Complete guide to virtual events

The Complete Guide To Virtual Events

Here's everything you need to know about hosting successful virtual events. Check out our guide for virtual event planning tips and create an unforgettable event.
,
August 31, 2022

The popularity of virtual events went through the roof these past few years (for obvious reasons) and while in-person events will always be relevant, many will continue to hold online events for their many benefits. If you’re looking to host a virtual event and don’t know where to start, look no further! In this complete guide, we will explore everything you need to know about virtual events to help you make yours a success.

What is a Virtual Event?

A virtual event, also called an online event, is any event that gathers people at the same time to interact in an online environment. The rise of virtual events is due to its facility to bring a global audience together while reducing costs for companies. We believe without a doubt that virtual events are here to stay. 

4 Types of Virtual Events

First things first- before organizing and promoting your online event, you need to ask yourself: “what do I wish to accomplish by hosting this event?” This question is fundamental to help you decide which virtual events to host and having a clear goal will lead your virtual event to be successful. Below are four different types of virtual events:

1. Webinars

If your goal is to educate your target audience, you might want to consider hosting a webinar. The term “webinar” is the combination of the word “web” and “seminar”. The host can be joined by other presenters to talk about a specific topic and to answer questions that attendees might have. This type of event is perfect for a global audience as it allows people from all around the world to join. Organizations usually require attendees to pre-register and to pay a small fee, although webinars can also be free. 

2. Virtual Conferences

This type of virtual event is perfect if you’re looking to gather a large audience but don’t have the budget for a big venue. Similar to an in-person conference but held online, virtual conferences are built around a live, complex agenda that includes keynotes, sessions, breakouts, and more. Attendees are given the opportunity to exchange ideas with one another and to build new relationships. To make your virtual event more engaging and interactive, you can use features such as live chat, polls, and Q&As. 

3. Internal Hybrid Events

Involving both in-person and virtual attendees, these events are perfect for town hall meetings, company-wide events, training sessions, and more. It can be time and money consuming to organize an event inside your organization for a large crowd; especially when people have different schedules or live in a different timezone. Internal hybrid events allow attendees to be gathered and to interact at the same time, without being at the same place.

4. External Hybrid Events

External hybrid events are for attendees outside of your organization who can’t attend the event in-person. This type of event brings together attendees of common interest or industry and allows them to exchange ideas, showcase products, or share information. External hybrid events require higher levels of video production so that virtual attendees are provided a similar quality to in-person attendees. They can be in the form of industry conferences, user conferences, summits, workshops, and more.

7 Reasons Why You Should Host a Virtual Event

Going virtual is still an unfamiliar concept to people who are used to organizing in-person events. As human beings, we are often reluctant to change and planners wonder if they can reach the same level of engagement with virtual vs in person events. The reality is that the growth of virtual events is proof of its many benefits. By hosting virtual events, organizations will:

  1.  Reach a Broader Audience

Attendees only need two things to take part in a virtual event: an internet connection and a computer or a mobile phone. Not only can organizations reach out and make connections with people from all over the world, but they can also gather a large audience without worrying about the space.

  1.  Save Time & Money

Planning a virtual event will save you the hassle of booking a venue and save you from other costs that come with in-person events like food and beverage, additional staffing, traveling, and so on. Although virtual events still require planning and coordination, they allow planners to save a tremendous amount of time. Attendees also save time and money because they do not have to travel to take part in the event.

  1.  Easily Collect Valuable Data

One of the advantages of virtual vs in person events is its ability to collect and measure important feedback. Virtual events can easily be monitored to determine the audience engagement. Knowing important information like how and where attendees interacted and how long they stayed at the event, will help you make your future virtual events even more successful!

  1.  Have More Flexibility

Virtual events offer both the host and attendees a lot more freedom than in-person events. As mentioned earlier, there are many types of virtual events and you, as a planner, can use your creativity to customize your event. For instance, you can invite guest speakers from anywhere, offer different language options, and even use interactive elements to make your virtual event engaging

  1. Make Connections

Thanks to virtual events, organizers and attendees living all around the globe can connect with each other from the comfort of their homes. Making new connections is good for your company as it can lead to business opportunities. It can also help you stay updated about the industry trends to stay ahead of the competition.

  1. It Is Eco-friendly

While in-person events require attendants and organizers to travel, sometimes from the other side of the globe, –we’ll let you take a minute to think about the carbon footprint it causes–, virtual events do not. In addition, with virtual events, there is no paper wastage. It helps organizations host eco-friendly events that lead to a cleaner environment.

  1. Amplified Engagement

The key to a virtual event success is the attendees engagement and interaction. Because the audience can attend the event from their homes, it makes the event more personal, which tends to become more engaged. Hosting your event on an event platform will give you the opportunity to use features to interact with your attendees, such as chat boxes, polls, and surveys.

