How to choose the best virtual event platform: Complete Guide
What is a virtual event platform?
A virtual event platform is an interactive and flexible software solution or a web tool; built to help event planners organize, plan, promote, manage, and execute their online events effectively.
These events could be trade shows, job fairs, conferences, get-togethers, and many others. The main aim of a virtual event platform is to add value to the target audience through a digital event.
Types of Virtual Events
There are various types of virtual events, which include the following:
- Virtual Conference & Summit
- Virtual Networking Events
- Hybrid Event
- Training & Workshops
- Trade Shows & Expo
- Award Shows & Talk Shows
- Investor Calls
- Fairs & Festivals
Things to look for in a virtual event platform
Choosing a robust virtual event platform can make things easier for event planners. Among the options available, it is crucial to determine which virtual event platform best suits your requirement.
1. Determine the audience experience you seek
You can call this the reverse method or bottom-top approach. Evaluate what kind of audience experience you are attempting to garner. Is your event more informational and less interactional? A virtual event platform that supports a large audience and has some interactive tools would be ideal for you.
Suppose your event is more interactive and discussion-based. In that case, it is essential to choose the platform which offers top-quality engagement tools and features.
2. Checklist of Must-Have Features
As an event planner conducting virtual events, it is necessary to create a must-have features list. This list should involve the features you cannot compromise at any cost. Some Must-Haves for any virtual event are as follows:
- Registration and Ticketing Counters
- Sponsor Banner or Ticker Features
- Speaker, Panelist, and Attendee Management
- Custom Event Website, App, and Promotion
- Integration to various tools
- Data Analytics
3. Checklist of Nice-to-Have Features
Just like the must-have features, you must have a checklist of nice-to-have features. These are the features that would enhance your virtual event but aren’t an absolute requirement.
This list will also help when you compare two different virtual event platforms. Choose the one which has more of the nice-to-have features and all of the must-have features
How do you host a virtual event?
Once the floor is all set, it depends on the host to take the event forward smoothly. If you are hosting a virtual event, here are a few tips that can guide you:
- Know and understand your target audience in advance
- Choose good speakers and get to know about them beforehand
- Select a relevant and engaging theme that suits the event
- Engage the audience by asking them questions, opening polls, and inviting them to ask the speakers questions.
- Choose an appropriate format for your virtual event. It could be a panel discussion, interview session, single presenter, dual presenter, multiple presenters, a QnA session, or a combination of some of these.
- Ensure rehearsing the virtual event. A dry run can help you, and help the speakers understand how the event will work in real-time. At this time you can address any glitches too.
How do you manage a virtual event?
- Managing a virtual event involves setting up the ticketing, payment, and confirmation of attendees. It is vital to ensure that only verified attendees are a part of your event.
- You can customize the look and features of your event through the backstage of your event application. The changes made through the dashboard will reflect on the event.
- You can also change and customize the features and controls of the host, admin, and VIP settings.
- Manage your tickets by setting up a registration counter on the event application.
- The virtual event platform should allow users to pay through popular gateways to register for the virtual event.
- You can ensure the attendance of only paid invitees by sharing the event link only with them. In case an unregistered attendee attends your event, you can block that attendee.
- For an extra layer of security, you can consider adding a password to your event and sharing it with only the paid attendees.
You can also use the ‘Waiting Room’ feature that is available on several virtual event platforms. Any new attendee can wait there until they confirm their identity with the host or admin.
How do you market a virtual event?
First, select the virtual event platform and your event theme according to the main aim of your event. The next step is to market your virtual event to reach the target audience.
Here are some pointers for the same:
Create an exciting Event Page
The event page acts as the go-to solution for the curious audience who are interested in your event. Your event page must mention the time and date of your event, speaker introductions, sponsor information, and the event’s agenda. The page must have sign-up details and also a secure payment option for the interested users.
Don’t hesitate to use email marketing
The classic email works best when it comes to promoting your event. You can share weekly newsletters to inform the audience about your event. You can also provide promotional codes, coupons to make your email more attractive.
Tip: Don’t bombard your readers with consistent emails. Weekly/Fortnightly emails work best.
Use keywords to gain more eyeballs
Keywords play an essential role in creating searchable content. Use a keyword planning tool like Google Ads to discover the least competitive keywords people are searching for. Use these keywords in your promotional content and enrich your event listing.
Utilize the power of social media and videos
You can use diverse social media platforms such as Facebook, Linked In, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube to create a buzz around your virtual event. Make it more effective by using a particular hashtag across all social media channels.
Use videos and vlogs to give people a teaser or preview of what the event is all about. Videos are really popular right now, and you can utilize them to gain the attention of your target audience.
