events, you can try these tactics:
- Open up each session for live polling and Q&A.
- Use a mobile event app to allow attendees to create their profiles for networking before, during, and after the event.
- Mobile apps can also be a preferred networking platform that enables attendees to schedule meetings with one another, exhibitors, or sponsors.
- Set dedicated networking timings and create breakout rooms and lounges where attendees can meet.
- Gamify events to generate buzz and keep attendees on their toes. Create an online treasure hunt or an ice-breaker session.
- Integrate your mobile app with social media to boost engagement. Use a unique hashtag and ask attendees to post exciting updates such as the best takeaway from the event and office setup, using a hashtag.
- Create contests with a leaderboard to keep everyone involved.
- Create feedback surveys to show how much you value your attendees’ time and presence.
The possibilities for engaging attendees at virtual events are endless!
Analyzing Data from Virtual Events
Now that you know how to plan virtual events, it is time to make sense of all the data collected. Tracking and analyzing data is critical to measuring the performance of events. And the most significant advantage of a virtual event is that it uses technology that captures all the digital touchpoints of attendees, giving you access to data like never before.
# Before the Event
Tracking pre-event metrics is almost the same as it is for physical events. Email opens, click-through-rates, the total number of registrations, social media engagement are all just as relevant. All the pre-event data will give you insights into who is interested in your event, if you are appealing to the right audience, and how effective your event marketing strategy is.
# During the Event
Compared to live events, tracking data during the event is more accessible in a virtual setup. You can measure main KPIs such as how many people attended the event and for how long. Additionally, you can use features such as live polling, feedback, and Q&A to understand in real time the effectiveness of your content.
# After the Event
Once the event is over, send surveys to collect attendee feedback based on the data collected during the event. Personalize the survey as much as you can. Use the feedback and other data points to clearly understand areas of improvement for your next event.
Integrating Marketing with Virtual Events
Having virtual events as part of your event marketing strategy is worth all the effort. You can create almost the same experience as an in-person event with the right technology and strategy. Virtual events can help you increase brand awareness and deliver engaging and informative experiences to an audience anywhere around the world.
Understanding the Role of Virtual Event Managers
A. Responsibilities and skills required for virtual event managers
Virtual event managers play a crucial role in planning and executing successful virtual events. They are responsible for coordinating and executing all aspects of the event, from initial concept development to post-event analysis. These professionals need to have a strong understanding of event management principles and possess various skills, including:
- Technical Skills: A virtual event manager must be proficient in using virtual event platforms, streaming software, and other related technologies.
- Organizational Skills: They need to have excellent organizational skills to manage multiple tasks, timelines, and resources.
- Communication Skills: Effective communication is essential in coordinating with clients, sponsors, and participants in virtual events.
- Problem-Solving Skills: Virtual event managers must be adept at handling unexpected challenges and finding quick and efficient solutions.
- Marketing Skills: They should have a solid understanding of marketing strategies to promote virtual events and attract a wide audience.
B. Challenges faced by virtual event managers
While virtual events offer numerous benefits, virtual event managers encounter various challenges throughout the planning and execution process. Some common challenges include:
- Technical Difficulties: Ensuring a smooth virtual event experience involves managing technical glitches, internet connectivity issues, and software compatibility problems.
- Engagement: Virtual event managers must find innovative ways to keep participants engaged and active during the event to prevent disinterest or distractions.
- Networking: Facilitating networking opportunities in virtual events can be challenging, requiring the use of virtual networking platforms and creative solutions.
- Security and Privacy: Virtual event managers need to prioritize data security and protect attendees' personal information from potential cyber threats.
- Adapting to new technologies: As technology rapidly evolves, virtual event managers must stay updated with the latest tools and platforms to deliver seamless experiences.
C. How virtual event management differs from traditional event management
Virtual event management differs significantly from traditional event management in several aspects:
- Physical vs. Virtual: Traditional event management involves physical venues, while virtual event management takes place entirely online.
- Global Reach: Virtual events have a wider reach and can attract participants from around the world, removing the limitations of geographic constraints.
- Creative Flexibility: Virtual events allow for more creativity and flexibility in terms of event format, interactive elements, and multimedia integration.
- Cost-Effectiveness: Virtual events often require lower budgets compared to traditional events due to reduced expenses related to venue rentals, logistics, and travel.
Essential Tools and Platforms for Virtual Event Management
Virtual event management requires the use of various tools and platforms to ensure a seamless and successful experience for both event organizers and attendees. These tools help in managing different aspects of virtual events such as registrations, ticketing, virtual networking, and content delivery.
A. Overview of Online Event Platforms and Their Features
Online event platforms are specifically designed to host virtual events and provide a range of features to enhance the attendee experience. These platforms offer functionalities such as interactive live streaming, virtual exhibitor booths, networking sessions, and chat rooms.
