The World Of Virtual Conferences

Virtual conferences allow planners and marketers to reach a larger audience, which often leads to higher registration numbers than in-person events because attendees are not burdened by travel and costs. Virtual events have taken over our new normal. 79% of event planners are going virtual, according to a PCMA survey. This event type brings with it a new way of thinking about and planning events. It requires cross-functional teams from planning to marketing to IT to digital, as well as reimagining content that engages attendees from home. So, what is required to organise a virtual conference?

What is virtual conference?
A virtual conference is not the same as a regular virtual meeting. It also takes more time than a webinar. They are frequently multi-day events that are hosted online and may include keynotes, panel discussions, live entertainment, educational sessions, training and certification, sales product demos, solution sessions, industry trends/thought leadership, product training/adoption, and other activities. The goal of virtual conferences is to generate leads and demand, increase adoption and retention, raise brand awareness, and build relationships.
A virtual conference is an excellent substitute for, or complement to, an in-person conference.

How do you create a virtual conference strategy?
A virtual conference is not the same as an in-person conference.It is entirely online and requires attendees to focus on a screen for hours at a time. As a result, content must be the driving force behind your virtual conference strategy, as it is what will pique the interest of attendees and secure sought-after registrations. Examine your entire event programme to develop a virtual conference strategy. Is there a void in your programme that could be filled by a virtual conference? Do you have the resources and funds to hold a virtual conference? Do you have the means to organise a virtual conference? All of these are questions to consider when determining whether or not a virtual conference is appropriate for your organisation. If your annual in-person conference is unable to take place this year, or if you have another large event that generates revenue, a virtual conference is worth considering.

What are some goals or KPIs of a virtual conference?
As with any event, you’ll need to set goals and identify key performance indicators (KPIs) before the event in order to assess event success at each stage and compare event performance across all events in your event programme. Succinctness is important when planning goals for a virtual conference. It is more difficult to achieve multiple, segmented goals when you are virtual. Create a single goal that drives the virtual conference’s mission. When developing goals, two streams must be considered: business goals and attendee goals. Understand your objectives for each.

Prospective business objectives

Lead generation or brand awareness

Immediate revenue and lifetime value

Customer gratitude or loyalty

Increase in membership

Potential attendee goals
1. Networking
2. Learning or training
3. Entertainment or celebration

How do you execute a virtual conference?
Virtual conferences aren’t all that different from in-person conferences. In fact, much of the planning is the same – from website creation to registration to email marketing – the fundamentals are all in place. However, with virtual conferences, a greater emphasis must be placed on technology. When viewed solely from a financial standpoint, the emphasis is clear. In-person events have 25% tech expenses and 75% non-tech expenses, whereas virtual events have 75% tech expenses and 25%non-tech expenses. There is little to no food and lodging, but there are livestreams and virtual booths, as well as, in many cases, production costs.

How do you build cross-functional teams?
When you decide to go virtual, be prepared for your planning team to change. A cross-functional team is required to ensure the success of a technically complex digital marketing programme. Marketing, who has experience running successful webinar programmes, can help with content, promotion, and overall strategy. Marketers who are also involved in vetting technology for tech stacks play an important role in securing the right virtual conference software. IT and digital, which typically have a much lighter lift at in-person events, will transform into your rock stars, ensuring that streaming, connectivity, and other features are operational throughout the virtual conference. A video production team may be required to assist in creating the highest quality content possible. Your team may look a little different than usual, but drawing on expertise from across your organisation will only improve your virtual event. Consider some virtual team building activities to get the team working together.

How do you choose the right virtual event technology?
Taking your event virtual frequently necessitates the incorporation of new technologies. Most event planners’ first thought is, “How will attendees’ access, consume, and interact with your event’s content…and each other?” What does that feel like? How interactive is it going to be?

There are numerous types of solutions and providers available, and sorting through them all can be difficult. Finally, the answer lies in the experience you wish to provide.

How important is high manufacturing quality?
Is it more important to have one-to-many “broadcast” capability or interactivity? Do you need trained professionals for complex transitions or “virtual run of shows,” or will a simple, self-service platform suffice? There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but we’ve put together this quick guide to help you understand your options and ask the right questions.

What tech do you need to host a virtual conference?
Virtual conferences, one of the most complicated event types, rely on technology to make their mark. Of course, the best option is a virtual event platform that does everything and integrates with your marketing tech stack and CRM systems, from virtual conferencing to webinars.

Don’t be afraid to go virtual. It is currently the only option available to many organisations for engaging, inspiring, and fostering connections. According to McKinsey, “we have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks.” The world is changing quickly, and so are events. Take advantage of virtual events and experiences as you rebuild your event programmes and plan for the future. A virtual conference can have a big impact. And, more than ever, there are excellent resources available to help you learn more about hosting virtual events. Cvent provides free virtual event training as well as webinars that delve into the planning and marketing aspects of a virtual event.