Virtual event: practical guide for companies
Discover how to overcome many of the challenges and limitations of in-person events with immersive, personalized, interaction- and engagement-laden experiences
Nice to meet you virtual event: what it is and its characteristics
Let's make a bet: in the past 2 years you have attended at least one virtual event. It may have been a very simple corporate meeting, a webinar, or a conference, but one thing is certain: the events industry has experienced an incredible revolution thanks to the rise and transformation of virtual events.
By definition, in a virtual event, participants interact in a digital, online setting rather than finding themselves in a physical setting. These types of events, especially in recent years, have managed to overcome so many challenges and limitations (especially related to space) with immersive, personalized, interaction- and engagement-laden experiences that have a completely different feel from in-person events. Let's see how.
There is no such thing as one virtual event: examples, types and differences
Perhaps in recent months you have begun to wonder how to organize a virtual corporate event. You may have noticed that there are many types of virtual events that we can divide into several categories:
- Training: here we find educational courses and webinars. These events with a very strong educational nature mix sessions, specially prepared content, Q&A moments to facilitate discussion between speaker (or teacher) and audience, but also real-time polls and tutorials. Little trivia: according to Markletic, 80 percent of participants in a virtual event do so for educational reasons;
- Business: this includes corporate meetings, trade shows or corporate conventions. Built around a structured agenda, they have the goals of coordinating a team internally, increasing brand reputation, previewing a product, or networking;
- Entertainment: this is the category you can take the most inspiration from if you are looking for virtual corporate event ideas. A few examples? Think of one virtual Christmas dinner that brings remote employees together at the same table, or even a virtual escape room to take the team on an adventure or a corporate team building event to keep team spirit high.
What these types of virtual events have in common are 3 elements: content (the valuable content), participation (interaction and engagement) and data (the measurable metrics)-three aspects that change profoundly from the online to the physical experience.
Virtual event vs. in-person event: the main differences
Are you thinking of organizing an event and still don't know whether to choose the live or virtual format? Let's try to make some distinctions by taking a corporate party as an example:
- Location and travel: in the physical format is one of the first elements to be considered; in virtual events they are absent, replaced by an online environment of a platform that, similar to the location, is to be adapted according to the goals and target audience of the event;
- Staff and support: in person are a key component in coordinating the various venue environments and event moments; in the virtual format it can be a director who will structure the platform according to program moments (educational, entertainment, networking);
- Food & beverage: in the physical variant of the event, this part will be the prerogative of a catering service with banquet set-up; in the virtual mode it will turn into a kit to be delivered to each participant's home;
- Entertainment: an item that radically changes from a physical event (with performers and live acts) to a virtual one. In a virtual event content is king: it shapes the event itself. It can be with overwhelming presentations, engaging sessions tailored to your attendees, or even a how-to for making the most of the experience.
The reasons for holding a corporate party or event, in person or virtual, are basically the same: to convey a consistent brand message, bring in leads, create a lasting relationship with customers, and strengthen relationships among employees.
Organizing a virtual event: advantages, challenges and difficulties
If you are creating an event marketing strategy for the coming year, you may have noticed that holding virtual events is very beneficial. We ourselves realized, after conducting a survey with more than 100 companies, how this format literally saved the event strategy of so many businesses during the pandemic. To find out more download our White Paper "Events: What's Next?"
Here are the major benefits (and challenges!) of a virtual event:
- wider audience and greater accessibility: the virtual event is by essence inclusive: it has no boundaries and is truly for everyone. In addition, it allows new audience segments to be tapped than the corporate core. A Bizzabo survey shows that 80 percent of organizers have reached a larger audience;
- greater sustainability (economic and environmental): a virtual event costs on average 75% less than in person. This allows for investment in prestigious participants and speakers, and to be eco-conscious with a significant reduction in environmental impact caused by less travel;
- big data availability: the biggest advantage over physical events is measurability with numbers and data. This is the only method of verifying the success and ROI (Return on Investment) of the event, as well as a source of information to keep in the CRM.
Organizing a virtual corporate event can present challenges, however: problems with the live streaming platform (according to Markletic, 38 percent of marketers run into these challenges), stress from content overload, fluctuating attention and engagement, and uncoordinated communication. Virtual events, however, can deliver an unprecedented personalized experience (it is the element with the highest expectations from attendees, according to Bizzabo) -- thanks in part to dedicated tools and platforms.
Planning a virtual event: a guide to the tools and platforms needed
One of the most time-consuming parts of organizing a virtual corporate event is the planning or, in jargon, "online event planning." You know: even just for a videoconference meeting, you need to master tools and platforms.
