Hosting virtual or online events has become an increasing popular option for planners. Not only is it a way to go on with the show during unexpected disruptions (such as a virus outbreak or a natural disaster), but virtual events have also been touted as a way to promote inclusivity and expand your audience reach.
While the virtual event experience will vary depending on the size and scope of your goals, there are a few ways to go above and beyond using software and other digital tools throughout the event journey. Check out how planners can take advantage of solutions they may already be familiar with to make their virtual events a smashing success.
Event Management Software
If your event is virtual, you still need some of the essentials to efficiently plan for it such as a dedicated event website and a registration process, as well as email marketing. When used together in one event management software platform, you'll save valuable time and money by having all your data and tools in one place.
Event Registration: Having a professional registration set up is critical to increasing attendance and learning more about your virtual event audience. For example, you could include questions related to their interests or even their virtual event experience to promote the right event content to the right people, as well as better understand their comfort/knowledge level when it comes to attending virtual events.
Event Website: Especially if your audience is new to virtual events, your website acts as an important medium to explain how the event will work, answer FAQs, and to post your on-demand content post-event. If your virtual event is a little last minute, with event management software, you can build a new professional looking website or add website pages in minutes.
Email Marketing: Just like registration and an event website, email marketing is perhaps event more crucial to a virtual event than an in-person one. When an event is online, attendees can more easily forget about it or be unsure of the details. That's why an email marketing strategy is critical to keep your attendees update to date and enthusiastic about attending your virtual event. Send email reminders in the days and weeks leading up to your event, and use it announce new sessions or speakers.
Especially if you've transitioned your in-person event to a virtual one, your audience probably has a lot of questions about any logistical changes you've made. Having a chatbot on your website or one that can be used via text message is a great way to get attendee questions answered quickly, giving you more time to focus on planning your virtual event. Some key questions chatbots can answer include:
- When is the new date for your upcoming event?
- What virtual event software are you using?
- How do I log in to the virtual event?
- Will the sessions be available on-demand post-event?
- Are you offering any refund or credit from your in-person event?
- Why did you turn your event into a virtual event?
- How are you monitoring the coronavirus outbreak?
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Mobile Event App
Engagement is key when it comes to hosting a successful virtual event, and while many top virtual providers include several features to keep attendees focused and feeling included, your mobile event app can only enhance that experience. Some of the features you can utilize during your virtual event include:
- Push notifications can help keep attendees up to date. For example, organizers can send out important reminders such as when their virtual event starts back up after a break or to take a survey post-session or post-event.
- In-app messaging and one-on-one matchmaking features can facilitate networking opportunities even during virtual events. Promote these features throughout your program and attendees will be able to find others with similar goals easily.
- Polls and Q&As done via your mobile event app can help your presenters bring their presentations to life and make at-home attendees feel more included in the conversation.
- Finally, in-app surveys are an easy and convenient way for event organizers to get feedback about their individual sessions, as well as the event overall. Attendees will be more likely to complete these surveys as it's right in their devices they use everyday.
Social Media & Communication Tools
Networking is often a key driver for attendees to go to events, and they don't have to miss out on opportunities to connect just because an event isn't in-person. Along with facilitating networking via your mobile event app, virtual events can also take advantage of social media and other communication tools. Two simple but effective examples include:
- Dedicated LinkedIn groups or Slack channels can be set up based on topic and you can invite attendees to groups they may be interested in to chat before, during and long after your virtual event.
- Twitter chats can be scheduled on a variety of topics with unique hashtags. The conversations could be facilitated by one of the event organizers or an expert/speaker to tie-in with your event.
While there are so many great virtual event platforms out there, planners can take their events to the next level by thinking outside the box and using familiar tools and solutions. It's all about fostering your event's community whether they're onsite or watching from home, and using what you got to make the virtual experience as thoughtful and engaging as it can be.