In recent years, digital events have proven that they are here to stay. But with this increase of both popularity and usage of digital events, many event organizers are still struggling to create a successful event. The first step in planning a digital event is realizing that it is a totally different experience than attending an in-person one. And that is okay! Attendees are not looking for or expecting to have a digital event feel exactly like an in-person one. It’s important to keep this fact top of mind in order to be successful in your endeavors.
A poorly planned digital event can be a disaster for those who attend as well as the business. An effective and informative digital event is about more than just choosing the right platform and using the best equipment. Understanding who the target audience is, defining the purpose of the event and understanding the appropriate access for attendees are important factors to consider.
Follow along below for 6 tips to make sure that you provide your users with the best virtual event experience.
Define What Success Looks Like
Your very first step before moving forward with creating a virtual event is to define what a successful event looks like for you and your company. Success can have many meanings to many different people, so it’s important for you and your team to be on the same page in terms of what you are hoping this event will yield for you, for you attendees, and for your sponsors.
To start, you’ll have to think backwards. And by this, we mean thinking about the key metrics and analytics you plan on looking for and gathering after your event has completely finished. It might be strange to consider the finish line before you’ve even begun, but it’s a great way to think about the small details and the overall experience before you get distracted by all the bells and whistles that come with planning an event.
Some key metrics to consider are:
- Level of Engagement: if you plan on allowing participants to interact with each other and with sponsors, you’ll want to consider a platform that grants them the ability to do so through chats, video calls, and social lounges.
- Generation of New Sales Leads: if your main goal is to drive new sales leads, you’ll want to plan an event that offers sponsorship opportunities as it is a great way to cross-promote the event and bring in a larger audience. You’ll also want a platform that is able to capture engagement information in order to contact these new leads in the future.
- Feedback: if you want feedback on your event, such as an overall opinion or specific information on how a speaker’s session went, you’ll want to look for a platform that provides survey templates that you can customize to fit your need.
There are many different metrics you can track for a digital event, but you’ll just need to define 3-5 of the main ones before getting started. This will help you focus your intentions and plan the rest of the event with ease.
Choose Your Target Audience
Who are you trying to reach? Is this a product launch for existing customers who are already familiar with your stellar customer service? Is this an informational meeting for prospects who have shown some interest in your company? Perhaps it is simply a meeting with employees across several locations who need training on a new process.
Each of these situations is a different audience with different needs and preferences.
Consider other factors of prospective attendees. Identify everything from age, marital status, socioeconomic status, geographic location, gender, job title, industry affiliation, tenure in the industry, existing knowledge of the industry and relationship to the company for the individuals you want to reach. This information can impact the advertising of the event, the best platform to choose, how the content is presented and the style of speaker.
Understanding the target audience and their needs is the first step to creating a digital event that includes the specific information that the audience will find most valuable.
Outline Event Objectives
Identify the objectives specific to the target audience and build an agenda around them.
Consider WIIFM – What’s In It For Me – why would a customer or prospect or employee want to attend this event? What kinds of information are you going to share that is going to directly impact the attendee? If a customer is going to take time from their busy schedule it is important that you share information they need in a way that is interesting and engaging.
Choose guest speakers not only for their knowledge, but for their ability to keep an audience interested. It is very easy for someone to ‘multitask’ while they are listening to a presentation they find boring or irrelevant.
Keep the agenda on point. Don’t add extra information just because it helps to fill out the time.
Choose a platform that supports your objectives. If you will be having a Q&A option or perhaps allowing attendees to chat with each other make sure the option works.
Review the event objectives and expectations when choosing the platform to verify it has all of the necessary functionality. An audience that expects to be able to see each other through video will quickly be disappointed if that feature isn’t available.
Monetizing your event is a great way to generate revenue. There are multiple options to monetize your event, but we will list a few below for your convenience.
Ways to Monetize Your Event:
- Paid Registration: One way to bring in revenue is to require attendees to pay to register/attend the event. It’s important to consider the value of your content in addition to what your prospect will save by not having to travel to a physical destination. Paid registration can either be a general admissions fee or you can choose tiered levels of tickets in order to provide a VIP experience. Tiered tickets can include various levels of access to sponsors, certain speakers and sessions, or to certain locations within the venue. Also, when choosing whether or not to monetize your event, be sure to keep your target audience in mind. Are there any barriers to entry financially? Be sure to research similar events and evaluate cost over attendance.
- Coupons and Discounts: If you plan on requiring paid registration, you can also incentivize attendees to purchase a ticket by using coupons and discounts. These can be early-bird discounts for purchasing tickets before a certain date or discounts for certain members and companies.
- Sponsorships: We mentioned above that sponsorships are a great way to cross-promote an event, but they also offer a way to bring in income. Sponsorship can include anything from advertisements in the digital venue, sponsored sessions, or even booth locations for attendees to visit. As with tickets, you can either offer partners a general price to sponsor your event or create a tiered level of sponsorship. Depending on the platform you choose, larger sponsors can include a logo on the sponsorship board, a logo on the agenda, a larger booth with more resources and available staff members, or even a Q&A session for sponsors to interact directly with prospective customers.
- Group Tickets for Sponsors: Get your sponsors and their team members to attend your event by incentivizing them with a group ticket package. This will help boost your attendance and help build interest. The more people that know about your event, the more that will attend. Remember to keep in mind that most events have 20-40% compensated tickets.
There is a wide variety of options available for users to access digital information. Part of understanding your target audience is knowing if they prefer to use a laptop, tablet or smartphone. What operating system are they likely to use?
Test the platform you intend to use on several different options. Check how the presentation looks on a tablet vs a desktop. How does the video work on a smartphone?
Have someone who has never used the platform login and get feedback on how easy it is to navigate. Use this feedback to create instructions for participants.
Test early and often to ensure a smooth event.
Aim for Simplicity
Keep it simple. Simple means attendees can easily access the event, intuitively navigate the platform and clearly identify the most important features.
Provide directions on how to use the platform before the event so that new users can familiarize themselves as needed. Minimize unnecessary options so that participants don’t get distracted from the message. The more cluttered the screen is, the more difficult it will be to capture and keep the audience’s attention.
Planning a digital event involves more than choosing a speaker and platform. Take the time to understand your audience, create specific objectives and keep it simple to host a successful digital event.