Virtual events exploded a few years ago and are still a major component in many business models. But their inherent challenges remain, and more companies must learn how to adapt to them to realize their full potential.
Attendee engagement is the main challenge when interacting with audiences online. But virtual presentations come with other strategic, technical, and social difficulties as well.
Let’s dive into what you need to prepare for this year and the foreseeable future.
What Are the Biggest Challenges of Virtual Events in 2023?
Virtual event planners in 2024 still face some significant obstacles despite rapid technological and user experience (UX) improvements. Some major challenges relate to marketing, both general and virtual event-specific.
Overall, the biggest event challenges of 2024 can be summarized as follows:
- Lack of adequate goal-setting
- Lack of a broader content strategy that incorporates virtual events
- Insufficient audience engagement
- Inappropriate virtual event platforms
- Technical failures
- Little to no follow-up
- Security failures
- Poor use of analytics
Let’s break down each one so you can avoid the common pitfalls of virtual events.
1. Unclear Goals and Objectives
This is the first and most severe problem of any marketing campaign. You can’t maximize online event success without clear goals and long-term objectives.
If you lack achievable and measurable goals and objectives, your event will suffer from poor focus. Virtual events are meant to be created around an objective.
Luckily, this is one of the simpler problems to fix. For example, imagine your goal is to increase sales by generating qualified MQLs for a specific product. So, you hold webinars that showcase the product’s benefits. You craft an event experience that has attendees learning exciting new things about the item’s features and use cases. With the guidance of a clear objective, more people walk away from your event with a deeper knowledge and appreciation for your product to purchase it.
2. Undefined Content Strategy
Many people face event planning challenges that result from overlooking the details of their event content.
Without a thorough content strategy, your messaging risks becoming inconsistent. Even when content is well crafted, it may miss the target audience or be distributed inefficiently. As a result, you’ll struggle to know whether your content was even effective in the first place.
A coherent content strategy is a prerequisite for effective communication, capitalizing on opportunities, measuring success, and optimizing future endeavors.
Take an extremely deliberate approach to content. Set clear KPIs that leave no room for confusion. Craft every video, article, and typed word with the purpose of reaching a singular main goal and hitting higher metrics. For example, segment virtual events by goals such as lead generation events, lead nurturing events, and lead conversion events.
Banzai’s virtual event platform enables you to collect all the KPIs you need to make educated decisions about reaching your goals. These include attendance, engagement, leadgen, and revenue (ROI) metrics.
Audience research is a powerful asset for improving KPIs and crafting an in-depth content strategy. Fortunately, virtual event platforms have built-in technology that automatically collects data for you. That way, you can set data-backed goals and witness the changes that’ll lead to better outcomes.
3. Lack of Interaction and Engagement
Engagement is a main focus for virtual event platforms in 2023. Attendees consistently make purchases or take other desired actions when their attention span is more engaged. However, many event organizers either underestimate its influence or struggle to generate it. It’s hard to capture people’s attention post-Covid as virtual event fatigue kicks in.
A lack of engagement can be surprisingly costly to your business: You lose opportunities that would otherwise be easy to capitalize on; you earn less participation; you miss out on honest feedback that you’d readily gather from highly involved audience members; and your customer retention drops, which restricts the sharing of product knowledge.
The only solution to a lack of engagement is ... being more engaging. You can increase your conversion rate through real-time engagement with a few steps and considerations.
The first and easiest tactic is to leverage built-in features designed to encourage audience participation. Live Q&A sessions, polling, surveys, pop quizzes, and other gamification concepts are your lowest-hanging fruit for interactivity.
You can also take advantage of third-party integrations like Embed Your App to incorporate engagement features. They enable you to add various gamification engagement features and connect outside applications to the virtual event experience.
4. Selecting the Wrong Platform
The platform you use for your virtual events determines the outcome of all the elements you have no control over. You can hire the best presenters, buy the best equipment, and plan down to the last detail, but an inadequate platform will ruin it with poor video/audio quality, clunky navigation, underwhelming attendee experiences, software crashes, unintuitive interfaces, and other related problems.
