How to run a successful virtual event?
What are the requirements and stumbling blocks?
There is currently a ban on events. How do I inspire my audience, customers, suppliers or dealers now? Suddenly, everyone is talking about virtual events. Our hope is that they are the salvation – at least temporarily. However, there is a big challenge: most event planners have never planned a virtual event.
The key questions are: How do I transform my event into a virtual format? What are the pitfalls? Who can support me in this?
Here we have summarized the most important information about the transformation and first steps.
Virtual events: from niche to mainstream?
Virtual events have been a niche so far. They were only suitable for specific industries or specific event formats. But now the phones are no longer standing still.
Virtual events can make a big leap forwardin the crisis in individual areas. While virtual events aren’t easy to replace, as we’ll see below, live events aren’t easy in many areas, but they’re a real alternative for a while.
Here we describe which event formats are suitable, how to proceed and most importantly: We help to structure the requirements so that a virtual event can be a success. Because the challenges are a bit different than at a live event.
What are the main differences between virtual events and live events?
Classic live event formats appeal to all the participants’ senses (see, hear, touch, smell, taste), depending on the design. There are many degrees of freedom and (un)controlled coincidences make their appeal, especially when it comes to networking. But there are far fewer degrees of freedom in virtual events. The experience is limited to image and sound on the computer or smartphone at home. These in turn are influenced by personal technical conditions, such as the Internet connection or hardware equipment.
This means that the classic live experience cannot be transferred 1to1 to virtual event formats. But a virtual event doesn’t have to do that either. Especially now in the crisis, it is above all about achieving our business goals and this is also possible virtually in almost all event formats.
Opportunities and challenges in virtual events
Before implementation, there are some opportunities but also challenges to consider.
All these challenges are solvable. However, it depends on the correct preparatory work for your own requirements (see checklist below).
Generally speaking, the advantages of a virtual event are very attractive. But everything that needs to be considered in a live event is the same for a virtual event – sometimes even more.
Counteract high no-show rates at virtual events
For example, virtual events typically have significantly higher no-show rates. 50-70% is not uncommon – especially among target participants and decision-makers. Since the participants have no logistical effort, they will “quickly register”. Whether the participant really has time and interest later on, however, will be decided later.
1. Personalization and segmentation
Against the high no-show rates at virtual events, there are two tried and tested means:
(1) Use personalization during the registration process and intelligent reminder mailings to make no-show controllable, and
(2) increase the relevance of the participant’s own content to the participant through segmented invitation waves.
So you don’t need to change the content for virtual events. The personalization of the participant trip before the event alone achieves a great effect in virtual events.
2. Pre-filled login data
Another lever for virtual events is pre-filled login data from the invitation, the so-called 1-click booking,to improve the conversion on the smartphone.
As experience shows that the participation of participants during the virtual event is lower, the procedure is different here as in live events. Communication before and after the event is therefore more prominent in order to achieve the event goals.
This is comparable to online shops , who are preparing to replace the offline shop: The online shop does not just need the shop. Outside, a lot of elements are built from personalized marketing, so that the customer finds the online shop and – with a little commitment – really fulfills his purchase goal. There are blogs, newsletters, reviews, online purchase recommendations, etc. After the purchase, the customer will be looked after accordingly. This is no different with the virtual event. The participant trip around the event gains weight.
The participant engagement during the event can be increased in different ways. In the end, it depends on what goals I pursue with my event and how much effort I am willing to accept.
Example 1 – Lectures with Experience Sharing: After a short live talk, participants have the opportunity to set questions via a chat. If the chat allows you to vote questions up or down, the presenter can focus on the most pressing questions. This enables dynamic interaction based on feedback. In addition, the voting process increases the commitment of the participants, as they deal with the other questions.
Example 2 – Live Host:For larger virtual events, additional live elements can generate an atmosphere. For example.B with the help of a live host: A live broadcast with a moderator is running from a studio. The moderator can announce lectures and interview speakers, organizers or even participants. As an auto-video, the moderation can be broadcast in the lobby and thus accompany the participants through the virtual event.
Opportunities for live engagement
There are a number of possibilities for live engagement. Here is an overview:
What are the virtual event concepts?
Every event is different. This applies to classic live events as well as virtual events. The usual concepts can be roughly summarized. Which format my own virtual event ultimately gets is defined individually according to the requirements.
Even though I quickly decided on a format, the question arises as to what possibilities the providers of virtual events bring. Most video platforms are very good at video delivery and providing online spaces. Most of the time, however, there is a lack of a coordinated and thoughtful participant trip and participant experience. Conception is also often neglected. Especially now, when you are looking for clarification.
