Ever since the pandemic, virtual events have become extremely popular. A virtual event or online event brings your audience together to extend brand awareness and increase lead generation. If getting your name out there and inciting excitement among your peers and target audience is your goal, virtual events are the way to go.
Although subject matter is vital, a core driver of a successful virtual event is the event strategy and execution. It’s no secret that a well-planned virtual event will bring you better results and strengthen your sales funnel, so you need to give attention to the right details. In this step-by-step guide, we’ve broken down a few important elements to focus on in your virtual event planning process to lead you to success.
Benefits of Hosting Virtual Events
To drive home the importance of a well-planned virtual event, you first need to understand their benefits. Hosting a virtual event allows you to interact and engage with your audience and end consumers no matter where they are in the world, without having to be onsite. They provide the opportunity to grow your brand and become a knowledgeable expert in your industry.
You can reach a wider audience in a remote fashion, which saves you time and money since you don’t have to rent a venue space or transport your guest speakers, stakeholders, and audience members to your location. You’re also able to communicate and work with a variety of people in different locations at once, which is much more convenient than in-person events.
Want to host a virtual event on the fly? Social media channels allow you to go live whenever you want, which helps you surprise your audience and approach them in an authentic manner.
If you need to spread out your event over several days, hosting virtual events makes it easy to break your webinars and events into more digestible segments.
Main Types of Virtual Events
Choose the virtual event format that works best for your intended outcome, marketing goals, and more. There are several type of events, but to aid your selection, we’ve listed the most common categories below.
Conferences are usually offered in real time with the goal of sharing large amounts of information. They can be recorded and shared for people unable to attend live, but it’s not typical or even necessary to do so. Conferences tend to be one-time events, operated on an as-needed or scheduled basis.
Webinars can be live, pre-recorded, evergreen, or on-demand and often revolve around audience interaction. Their flexible framework allows you to boost audience participation. Common webinar incarnations include product demos, how-to demonstrations, panelist interviews, and pop-up live events.
You may create a series of webinars or a one-time event and schedule them regularly or offer them at random times to boost brand recognition, generate new leads, or promote a new activity or product.
👉 Internal Hybrid Events
An internal hybrid event is a live, in-person gathering with your brand’s team, partners, endorsers, and investors. You can stream it live as well, if desired. This type of virtual event is a great way to connect with invited audience members and guests who can’t attend live.
External hybrid events are similar in execution to their internal counterparts, only they invite customers, attendees, experts, and other people outside your brand. Live streaming is more common here so that people who can’t attend in person but wish to be part of the activity can participate.
How to Plan and Execute Your Virtual Events Successfully
Planning and executing your virtual events well doesn’t have to be difficult. This step-by-step guide can become your event planning checklist, as it walks you through the entire process — and it works for all formats.
Define Your Audience
Understanding your audience helps you promote targeted information to them effectively. You need to determine how likely your audience is to attend a virtual event and, if so, what information they want to acquire. What social media channels does your demographic most frequently use, and how receptive is your audience to promo codes, referral bonuses, or other marketing methods?
If you’re unsure, seek answers directly from the source: Use your webinar platform to send a survey along with your registration or reminder forms asking your audience questions like:
- What are you most excited to learn during this event?
- What social media platforms or channels do you use?
- How do you plan to participate in the virtual event?
The information you receive can significantly improve your virtual events and webinars.
Set Goals and Objectives
Set firm lead goals and create objectives that your entire team and marketing experts understand before moving forward with your virtual event. This keeps everyone on task when creating your event content and incorporating audience engagement activities. Your goals and objectives should include an attendee count, lead generation number, CTAs, and other relevant metrics.
Track and analyze every virtual event and live-streamed webinar you host. This helps you progress towards your broader aims while revealing areas where you can improve.
Choose Your Format
The aforementioned virtual event formats are beneficial depending on how you want to address your audience. Do you want a single speaker, keynote speaker, or a list of panelists? Do you want to host a Q&A where your audience participates, or would you prefer a more controlled discussion? Will your event be entirely virtual and live-streamed, or will it be a hybrid event? These are all things to discuss when planning your event organizers and marketing team.