One of the key features of online event platforms is the ability to customize the event experience according to the needs of the organizers. This includes branding options, customizable registration forms, and the ability to integrate with other tools and platforms.
B. Top Virtual Event Platforms Available in the Market
When it comes to choosing a virtual event platform, there are several options available in the market. These platforms offer different features and pricing plans, catering to the needs of various types and sizes of events.
Some of the top virtual event platforms in the market include:
- Platform 1: This platform offers a user-friendly interface and extensive customization options. It also provides advanced analytics for event performance tracking.
- Platform 2: Known for its robust security features, this platform allows organizers to create highly immersive virtual environments for their events.
- Platform 3: This platform focuses on providing a seamless mobile experience, allowing attendees to participate in virtual events from their smartphones or tablets.
C. Comparison of Virtual Event Platforms for Different Types of Events
Each virtual event platform is designed with specific event types in mind. Some platforms are more suitable for conferences and trade shows, while others are better suited for networking events or product launches.
Before selecting a virtual event platform, it is essential to evaluate its compatibility with the type of event you are organizing. Consider factors such as the ability to host multiple sessions, exhibitor management features, and networking capabilities.
D. Importance of Event Technology in Virtual Event Management
Event technology plays a crucial role in virtual event management, enabling organizers to create engaging and interactive experiences for attendees. Technology tools such as live streaming platforms, virtual reality applications, and event management software streamline the event planning process and enhance the overall event experience.
By leveraging event technology, organizers can deliver high-quality content, facilitate attendee engagement, and gather valuable data for post-event analysis. The right event technology tools can make a significant difference in the success of virtual events.
Planning and Organizing Virtual Events
A. Step-by-step guide to digital event planning
Planning a successful virtual event requires careful consideration of various aspects. Follow these steps to ensure a seamless digital event experience:
- Define the event objectives and goals.
- Identify the target audience and their preferences.
- Select the appropriate virtual event platform.
- Set a budget for the event.
- Create a detailed timeline and schedule for the event.
- Curate compelling content for the event sessions.
- Engage relevant speakers and presenters.
- Promote the event through various channels.
- Set up registration and ticketing processes.
- Test the virtual event platform and functionalities.
- Provide technical support during the event.
- Follow up with attendees and gather feedback.
B. Tips for creating engaging virtual event experiences
Creating a captivating virtual event experience can greatly enhance attendee engagement. Consider the following tips:
- Design an intuitive and user-friendly event interface.
- Incorporate interactive elements such as polls and Q&A sessions.
- Encourage audience participation through live chats.
- Offer gamification features and rewards.
- Provide engaging and relevant content.
- Include networking opportunities for attendees.
- Utilize multimedia elements like videos and slideshows.
- Personalize the event experience for each attendee.
- Offer prizes or giveaways to incentivize participation.
C. Key considerations for virtual conference management
When managing a virtual conference, keep the following considerations in mind:
- Plan a diverse and comprehensive conference program.
- Secure high-profile keynote speakers.
- Ensure seamless streaming and video quality.
- Facilitate networking opportunities for attendees.
- Create virtual exhibition spaces for sponsors.
- Offer breakout rooms for focused discussions.
- Provide accessible and inclusive event experiences.
- Monitor and manage attendee engagement throughout the conference.
- Prepare backup plans for technical difficulties.
D. Best practices for hosting successful virtual trade shows
To host a successful virtual trade show, consider the following best practices:
- Curate a diverse exhibitor lineup.
- Facilitate seamless communication between exhibitors and attendees.
- Offer virtual booths with interactive features.
- Provide ample networking opportunities.
- Enable lead generation and tracking for exhibitors.
- Promote the trade show through targeted marketing campaigns.
- Ensure easy access to exhibitor materials and resources.
- Offer virtual product demonstrations and presentations.
- Collect feedback from both exhibitors and attendees for continuous improvement.
E. Virtual event logistics: Managing schedules, timelines, and resources
Effectively managing schedules, timelines, and resources is crucial for the smooth execution of virtual events. Consider the following logistics management tips:
- Create a detailed event schedule with allotted time slots for each session.
- Coordinate with speakers, presenters, and vendors regarding their availability.
- Assign dedicated resources for technical support.
- Ensure all required equipment and tools are in place.
- Prepare backup plans for any technical or logistical challenges.
- Regularly communicate updates and reminders to all stakeholders.
- Track and manage event-related expenses in real-time.
- Collect and analyze data on attendee preferences and behavior.
- Continuously optimize event logistics based on feedback and insights.
Engaging the Virtual Event Audience
Engaging the virtual event audience is crucial to ensure a successful and memorable experience. By implementing effective strategies and utilizing technology, event managers can create interactive and immersive experiences that will captivate attendees. Here are some key aspects to consider:
A. Strategies for virtual event engagement and interactivity
- Utilize live polls and surveys to encourage active participation and gather real-time feedback.
