Virtual events now offer an economically efficient way to do business. After a global pandemic, people have become accustomed to attending virtual events, which, on their own, are a long-term marketing strategy that can generate a significant source of revenue.
While virtual events have many clear and amazing benefits, they can be difficult to execute. Presentations in virtual spaces are significantly different from in-person events, and a lot can go wrong. There are many ideas for virtual events but a couple examples include virtual conferences, networking events, virtual happy hours, and seminars.
To make sure your next virtual event is a success, let’s go over some tried-and-true best practices. We’ll show you the key factors that contribute to first-rate sessions.
Creating Successful Virtual Events: What Matters Most?
Engagement, personalization, event management, branding, and event experience determine how satisfied audiences are with your online events.
An online environment naturally feels less engaging than one in the real world. So, organizers must consider how to leverage virtual event tools and software to make up for (and even exceed) in-person gatherings to bridge the gap and earn the greatest value from each session.
On the plus side, the number of attendees you host is less of an issue in online spaces. You can employ virtual event platform features to engage deeply with large audiences more easily and with less expense compared to physical events.
Make Your Event Personable and Unique
Have you ever watched TV and found yourself drifting away, allowing your attention to go elsewhere? The same thing can happen easily during a webinar or other virtual event. This may result from a lack of interest, but online attendees purposefully chose to show up and spend their time watching your content. The problem that normally arises is the virtual event is simply generic.
In other words, if your event isn’t noticeably personable and unique, the viewer’s virtual experience will be similar to running a TV in the background — they’ll watch, but they won’t take in anything.
Craft Memorable Experiences
Thankfully, virtual event platforms offer many tools to add personalization and build memorable experiences.
To start, make sure the presentation stands out. When choosing its topic and sub-topics, think about the unique perspectives and solutions you offer. Base your selection on customer research as well, answering questions such as:
- What relevant topics are people looking up online?
- What problems do your customers face?
- How can you speak to these problems more directly?
Turn to branding features to customize your presentation and guarantee relevance for your target audience.
High-quality virtual event platforms like Demio include custom branding features. Take advantage of these perks to add your company’s logos and tailor your interfaces and color schemes. Apply branding starting at event registration through to the final good-bye.
With Demio, you enjoy the full range of HEX colors to produce unique visuals that set your events apart. You can also change the background color, which is then applied across your event rooms.
Demio offers a comprehensive approach with their branding setting: You can choose where to include your custom branding, as well as set up multiple brands and attribute each design to specific pages and rooms.
Be an Active Host
Being proactive is one of the keys to making any event successful, be it virtual hybrid, or in-person.
Active hosting refers to actively connecting with event attendees, along with spotting and fixing issues. Some tasks require specific training and established responsibility on the part of the presenter(s).
In the case of webinars and certain other events, active moderation is also crucial. It entails proactively attending to matters like:
- Audience engagement
- Ensuring the schedule/timetable and timezone is observed
- Guidance and support are available and ready for staff, including technical support
- Encouraging personal interactions
- Keeping breakout rooms focused
- Nurturing potential relationships
Both concepts involve multiple moving pieces. You have to be ready to launch breakout sessions when the time calls for it or moderate a Q&A session when it starts to veer off track. If active hosting and moderation are well delegated, your engagement, scheduling, and support efforts will run smoothly, and you’ll observe more positive results.
Keep Your Audience Involved
In addition to visuals, you have control over various aspects of audience engagement. Several features can ensure your audience members participate continuously in the event through smooth and simple interactions.
Pretty much all virtual event platforms have chat boxes. It’s a simple and universal feature that’s often underappreciated.
Well-moderated chats are the bread and butter of your virtual events. Moderators can oversee the chat box and find useful questions to address or otherwise steer the presentation based on audience comments. They can also take notes and follow up on them later. This creates a more dynamic experience where audience members feel involved and heard.
Polls & Surveys
You can run polls and surveys before, during, and after a virtual event. If you’re serious about maximizing engagement and collecting actionable data, send them during all three stages.
Although they’re simple features built into most platforms, polls and surveys are another small touch that can have a major impact on your event’s success. They’re an easy avenue for attendees to interact with your brand. Selecting an answer choice or typing out an individual response easily allows even the shyest audience members to participate in the event. On-demand virtual events as well benefit from automatic polls and surveys, continuing the interaction between attendees and your brand.