Virtual Events vs In-Person Events: The Fundamentals

Event planning consists of important fundamentals. All events, whether they are physical or virtual, rely heavily on a detailed strategy, and to do that there are a few key details you should consider. 

Event Planning Fundamentals 

  1. Stellar Marketing

Similar to physical events, virtual events require comprehensive marketing. Without a targeted and effective promotion strategy, your attendance numbers could be greatly affected. 

  1. Meaningful Content 

Content is the foundation of your virtual event and therefore should be relevant. Keep your attendees engaged and interested with powerful keynotes and topics that are tailored to them!

  1. Analyze Data

Data will help you determine the success of your past and future virtual events. Capturing attendee and engagement data will help you measure your ROI for each event and activate the buyer’s journey.

How to Choose The Right Virtual Online Platform

What Is a Virtual Online Platform?

A virtual event platform is a software that allows users to host virtual webinars, conferences, hybrid events, and much more with relative ease. Attendees can participate in both peer-to-peer interactions as well as one-to-many interactions, which makes virtual event platforms unique! Their many features go beyond standard video conferencing software and will help you make your virtual events more engaging.

8 Key Features in Virtual Event Software 

We’ve gathered the best key features that some virtual event platforms offer!

1. Customization

When planning a virtual event, planners should look for a platform that offers customization features. Being able to combine the company’s branding with interacting features will help build a one-of-a-kind virtual experience for the audience. So when choosing a virtual event platform for your event, look for customization features like:

  • Branded event website
  • Customizable registration capabilities
  • Branded web room
  • Customizable email templates

2. Networking & Engagement Features

Similar to in-person events, it is essential for your attendees to stay engaged during an event while being able to communicate. Be sure to choose a virtual event platform that offers features like chat rooms, polls, surveys, Q&A sessions, and more. Networking features must be easy to navigate and use. Many platforms use AI-based matchmaking algorithms that will help your audience connect with people who share similar interests. 

3. Automation

This must-have feature will help you save time and costs when hosting your virtual event. And not just that- automation also makes meeting and event planning easier! When looking for a platform to host your virtual event, you want to choose one that is automated as much as possible, especially if you need to plan a virtual event quickly. Some automated features include event page creations, speaker data upload, and other processes and systems of the virtual event platform.

4. Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsorship can be a good way to drive your revenue. Sponsors want to choose events that will give brand recognition to them, while having the chance to connect with a new audience. To attract sponsors and keep them interested, you can give them the opportunity to place their logo on your event page and to showcase their brand during your virtual event.

5. Virtual Booths

“What is a virtual booth?”, you may ask. It is a space within a virtual event in which sponsors and exhibitors can market their product or service by sharing videos and photos about their offerings. It allows one-to-one networking and encourages attendees to connect with each other and to participate in meaningful conversations.

6. Integrations

When choosing your virtual event platform, make sure that it offers integration tools to help you store your attendee data in one place so that you can analyze important information faster and easier, such as session attendance and audience engagement. This will help you save time and money.

An event management software integration will help you plan, market, and manage your event efficiently, from your event website to your mobile event app. 

7. Broadcasting

Live broadcasting your virtual event is a cost-effective way for your organization to reach a broader audience and to boost audience engagement via live polling, Q&As, and more. Because it is live, it creates a sense of urgency among viewers who won’t want to miss the opportunity to participate in your virtual event.

8. Email Marketing

Use email marketing to spread the word about your virtual event and increase registrations, but also to gather feedback from your audience by sending them surveys after the virtual event is over. Most people check their emails everyday, so email marketing is a great way to communicate with the participants at all stages of the event.

The Ultimate Virtual Event Planning Checklist

  • Plan Your Show Flow: A show flow is a key component to your virtual event’s success.
  • Choose A Secure And Trusted Virtual Platform: Hosting your virtual event on a reliable platform will put you at ease
  • Create Content: Meaningful content is the foundation to keep your attendees interested
  • Prioritize Attendee Networking & Engagement: Tailor your virtual event to your attendees to keep them engaged
  • Secure Technical Support And Management: Glitches are unpredictable, make sure to have a back up plan
  • Review Detailed Data Analytics: Attendee data is a great way to determine your event’s success and measure ROI

How to Host a Virtual Event

Hosting a virtual event may seem difficult, but with the right steps and the right tools it can be a breeze! We’ll break down the steps to take within each phase of the event, including before, during, and after. 

Before the Event

  1. Determine your goal

First and foremost, you need to determine what you wish to accomplish with organizing your event. Having a clear goal will help you with the following steps. Are you trying to make new connections? Generate revenue? Educate your audience? Having one or more goals to work towards will help you during the event planning process. 

