What dawns on your mind when you think of the term ‘virtual event’? Protracted webinars and annual live-stream business conferences? Well, you’re certainly not wrong. Here, we will talk about what is a virtual event, what are its different types, and tips for successfully hosting virtual events for your business.
Table of Content:
- What are Virtual Events
- Benefits of hosting virtual events
- Types of Virtual Events
- How to host a virtual event
Virtual events now are ubiquitous in almost every industry – all thanks to the renewed force of digital alternatives during the outbreak of coronavirus.
Reports by Grand View Research says that is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.2% from 2020 to 2027.
As more and more businesses are skating towards online activities, virtual events are following suit. There is indeed a growing familiarity with online events among businesses, but there is still fog surrounding what they are and how to host the best one. Let’s have a look.
What are virtual events?
To put it simply, virtual events are a lot like your regular events. The only difference is that the former takes place on the internet.
Have you attended a webinar online? Watched an on-demand yoga class online? Or joined a meeting using a conferencing tool? If yes, then you have already attended a virtual event!
These types of events allow you to host something as big as a global seminar to something as a small meeting while working from home or being in the comfort of your home or office. All you for hosting virtual events needs is a strong internet connection and a mobile device or a laptop.
Although, when it comes to interacting with people, most businesses prefer in-person communication. There is indeed something special about face-to-face interactive events. People do not only hear what you are saying, but also perceive a greater meaning of your tone, voice, emotion, and body language.
But over the course of time, virtual programs have proven themselves as an essential aspect of business communication as well.
A great example of a successful virtual event is Jon Schumacher’s Webinar Mastery Summit. Jon is a webinar coach and online marketing consultant who has been hosting webinars for a while now but only with minimal results. In 2016, he launched the ‘Webinar Mastery Summit’, a virtual conference for people who wanted to improve their webinar skills.
This was his first virtual summit featuring a panel of 25 of the top webinar experts sharing their best secrets for creating, promoting, and monetizing a webinar. The summit generated him over 7,000 new email subscribers and almost $55,000 in revenue with his All-Access Pass sales. With All-Access, his participants receive lifetime access to 17 expert video sessions, full MP3 recordings of all sessions, three months of course creation software, and access to a private community for additional networking.
With virtual conferences, you’re able to give out recorded content for future lead generation and sales even after the event —- something that in-person conferences lack.
Benefits of hosting virtual events
Event-budgeting is vitally important for planning out any event. Booking a venue, hopping on catering services, expending on branded tchotchke, and whatnot? Thankfully, hosting virtual events allow you to save on most of these things. The only thing you have to worry about then is paying the cost of a virtual meeting platform (if any).
Reach Global audience
When you’re planning out an event, your ultimate goal is to reach a bigger and engaging audience. It’s a doddle with virtual events! They allow you to grow your audience by getting everyone to participate, no matter where they are in the world!
Easier to manage
With physical events, you’re constantly buckled under the strain. There is indeed a wave of stress that comes along whether it’s training your on-ground staff, being physically present in many places at once, or coming up with logistics. On the other hand, with virtual events, you can forget about all these old stews and focus on building higher engagement.
During virtual events, attendees don’t have to fuss around from booth to booth to attend different sessions which make it easier for attendees to network. Platforms like Zoom, for example, have breakout rooms where you can create a separate section (automatically or manually) for audiences to interact.
Measuring result is a cinch
Since everything is done online, it is relatively easier to track the audience and the engagement during the event. The data usually varies depending on what platform or event management software you use. The basic information that you can track is when your attendees logged on, from where, the number of people attending, how they are paying, etc.
Eco-friendly in nature
Times like these when climate change is a big issue, hosting virtual events would be an ideal choice. It will save a lot of resources.
Types of virtual events
Surprisingly, there are multiple types of meetings and events that can be held virtually. So before you dive into writing content, hiring speakers, or a plan into marketing your event, have a quick look at these 3 types of professional virtual events:
A webinar (a fusion of the words “web and “seminar) is a virtual video workshop, presentation, or lecture usually hosted using webinar software.
They are often business-related and can be used to share knowledge, ideas, and updates with people around the world. Webinars can help in nurturing current relationships while also building brand authority to generate new ones.
So if you want to share your knowledge about how to code or how to deal with mental health, you can host a webinar.
Similarly, webinars are also a great way to engage your audience, promote your product, and generate leads.
A virtual summit is a conference held online that brings together multiple experts/speakers to talk about a specific topic.