With Demio’s built-in polls and surveys, you can customize the entire delivery. Each survey question can be multiple choice, long form, number based, or another type. You can (and should) provide a mix of these formats. For example, a good late-stage survey question is, “Rate your experience with our product from 1 to 10.” An effective post-event question might be open-ended so the audience can type out longer responses.
Polls are a great way to engage attendees mid-event. Opinion polling, for instance, is easy to conduct and simple to answer. It also builds engagement by involving audience members throughout the event and steering the discussion according to their responses.
Yes, you can distribute virtual handouts, and yes, they do work — assuming you follow best practices.
Handouts can either explain in greater detail information already delivered during the event or delve into niche subtopics that are of interest to the audience. To learn what’ll grab their attention, read more about post-webinar surveys and how you can use them to plan stronger sessions. The same principles apply to other types of virtual events as well.
Games & Exercises
Exercises and gamification make both virtual and hybrid events more engaging by transforming rote learning into a fun experience.
You can leverage the same features that enable polls to build pop quizzes and other fun breaks. Test audience knowledge or craft other exercises to boost engagement and add enjoyment to your virtual event.
Provide Actionable Content
Calls to action make virtual pre-recorded and live events more interactive and dynamic. Incorporate them to ensure audience members walk away with next steps that support your business goals. To provide actionable content, be sure to take the following steps.
The event planner is responsible for giving event attendees new objectives when they leave. They direct attendees’ focus so they end up taking the desired action. Set learning objectives for webinars and both learning and actionable objectives for other types of events.
Providing simple examples go a long way toward convincing audience members to take action. Make sure your examples are broad and easily applicable. Ideally, you want to show how your content would apply in typical, real-world situations.
These can be handouts like those we discussed before. Additionally, you could provide worksheets, templates, samples, or something else relevant to your industry.
Your interactions with your audience should continue even after the virtual event ends. Encourage additional interactions by creating a space for attendees to interact with each other and with event organizers and presenters. This reinforces the value of your content while keeping your audience actively involved with your brand.
Network and Connect
Networking is a powerful draw for many registrants, so you need to make time for it. There are several ways to encourage networking both during and after your event, which we’ve outlined below.
Breakout rooms are separate spaces within a virtual event. They’re designed to segment groups from the main room based on demonstrated shared interests. As such, they’re ideal for more focused conversations and networking activities.
Leverage polls and other in-event features and interactions to form groups for breakout rooms. You can isolate audience segments based on mutual interests and needs, which serve as the basis for new networking relationships. You can discuss their specific requirements and how your business can accommodate them. Also, encourage group members to communicate and network with one another to boost the value of your event.
Create Post-Event Virtual Spaces
Virtual event marketing can leverage additional virtual spaces outside the event for further connections and networking. Create social media channels, discussion forums, and other virtual environments and send invitations to these spaces after your virtual event as an extension of the experience.
Additionally, you become something of a matchmaker through this tactic. Help your audience communicate not only with the right professionals in your own organization but also with each other where it’s logical.
Provide Clear Next Steps
Every virtual event should end with clear steps for your audience to follow, such as:
- A thank you follow-up email with some kind of giveaway
- A specific call to action like a newsletter sign-up, subscription, etc.
- A post-event survey
- A networking CTA
- Upsells (when they make sense)
- “Homework” (i.e., tasks relevant to the content delivered)
Your specific CTA for each event will vary based on the topic and goal. Regardless, clear next steps drive home the main themes of your virtual event and continue attendees’ engagement with your brand.
The Bottom Line
Virtual events and engagement marketing are incredible tools, but to maximize your virtual event ROI, you need to solidify the fundamentals, namely:
- Build a unique, on-brand event
- Keep your audience involved each step of the way
- Create actionable content
- Facilitate networking and meaningful connections
- Provide next steps at the end
Optimizing virtual events is an ongoing process, so take advantage of each opportunity to assess their performance and find areas for improvement. Most virtual event platforms have built-in features for collecting relevant metrics in this regard. For example, with Demio, you can see real-time changes in audience count and engagement so you know exactly what worked well. Book a demo to learn more about Demio.