Among the tools you will need:
- A landing page: essential for promoting and communicating the value of the event. It contains the program, speakers, moderators and sponsors, includes FAQs and invites registration;
- A tool for collecting subscriptions: it must be simple, optimized for every device, and have a pleasing UX. It must also capture data useful for contact profiling and future retargeting;
- An email marketing strategy: the email medium is the best tool for communicating with attendees or prospects before the event. A well thought-out strategy boosts registrations and conveys all the right info;
- A tool to collect feedback: very important to capture hot reactions. Our advice is to prepare a small survey that brings the virtual event to life but at the same time gathers opinions and important data.
As for the platforms, you will notice that many examples will give you great insights, ideas and trends for virtual corporate events. According to Markletic, 78 percent of companies that used a dedicated platform for a virtual event resulted in a positive ROI. Here are the must-have ones:
- Virtual event planning platforms: they streamline the booking process by presenting all formats of virtual corporate events. Not only that, they facilitate supplier contacts and service composition. True masterstroke, they reduce stress;
- Networking platforms: perfect if you are looking for matchmaking software that will suggest to participants other contacts who might be an interesting lead for their industry or business. It's really true: you always need help to stimulate dialogue and connect people;
- Platforms to increase engagement: one of the biggest challenges of virtual events is participation. These platforms boost audience interaction through quizzes, contests, a social hashtag or by providing extra content (imagine this for a product launch event!).
KPIs, ROI and sponsors for virtual events: what they are and why they are your best friends
A virtual event rhymes with metrics. This type of event is entirely measurable and allows you to calculate success but also generate leads and profit. Let's shed some light on this through 3 very important terms.
By this term we define performance indicators (Key Performance Indicators). If the success of a physical event is determined by the number of participants, for virtual events or online business events we can analyze many other metrics.
Among the many: actual attendance throughout the event, interaction in real time chat and polls, actions on the platform (comments, questions, likes) or connection time, post-event feedback and survey responses, or any interactions with event distribution channels (social, newsletters, sponsorship campaigns).
A small necessary premise: KPIs differ so much from industry to industry and depend on objectives, a crucial element that dictates the ROI of the virtual event.
Calculating ROI looks at 4 main points: marketing and promotion strategy; audience engagement;session and content impact; and sponsor tracking. To calculate the ROI of a virtual event, it is necessary to compare The benefits brought by the event versus the cost or investment (of time, resources and budget). An interesting fact: According to research by Markletic, more than 33 percent of marketers indicate an average cost per virtual event between $500 and $1,000.
When setting the budget for a virtual event or corporate event, every planner knows that it is good to involve sponsors. According to research by EventMB, they are the main source of an event's revenue for 23 percent of marketers.
Sponsors are attracted to a virtual event because of its ability to provide accurate audience metrics and creative visibility solutions: on the event landing page, during dedicated sessions, through a kit to be delivered to each attendee's home, or in banners at high-traffic times (waiting room or lounge room).
Communicating a virtual event: our tips for engaging guests right away
When you organize a virtual corporate event, much of the work goes into defining the marketing and promotion strategy. Markletic points out that this phase involves 3 to 6 weeks of work, and American Express highlights that guest involvement is critical for 54 percent of planners, who consider it far more important than the logistics of the event itself (even when it is a simple corporate cocktail party).
We want to leave you with 3 tips for communicating your virtual event in the best possible way:
1. Totally rethink your communication style.
During the pandemic, many companies completely revolutionized their strategy. Not only that, they adapted the way they communicated, especially if they were entering the online event format for the first time and wanted to deliver an effective message for the new post-pandemic scenario. In short, think of it as your year zero.
2. Create a coordinated, declutterable image.
When it comes to virtual events such as conferences and webinars, the impact of graphic design is important. Curate anaesthetic that is consistent with your brand and eye-catching across all touchpoints: from the poster for your online event, to banners for sponsors, speaker backgrounds and presentation design, to guides with supplemental info.
3. Provide clear information.
To bypass the distance between audience and organizers that a virtual event creates, we recommend paying special attention to all informational content such as FAQs, corporate event invitation emails, possible discounts, reminders, and program change notices. Participants will thank.
After this two-year period, it is clear that virtual corporate events are much more than a trend but a mode that is here to stay.
Of course, face-to-face meetings will not disappear but virtual events have proven to be flexible, creative, beneficial but even more successful in establishing a bond with participants, establishing themselves as the format of choice to preside over the early awareness and consideration stages of the conversion funnel.
All that remains is to see how they evolve in the future. We are curious, are you?
The challenges and opportunities a company can take advantage of with a virtual event are many. Technologies and tools are constantly being refined in every organizing process. We at Kampaay are an example of this.
Kampaay is an innovative event-as-a-service platform designed specifically for virtual, in-person and hybrid corporate events. Kampaay facilitates the virtual event booking process through an online ordering system that simplifies each step making it quick, transparent and easy.
Whatever your type of virtual event (webinar, conference, team building, corporate meeting), we will be your one-stop shop: say goodbye to email rounds with a thousand vendors! Just choose the date, how many participants you want to involve, and the format of the event. Completely independently compose the services, customize your event and view the quote, all in just 15 minutes.