When researching and choosing your virtual events platform, there are many things to think about and consider. But if you need to choose your virtual events platform quickly, because of something like the coronavirus, and convert your in-person event to an online one, you’ll need a list of the top key features to evaluate your virtual event platform and vendors with.
In this guide, we will break down the key features the best virtual event platform must have to help you put on a successful online event.
What to Look for in a Virtual Event Platform
Like an event management software platform, planners should look for a virtual events platform that offers customization features, like:
- Branded event website
- Customizable registration capabilities
- Branded web room
- Customizable email templates
If attendees log onto your virtual event’s registration page and see the virtual platform’s logo, they may be confused and decide not to register for your event. Being able to integrate your company branding and messaging throughout the virtual event’s platform, will help create a consistent experience for attendees.
So be sure to ask your virtual event platform:
- Do you have customization features on your virtual event’s platform?
- What is the extent of your customization features?
- Do you offer branding opportunities, like branded web rooms and branded event websites?
2. Automation Features
Automation is a must-have feature for any event planner in 2020. Why? Because automation makes meeting and event planning easier, as well as helps planners save time and money! Especially if you need to create virtual events quickly, automation is key. Like your event management software, your virtual event platform must have automation features. When evaluating virtual event platforms, ask the vendors:
- Can I see how your backend of your virtual events platform functions?
- How automated are your virtual event platform’s systems and processes?
- How long does data (e.g. speaker info) upload take? Can it be automated?
- How long does to create event pages? Can parts of it be automated?
3. Event Management Software Integration or Partnership
Even though your event is online, you still need the essentials to efficiently plan for, market, and manage your event. That’s where an event management software integration or partnership with your virtual events platform is crucial. When used together, an event management software and a virtual events platform can save you time and money by storing your data in one place and taking care of everything from your event website to your email marketing to your mobile event app.
Here are a few questions to ask your virtual events platforms when evaluating them:
- Does your virtual events platform have an integration or partnership with one event management software platform?
- Does this event management software platform offer professional event registration services?
- Does this event management software platform offer the option to build a new professional looking website or add website pages in minutes?
- Does this event management software platform have sophisticated email marketing capabilities
- Does this event management software platform offer a mobile event app with push notifications, in-app messaging, one-on-one matching, surveying, polling, and Q&A, to boost attendee engagement and collect valuable attendee data?
4. Variety of Space Types
Similar to an in-person event, space is key to a good user experience. Some popular virtual event spaces include:
- Exhibit Hall
- Meeting Room
- Networking Lounge
- Sponsor Space
- See Who’s Here
Because spaces can be used to engage attendees and enhance their overall event experience, it’s important to ask your virtual event platforms about their space types. For instance, you can ask them:
- Do you offer different space types on your virtual platform?
- How many space types do you offer?
- Are their personalization features on your space types?
5. Live Broadcast
Having the ability to live broadcast your keynote speakers and hosts during a virtual event is critical. Live broadcasting not only create a sense of urgency amongst viewers, but it also helps engage attendees via live polling, Q&A, etc. In addition to live broadcasting, some virtual event platforms feature multi-speaker sessions, which allow multiple people to present at the same time. If you’re thinking of hosting a virtual tradeshow, exhibitor event, or conference, be sure to ask virtual platform providers these questions:
- Does this platform support live broadcasting?
- As part of the live broadcasting feature, does this virtual events platform support automated subtitles in different languages?
- Does this platform support multi-speaker sessions?
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6. Pre-Recorded Content
Although many virtual events are live to maximize attendee engagement and the attendee experience, having the option upload pre-recorded content of sessions or speakers is important (e.g. think if a keynote speaker cannot attend and speak live the day of an event, but can record exclusive content ahead of time for your audience). When elevating a few virtual event platforms, be sure to ask them:
- Does this virtual events platform allow for the upload of pre-recorded content?
- Does this virtual events platform allow you to schedule pre-recorded content?
7. Communication & Engagement Features
Just like in-person events, being able to communicate with your attendees at all stages of the event lifecycle and keep them engaged during your virtual sessions is essential. So be sure you ask virtual event platforms these questions:
- Does this virtual events platform have a chatting, messaging, or group chat feature?