Each format brings different challenges. The key is to carry out the transformation from the original live event to the virtual event in a targeted and thoughtful manner.
You will find a guide below.
What is a virtual live event?
doo and REALIZE integrate virtual events with your partners and technology providers into the participant trip. In order to enable the best possible event success as well as a professional participant experience, we have developed a process for defining requirements (see below).
There are a number of tricks to make the pitfalls and vulnerabilities of virtual events controllable and thus to ensure event success (see guide below).
But one thing is important to us: No virtual event is successful without live engagement! Unfortunately, there are often virtual offers in which the organizer ‘only’ broadcasts, but in our experience (in a world in competition for valuable participants) this very rarely leads to a real event success.
“No virtual event without live engagement!”
Together with our partner doo from Munich, we have developed an example of how you can successfully master the transformation from a classic event to a live event: the virtual live event.
doo specializes in the technical implementation of the platform and holistic participant travel, while REALIZE enables the conception, design, project management and installation of other live elements, such as .B the video live host.
How do I create an event transformation plan?
In our experience, two things are essential for a transformation to a successful virtual event:
(1) Follow the basic rules of transformation.
(2) Define individual requirements correctly.
5 Basic rules for the transformation to a virtual event
- 1. Don’t rush!
What ultimately meets my goals and fits my audience is often different from the first idea.
- 2. Focus on goals – don’t replicate Experience.
A virtual event is different from a live event. Goals are achieved differently. Everything depends much more on the relevance of the content, less on the experience as in classic live events.
- 3. Understand technical possibilities and services.
Once my goal is clear, the right solution is needed. There are a variety of tools on the market. However, it is not possible to talk to everyone for reasons of time. Especially when providers are currently facing a flood of requests.
- 4. Define Requirements – Keep it simple!
Virtual live engagement works differently. It is best to set yourself 1-2 essential objectives for implementation. After the first successful virtual event, you can increase your requirements.
Tip: Below you will find help on how to clearly define your requirements.
- 5. Create a plan.
Only after goals, possibilities and requirements are clear is planned! Anything else will lead to failure, especially if you haven’t had any experience with virtual events before.
How do I define individual requirements correctly?
A lot is possible as long as the virtual event is well planned. Therefore, the following part is critical to the success of a virtual event. The key points are:
1. Replicate multivalues, not Experience
In the virtual event, it’s not our job to create an online environment that mimics every element of the original live event. Why?
(1) This is very difficult.
(2) It will be super expensive.
(3) It will not replace the reason why people want to participate in an event.
The reason why people come together at events is the personal added value.
2. Determining added value for the audience
Since virtual events can’t recreate the experience of a live event, the key question is: Why do people usually come to your event? What are the answers to your audience?
My participants sign up for my event because they…
- want to get to know or try out my offer or that of my sponsors and exhibitors
- seek an exchange with experts
- Networking among themselves
- Don’t want to miss out on up-to-date information/ insights
- Seeking inspiration
- want to learn new skills (e.B. in a workshop)
- Want to buy products or get to know new products
- want to enjoy society and entertainment
- or seek a completely different added value.
If there are several points, it makes sense to limit them to two, maximum three. More can rarely be implemented successfully at the first virtual event anyway. Less is more the first time. After that, you can build up piece by piece. Let’s not forget: a virtual event can be repeated much faster – especially if the first one was successful!
“Only those who know their participants can inspire them!”
3. Defining Event Goals
Once you have determined the added value that the participants are looking for, your own event goal must be determined in line with this added value. There was certainly such a goal for the original live event. Now it makes sense to re-examine and possibly adjust this objective. Because the whole implementation of the virtual event depends on this.
Examples of event goals
- Generate leads (for me or my exhibitors/sponsors)
- Promoting customer loyalty
- Promote supplier or dealer relationships
- Introducing a new product (portfolio)
- Developing brand and awareness
- Teaching learning values
- Fulfilling the social mission
- Generate on-site sales, e.B. through orders
- Generate ticket revenue
If leads are in the foreground, it is crucial which participant quality we attractive and that we provide request possibilities.
When it comes to a product launch,you need presentation options and, if necessary, a format that is suitable for press and influencers.
If I want to make my exhibitors and sponsors happy, I need opportunities to present them correctly and also to send specific participants through an exhibitor-specific trip, e.B. with the help of conditional processes and exhibitor codes.
In the case of learning values or a social mission, this is completely different. Therefore, the setting of objectives is critical to success.
these Objectives must be known to all parties involved. This is the only way to put together the right solution!
