Google has moved its Google Cloud Next conference to a digital event. Other companies like Apple and Facebook have followed suit by taking more of their events online.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Launching a virtual event offers a fantastic way to grow your business without the hefty price tag of hosting an in-person event.
Virtual events don’t have geographic boundaries either, so participants from around the world can join in — they just need a computer and an internet connection.
You can also repurpose content that you create from virtual events.
For example, you can turn a workshop you held into a lead magnet for your site. Or you can repurpose a webinar into a series of articles or even as a podcast to increase your reach.
Hosting a virtual event is undoubtedly exciting. But it can also leave you feeling overwhelmed if you’ve never held one before. Where do you even start? What kind of event should you host? What tools do you need?
In this article, we’ll look at how to set a virtual event up and the essential tools you need to make it happen.
7 Tips to Set Up a Virtual Event That Your Attendees Will Love
Virtual events take a lot of time and effort to organize. But they can help your business build authority and stand out from the competition.
Follow these steps to set up a successful virtual event for your business:
1. Create an Attendee Persona
Companies create buyer personas to better understand their customers and inform their marketing campaigns.
Here’s an example from HubSpot of what a buyer persona looks like:
Buyer personas allow companies to fine tune their marketing messages and create a more effective content strategy.
Similarly, you’ll want to create an attendee persona — a semi-fictional profile that describes who your ideal attendees are.
An attendee persona should include demographic information like age, location, and gender (if appropriate) as well as job titles, income, and education.
Be sure to include other details when creating an attendee persona. For example, what are their pain points? What challenges are they facing? What subjects are they interested in?
To compile an attendee persona, you can send out surveys to your current customers or look through social media to research your audience.
2. Define Your Format
Virtual events can range from small Q&A sessions to large-scale conferences. Define your format before you start planning your event.
Online workshops are a popular virtual event format. You can use this format to share your expertise on a topic or demonstrate how your product solves a particular problem.
Another popular format is the webinar — a virtual seminar that dives deeper into a topic.
Here’s an example of a webinar from Search Engine Journal:
Participants can learn more about how to analyze sites for link building.
You can also host a virtual conference and invite speakers to share their expertise. You can even turn those events in a Q&A session and invite attendees to participate.
No matter what format you choose, find ways to differentiate your event. Otherwise, attendees won’t be as inclined to join your event if it doesn’t offer anything unique.
3. Choose a Platform and a time
The next step is to choose a streaming platform to broadcast your virtual event.
Popular options for live streams include Facebook Live and Instagram Live. These platforms allow you to create virtual events and connect with your audience right from your mobile device.
But while there are plenty of free services, investing in premium services can give your virtual event a more professional look.
Eventtia’s virtual events platform integrates with all streaming platforms and allows you to easily manage your events from one intuitive dashboard.
Once you’ve picked a platform, it’s time to select the details of your event. When will it be hosted? On which day of the week, and at what time?
Workers are already sleep deprived as is, so selecting an early morning event might lead to poor attendance.
Conversely, selecting an event time on Friday at 6:00pm will leave viewers antsy.
Consider surveying your audience prior to establishing your event. If you can’t, pick a date and time that’s early or mid-week, and mid-morning.
4. Book a Venue
Your virtual event may be held online. But that doesn’t mean you should host it in your living room. That can give your event an unprofessional look.
If you’re hosting a virtual workshop or conference, you’ll need space to accommodate your speakers and to conduct demonstrations. It should also have a professional setting.
Look for professional venues in your area that you can book. It doesn’t need to be lavish, but it should include things like a stage for presentations and audio visual equipment to record your event.
5. Choose a Host
The host plays a crucial role in any event.
They’re responsible for creating a lively atmosphere and welcoming attendees as well as introducing guest speakers. They also ensure that things run according to schedule.
You can either host the event yourself or opt for a professional speaker. Whoever you choose to host the event, they should feel comfortable speaking in front of a camera and answering questions from audience members.
Consider doing practice runs of an upcoming virtual event. That way the host is better prepared and they can receive feedback before the actual event.
6. Create a Virtual Event Site
A virtual event website is a must as you can use it to generate interest. Potential attendees can learn more about your event and register.
Include all of the following details on your virtual event site:
- Date and time
- Speakers, presenters, and sponsors
- Descriptive title of the event
- Company branding
- Registration form
- A compelling call-to-action
A good example of an event page that has all of these is the Content Strategy Conference from Confab:
You can either use WordPress to build a user-friendly event website and even host your videos after the event is over. Or you can use event management technology, like Eventtia, that comes with its own built in website builder that integrates every element of a virtual event into one easy-to-use tool.
As more people browse the web from mobile devices, it’s important to make your site mobile-friendly. Build mobile forms for your event page to make it easy for mobile users to enter in their information.
Build out your content on your blog to improve authority in your space, and drive organic sign-ups to your event.
7. Market Your Event
You’ve defined a format and created a website for your virtual event. Now it’s time to market your event to get the word out.
Share details about your virtual event and include a link to the page on your social media profiles. Make sure to cover all the major networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to market your event.
You can also run paid campaigns on Google Ads to drive even more targeted traffic. Bid on keywords that are relevant to your event and optimize your ads to drive measurable results.
Working with key influencers is another great way to market your virtual event. It allows you to leverage the trust that they’ve built with their audience.
Here are the types of influencers you can work with:
Micro influencers may not have a large audience like celebrities do, but they can still offer good value for your money.
Once you find someone who’s a good fit, reach out directly to express your interest in working with them.
You can also work with key influencers to share your event videos once those recordings are on your event site. The brand mentions and backlinks you earn can improve your search engine rankings.
Essential Tools You Need to Set Up a Virtual Event
Now let’s look at the essential tools you need to plan your virtual event, manage signups, and run the whole thing smoothly.
Event Management Software
Event management software is simply a must for any virtual event.
It allows you to set up online registration, manage your attendees, generate invoices, create early bird tickets, and much more. Attempting to do all these on your own without software is not only time-consuming, but also impractical.
Influencers can get away with recording new content from their smartphones. But you’ll want to invest in decent video recording equipment to capture quality footage for your virtual events.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Video camera
- Three-point lighting kit
- Light reflector
- Digital audio recorder
- Studio lighting
- Memory cards
Depending on your budget, you can also outsource video production. In fact, you’ll probably even want to create promotional web videos to generate hype for your event on social media:
These website videos can then be repurposed going forward, but will mainly serve as a great promotional tool for your event from YouTube to your website and beyond.
The benefit here is that you’re working with professionals who can help you get the results you’re looking for. And you don’t need to purchase any equipment as they already have everything to shoot your videos.
Remote Sales Tools
Virtual events are valuable marketing tools. New attendees are potential leads that you can put into your marketing funnel and offer your products or services to.
But virtual events aren’t like in-person events where participants can interact directly with the event organizers. One workaround is to have your sales reps use remote sales tools to connect with your attendees.
After the virtual event, your sales reps can use online tools to follow up with attendees and answer any questions that they might have.
Virtual events are arguably easier to host than in-person events.
They also have significantly lower costs. You don’t need to book a huge venue or pay for extra costs like catering. Participants can also easily join in from the comforts of their home.
But hosting a virtual event has its own set of challenges. It’s not as easy as simply recording in front of a camera and broadcasting to your audience.
You need to define a format and create an event page. You’ll also need tools like event management software to handle the “logistics” of your event.
Finally, you’ll need to market your event to get more people to attend. Follow the tips outlined here to set up a successful virtual event.
It takes a lot of work to set up a virtual event, but it’ll pay off in the long-term.