The event venue is where attendees eat, drink, network, and engage with your content. In short, it’s where the magic happens.
But 40% of events are expected to be virtual this year, and recreating the excitement of an in-person experience in an online setting can be a challenge. That’s where virtual event platforms come into play.
For virtual events, the event platform is the venue. If you’re hosting an online event, here’s what you need to know about virtual venues:
What is a Virtual Event Platform?
A virtual event platform is software that lets you host events virtually. These platforms help you manage online events from beginning to end, from conferences and summits to sales kickoffs and trade shows.
Virtual event platforms may seem similar to video conferencing tools like Zoom or Google Meet. However, dedicated virtual event platforms allow you and your attendees to engage with each other and the session content in more meaningful ways.
Benefits of Using Virtual Event Platforms
You know better than anyone how much work goes into planning and executing a seamless event. You also know how frustrating it can be when technical issues or other challenges disrupt the event and attendee experience.
Luckily, the right platform can reduce or eliminate these risks and ensure your event goes live without a hitch. Here are just some of the benefits of using virtual event technology:
- Better Production Quality: Event software gives you the power to host or stream high-quality virtual events. You have some control over the speakers’ audio and visuals, and features like transitions and lower thirds can help you deliver a smooth viewing experience.
- Increased Audience Engagement: Event software makes it easier to engage virtual audiences. With built-in tools like polls, surveys, and emoji reactions, you can engage attendees in real-time and gauge their interest in the session content. Many platforms also have chat rooms or networking features that allow attendees to connect.
- Fewer Technical Issues: We’ve all attended a virtual event that experienced some technical difficulties. An event production company can help you learn the ins and outs of your chosen platform and work through any issues before you go live. Many production companies also train your speakers on virtual event best practices and provide support on the day of the event.
6 Things To Look For in a Virtual Event Platform
When looking for a physical venue, you need to consider location, size, accessibility, and safety. If you’re looking for a platform for virtual events, you also need to consider specific criteria to choose the best one for your audience and event.
So, where do you start? If you’re ready to find a virtual event venue, keep the following in mind:
1. Event Compatibility
Different virtual event platforms excel at varying types of events. Understanding your primary use cases can help you make the most strategic decision.
For example, if you plan to hold a lot of virtual trade shows, you probably want to look for a platform that makes it easy for attendees and vendors to interact. If you plan to host more sales kickoffs, on the other hand, this may not be a necessary feature.
2. Branding and Customization
An event is an extension of your brand, and your virtual venue should reflect that. You should be able to add your logo, colors, and other branded elements to your event platform.
When evaluating solutions, ask yourself questions like:
- Can I brand the event’s website, mobile app, and registration page?
- Can I customize email templates?
- Can I adjust the number of sessions per event?
It’s not uncommon to use multiple tools to manage events. You can save time and money if you find event software that seamlessly integrates with the platforms you already use.
Ask each provider whether their solution integrates with your:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform
- Event management software
- Event registration tools
- Email marketing software
- Any other relevant platforms you use
4. Networking and Attendee Engagement
Engagement is a challenge for event professionals but a major draw for attendees. One study found that, after educational purposes, networking is the main reason why people attend virtual events.
To satisfy these needs, look for a virtual event platform that supports networking and attendee engagement. Ask questions such as:
- Does the platform have live polls or surveys?
- Can attendees share emoji reactions in real-time?
- Does the platform offer group chats, breakout rooms, matchmaking, and/or other networking opportunities?
- Can attendees view and add social media profiles?
5. Customer Support
If there’s anything we can guarantee about live events, it’s that we can’t guarantee anything. That’s why quality customer support is so important. If any issues arise, you know you’ll have the support you need to find a solution.
Make sure to ask each provider questions like:
- Do you provide live support during an event?
- How quickly do you resolve technical issues?
- Will you provide training to help me learn your platform?
- Do you offer attendee support?
Event data gives you valuable insight that you can use to improve future events. A platform that doesn’t gather and visualize this information won’t be useful in the long run.
To assess a platform’s data capabilities, ask these questions:
- Does it track valuable metrics (like session registration and attendance, engagement, and ROI)?
- Does it have a dashboard and graphics that make it easy to visualize key metrics?
- Can you compare data across events?
Virtual Event Content Best Practices
According to Markletic research, 49% of marketers say that audience engagement is the most significant contributing factor to a successful event.
Choosing the right virtual event platform is important but doesn’t guarantee success. Your event content is still crucial to attracting and engaging your audience.
But we know it can be challenging to engage virtual attendees. After all, you’re competing with phones and other distractions. You’ll need to get creative with your content to capture attendees’ attention (and keep it!).
Check out these virtual audience engagement tips to help you develop a winning content strategy:
- Keep It Short and Sweet: Most attendees don’t have time to sit through sessions longer than an hour. When possible, keep your sessions short and sweet — and leave attendees wanting more!
- Experiment With Dynamic Content: Try switching to interactive content that immerses your audience. You might leverage gamification or live polls. Simply hosting a conversation between speakers with a live Q&A can be more exciting than a single speaker reading from a slide deck.
- Personalize the Experience: Attendees crave personalized experiences that match their learning preferences, interests, and specific industries or roles. If possible, provide content that caters to these differences. For instance, you might let attendees choose between an experience for visual learners and one for auditory learners.
- Repurpose On-Demand Content: If you record a session, you can use it long after the event ends. On-demand content can create a sense of FOMO and engage people who might not have been able to make it to your live event.
Monitor session attendance and attendee feedback as you experiment with your event content. Then, use your findings to improve your next event.
Excite Attendees With a Virtual Venue
In-person events are gaining traction again, but virtual events aren’t going anywhere. A virtual event platform can help you generate excitement and create an event experience that goes beyond a computer screen. Approach these platforms as a type of event venue, and you’ll be able to find the one that’s perfect for you.
There are almost as many event platforms as onsite venue options, though. If you’re feeling lost, consider working with an event management company like Endless Events. As the Einsteins of Events, we’ll create the perfect equation of event technology to make your virtual (or hybrid) event a resounding success.
If you’re ready to find the best virtual event platform for your needs, schedule a call with us!