If you are thinking of hosting virtual events or conferences, you can simply invite multiple speakers, host several tracks and sessions, have breakout sessions in between, conduct live polls & surveys. Speakers and attendees can have a one-on-one conversation between them over audio/video in real-time.
Teachable is a SaaS company that hosts a virtual summit every year (which also happens to be their biggest promotional event every year). The company allows anyone to create and sell courses online, so their summit’s main focus is on eCourses (how one can create them, how to market and sell them, industry-wise approach to eCourses, etc.)
Virtual Product Launch
You launch your new product in order to stand out and grab your audience’s attention, but sadly you cannot invite all your customers to attend the physical event.
That’s why a virtual product launch event is the perfect solution to reach out to all your customers – no matter where they are. Not only will it give you a far bigger reach but will also help you to infiltrate new markets in an engaging way.
In July 2020, Canon pulled the cloak off their most awaited launch, the “EOS R5” and “EOS R6” cameras. The launch was an hour-long live-stream that was made available to the public worldwide.
How to host a virtual event?
All events come with logistical challenges. Here’s how to avoid hiccups for successfully hosting virtual events:
Plan Out Everything
Just like an offline event, an online event should have a well-planned strategy as well. Once you have decided how your virtual event will look like, get into details of what you want to achieve with it? Is it more email subscribers? Or new leads?
Assuming that you have your goals set, but do you have a concept in mind of how will you go about your event? How much time will you be giving for attendees for lunch or to check-in with work? Will your event be live-streamed in real-time or will it be available pre-recorded and played later?
If you have all your planning in place – great! But if you haven’t, the earlier you do it, the better will it be.
Set The Right Time
Keeping in mind that not all your attendees will be in the same time-zone, picking the right time will be one important step when planning out your event. Make sure you do a little research before sending out the invitations or advertising your event. Try to figure out what can be the best time that works for many of your attendees. If, for some reason, you couldn’t make it possible then you can make sure your content is accessible even after the live presentations for those who missed it.
Market your event
Once you get done with the planning phase, it’s time to hop on the fun part – promoting your event.
You can promote your virtual event in various ways so that your attendees sign-up, tune-in, and engage. Some of these tactics are mentioned below:
- Use your email list
Send out email newsletters to your curated email list to share news about upcoming events. To bolster interest, pepper your email newsletters with lively imagery that conveys engagement even in an online format, and offer special discount codes.
- Leverage social media
There are literally millions of ways you can promote your event on social media. Some of them including:
Facebook Events, which is a free and shareable place to promote your event, create a hashtag about your event and spread it through Twitter, head into industry-related forums, and entice people about the amazing things your event is going to hold, share images and video clips through Instagram, etc.
- Write blogs
Write a blog post about your upcoming event. Touch on the highlights and express excitement over the information and the speakers. Use the right keywords and promote the blog over various platforms.
- Create an enticing event page
This is the place where everyone goes to learn about your event. Make all the information (time, date, platform, etc.) visible clearly on the page. Entice people to sign up by including eye-catching graphics, professional pictures, and engaging clips of keynote speakers, workshop leaders, and performers.
- Use all the right tools
Technology is the only thing you’re relying on when hosting your virtual event, so make sure you get that right.
Test your internet connection, make sure it’s strong so your virtual event doesn’t pose any problem when live. Check if your speakers work properly so that you do not face any audio issues.
Prepare your backup of visuals and presentations if one file doesn’t work. If possible, rehearse everything before the actual show so that you can look at the problems and identify solutions before-hand.
- Keep it engaging
It goes without saying: if you’re giving in so much energy just to educate people about your event, you do not just want them to sit there like mannequins and see what all is happening.
Create opportunities for your audience to engage with you. Why? Because it’s fun to keep the communication going on and see what your audience’s views are on a topic.
Ask your attendees to write in questions in the form of comments or messages. People who wrote down questions will wait to hear the answer. You can also ask people to send their questions via tweets using the event hashtag. Another way to get more engagement on your event is by creating polls and quizzes on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn with your event hashtag. The people who participate in the poll might want to join your event.
In the end, don’t forget to ask for feedback via email or social media. The feedback will help you understand if the virtual event was really successful or not and if you should do similar events in the future.
In closing, we would like to say that virtual events are no more the thing of the future. It’s the “now”. While they may not hold the same power of an offline event but having a plan and proper technology in place can make your online event as big as any other offline one – trust us!
It may take some time and energy from your side to make your event reach out to a wider audience, but the results will indeed prove worth all the energy.
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