Besides the above four tips, you can use other strategies like effective press releases, self-promotion by sponsors and speakers to help boost the marketing of your virtual event.
How can you monetize a virtual event?
There are innumerable ways to monetize your virtual event, before, during, and even after the event. All you need is the execution of some innovative strategies.
Listed below are a few ways to monetize your virtual event:
Get Sponsors on board
It is a misconception that virtual events don’t get enough sponsors. Virtual event platforms have many attractive display areas, booths, banners, and tickers for your sponsors.
Develop sponsor packages that can be used across various sponsors, whether small businesses or big MNCs. Promote your event for maximum sponsor visibility.
Set up Advertisement Spaces
If you possess an event website or event page, you can put up an ad in the ad spaces to generate revenue out of the incoming traffic. Displaying ads related to your event will generate the highest revenue. You can also use Google AdSense to set up advertisements on your website.
Utilize On-Demand Content
Irrespective of the number of attendees in your event, you can monetize it by recording the entire event and sell it as on-demand content on the internet. If the content of your event is valuable and engaging, you will have many buyers for the same.
Enable VIP Networking
To utilize the full benefit of a LIVE event, you can allocate special VIP passes to attendees at an additional fee. The lounge of the virtual event platform should be accessible to the VIPs where they can network and exchange visiting cards and website information.
Sell Event Merchandise
Suppose your product is a video game app, and you have cool merchandise such as t-shirts, hoodies, and mugs based on the theme of your video game. You can sell these exclusive merchandises on your event page.
Sell Premium Tickets
Why not set several categories of tickets for your virtual event to cater to a variety of audiences? Besides a limited number of free entries, you can have several offers and discounts categorized under a range of tickets/passes such as:
- Early bird access
- Group packages
- Corporate packages
- Single Day Passes
- Multiple Day Passes
- VIP Passes
When you sell the tickets or passes to your virtual event, you can suggest an add-on product to your visitors. If the visitor has already purchased the pass but ignored your prompt, you can redirect them to the buy product page. On the product page, you can sell items and services related to your event.
How do you evaluate the success of an event?
Evaluating the performance of your virtual event can be essential to gain precious insights. After the event’s conclusion, it is time for post-event analysis to understand your event’s success. Here are a few ways to measure the success of your event.
1. Revenue vs. Overhead Costs
Measure several parameters to gauge the monetary benefit of the event
- Anticipated cost vs. Actual cost
- Expected revenue vs. Actual Revenue
- Actual Cost vs. Actual Revenue
Remember that going slightly over the anticipated cost or marginally lesser than anticipated revenue does not make your event a failure. It just means you can plan your event better.
2. Post-Event Surveys for Attendees
To understand how your event went down with your audience, send them a post-event survey. A ‘less likely to very likely’ questionnaire can be an excellent choice to understand customer feedback.
Such a survey can help you understand your weak points and strong points in terms of how the event was handled.
3. Feedback from SponsorsSponsors play an integral and crucial part in organizing a virtual event. It is essential to understand their view and opinion of the entire event. Be open to criticism and also give them a platform to share their opinions about the event.
Establishing a long-term relationship with the sponsor can help massively.
4. Check the Numbers
It can be beneficial to check the number of sign-ups for your newsletters, service, or product post the event. If it has gone up compared to before the event, it means your event has worked well. The number of sales made before and post-event can also be a determining factor.
You can measure the success of your event in various ways. If the event has not performed well, you need to replan and reassess your event strategy altogether.
Event Marketing – What is it, and how does it work?
Event marketing solutions create a themed presentation, display, or exhibit for promoting an organization, cause, or service/product through in-person or virtual interactions.
Marketers utilize outbound as well as inbound event marketing strategies for promotional purposes. These events can include exhibitions, sports events, concerts, trade fairs, among many others.
Event marketing helps educate your target audience about your service/product offerings and build more profound relationships with them. It is an excellent way to develop organic and high-quality leads for your business.
Features of Event Marketing
The four features of event marketing are as follows:
Event marketing is goal-oriented and helps put your message across in a subtle manner. But suppose the event marketing does not allow you to achieve the promotional objectives or convert attendees. In that case, you need to plan your event marketing better.
2. Effective communication and promotion
Events are considered effective platforms to get a message across to the target audience. Detailed research about the profile of the attendees can enhance the impact of your event marketing.
3. Feedback from clients
The collection of feedback is straightforward with event marketing. Make the feedback form a part of a gift voucher and get feedback from your event’s guests. These tactics are essential for getting feedback as people are typically reluctant to give any input in writing.