  1. Select Your Target Audience

Once you’ve identified the reasons why you want to host a virtual event, the next step is to select your target audience. For whom are you organizing the event? Learning about the audience is necessary to come up with content that is relevant to them. It is also one way to increase attendance at virtual events. 

  1. Set Up a Budget

As you would come up with a budget for an in-person event, you need to do the same when planning a virtual one. The key is to identify all of the components that have a cost. Once you have done that, you can use a spreadsheet to help you manage all of your spendings and itemize them in detail. 

  1. Decide on an Event Format

Now that you know your goals, target audience, and budget, the next step is to finalize the event format. What type of virtual events are you looking to host? As already discussed, there are different types of events that you can consider, including webinars and virtual conferences. After you determine the format, you will have to choose a platform to host your event.

  1. Invite Sponsors and Exhibitors

Sponsors and exhibitors are essential elements for your event and will play a role in your budget. Do your research and onboard highly reputed sponsors and exhibitors- your event’s reputation will depend on it, and it will keep the attendees excited which will attract more people.

  1. Selecting A Right Platform

The same way you have to find a venue for an in-person event, you want to select a platform that will help you promote, execute, and manage your virtual event. When choosing a virtual event platform, there are many things to take in consideration, but most importantly, you want to pick a platform that offers key features that will allow you to accomplish your goals.

  1. Content Creation and Promotion

Now that you know your target audience, it will be easier to create meaningful content for them. Use impactful content to promote your virtual event and attract attendees. Based on the channels of communication that you are using, you might need to adapt your content. Promoting your event and valuable content will arouse people’s interest in attending your virtual event.

  1. Testing The Selected Platform to Identify Technical Issues

Get familiar with the virtual event platform you selected ahead of time before the event. If you don’t know how to use it, it will give the impression to your attendees that you are not prepared for your virtual event, and they will quickly lose interest. Although some glitches are inevitable, doing a test run before the big day will help you identify possible technical issues.

  1. Register Your Attendees

Ask participants to register in advance for the virtual event so that you have an idea of the head count. This will also avoid the server to be overloaded during the on-the-spot registrations. Don’t forget to include a feature on your virtual event’s website that allow guests to pre-register, as well as important information such as the time and date of the event.

  1. Branding & Messaging

Keep in mind the essential branding guidelines while working on brand messages for your virtual events. Stay authentic; you want to give your target audience a sense of trust and authority. You also need to differentiate yourself and organization from your competitors in the industry and show your guest why they should come to your event. It is important to research your target audiences and to know about them. This will allow you to create branding messages that will invoke them. Most importantly, you need to stay consistent with your brand messaging across all media.

During the Event

  1. Share Crucial Information

It can be very frustrating not knowing what is happening during an event or how to use a virtual platform. So make sure to share with your audience important information like the agenda, a list of guest speakers, and a guide to help them navigate through the event. You want to make sure that your attendees have everything they need to have a good experience.

  1. Keep the Audience Engaged

You might need to give a little push to your audience for them to start engaging. Remember that virtual events can host large crowds, which can make it intimidating for people to take part in a conversation. Luckily, there are ways to interact with the participants, for example by conducting polls, surveys, and Q&A sessions.

  1. Don’t Forget to Take Breaks!

If you are planning an event that is long or has many sessions, there are chances that your audience will start losing interest or become exhausted quickly. So, include breakout sessions throughout the event. It will give your audience time to relax and a chance for them to connect with each other.

After the Event

  1. Stay Connected!

After the attendees leave the event, ask them for feedback. This process will help you understand your audience preferences, and will help determine the strengths and weaknesses of your event. You can use the data to make changes, or not, to your future virtual events. 

  1. Collect and Analyze Feedback

After any event, it is important to gather feedback from the attendees to understand how you can improve your future events. It can be uncomfortable for people to give honest feedback, so use an anonymous system to gather accurate data. A good way to determine your event’s success is to look at the attendance, the audience engagement, and to measure the event ROI. This important information will help you make your next virtual event even better by including elements that your audience liked, and modifying or forgoing parts that they did not. 

  1. Post Photos and Videos On Social Media

Use your social media to share photos and videos of your successful virtual event. Make it shareable so that people who attended the event can also share it on their social media. This will give make potential future participants want to come to your next event!

How to Attract Attendees to a Virtual Event

The key is to find your target audience and to do research. This will help you understand how to attract people. Once you know your target very well, you want to promote your event and can do so by using tools like marketing emails and social media. It is important to highlight the benefits of the event, as well as to invite reputed guest speakers. Finally, planners must make it easy for attendees to pre-register for the virtual event by creating an easy-to-use landing page layout that can sign guests up with no problem. 

Attendee Engagement at Virtual Events

  1. Invest in Production Quality

When it is finally the big day, the last thing you need is technical problems. That would leave you and your audience frustrated and you would not make a good impression. Remember, you want your virtual event to be successful and keep your audience engaged. So, to deliver a fully branded experience for your virtual attendees, it’s necessary to spend on the production quality. 

