Madalyn Worley, Content Manager, Engagez
Having a successful virtual event is more than just ensuring the day of festivities runs smoothly, it can start MONTHS in advance. Although setting up your in-person event is similar to setting up a virtual event as you still need many of the same components there are essential pre-event tips that can put you on the path to a successful virtual event.
1. Establish Deadlines
Establishing deadlines for registrations, key marketing messages, invoices paid for any venue fees or partners, picking speakers or sessions and a host of other event planning items will keep you and your team organized and on track. Deadlines can help prevent possible postponements to your event.
2. Communicate with your speakers and sponsors
Setting up deadlines for yourself will help keep you on track but communicating with your sponsors and speakers about what you need from them is a crucial part of keeping your event on track. Many times we have seen events need to be delayed due to missing items from sponsors, exhibitors, and speakers. For in-person events, many times these key event stakeholders are accustomed to getting things together for their table or presentation at the last minute and the event coils still run smoothly. For virtual or hybrid events, time must be factored in for building the virtual event platform, so checking in about what you need and by when it is needed is imperative. To ensure there is plenty of time to set up your platform as well as provide exhibitors an opportunity to review and practice navigating their booth features you might think about asking for the bulk of their materials such as logos, videos, resources, etc at least 1 ½ months prior to your event. This will provide time to make changes or adjustments if needed. Not only can communicating about items you need from them but also communicating with them about what to expect can be helpful for your speakers and exhibitors.
3. Have a Practice Run
Although many are able to navigate this digital world with ease, a virtual event platform is not the same as jumping on a Zoom call. Understanding how to navigate the platform and the various features will assist your speakers, exhibitors, event staff, and volunteers in maximizing their experience as well as enhance the engagement of your attendees. Having a quick session with your various stakeholders to go over the day, answer questions and highlight features available will not only improve your relationship with them but also will help you have a smooth run of show. An alternative to a practice run could be to open your platform a bit early to allow time for everyone to explore and get comfortable navigating everything.
4. Establish a Marketing Strategy
There are many angles to marketing an event. Marketing is an ongoing strategy to drive people to your event. Find a strategy that works for you and your team and is able to be managed. In a later article, we will continue to explore marketing strategies that can help you promote your event. When marketing your virtual event, you want to highlight all that it has to offer, whether it is a speaker lineup, networking opportunities, or some other exciting thing your audience DOES NOT WANT TO MISS!
Here are helpful things to get you thinking about how to market your event:
- Identify your audience
- Create registration pages (landing pages)
- Send direct mail campaigns
- Create social media posts and contests
- Create event website
- Launch email marketing
- Send reminder emails
5. Set up a smooth Registration process
As with marketing, we could probably make a separate article just for registration, that is how important it is to the success of your event. Your registration is often the first glimpse your potential attendees will have of your event so putting your best foot forward is vital in ensuring your audience has a good first impression. Registration should be easy to locate, navigate and understand. Many attendees often report that they appreciate the registration process is short and sweet. Although it is beneficial to capture as much information as possible from your registrants, individuals do not often want to spend a lot of time filling out tedious information. Best practice, ask for information that is needed, which generally is the contact information (for virtual events you want to make sure the email address is included as that is often the method of signing on to the event platform) and billing information (if you are doing paid registrations). If you are wanting to incorporate registration surveys to assist in marketing and building some excitement or establishing access groups keep your questions as checkboxes or multiple-choice and not fill in the blank information.
Following these tips are a great way to get you started and on the path to success. In a future post, we will explore tips to keep you on track DURING your virtual event that will continue on a path of an efficient and successful virtual event.
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