In the age of self-isolation and six person circles, in-person events have been quickly been replaced by their online counterparts virtually overnight. Event planners have had to shift gears and find ways to meet event goals without the tried and true experiences we have come to rely on – a daunting undertaking to say the least.
While there is no replacement for the personal connections and in person networking that live events offer, there are still significant benefits to adapting to a web based platform. Cost savings or budget reallocation possibilities, increased reach and flexibility and in-depth analytics can provide insights and opportunities that can be extremely attractive for any business looking to continue their event agenda during these difficult COVID realities.
But what do event professionals need to consider when planning and executing these types of events?
In order to effectively engage our audience while also achieving the necessary goals required to make the whole undertaking worthwhile, it’s important to play close attention to a few key areas:
Just like in the live event space, setting realistic goals is vital, however what these goals entail may require a slightly new perspective. Are you simply wanting to stay connected to your audience and reinforce your brand or are leads more important than ever? With increased access to a wider variety of metrics and the ability to incorporate more in-depth analytics, identifying tangible success factors may become easier than ever and will certainly be essential in guiding the direction of your entire event.
There are a TON of digital event platforms to choose from but it’s important to do some research before deciding which one is right for you. What is free or popular may not always be best fit so be sure to carefully consider how your chosen platform can best align with your expected audience, your technical abilities, any interactive features you may require, analytics available and, of course, your overall budget requirements before committing.
More importantly, be prepared with a strong tech team that has the ability to quickly help attendees troubleshoot and are well versed in your chosen platform to ensure no major technical issues derail any aspect of your event.
Virtual events make it exceptionally easy for attendees to come and go as they please, which makes engagement strategies paramount! Incorporating polls, forums and live Q&As can allow your audience more opportunities to be a part of the event rather than just a passive listener.
A high production value, engaging interactive features and playback abilities are also critical in keeping those short attention spans and achieving the results you need.
There’s no doubt that digital promotions will take centre stage when planning a virtual event. Creating a stellar landing page that can be promoted through social media, email communications and online advertising is now more important than ever. A strong brand and messaging is also key as are intuitive registration systems and regular touchpoints with both potential and registered attendees.
Often the most valuable aspect of a live event are the networking opportunities. While it’s impossible to fully replicate those experiences, many events may benefit from the incorporation of scheduled chats, live breakout rooms or one-on-one video calls to keep those connections alive as much as possible.
Just because your attendees are watching from home, doesn’t have to mean the end of great food or a memorable swag bag. Offering attendees special deliveries can often be that added perk that makes the whole experience one to remember and encourages your audience to fully engage with what you’re presenting.
While virtual events may offer many challenges, one area where they excel better than anything else is generating leads and providing ample follow up opportunities! With well-planned analytics in place, post-event touchpoints can be a breeze! The ability to know exactly who engaged, for how long and in what ways can offer invaluable insights to help you craft the most effective follow up tactics possible. The ability to automate, personalize or distribute follow communications can be practically instant, saving you a ton of time and providing valuable insights to help shape your marketing initiatives for years to come.
Going virtual isn’t always the most ideal solution and nobody is more excited than me to get back to the hustle and bustle of busy convention halls but in the meantime, it’s comforting to know that events can still happen and connections are still being made – as long as you have the right tools to adapt.
Need help figuring out how to move forward with events in a world that has quickly changed? Reach out to Jennifer James and her team so we can help create your next unconventional event!