  1. Create Interactive Sessions

Make your remote audiences feel like they’re an integral part of the conversation by using features like surveys, chat boxes, quiz sessions, Q&As. Engage with the attendees by making the event a little personal. Planners can send gifts and goodies ahead of time and start the event with some icebreaker questions. To make your virtual event even more fun, incorporate gamification. Host a virtual scavenger hunt and reward the participants with prizes!

  1. Leaderboards

Make your virtual event even more fun and keep your attendees engaged through gamification. To encourage their participation, you can award them prizes and awards throughout the event. Attendees can earn points by registering to sessions, participating in conversations, or by playing online games that organizers can plan ahead, such as an online scavenger hunt.

  1. Take Breaks

Staring at a computer screen for long periods of time can be hard on the eyes and it can be challenging to stay focused. So if you are running a long virtual event, don’t forget to allow time for the host and participants to relax.

  1. Interactive Content 

Encourage attendee’s participation and engagement by using interactive content such as surveys and polls, interactive quizzes, virtual booths, etc. A virtual event does not mean that you should forego swag bags! Give the opportunity to your guests to download resources from their swag bag so that they can access it later. 

  1. Interact on Social Media

To boost interest and participant attendance, interact on social media prior, during, and after the virtual event. This will give you the opportunity to start building a relationship with them, and attendees will be able to connect with each other before the event. After the event, share photos and videos of the event to show your event’s success and make the missing audience want to come to the next virtual event. 

  1. Virtual Photo Booth

No need to be at an in-person event to have a photo booth. Because they are a lot of fun, you can be sure that a virtual photo booth will attract people to your virtual event. You can sponsor with other brands and incorporate their logo to the pictures, or you can create branded photo templates for your organization. Making even more fun by offering filters; this will keep your guests engaged. Virtual photo booths also offer the possibility to save and share photos easily within the booth.

Networking and Connecting During Virtual Events

Networking is a key element of any event. Although virtual event platforms cannot replicate face-to-face gatherings, they can allow one-to-one networking. Virtual event booths are analogous to the stands you see at in-person events, and they make it easier for sponsors, organizers, and attendees to connect. Other virtual event platforms’ features allow people to message one another, do video calls, or book in-person meetings. So don’t forget to offer dedicated time for networking during your next virtual event. 

How to Measure the ROI of Virtual Events

Choosing a virtual event platform that offers analytic and reporting features is a must to help figure out your virtual event ROI. As a host, you can track your event’s ROI before, during, and after the big day using a real-time metric dashboards, which is a feature that can be found in many virtual event platforms. Measuring the ROI of your virtual event can also be done by using the data gathered during virtual events to weigh costs versus benefits. Doing is beneficial for you to be able to make revision for future virtual events and to keep delivering excellence to your stakeholders. 

Virtual Event FAQs

1. Are Virtual Events Here to Stay?

According to a study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, approximately 67% of all marketers have increased the time and money they invest in webinars and other virtual event solutions. Professionals also plan to be attending more virtual events each year. So yes, virtual events are here to stay!

2. Are Virtual Events Effective?

Hosting virtual events helps you reach a global audience while saving time and money. Isn’t it awesome?

3. How Long Should a Virtual Event Be?

Most experts recommend a virtual event to be 3 to 5 hours long to ensure consistent levels of audience engagement each day. Remember to plan small breaks for your audience to relax!

4. How to Make Virtual Events Fun?

Choose to host your virtual event on a fun platform like Hubilo. Thanks to its many features, you will be sure to keep your audience engaged and entertained. Employing gamification in your event activities is another great way to make your virtual event fun!

5. How to Make Money from Virtual Events?

You can require attendees to pre-register for a fee, sell premium tickets, on-demand content, as well as merchandise and event swag.

6. How to Make Virtual Events More Engaging?

Encourage your audience engagement by using features such as live chat, polls, and Q&As. 

7. What’s the Best Time to Host a Virtual Event?

If your goal is to reach a global audience, you need to pay attention to the time difference with other countries. Hosting your event in the middle of the day should be a good compromise.

8. Do I Need a Platform to Host a Virtual Event?

Not necessarily, but because they offer many features, we highly recommend hosting your virtual event on a platform if you want it to be a success among your attendees.

9. How Much Does a Virtual Event Platform Cost?

If you are ready to get started but wonder how much it costs, you can check our different plans and packages today!

Conclusion

Are you ready to rock at planning your future virtual event? Look no further! The team of experts at Hubilo are here to help you make your event unforgettable. Virtual events are certainly a different experience than in-person events in terms of planning, but they have plenty of advantages! Explore our different plan options or request a demo today. 

Author

No items found.

Get the latest Hubilo news in your inbox!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.