Due to the COVID-19 crisis and resulting travel bans and social distancing, events across the nation are being cancelled. As a result, many marketers are developing a business case for turning their planned live event into a virtual event.
If this is something you are considering, here are the 10 most important things you need to know about taking your next event virtual:
1. Keynote speakers
The advantage to virtual events is the ability to pipe in keynote speakers from any location. With current travel restrictions, this is an important consideration, but it has always represented an opportunity since the logistics of scheduling keynotes have always been contingent on availability to travel to your event location.
2. Breakout sessions
Just as with live events, breakout sessions allow you to schedule more in-depth discussions of niche subjects utilizing a panel of experts and a moderator. On a virtual platform, you can schedule exactly the same type of session. Plus, just as with the keynote speaker, you need not be beholden to travel restrictions or limited to a speaker’s ability to travel to your event. The result is potentially a much higher caliber group of experts than you might otherwise be able to access.
3. Round tables
The interactive features of advanced virtual events platforms are ideal for this staple of live networking events. Invite one expert and limit the number of delegates who can sign up. This allows you to create an intimate freewheeling conversation and exploration of key issues affecting your sector.
4. One On One Sessions (Speed Dating)
Another staple of live networking events, this type of session gives delegates the opportunity to engage with thought leaders one on one for 5 to 10 minute “speed date” sessions. This is ideal for pitching business ideas to investors or TV shows to broadcasters.
5. Advanced Meetings Rooms and Universal Spaces
Your platform can also facilitate closed-door meetings between two delegates, or small groups. This type of set-up is ideal for business discussion and deal-making. You can also allow groups of delegates to meet randomly in a lounge atmosphere during 10-minute session breaks. This can be done utilizing chat functions or video.
The list of spaces and options can meet and exceed live events. This can also include a Lobby, Exhibition Hall and Resource Centre.
Spaces can be configured to your specifications including logos, brand colours, welcome videos, as well as display ads and hotspots that link to other spaces or sessions within your event.
6. Interactive Features
The range of interactive features are really limited only by your imagination. The top virtual events platforms feature user profiles, help desks, activity badge centers, games rooms, prize centers, feedback surveys and a “See Who’s Here” functions.
The key to many successful events is sponsor participation. Displaying a sponsor logo is one thing, but on a virtual platform, you have the opportunity to create sponsored sessions, target display ads and feature hot spots that link to sponsor pages or special sessions including sponsor product launches, as well as videos and infographics that help bring sponsorships to life.
8. On-Demand Streaming
When your live event is over, you’re usually left with little more than the opportunity to say “Goodbye, and we’ll see you next year.” But with virtual events, you are only just getting started. Research indicates that 4X the audience that attends a live event will engage with the on-demand version. That is a significant extension of reach and a major return on investment.
9. Evergreen Content
With a virtual event, you have the option of turning your entire event into a content making machine, driving your content calendar for an entire quarter, or even a full year. Everything that happens can be repackaged as videos or audio clips.
Your most important thought leadership can be repurposed into short and long-format videos, podcasts, blogs and infographics from the material you capture over the course of your event, allowing you to post it across your digital marketing channels.
10. Data and Analytics
Imagine having the ability to follow each and every delegate around your event making note of which sessions they went to, how long they stayed, which information sheet they kept from the delegate bag, and the specific whitepapers they took after the event ended. With virtual events, you can track exactly these kinds of actions. This provides a level of business intel impossible to generate in live events.
But it goes much further. Track viewership metrics including registration, live viewers, duration in the theatre. Know who consumed the most content and what content assets are being accessed most frequently in real-time. Track all engagement data to determine who are the most engaged audience members. Ensure data flows directly into your CRM or Marketing Automation platform and transfer data to any of your existing business systems such as Learning Management or Business Intelligence software.
The Streaming Network is one of the country’s premier virtual events producers. Our events team has over a decade of experience working with a range of companies in tech, legal, financial services and professional associations.
Let us know how we can help assure your virtual events and webinars stay on track.