- Create interactive Q&A sessions, allowing attendees to ask questions and engage with speakers and panelists.
- Host virtual breakout rooms or networking sessions to facilitate meaningful connections and discussions.
B. Creative ideas to enhance audience participation and involvement
- Implement gamification elements such as quizzes, challenges, or scavenger hunts to keep attendees engaged throughout the event.
- Encourage user-generated content by running contests or asking attendees to share their experiences on social media with event-specific hashtags.
- Offer virtual swag bags or exclusive content downloads to incentivize participation and create a sense of exclusivity.
C. Leveraging technology to create interactive experiences
- Make use of interactive event platforms that offer features like live chats, virtual reality experiences, or 3D exhibits.
- Integrate multimedia elements such as videos, animations, or live streaming to enhance the visual experience and keep attendees engaged.
- Utilize virtual event management software to track attendee engagement and behavior, allowing for personalized follow-ups and targeted marketing efforts.
D. Role of virtual event marketing in attracting and engaging the audience
- Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that highlights the unique aspects and benefits of attending the virtual event.
- Utilize email marketing campaigns, social media promotions, and targeted advertising to reach and engage the desired audience.
- Create compelling content, such as blog posts, videos, or podcasts, to generate excitement and anticipation for the event.
E. Effectively utilizing video conferencing and streaming for virtual events
- Ensure seamless video conferencing by using reliable platforms and testing the technology beforehand.
- Optimize streaming quality to provide attendees with a smooth and immersive viewing experience.
- Encourage virtual event attendees to engage and interact through video chat, reactions, or emoji features.
Monetizing Virtual Events
In order to make your virtual events profitable, it is essential to explore various monetization strategies. Here are some key aspects to consider:
A. Overview of virtual event sponsorship opportunities
Sponsorship plays a crucial role in generating revenue for virtual events. By partnering with sponsors, you can not only cover the expenses but also create additional benefits for both parties involved.
B. Strategies for attracting sponsors to virtual events
Attracting sponsors to your virtual events requires a strategic approach. It is important to clearly communicate the value and benefits that sponsors can gain by associating with your event. Offering customizable sponsorship packages, showcasing the reach and engagement of your virtual event, and providing detailed demographics of your audience are effective strategies to attract sponsors.
C. Exploring different models for virtual event monetization
There are several models you can consider for monetizing your virtual events. These include ticket sales, pay-per-view access, premium content offerings, virtual booths or exhibition spaces, and branded virtual experiences. Depending on the nature of your event and target audience, you can choose the most suitable model for maximizing revenue.
D. Tips for successful virtual event sponsorship and partnerships
When entering into sponsorship and partnership agreements, it is important to ensure a mutually beneficial and successful collaboration. Some tips for achieving this include clearly defining expectations, providing regular updates and reports to sponsors, offering unique promotional opportunities, and delivering on any agreed-upon benefits.
Measuring Success through Virtual Event Analytics
Virtual event analytics play a crucial role in determining the success of your online events. It provides valuable insights and data that can help you make informed decisions, analyze attendee engagement, and assess the overall impact of your virtual events.
A. Importance of virtual event analytics and reporting
Without proper analytics and reporting, it's challenging to gauge the effectiveness of your virtual events. Virtual event analytics enable you to measure various metrics, including attendee registrations, attendance rates, session engagement, and audience feedback.
By analyzing this data, you can identify areas of improvement, understand attendee preferences, and optimize future virtual events accordingly. This data-driven approach allows you to make informed decisions and allocate resources strategically.
B. Key metrics to track for measuring virtual event success
When it comes to virtual event analytics, there are several key metrics that you should track to gauge the success of your online events:
- Attendance Rate: Measure the percentage of registered attendees who actually participated in the virtual event.
- Engagement Time: Track the average time attendees spent engaged with the event content, such as sessions, networking, and exhibitor booths.
- Session Attendance: Analyze session-level attendance to understand which topics or speakers attracted the most interest from attendees.
- Feedback and Surveys: Collect feedback and conduct surveys to measure attendee satisfaction, identify areas for improvement, and gather testimonials for future marketing efforts.
C. Tools and platforms for virtual event analytics and reporting
Various tools and platforms are available to help you track and measure the success of your virtual events. These include:
- Event Management Platforms: Many virtual event platforms offer built-in analytics and reporting features that allow you to track attendee engagement, session popularity, and other important metrics.
- Web Analytics Tools: Tools like Google Analytics provide valuable insights into website traffic, referral sources, and user behavior, which can help measure the impact of your event marketing efforts.
- Surveys and Feedback Tools: Platforms such as SurveyMonkey or Google Forms enable you to easily collect attendee feedback and satisfaction data.