As a result, you’ll miss many opportunities and suffer from negative feedback and a drop in brand reputation. Your virtual event platform is the central hub of your event strategy where you plan and coordinate everything. So, every UI failure and technical issue affects everyone involved and slows down all event stages.
Research several virtual event platforms, watch demos of them in action, and take notes. Then, sign up for a few free trials (remembering to cancel them before you’re billed) to test your narrowed options within your existing setup. It may be tedious, but the effort is worth it to make a selection that’ll pay you back tenfold.
Banzai’s premium virtual event platform focuses on enabling organizations to host and manage various online events. It has a wide array of features that are intuitive, making it a great platform for beginners and pros alike. You can build, customize, and manage virtual events from end to end. The platform is constantly updated to stay ahead of the curve.
5. Technical Issues
Technical issues can turn an incredible virtual event into a complete failure in less than a second. This may be a bit hyperbolic, but many technical issues aren’t easily detectable before they hit, and they’re a looming possibility inherent in online events.
Several technical issues could jeopardize virtual events, such as:
- Poor audio and visual quality
- Internet connection problems
- Platform and software failures
- UI abnormalities and obstacles that challenge user experiences
- Integration failures
- Compatibility issues
You can prevent these kinds of issues with a tech support team that has strong technical know-how. But don’t neglect contingencies, as you can’t anticipate many issues until it’s too late. So, plan B is a crucial part of your plan A for technical challenges.
Event organizers, tech support, and moderators must collaborate to produce a comprehensive response plan when technical challenges arise. They should work together before, during, and after the event to:
- Troubleshoot more easily detectable issues
- Prepare backup plans (such as extra microphones should one fail)
- Test equipment and rehearse the presentation
- Decide on the most reliable platforms to use
- Provide clear instructions and SOPs for common issues
- Implement redundant Internet connections or otherwise diagnose and fix connectivity issues
- Invest in quality event equipment
- Back up event presentation content
- Use robust encryption methods
- Streamline UX issues, enabling event attendees to register, attend, and participate with ease
- Stay informed about technological updates affecting the industry
Technical challenges are numerous and often complicated. But, if you can implement the above recommendations, you’ll cover most of the issues that could pop up and be ready to handle them with minimal disruption to your event.
6. Relationship-Building Difficulties
Building relationships is one of the primary goals of virtual event marketing. But fostering a connection online can be difficult. You have to get the attendee emotionally invested in the experience … through a screen … while they’re hundreds or thousands of miles away. It’s understandable why many event planners struggle with it.
Poor relationship-building causes friction in the customer journey. It limits networking opportunities available and weakens the emotional investment in your brand. To reach the highest satisfaction levels with your event, you need strong relationship-building elements.
Virtual platforms can make relationship-building easier with robust communication features. For example, Banzai offers a suite of relationship-building tools to nurture leads and gain loyal, long-term customers. You can give audience members the power to vote on topics ahead of the webinar and send out Q&A forms to gather relevant questions for the end of the event. With these and other capabilities, you can produce more dynamic and interactive events that solidify the bond between your brand and your audience.
7. Security and Privacy Concerns
Security and privacy issues can quickly ruin your reputation and sabotage your virtual event campaign.
A successful phishing scam or other cyberattack can cause widespread damage across various sectors of your event — and business operations, as virtual event platform interfaces often contain a lot of important and sensitive information.
A resulting data breach would jeopardize any attendee data you’ve stored, such as:
- Full legal names
- Email addresses
- Credit card information
Even seemingly useless pieces of information can give cybercriminals a foothold for other schemes, and no matter what they take, you’ll still take reputational damage.
Unauthorized access to your platform can also take place after an attack. This can lead to disruptions of live events, the dispersion of malware, and other attempts at sabotage.
For some businesses, the loss of intellectual property can be especially costly, because their virtual event files include slides, recorded workshops, and other elements in shareable formats.
Lastly, you could face legal action for security failures in some localities. Consumer protection laws can be stricter in some areas than others, such as in California and the EU. Falling short of these laws can result in fines and further reputational damage.