4. Defining participant type
The type of participant must be determined according to participant added value and goals. This defines not only the environment of the virtual event, but also the entire participant trip.
Since it is even more difficult to get valuable participants in front of the computer or smartphone in virtual events than at live events, the participant trip must be knitted around the type of participant.
Examples of participant types
- B2B Business Decision Maker / Budget Owner
- B2B Buyer
- B2B Product Users
- B2C End User
- Opinion leader or influencer
- High-Net-Worth Individuals / Persons ready to donate
- Pupils and trainees
When it comes to lead generation for industrial products, we are looking for industry decision-makers or budget owners. When it comes to a product launch are rather the press and important traders the target participants. At a recruiting fair, it is potential job seekers.
The differences could not be greater and so the participant trip looks completely different.
5. Clustering and cutting content
According to added value, goals and participant type, the logical next step is to determine which corresponding content should be transported.
There is a field of tension between
(1) what do I want to send and
(2) what do my participants really want to hear.
There is always bad feedback – especially for virtual events – when the organizer focuses too much on sending and less on the participant needs.
The main trick is not to convert the content you want to send, but to communicate it according to the participant’s needs. Target participants who want to hear exactly what I have to say, there are usually enough. But if my content is not clustered and communicated accordingly, the participants do not perceive it.
Therefore, the crucial question is: What are the content topics that fit my participant needs?
The choice of content depends primarily on the objectives and the understanding of the participants. If I don’t know enough about my attendees, I can test and measure through various invitation waves, topics. This is not a problem, but it needs to be scheduled in the setup.
The channel and format are not determined until the next step. However, this should be done together with a specialist for the implementation, provided that one has hardly any experience with virtual events.
6. Set follow-up and rule communication
When participants participate on the computer or from their smartphones, they are more easily distracted and usually do not stay active for so long. Therefore, the participant engagement during the virtual event is significantly lower than for live events. Even so, communication before and after the event comes back to the fore.
Before the event, I can use invitation behavior and registration queries to test my topics and segment participants– especially my target participants. In this way, you not only transport your brand better, but also make the event more of a success.
After the event, it is imperative to get committed participants into the right process. Since we have significantly fewer opportunities for interaction at virtual events, much of the magic takes place after the event. If I .B about lead generation, I use the learned interests to steer the participant into the right lead process.
7. Set budget and capacity
IMPORTANT: There are numerous possibilities BUT the perfect setup can bring a lot of logistical challenges and/or costs. The field of tension results from three dimensions
The effort of the virtual event is determined by three dimensions:
- Number of content areas or rooms
- Number of Live Presenters and Live Engagement Features
- Number of participants
Depending on the setup, these three dimensions have a multiplicative effect on effort, cost and goal achievement.
The more areas an event has, the more content needs to be prepared and integrated into the virtual environment. This is not so much a technical challenge as an organisational one.
The more live presentations and live engagement features are used (such as .B 1to1 interviews or live chats), the more people need to be available on the day of the event and, most importantly, be safe in dealing with the virtual environment. This has both an organisational and a financial aspect. Here it makes sense to define what is a “MUST-HAVE” for me, i.e.: what really has to be live?
In addition, the following questions arise: How many participants are admitted for the live workshops? How many in each talk and in live chats or networking lounges? This is relevant for the experience on the participant trip and can quickly become very expensive if, for example, 1,000 participants are to be possible for every live presentation.
8. Designing solution and implementation
After defining added value, goal, participant focus and content, you can design a successful virtual event! The requirements can now be formulated precisely.
Examples of requirements to meet value-added demands, goals, audiences and content:
- Lobby with personalized content offers or live host
- Open lecture rooms with live engagement functions, e.B Q&A
- Auditorium for live product presentation with social media integration
- Limited workshop sessions with screen sharing and data transfer
- Info rooms with downloads and product inquiry form
- Open networking with thematically oriented group chats
- Exhibitor or sponsor booths with 1to1 video chat options
The possibilities are quite wide. We have therefore created a questionnaire that makes it easier for you to create a request. We then create a solution together with you and, if desired, also accompany your implementation.
Conclusion: virtual events
Many classic event formats can be translated into a virtual environment while meeting the organizer’s goals. We must all understand that the virtual experience is a different and rarely suitable for imitating a classic live event. However, in most cases, especially during the current ban on events, we can achieve our objectives. achieve. Just in a different way.
But only those who define their requirements extensively in advance and have the right expectations for a solution with a virtual event will make the step a success.