D. Using data insights to improve future virtual event outcomes
One of the significant advantages of virtual event analytics is the ability to use data insights to improve future virtual event outcomes. By identifying trends, patterns, and attendee preferences, you can optimize various aspects of your virtual events:
- Content and Agenda: Use attendee feedback to refine your event content and agenda, ensuring that it aligns with their interests and expectations.
- Engagement Strategies: Analyze engagement metrics to identify successful engagement strategies and replicate them in future events.
- Marketing and Promotion: Utilize data on referral sources and conversion rates to allocate marketing resources effectively and optimize your event promotion strategy.
- Technology and Platform: Based on attendee feedback and engagement data, choose the right technology and platform for your virtual events to enhance the overall attendee experience.
Job Opportunities and Companies in Virtual Event Management
A career in virtual event management presents a plethora of exciting job opportunities across various industries. As organizations continue to embrace virtual events as a means to connect with their audience, the demand for skilled professionals in this field is on the rise.
Emerging job roles in the virtual event management industry
- Virtual Event Planner: Responsible for coordinating all aspects of virtual events, including scheduling, logistics, and vendor management.
- Virtual Event Producer: Oversees the technical aspects of virtual events, ensuring smooth live streaming, audiovisual setups, and troubleshooting.
- Virtual Event Marketer: Develops and executes marketing strategies to promote virtual events, utilizing various online channels and social media platforms.
- Virtual Event Moderator: Manages audience engagement during virtual events, facilitating Q&A sessions, polls, and interactive activities.
- Virtual Event Analyst: Utilizes data and analytics to measure the success of virtual events, providing insights for future improvements.
Skills and qualifications needed to excel in virtual event management
While specific requirements may vary depending on the job role, some essential skills and qualifications for virtual event management include:
- Strong organizational and multitasking abilities: Virtual event managers need to juggle multiple tasks while ensuring seamless event execution.
- Excellent communication skills: Effective virtual event management relies on clear and concise communication with team members, vendors, and attendees.
- Technical proficiency: Familiarity with virtual event platforms, live streaming technologies, and multimedia equipment is crucial in this field.
- Creativity and problem-solving: Virtual events often require innovative solutions to engage attendees and overcome technical challenges.
- Analytical mindset: The ability to interpret data and derive actionable insights is essential for optimizing virtual event performance.
Notable companies specializing in virtual event management services
As virtual events gain prominence, numerous companies have emerged to offer specialized virtual event management services. Some notable companies in this space include:
- Virtual Events Inc: A leading provider of end-to-end virtual event solutions, offering comprehensive event planning, production, and marketing services.
- VirtualPro: Specializes in creating virtual event experiences that engage and captivate audiences, with a focus on interactive features and immersive technologies.
- VirtualEventCo: Offers tailored virtual event management solutions, including event registration, ticketing, and analytics, to help organizations deliver successful online events.
- VirtualWorld: Known for its expertise in virtual event technology, VirtualWorld provides a range of customizable platforms and tools to support virtual event planning and execution.
After exploring the various aspects of virtual event management, it's clear that this industry holds immense potential for businesses of all sizes. From planning and organizing virtual events to engaging audiences and monetizing these experiences, the role of virtual event managers is becoming increasingly essential.
Throughout this content, we have discussed the tools and platforms that are crucial for virtual event management, as well as the importance of event registration and ticketing for online events. We have also explored the ways in which success can be measured through virtual event analytics.
Recap of key points covered in the content plan
- Virtual event management involves planning, organizing, and executing online events.
- Virtual event managers play a crucial role in ensuring the seamless execution of virtual events.
- Essential tools and platforms are available to assist with virtual event management.
- Engaging the virtual event audience is key to a successful online event.
- Monetizing virtual events can be achieved through various avenues such as sponsorships, ticket sales, and virtual booths.
- Virtual event analytics provide valuable insights into audience engagement and overall event success.
- Event registration and ticketing systems are vital for managing attendees and generating revenue.
- Virtual event management offers exciting job opportunities and a growing number of companies specializing in this field.
Final thoughts on the future of virtual event management
The future of virtual event management is promising. As technology continues to advance, we can expect to see even more innovative tools and platforms that will enhance the virtual event experience. Virtual events offer a cost-effective and convenient solution for businesses to reach and engage with a global audience.
By embracing the potential of virtual events, businesses can unlock new opportunities for growth, expand their reach, and connect with individuals who might not have otherwise attended an in-person event. The flexibility and scalability of virtual events make them an attractive option in today's fast-paced digital world.
It's time to embrace the potential of virtual events for business growth and success. Don't miss out on the opportunity to connect with your audience in a meaningful way and elevate your brand's presence in the digital sphere.
Start planning your events today with Growth Natives. Our experienced experts can help you promote your event, measure the performance, and prove the ROI of your marketing efforts. You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.