ay goodbye to the extensive refreshment planning! Forget bothering about lost and found! No need to plan for event merchandise! Because it’s a virtual event. And we are not talking about small team meetings or webinars. We are talking about large scale events like corporate town halls, annual general meetings, conventions, networking meetups, and the likes.
Virtual events are the best way to enhance reach, ease accessibility, improve ROI, simplify planning, and go green in this age and time.
Pulling together such events is now easier than you might think, especially with technology-driven virtual events. While you don’t really need to be an expert, the success of an event lies in effective planning and strategy. Don’t fret, we are here to help, by laying down the critical steps-
1. Identifying Goal
Beginning with a goal in mind ensures you have a better chance to succeed with the right focus and direction. Here are the why’s and whose you need to be asking to see the bigger picture –
- Understanding the target audience – What is the audience persona you are targeting? Are they tech-savvy? What topic would they be most interested in? What is the size of the gathering? It will answer a lot of the questions you will have to deal with later, including event time, event format, scheduling, networking breaks, target social media channels, and more.
- Purpose of the event – Outline the clear intent & objective of the event. Is it a conference to drive engagement, lead generation, networking, or brand promotion? What do the participants stand to gain from it & why would speakers be interested in being a part of your conference?
- Content Ideas – One of the most critical questions is, what do you want to drive with your content? Is it intended to capture leads? If yes, then what’s the best content and format for your audience set. Or is your event goal to educate or motivate? If yes, then think accordingly. Content planning can also be done on the basis of available resources, end goals & market needs.
- Define KPIs – Define measurable goals to determine the impact of your event. Go beyond the number of attendees and revenue to measure the real success of the event. Plan to measure attendee satisfaction, engagement, social media mentions, and a number of qualified sales lead by defining what matters to you most initially.
Virtual events simplify budgeting & expense planning significantly but also add new & unplanned costs. You do not need to plan for travel, food, venue, video production or photography, and many such factors. The limiting factors that you need to consider are speaker fees, team payments, platform and marketing & promotions. Create a simple budget plan to track these costs to be able to showcase ROI easily later. (Read “How to create your Event Budget“
3. Save the date
While it is easier to choose any date/ time given the virtual nature of the event, keep in mind parameters like competing events or holidays. If it is a global event, then commit to a date/time that is convenient for a wider audience. Check analytics to estimate the best time to launch an event online to maximize attendance.
Also, establish a clear timeline to enable plenty of time for planning, content creation, and marketing and to ensure everything is running as per the schedule. Definitely take multiple time-zones into account and as much as possible, try not to reschedule the event.
“Creating a game plan that aligns with your business goal and audience is the key to planning a large scale virtual event.”
4. Choose the technology platform carefully
This is another critical piece of the plan that can make or break the deal. Virtual events are all about the experience. And you have to rely on the technology and features of the platform you choose to deliver that experience. Go into specifics and take a demo of multiple available platforms before zeroing in on the one that fits your needs.
The platform should not only deliver quality audio/visual experience but delight the audience with a seamless performance and smart features. Look for features that drive engagement, ease-of-use, interactive sessions, an all-in-one virtual events platform from managing registration to hosting events, and tracking results. Choose wisely!
5. Event schedule
Draft an engaging event schedule that aims at more abundant networking opportunities and engaging sessions. Leave some time free between sessions for attendees to network. Airmeet offers the “Social Lounge” feature for attendees to interact with participants of interest, exchange virtual business cards & build real, authentic connections.
6. Research speakers
Based on your goal and audience, decide on one or more speakers or MCs who will be able to engage a broad audience and answer questions spontaneously & skillfully. Airmeet allows a Speaker to have a run-through backstage privately with the host. It also offers Q&A and the “Raise Hand” feature facilitating an inclusive and engaging interactive experience.
7. Partners & sponsors
At this point, you will have a lot of clarity about the plan and can easily propose to an advertiser, a partner, or a sponsor to collaborate with you. A virtual event means you need to understand sponsor placement first-hand.
It could be a live session with the sponsor, a visible banner during the presentation, or a virtual exhibit hall. Also, clearly define the deliverables expected from you for the sponsor. Build a comprehensive sponsorship package that is easy to market and engage with.
8. Launch event marketing campaign
Market, market, and market your event! There is nothing like over-marketing when it comes to the virtual landscape. Start early and cover every marketing channel where your audience spends their time, like emails, social media, PR, sponsor networks, blogs, and trade media.
Also note that there are two ticket registration peaks, one when the bookings open and one closer to the event date. There is usually a lull period in the center. To avoid this, sharpen your marketing plans for this part of the curve, offer discounts or upsells, and use paid socials, influencers, or giveaways to drive registrations.
9. Execute plan
To avoid any last-minute hitches, create a checklist of tasks. Send out FAQs and guides to your attendees and speakers to enable smooth navigation and experience. Keep in touch with your speakers and offer help to dry-run. Test your platform, mics, cameras, and the environment. Also, keep worst-case scenarios in mind and keep the contingency plan handy. (Read “Create a Killer Marketing Plan for your Event “)
10. Follow-up plan
Tracking, reporting, and analyzing virtual events is vital for measuring event success and ROI. It also provides valuable insights into various trends and data for future use and lead conversion. Send out feedback surveys post-event to understand users’ experience and even share it with your sponsors.
Creating a game plan that aligns with your business goal and audience is the key to planning a large scale virtual event. And never underestimate the power of marketing and the right technology to get the best results.