Virtual events might still sound a little odd to most of us, and pretty futuristic. But they have existed in our world ever since 1993. In 2020, customers and audiences are increasingly dependent on smartphones and other electronic devices, and the retailers are trying to connect the offline and digital worlds to optimize interaction and generate new experiences. Online and hybrid events deliver the ideal solution by combining the best brand experience with people's desire for digital interaction.
With the outset of the COVID -19, even the largest conferences and events have gone totally virtual. Events like these can reduce costs, and can be made accessible to a larger set of audience.
The global virtual events market size was valued at USD 77.98 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a rate of 23.2% from 2020 to 2027.
Most businesses and organisations have gone digital with their approach, be it live-streaming or online meetings. But how far do you think this approach would go? Is this going to be the “new normal”? And is YOUR business ready to be digitalised?
Find all the answers here!
What is a Virtual Event?
Let’s start with the basics. A virtual event is simply an event coordinated online, rather than in the physical dimensions. Virtual events cover a vast range of activities, from video and audio conferencing to live streaming and broadcasting.
Various platforms help you host, from the comfort of your home or workplace, a global meeting, trade show, product launch or recruitment fair, using only a laptop or smartphone and internet access.
Why opt for Virtual Events?
There are several factors why this is useful for simulated events. First off, virtual events allow the hosting individuals or businesses to reach a larger audience. If you were to host your event in a particular city, not every person in your group would be able to participate because of the travel costs. Now, travel is more of a concern with the virtual scenario!
Digital activities are often much easier to put together. Event planners don’t have to book massive venues, arrange for the "Epicurean needs", or hire temporary staff. Those cost reductions will then be passed on, in the form of lower ticket prices to any virtual attendee.
The online activities are actually highly observable. Organizations can easily discover the most successful events, how many people participated, where those attendees work, how they paid for their tickets, and more! It's possible to track and evaluate just about any attendant activity! This knowledge will then be used to develop the plan for the events.
Tips to host your very own Virtual Event!
Now that we’ve touched upon the basics, let’s get to the real deal - How to host a successful Virtual Event!
1) Plan it out
Every event should have a plan, whether it's big or small, offline or online. Start with a main goal and definition, then take from there. The more planning you can do, the better. Keep a set of questions in mind before proceeding with the event. What kind of experience are you looking to provide? Where do you want your content to be seen? Will the event require registration? Where can you promote the event? Will the event be free or gated? And so on…
2) Timing is everything!
It is important to choose the right date and time for your gathering, whatever the size or forum. Perform a little homework before submitting the "save the dates" to your network. Take into account the time zones, too. If you intend to go international, do your utmost to choose a time that fits most of your clients’ time zones. Organising several networking sessions and various virtual activities for different time zones can also be fruitful. Checking analytics to see when your community is typically online could also prove worthwhile.
3) Promote and they will come!
We live in a world where marketing is everything! Want to grow your brand? Promote! Want to sell something? Promote! Want to host an event and grab a massive audience? PROMOTE!
Marketing helps gather attention, and if an incentive is attached, consider your virtual event going full house! Define the key points of sale that your event has to offer to its participants. It may be a notable speaker, sharing expertise, networking opportunities and more.
Share info about the meeting by email and on social media. If you're planning to run advertisements, strategically target them, choose the right format and start them at the right time (typically 2-3 weeks before the date of the event).
4) Don't lose retention with long sessions
A 60-minute keynote or breakout session is pretty common at a face-to-face event and typically doesn't feel like a struggle. But this is partly because attendants have other stimuli and the ability to view presentations in a 3D environment. Compared to an in-person meeting, keeping public interest in a virtual environment is more difficult for many people. Hence, consider shortening the time slots you would use for a physical event by 15 or 30 minutes. For example, a 60-minute breakout face-to-face should be 45 or 30 minutes when delivered online.
5) Make your titles descriptive
Many web activities rely on emails, social media updates and other strategies to educate guests of what material is to be provided. Therefore, guests in the virtual event would have fewer details when choosing which sessions to sign in for, and which to miss. It is therefore much more crucial that the session details and titles for your virtual conference are concise and hold attention.
6) Gather attention and engage
It's quick and easy! If you build opportunities for interaction, the audience will be more involved. For example: invite viewers to send questions through comments or a chat app. Chances are the people who ask questions will hang around to see how they get answers. Every web portal has features that are interactive. Ask the public to take part in surveys or questionnaires. Encourage tweeting on air. Take requests and recommendations. And ask for input at the end of the session.
Now that you know what a virtual event is, how is it advantageous, and how to hold a successful virtual event, let me help you with one more thing! An online platform where you could hold all your virtual events seamlessly- CometChat!
CometChat quickly allows you to start a chat, video call, or a virtual event with your audience on your website or mobile app. With easy cloud base integration and user-friendly interface, you can hold successful virtual events with your fingertips, and turn your business digital!