Just about everybody needed time to adjust to the sudden shift to virtual events in March of 2020. Because there was such little time to prepare, many of the first virtual events of 2020 were hastily thrown together and unimpressive. At best, these events were boring and unimaginative.
However, now we’ve had nearly two years to effectively adjust to the new norm of online events. Professional video sharing platforms are more abundant than ever before, and access to other online tools makes virtual event planning seamless and easy to perfect. 2021 has truly proven that digital experiences can be extremely impressive.
But how can you ensure that your virtual event will be successful? After years of ensuring that in-person events are as effective and efficient as possible, it can be hard to shift your priorities to a new medium.
Before we share our tips on how to make your next event extremely successful, we need to define what “successful” means to your business.
What makes a virtual event successful?
Ultimately, gauging the success of a virtual event is pretty difficult. There’s no one tried-and-true way to figure out if a specific event was “successful” because the definition of success is completely dependent on malleable factors. For one company, an event could be deemed successful if it simply turns a profit; however, another company might define success in terms of how many leads they gained following the event.
Professionals at Markletic, a marketing strategizing company, suggest making a predetermined list of success metrics for your team to work towards. Doing so gives your company an easy checklist to analyze following the event to determine how well it went overall.
Here are a few success metrics that you should add to your next event’s checklist:
- New leads generated
- Business connections made
- Deals closed
- Merchandise sold
- Sponsorship revenue created
- Audience satisfaction
Here are some quick tips that will turn you into a virtual event professional:
Location, location, location
Choosing the right venue for your in-person event has always been a huge aspect of the planning process for event organizers. You want to make sure the venue you chose can properly accommodate for everything your event might need. In the same way that you would extensively research as you look for an in-person venue, you need to do the same for your virtual event platform.
There are countless platforms on the internet that each have different strengths and weaknesses that cater to varying types of events. Before choosing a platform, make sure you know the basics, for example: how many attendees are you expecting? Do you want in-platform merch stores? How are you going to showcase your sponsors? All of these are necessary elements to know before picking the platform that’s right for your business.
It’s important to market your online event just as much as you would an in-person event. Send out promotional emails, mail flyers to your loyal consumers, and consistently post on social media in order to get as many attendees as possible. Social media is a great way to market your event in a cost-effective manner, especially if you have a decent following and if people are truly excited about your upcoming event.
When it comes to spending money on marketing, however, don’t hold back. In the same way that you would rely on your in-person event to give you a decent return on investment, have faith that your virtual event will do the same. After all, digital events are often extremely less expensive than in-person events, so you’ll likely have some money left over in your budget
Create networking opportunities
According to another study by Markletic, over 80% of organizers agree that networking capabilities are a key contributor to audience satisfaction. The same study shows that networking is the second most common reason that people attend online events- preceded only by those attending educational courses. For companies who will define their event’s success based on audience satisfaction, networking is a key component to remember.
Engage your audience
This goes hand-in-hand with creating networking opportunities for your attendees. By giving your audience members the option to interact with one another, you’re giving them a reason to stay at your event. Audience engagement can be achieved in several different ways. Add polls or trivia questions in your live chat so attendees can test their understanding and debate with one another.
Another great way to encourage attendees to interact with each other is to offer causal breakout rooms before or after your event. This gives your audience members a chance to get to know their fellow attendees and build up excitement for your event.
Follow-up (and offer some special deals)
One of the main reasons for hosting an event is to create connections with new potential leads for your business. Following up gives you a great opportunity to interact with attendees who you think would benefit from working with your company - and vice versa. Send out an email or two with surveys or special offers that thank them for their attendance, and make sure to convey your interest in working with them. This gives audience members a quick reminder about your recent event and helps keep your company’s name at the forefront of their minds.