Security is one of the top responsibilities in event management. Implement robust procedures immediately if you haven’t already done so.
Start with the low-hanging fruit: Establish secure authentication and encryption.
Second, make sure to patch your software regularly. Event software updates normally include changes to keep security up to date. Sometimes, you may need to consider a professional audit if you’ve neglected your security for too long.
Some level of attendee education can be helpful as well; friendly reminders to use strong passwords and avoid clicking suspicious links could save them.
Lastly, develop an incident response plan so you can react to problems swiftly and appropriately. This often involves having a cybersecurity firm on speed dial.
8. Unclear Analytics and ROI
This is something of a continuation on the theme of undefined content strategy. However, analytics have a unique importance of their own.
All modern virtual event platforms come with built-in analytics that focus on metrics that contribute to virtual event ROI. You can collect a vast wealth of data through event metrics that then guide important actions. You can also customize which metrics to collect to target specific data points and segments.
Set virtual event goals well before your event, early on in your preparations. Those goals are foundational to your virtual event, as they serve as guidelines. Everything is about reaching those KPIs.
Some event planners encounter unique challenges with certain virtual event formats. Webinars especially are more popular than ever, but they’re not without their obstacles.
As we touched on previously, some event planners think of webinars as a more formal type of virtual event and build them as such, which restricts their level of audience engagement.
However, with the right mindset shift and interactive features, webinars can be just as engaging as in-person events. Think polls, Q&A sessions, breakout rooms, and group-based quizzes. Look to your virtual event platform’s suite of tools to make your webinars fun and memorable for audiences.
Webinars require strong follow-up to drive home their value. These types of virtual events usually see more dissemination of information, so to make it stick, you need to keep the webinar fresh in attendees’ minds. Follow-up efforts should focus on building customer relationships and answering any lingering questions. They can include emails summarizing the event, offering a free resource to synthesize the information covered in the webinar, or some other interaction that keeps your webinar top of mind.
Hybrid Event Challenges
Hybrid events can derive from all kinds of physical meet-ups, although they’re particularly effective for trade shows, music events, and some types of internal business events. However, they, too, bring unique challenges.
Integration & Balance
In hybrid events, people attend physically and virtually at the same time. They have different needs that must be addressed simultaneously.
You have to ensure audiovisual equipment reaches all attendees. Synchronize your audiovisual elements and prepare for hybrid event issues through live dress rehearsals. The experience must be engaging whether the attendee is behind a screen or in an auditorium. So, more testing than usual may be called for.
Solve Virtual Event Challenges with Demio
Virtual events offer several advantages that increase their appeal over physical events. However, come with their own obstacles that can impede the success of your online efforts if left unaddressed. Whether it’s basic technical issues or less tangible problems like poor interactivity, any one of the challenges outlined in this article can derail your virtual events and cause your strategy to backfire.
The good news is, all of those issues can be solved with one excellent platform: Banzai.
Banzai has built a robust platform and updated it over time to remedy the problems clients face, both new and old. If you’re still unsure, book a demo to see if the solution can further your virtual event marketing strategy and goals.
Virtual Event Challenge FAQs
How can I make virtual events more engaging?
Choose a high-quality virtual event platform that emphasizes engagement features. Make sure to educate your teams on how to leverage those features for maximum effect. If necessary, consult with the solution’s help team to see if training or further demonstrations are necessary.
What are the best virtual event platforms available?
This depends on the degree of functionality, suite of features, number of integrations, and quality of customer service. Strong platforms like Banzai receive high marks in all of these categories, so research your options and don’t settle.
What interactive features can be incorporated into virtual events?
Virtual events normally include a mix of Q&A sessions, polls, surveys, pop quizzes, discussions with presenters/panels, and gamification.
How can I ensure participant privacy in virtual events?
Choose a secure platform and ensure your organization’s cybersecurity framework is up to date. Limit your data collection to only what’s necessary and never ask participants to give away sensitive data. Strictly observe cybersecurity best practices, as data leaks are a sure-fire path to event failure.