Virtual events have worked wonders for helping businesses keep in touch with their audiences throughout the pandemic, but it has not always been an easy ride. Problems faced by event organizers include difficulties engaging their attendees to make a lasting impact. By now, most of us miss the more personal atmosphere of in-person events, not least because many virtual events have failed to adequately translate this into an online environment.
Fortunately, most virtual event challenges can be solved by choosing a virtual event platform that helps organizers and sponsors realize the long-term benefits of taking things online. After all, virtual events are here to stay, simply because they make sense in today’s globalized business environment. Even when in-person events do make a comeback, virtual events will continue to allow businesses to reach out to attendees remotely, all over the world. Statistical data collected by Event Manager Blog reveals that more than 70% of event organizers said once they do go back to business the majority of their events will be hybrid, incorporating both in-person and virtual components.
Image Source: Event Manager Blog
To help you enjoy the benefits, both now and in the future, let us explore the most common event planning problems and solutions. Read on for our top virtual event tips.
Challenge 1: Attendee Engagement
Most virtual event marketers consider keeping attendees engaged to be the biggest challenge. After all, many of us have racked up far more screen time over the past year than we would like, and fatigue is setting in. However, a carefully planned and managed virtual event can be the next best thing to an in-person one, albeit with all the unique advantages it brings.
The secret lies in creating more immersive experiences, such as by bringing presentations to life with interactive sessions. Some proven examples include live Q&As, polling, and surveys. Another popular strategy is to keep events smaller, while also allowing attendees to network with peers outside of presentations themselves.
Challenge 2: Technical Expertise
A common misconception among event planners and attendees alike is that a virtual event is just another Zoom or Microsoft Teams meeting. Indeed, many of them do turn out to be that way, but this does not have to be the case. That said, creating an engaging and interactive experience is not something that can be done with everyday tools.
Having access to the necessary technical expertise and dependable support is essential for recreating the live event experience that people know and love. By partnering with the right service provider, you can access structured training programs that ease the learning curve and familiarize you with the virtual event best practices.
Challenge 3: Personalized Networking
It can be much harder to drive meaningful connections via virtual events. Many events end up being little more than live video streams, in which there are minimal opportunities for people to interact directly with one another. The lack of a strong social element is exactly what makes many virtual events forgettable.
Fortunately, there are many ways to solve the networking challenges of virtual events. A digital lead capture tool, for example, can serve as a virtual booth that allows attendees to connect directly with subject matter experts on a one-to-one basis. Matchmaking capabilities can also bring groups of attendees together based on shared interests and priorities.
Challenge 4: Privacy and Security
When nearly all events moved online last spring, organizers had minimal time to prepare. This led to a raft of attacks from cybercriminals to so-called ‘Zoom-bombers’. Many of these attacks came down to the fact that organizers had little time to think about security and viewed virtual events as nothing more than temporary workarounds, using unsuitable tools in the process.
Event planners bear the responsibility to protect themselves and their attendees, especially in cases where people are likely to be exchanging confidential information. This is why a unified event management platform with security and privacy built-in by design is essential for keeping your events safe and confidential.
Challenge 5: Reporting and Analytics
One of the many unique advantages of virtual events is that, like any other digital interaction, they generate large amounts of valuable data. However, the challenge lies in leveraging this data for actionable insights, which is not easy to achieve when you are using lots of different systems to drive engagement.
To maximize visibility into where attendees are in the purchase funnel, every team must have access to the same data. Therefore, different data sources need to be consolidated to prevent so-called information silos from forming. Choosing an integrated event management platform that works with your CRM and other systems is essential for making this possible.
Challenge 6: Integration Difficulties
Integration is not just about turning multiple sources of data into actionable insights, but also about enhancing productivity and reducing error. Many event managers use different systems for mailing lists, video conferencing, landing pages, and other routine operations, but this often means having to manually enter information multiple times. This takes longer and increases the chance of costly errors.
A unified event management problem brings together all of the functions you need to plan, market, and manage the event from its very conception to post-event attendee support. With one license, one log-in, and one support and training team, it is possible to streamline business workflows from start to finish.
Challenge 7: Monetization Opportunities
For many businesses, especially those in the B2B sector, live events were a significant source of revenue. Many event managers have found it hard to replicate these revenue sources in a virtual environment, which is largely down to the fact they end up losing sight of attendees and failing to move them further down the sales pipeline.
Analytics and reporting, empowered by the right integrations, can help event managers boost the revenue from their virtual events. An integrated platform also provides many other valuable monetization opportunities, such as the ability to enable online sponsorships, sell premium tickets, sell directly to attendees via virtual event booths, and even sell ad space on your virtual event website.
Challenge 8: Sponsorship Programs
For many events, a lot of revenue comes from sponsorships, making connecting buyers and sellers a top priority. However, it is not always easy to convince other businesses to sponsor a virtual event due to a lack of exposure and truly immersive attendee experiences. Moreover, the sponsors that are willing to sign up are usually only willing to do so for a much lower price than for an in-person event.
Thanks to technology, virtual events can offer similar engagement levels to in-person events, and sometimes even higher ones. By developing immersive virtual showroom experiences, and engaging branding opportunities, event managers can deliver higher levels of visibility across social media, websites, and numerous other channels.
While the problems faced by event organizers persist, there is no denying the continuing value of virtual and hybrid events, especially as businesses seek a revival following the pandemic. By following the virtual event best practices and garnering a thorough understanding of event planning problems and solutions, organizers can expand their audiences, appeal to high-value sponsors, and create engaging and memorable events online.
Aventri brings your virtual and hybrid events to the next level by providing powerful tools and analytics that drive meaningful engagement across online environments. Request your demo today to see how it works.