Virtual conferencing is here to stay!
There are many different types of virtual events, and whilst global lockdowns have accelerated virtual and hybrid event growth, experts suggest this popular trend is here to stay. Industry surveys found that 71% of event planners would continue to employ a digital conference strategy even after live (in-person) conferences return.
This blog provides the checklist you need to run a successful virtual conference.
What is a virtual conference?
A Virtual conference is a conference that takes place online through a virtual event platform. While your conference is held in a virtual space, the right event platform will ensure your online conference delivers an engaging and interactive experience for your virtual attendees.
Why host a Conference Online?
Well, online conferencing provides many benefits that just aren’t possible with a traditional in-person conference. An online event removes all geographical boundaries, increases your reach, reduces cost, and has incredible scalability, and more.
Elements for Running a Successful Virtual Conference
1. Virtual Conference Planning
A digital conference requires the same degree of meticulous planning as an in-person conference.
However, there is no finding a venue, mapping out vendor stalls & seating, managing the venue before during & after, booking hotels & flights, and other conventional headaches. Instead, you’ll be creating your own virtual conference space. Every conference is unique in its size, audience, content, and budget. At a minimum, you’ll need a web camera, engaging speakers, a virtual event platform, and a means to promote your event (eg. email, search, social, etc).
The first online conference will involve a lot of planning & learning, but once a strategy and platform is in place, your following events will come together easily. It’s important to choose the best-fit virtual event platform, as this software will do the heavy lifting to ensure the conference runs smoothly.
2. Virtual Event Platform
A Virtual Event Platform should make it easy to convert your live conference recording into on-demand video content from one centralised platform. This recorded video content can be used to run a simulated live conference (replay) or sold as video on-demand (VOD) for those leads who got FOMO from all of your social and event marketing during your live event.
With an all-in-one platform that supports multiple events year-round, and a branded video library, you can continue to create a year-round revenue from your valuable event recordings through pay-per-view, subscriptions and other video monetization packages.
3. Conference Time Zones
The power of virtual conferencing is that it has a global reach. However, keep in mind the primary time zone or time zones of your target audience when planning the time your online conference goes Live.
Consider how you could cater to multiple audiences across different time zones by turning your post-conference video into an on-demand conference. Using Virtual Conferencing Platforms will ensure a fast turnaround time for transitioning live conference video to On-Demand video.
This on-demand Conference video can now be used to simulate a live conference across different time zones, and replayed as many times as audience demand requires. Now you can sell your videos & conferences online as on-demand video content.
4. Virtual Networking
Online conferencing provides a great opportunity for online networking. Allocate dedicated networking time prior to your virtual conference starting, and post event to encourage virtual networking between online attendees. Tools like, live-chat, give attendees the opportunity to network and interact throughout your virtual conference.
5. Virtual Conference exhibitors
Your virtual conference creates a space for exhibitors to connect with attendees. There is a strong link between increasing exhibitor exposure to encourage more attendee engagement, and a higher exhibitor ROI.
So, its important that your virtual event platform provides multiple exhibitor touchpoints. Make your exhibitors visible and easy to connect with through the User Interface.
Your Virtual Event Platform should make it simple to create multiple-touch points within the user interface, this maximizes exhibitor exposure, and simplifies how attendees to engage with exhibitors.
6. Online Conference Sponsorship
On-screen virtual sponsorship is just as powerful, if not more powerful than traditional in-person sponsorship.
An in-person conference typically provides sponsors with a range of key visual placement and mentions throughout sessions. Your virtual conference follows the same logic.
Create sponsor packages/tiers that are priced & positioned based on exposure levels during your virtual conference. Through a virtual conferencing platform your online sponsorship opportunities can become interactive, engaging with attendees through clickable banners, pop-ups, and more.
Again, it’s important that your User Interface provides multiple sponsor touchpoints to boost audience interactions.
7. More Collaboration Opportunities
An online conference has global reach, so now you can reach out to collaborators around the world.
Have experts, thought-leaders, celebrities, and so on, join your virtual conference remotely to give a presentation or keynote. Delivering your conference remotely opens up a world of possibilities.
8. Make Your Virtual Conference Fun – Use Quizzes & prizes
Virtual conferencing platforms, like Webcastcloud, have a range of interactive tools you can use to get your attendees to participate in session discussions.
Use the quizzes feature to host a live, or simulated live, quiz. Begin the quiz with fun and entertaining questions get the audiences buy-in, these light-hearted questions act as an ice-breaker.
People are naturally competitive, so up the ante by offering them a prize. This is a great time to bring your virtual exhibitor or sponsor to the main stage to help run the session, and offer a branded prize or experience.
9. Collect Conference Data and Feedback
An Online conference is uniquely positioned to provide granular event data. This data paints a picture of your event and attendees, which helps event planner better understand how different attendees engage throughout the conference.
In a virtual space, its possible to accurately track attendee participation and interactions throughout the online conference. During conference planning consider which data points are most valuable to the organisation, so that these can be captured. Use tools like live polling and interactive quizzes to gather specific data and attendee insights.
Use your Virtual Event Platform to easily send out a post-event survey. The post-event survey questions should be constructed to provide you with useful feedback on what worked at your conference and which areas can be improved on.
Don’t delay, attendees are far more likely at respond to surveys that are given to them as your event concludes. The likelihood of an attendee completing your post-event survey decrease every hour you delay.
10. Marketing the Virtual Conference
Get your virtual conference out there! Marketing & promoting your virtual conference is as important as ever.
The conference is running online, so it follows that the marketing activities should be mostly or entirely online.
Your Virtual Event Platform provider will set up a customized conference landing page that virtual attendees will use to register for the event. So, Focus on pushing out your registration page out across all digital channels. Promote throw your website, social channels, affiliate networks and send an email campaign directly to your member database.
Virtual conference’s with a broad appeal use advertising across Search, Display, and Social media to further boost your organic marketing efforts. Social has proven to be a very impactful tool for driving event registrations.
An event industry survey found that 89% of event planners report to use social media for pre-event engagement to successfully increase event registrations.
12. Optimizing the Event Budget
Running a virtual conference removes many higher cost items associated with a traditional conference. These traditional costs include budgeting for venues, logistics, hotels, catering, printing, pre-event setup staff, and more.
Running a high-quality virtual conference on a tighter budget, makes virtual an attractive option for all event planners. But it’s not just about bringing costs down, it’s also important to optimise where & how money is being spent.
For example you can optimize your spending by contributing more of your (saved) budget toward Marketing & Software, rather than cutting down the budget total. Re-allocating your budget in this way, will increase the reach and attendance rate at your virtual conference.
Just imagine what would happen if you doubled your marketing spend, while investing in a Virtual Event Platform that supported a larger audience, without increasing your (traditional) event budget!
13. Host a Hybrid Conference
Have the best of both worlds!
Hosting a hybrid conference that incorporates elements of both an in-person and virtual conference is a great way to cater to your different types of attendees.
Some attendees may prefer a physical event and be willing to pay a premium for the in-person experience. Equally other attendees may consider the physical event premium of no added value, or simply be unable to attend in person.
If you know that there are large segments of your target market that would eagerly attend an in-person and virtual conference respectably, then run a hybrid conference. With the right planning, demand, and Virtual Event Platform, a single hybrid conference will increase the overall event attendance & ROI.
Are you running a Virtual Event?
Do you want to deliver a High-Value Online Event Experience?
Then contact the team at Webcastcloud today!