Covid-19 has changed what “normal” looks like for us all, and the events industry is no exception. Today, virtual events, also known as online events, have grown in popularity around the world and have become a part of our lives and our businesses.
A virtual event is very similar to an in-person one, but with some outstanding benefits. Virtual events could be online conferences and webinars, interviews and performances, training and courses, tutorials, classes, and more.
One of the biggest benefits of virtual events is not being restricted to a single place or location. This means that anyone from anywhere in the world with an internet connection and a device can join the event. Secondly, online events are cost-effective as they avoid booking venues, staff, producing merchandise, hiring or buying equipment and other staff you need for off-line events.
Last but not least, you may already know how important it is to measure any digital activity you perform. Thus, being easy to measure, online events give you the opportunity to measure your success, get data on overall engagement and number of attendees, and gauge the most popular speeches and downloaded materials. All these insights can help you to better plan for your next events.
However, even though there are benefits and tools to help you create an online event, organizing a successful online event may require time, effort and consideration.
Here are some top tips to help you host a successful online event:
1. Create a strategy
Before you start, think about why you’re planning the event. You can start by defining whether you’re targeting your current customers as part of an engagement strategy, or whether this is a lead generation activity to pick up new customers, or both. What kind of experience do you want to deliver? What outcomes are you looking for?
2. Find the right platform
Choosing the right platform mainly depends on your goals and the type of events you plan to organize. However, there are some important features every platform should include; chat, Q&A, live polls, the ability to upload slides or additional content. Also, consider which ones provide an option to run both live and on-demand events, and with access to the events from mobile devices.
Even if you find the perfect platform, don’t forget to anticipate any tech issues that your attendees may face while using the platform. On the day of the event, a couple of hours before, send out a notification email to your attendees. Make sure to log in to the platform 15-20 minutes earlier to give your speakers the administrative permissions, and during the event, make sure to mute all attendees.
3. Pick the right time
Choosing the right time for your online event is very important. Before reserving
the time for your event, consider the profile and the location of your audience. If you plan to go global and your targeted audience is based in different time zones, do your best to pick a time that works for as many of your customers and followers as possible. If you can’t find a suitable time for everyone, create accessible content and record live presentations for those who couldn’t attend.
Make sure not to plan your online event during public holidays or other similar events which could coincide with the date of your event.
4. Promote the event
It’s time to promote your online event. It is important to understand your audience and choose the right channels to promote your event. Depending on where your audience spends more time online, you can manage sign-ups: through the event platform directly, on a dedicated landing page on your website, via social media event pages like Facebook or LinkedIn, over email marketing, or all of the above. You may also consider running paid ad campaigns. The best time to start the promotion is two-three weeks before the event, depending on its size and scope.
5. Keep attendees engaged
Make your audience feel connected, involving them into the process so they stay longer and participate more. Here are some ideas:
- Ask your audience questions during the event
- Encourage debate
- Use live content for presentation
- Use the webcam all the time and encourage the audience to do the same
- Leave time for Q&A sessions
After the event
No matter whether the event you are running is online or offline: it is always important to follow up with attendees. Sending a post-event survey to understand participants’ experience will show that you care and will help you to understand the outcome of the event. Also, include a sign-off thanking everyone, both participants and speakers. Share the meeting recording with those who missed it.
The new normal has boosted the world of online events. Many of you have moved your events online, and we hope this article helps you make them a success!
Need more answers on this topic? Let us know in the comments below, or if you are a Plesk Partner, get in touch with your Account Manager and they will be happy to provide whatever guidance they can.