- Does this virtual events platform have a Q&A feature?
- Does this virtual events platform have a live polling feature?
- Does this virtual events platform have a feedback surveying feature?
8. Social Media Integration
Social media can play a big part in keeping your attendees engaged and connected throughout your virtual event. During your online event, attendees may want to share quotes, screenshots, or general event takeaways with their social media audience. So being able to let them share content directly from your virtual platform to their social networks is very important and will help you generate more buzz around your event. When speaking to your virtual event provider, be sure to ask:
- Does this virtual events platform integrate with social media networks?
- What social media networks does this virtual events platform integrate with?
- Where will the social media integration buttons be seen by attendees on the platform?
9. Recorded Captured Content
Ensuring that your virtual events platform captures and records your event content is key. Not only can you use this content to market future events, but you can also allow past attendees to access your event content anytime, so they can continue to engage with you and your brand long after the event is over. So be sure to ask your virtual event providers:
- Do you capture, record, and store my event’s content?
- How long do I have access to this content?
- Where will this content live?
- Is there a price for storing and hosting my content?
- Can I create a community hub for my past event content?
- Can my attendees continually access this content?
10. Monetization Features
Planners are always thinking of new ways to monetize their events, and with virtual events, the monetization options for planners are tenfold. With the right virtual events platform, planners can:
- Display advertisements throughout their virtual event and have the ads link to “spaces” within their virtual event or even link to sponsors.
- Use the “spaces” feature to include a sponsorship space where attendees can visit and learn more about the event’s sponsors.
- Create hotspots that link to sponsors or other spaces within your virtual event platform.
- To ensure you can maximize your virtual monetization opportunity, be sure to ask providers these questions:
- Does this virtual events platform offer monetization features?
- Does this virtual events platform offer advertisement space?
- Does this virtual events platform offer “spaces”?
- Does this virtual events platform have a hotspot feature to sell sponsorships?
11. Live Troubleshooting
No matter how prepared you are for your virtual event, like in-person events, the chance of errors is possible. Since everything is done online, for virtual events, the chances of technical errors are much higher than at an in-person event (e.g. your presenter’s microphone input stops working or your keynote speaker or attendees signal dwindles, etc.). That’s why ensuring that your virtual events provider offers live troubleshooting is a must. Ask virtual event providers:
- Do you offer live troubleshooting?
- How do you resolve technical issues in the fastest way possible?
- Do you offer teaching sessions on how to use the platform to both staff and attendees?
12. Analytics and Reporting
Analytics and reporting are important to any type of event. Why? Because this data helps planners determine their event’s success and make improvements for their future events. So, what analytic and reporting features should a virtual events platform have? We’ve outlined a few questions to ask virtual events platforms when evaluating them:
- Does the virtual event platform provide you with insights into all aspects of your event?
- Does it let you capture a multi-dimensional view of your attendees, their interests, their touchpoints, and their interactivity?
- Does your virtual event platform provide you a real-time metrics dashboard, so you can track your event’s ROI before and during the big day?
- Does the virtual event platform provide you with the insights that are important to you, your company, your investors, and your sponsors?
13. Identify Your Long-Term Goals
Just because you need your virtual event platform in the here and now, doesn’t mean you won’t need or can’t use the platform in the future. So, although it’s important to think about how the platform fits into your company’s immediate goals, it’s also important to weigh your organization’s long-term goals. For instance, ask yourself:
- How can I use this virtual events platform in the future?
- Does this virtual events platform integrate with in-person events?
- Does this virtual events platform offer live streaming?
- Does this virtual events platform have the capacity to continually grow my company’s online audience over the years?
- Will this virtual events platform provide my audience with an engaging, consistent user experience for years to come?
Now that you understand all of the key features that make up the best virtual event platforms, it’s time to speak to a few vendors, ask your questions, and evaluate their platforms. All of these features contribute to the reliability of the platform, perhaps the most important feature of a virtual events platform. Because if your virtual event platform isn’t reliable, how can you trust them to host your virtual events?