4. Vast Reach
While the traditional marketing methods might limit your reach or cause a dent in your pocket, event marketing amplifies your brand’s reach. With virtual and hybrid events in place, you can reach your target audience residing in any corner of the world. The features of event marketing and its flexibility make it an exciting and popular solution for marketers.
Benefits of Event Marketing-
1. A targeted approach
Utilizing event marketing solutions is the best way to reach a particular audience segment and potential buyers.
2. Engage your audience
Event Marketing offers your customers an opportunity to meet with you and engage with your service or product. Both types of events (physical or online) provide you with the opportunity to present your brand in a different outlook and personality altogether.
An event can shed light on your product in a more wholesome manner than other marketing channels.
3. Exposure to branding opportunities
It helps interact with other similar brands in the industry and also builds brand awareness for your product. You can come across different branding options that can prove vital and invaluable to your brand in totality using events.
B2B marketers prefer event marketing because it adds value in real-time and at the same time converts attendees into consumers of the brand.
Event Marketing Mix
The event marketing mix involves creating a strategy that identifies how you can reach your target audience. It also consists of determining who is suitable for your event and encouraging the potential attendees to attend the event
The event marketing mix consists of the four P’s – place, promotion, price, and product. Here the event is your product. Build the event around the requirement of your target audience.
Using these four parameters when planning an event helps you develop the most viable event strategy. You can organize a concert, sporting event, festival, or promotional activity that gets your message across and draws the right people in the best way possible.
The more well-planned and thought-out your event is in the 4 P’s, the more likely you are to host an unmissable event and achieving your marketing goals.
Effectiveness of Event Marketing
If you are still on the fence about the effectiveness of event marketing solutions, let me present you with some interesting statistics from a recent marketing survey.
- 79% of the marketers in the US generate sales using event marketing.
- 47% of marketers believe that events are a highly efficient method for engaging with prospects and customers.
- 41% of business representatives say that event marketing is a more effective channel than email and content marketing combined.
- Over-performing companies spend 1.7 times the average marketing budget on live events.
- Companies that have experienced more than 30% growth have reportedly been increasing their event activity the most.
Therefore, event marketing is considered effective to boost solid connections with prospective customers, revenues, and achieving business goals.
How do you attract attendees to an event?
1.Social Media promotions
Use social media to promote your event at least a month before your event. YouTube is a popular media platform that can generate interest among potential attendees through video campaigns.
2. Webcasts/Virtual tickets
Creating virtual tickets for attendees who cannot reach your event provides them access to a live webcast that keeps them connected to the event from wherever they are.
3. Complimentary access and giveaways
Giving complimentary access to attendees who have opted out of your event due to prices can be mended by providing them complimentary access or a special pass. Giveaways also help register an increase in the number of attendees.
4. Personalized benefits
Take the time to craft specific email messages according to buyer personas for your email campaign. This gives an impression that the sender cares and knows enough to find out about them. Effective promotions, giveaways, and offers for your audience will ensure that they convert to attendees for your event.
When should you start marketing the event?
It is best to start promoting your event at least three to six months in advance. One of the most important things is to build your event marketing and advertising campaign from the time of announcement. Do not announce your event and wait a few months until you release advertising or additional information.
The main motive here is not to let people forget. What starts a trickle must turn into a stable stream of advertising and information about your event. The fortune is in the follow-up, similar to sales.
How can you get into event marketing?
Getting into event marketing is not as easy as it seems. It requires considerable skills such as organizing, networking, communication, and planning. You also need some solid skills that include budget management, time, and vendor management. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to get into event marketing with subsequent effort and the right virtual event platform.
Jet-set the event marketing for your brand using the below steps:
1. Determine your target audience
2. Plan and develop a blueprint for your event and how you plan to market your product in the event
3. Establish a budget and fee structure for your event.
4. Find good sponsors who can fund your event
5. Collaborate with good speakers and panelists for the event
6. Focus on marketing your event and promoting it at least a month in advance.
7. With the above steps and adequate skills, it is easy to foray into the world of event marketing.
Creating an effective event strategy
Writing an event strategy begins with identifying the organizational goals and using events to fulfill these goals. A few common goals could be to increase brand recognition, build the brand and grow revenue. It would be best to create your event strategy around these pointers:
- Align your event strategy with the company goals.
- Understand your resources. Review resources such as the virtual event software, event management technology, event/education planning knowledge, speakers, sponsors, company support, staff, time, and money.
- Plan your calendar of events and take stock of attendee location, time of the year, competitor events, and industry events.
- Set clear goals such as putting a deadline, taking out ambiguity, and making it realistic and measurable.
These pointers will help you devise a successful event strategy for your brand.
To sum things up, event marketing is one of the most popular ways of bringing buyers to your product or service and the most essential aspect of a successful event is choosing the best virtual event platform.