Include Personalized Elements
Personalization can make your virtual event a smashing success. Consider sending thank you messages and event reminders to attendees, for instance. Other elements include customized event registration invites, promo and discount codes to entice your audience to attend, and incentives to remain until the end of the event.
Determine Your Host
Your host represents your brand and sets the tone for the virtual event. Select someone who you respect as an industry leader, or who at the very least is as attached to your brand as you are. A great host has a clear speaking voice, a commanding personality, and exudes confidence on stage.
They should also have a track record as an engaging speaker and be comfortable leading and encouraging conversation. After all, your host will navigate guests through interviews and plot a new direction should technical and timing issues arise during your event. The right host can mean the difference between audience members sticking it out till the end of your session and screens going black soon after your presentation begins.
Pick Your Date and Time
Research is key here because you want to choose a date and time (consider timezones) to run your virtual event when most attendees will be able (and likely) to show up. For example, avoid major holidays and mid-day calendar dates, and stick to weekends or evenings for hosting most of your activities. Tracking and analyzing data from your past webinars and virtual events will reveal when best to run future events.
Select Your Venue
The best part of virtual events is the nearly limitless location possibilities. However, you should still choose a venue that’s quiet and spacious enough to accommodate not only yourself and your host, but your guests and panelists as well.
You’ll also want a professional space with a stage, microphone, podium, audio and visual tools, and other amenities to give your live event a more authoritative feel. Opt for a venue that best aligns with the message and tone you hope to convey.
Promote Your Event
Although the live event deserves a great deal of your attention, marketing a virtual event well is equally important. Only a small fraction of those who register for your virtual events actually show up for them, so their success will rely heavily on how much you advertise them — and how well.
Promote your virtual event on every social media platform where you have an established presence. Even after registrants commit to showing up, send multiple reminders with a countdown to the event date to create a stronger urgency for them to be there.
Also, include shareable links in your event promotions so your registrants and team can share with others. The more people who know about your virtual event, the more likely you’ll see full attendance on the big day. Remember to send reminder links and promotional materials via your regular newsletters as well.
Measure Your Success
How will you know if your virtual event performed well? The most direct measurement is to send a post-event survey to gather feedback from your attendees on their event experience. Using analytics tools are a big help as well: Your webinar platform will allow you to track your event performance, including what your attendees responded to most and how many soft leads gained more potential.
Pay attention to what worked well and what needs improvement. In this regard, the feedback and metrics from an unsuccessful event can be just as useful as those of successful ones.
Virtual Event Tools
Robust tools will help you take your virtual events to the next level, provide a great attendee experience, and increase your conversion rates. The following platforms are worth considering to monetize your brand more successfully.
Banzai is an engagement and data-driven suite of tools focused on improving conversion rates and attendee engagement. The functionality of their product Demio is one of the best hosting platforms for virtual events to build your brand.
The Banzai suite allows you to target your chosen demographic authentically, leading to stronger connections with your audience. This, in turn, helps you develop a healthy sales funnel and build your brand seamlessly. Track your virtual event success every step of the way with their detailed analytics tool.
Wrike makes virtual event management easier than ever with a simple template you can modify to meet your needs, regardless of how large or small your session is. Wrike’s virtual event technology allows you to host and promote hassle-free while staying organized at every stage.
Vimeo is a live-streaming platform that gives you more control when streaming live events across multiple channels. Reach a wider audience without sacrificing audio or visual quality, and interact with your audience using several impressive engagement features.
The Right Virtual Event Hosting Platform for You
When you know how to plan and execute your virtual event, you set yourself up for success. The right virtual event platform will help you create quality content and accurately measure your performance for future optimization.
Explore options to find one that accommodates your budget, goals and objectives, and the virtual event format(s) you prefer. With Banzai, hosting virtual events is a breeze, allowing you to connect with your audience in new and memorable ways. Book a demo to chat one-on-one with a specialist today and see how we can help you take your virtual events to greater heights.