The definitive guide for choosing a virtual event platform for your conference (part 2)

Jonathan Strutt Content Marketing Strategist at Brella 4 months ago

The right virtual event platform will take your virtual conference from good to absolutely amazing. Here are nine essential features your platform needs in order to wow your attendees. | Read Part 1 here

Why should you consider using a virtual event platform?

With a proper virtual event platform, hosting a virtual conference has never been more popular, necessary or easy to arrange as it is right now.

And there are so many benefits to holding your event virtually that you might not have realized or thought about before.

If this is something you have never arranged before, it might sound like a logistical nightmare. So choosing the right virtual event platform for your conference takes careful thought as it will dictate the possibilities and potential of your conference.

Don't worry - in this post, we'll tell you everything you need to know about picking the right virtual event platform for your conference.

The right platform will check off multiple boxes in each of these categories:

  • Content hosting and distribution
  • Audience participation and engagement
  • Revenue generation
  • Analytics

We covered the first two in Part 1 of this blog series, which you can read here. Let's get into the other two essentials!

Two considerations when choosing a virtual event platform

When hosting a virtual conference, you need to consider how you will bring in revenue without having people attend the event in person as you would have had before.

You also need to consider how you will analyze your conference to determine its success and/or identify areas for improvement while also collecting numerical data that can be assessed and analyzed.

The best virtual event platforms can solve both of these issues with ease, ensuring you have a profitable and informative virtual conference.

Revenue generation

The revenue opportunities at a virtual event are impressive, for both you and your sponsors.

By eliminating the need for a physical location to hold the event, and all the extras that go along with this such as catering and merchandise, costs will be reduced massively.

At a traditional event held live and in person, there are one or two main ways to generate revenue:

  • Ticket sales
  • Sponsorships

But holding a virtual event can generate considerably more revenue than an in-person event.

Let’s look at some of the ways this can be achieved, through

Increased reach and attendance

By removing the need to have a set location for your conference, potential attendees can join from all over the world, without the need to book hotels or flights. So, any attendee from anywhere in the world can attend your event due to the lack of financial or logistical difficulties.

As well, without the need to find a location that will host the number of attendees you are expecting and running the risk of selling out of tickets simply due to venue restrictions, your conference has no attendee limit. No more worrying about venue size, fire codes, security restrictions or more.

Your virtual conference is also far more accessible. Those wishing to attend can do so from their home, on holiday or at the office. They can also watch on their phone, laptop or computer; they can watch it live, or watch the replay later.

In the end, hosting a virtual conference means you open your event up to more people, and ensure they can consume your content in a more accessible manner.

All of the above are just some of the exceptional benefits a virtual event can provide, while not causing you any extra cost! In fact, it’s likely that you’re going to save money as a result.

If you’re still not sold, here's another post on the benefits on hosting a virtual & hybrid event.

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After being forced virtual, Emax improved their reach and their networking KPIs using Brella. Read their story here >

Higher engagement opportunities

Remember in-person events? Those seem like forever ago.

The experience was nothing short of amazing, but there were still hiccups here and there.

With so many people in a crowded venue, it was difficult to navigate while you tried to find where the next session was or where that interesting person said their booth was.

You want to catch one of the speakers to have a chat with but it’s so busy that you just give up.

After a long day, you get in your car and fight the traffic to get home.

These were parts of events that we tolerated because the experience and feeling made up for that. Later in the week, month, year, all we would remember were the good things.

However, a virtual event can still provide that amazing feeling, without the struggle of navigating a packed event or being stuck in traffic after leaving.

You can do it from the comfort of your own home, arrange a meeting with a speaker at a suitable time and on a 1:1 basis, all without the travel time to get home at the end of the day.

All of the above adds value to the attendee that is priceless.

So what types of engagement can you expect at your virtual conference?

The list is endless!

Some popular ways for your attendees to engage with your conference are:

  • Asking them to talk, share, like or comment on the event
  • Hosting polls during different sessions
  • Hosting a Q&A session
  • Opportunities for networking between attendees
  • Having online 1:1 meeting rooms available for those who want closer engagement on a more personal level
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A great virtual event platform ensures your attendees have ample engagement opportunities - both with your content and each other.

Sponsorship opportunities

Virtual conferences offer powerful opportunities for your sponsors.

Despite the current global economic condition, sponsors are still spending their money and looking for sponsorship opportunities. Just like you, they are just having to pivot how they operate.

So why is your virtual conference so valuable to sponsors?

Well, as mentioned before, not only is the number of attendees at virtual events typically higher than in-person, the demographic will be far wider. This expanded reach and ease of attending leads to a larger lead pool for sponsors, meaning they also get the benefits of expanded reach.

You can also provide your sponsors with more valuable and granular data on potential leads at your conference. Before, sponsors were limited to any leads gathered through lead capture tools and information on badges.

Now, you can provide your sponsors with accurate information on who is attending, what their interests are and virtual 1:1 meeting rooms to start the sales process early.

And with the inherent reusability of virtual content, you can provide broader and long-lasting brand awareness to your sponsors. Whenever you reshare or drive more traffic to your sessions after your conference, your sponsors brand will be there, furthering their brand.

And perhaps the best feature is virtual exhibition halls and booths. While they may lack the grandeur of in-person booths, they provide far more data capture opportunities and creative potential for sponsors.

All of these lead to greater ROI for sponsors, which they love.

Traffic and ROI analytics

A virtual event allows you to track traffic and revenue, allowing you to calculate your return on investment (ROI).

This is much easier to calculate than an in-person event because it is so much easier to track statistics of who is “coming and going” through a virtual platform than at a live event.

So whether you need to know how many attendees visited a session or a sponsor's booth, your virtual event platform should be able to tell you.

The increased reach and reduced costs of a virtual event is likely to mean that your ROI (return on investment) is going to be significantly better than holding an in-person event. This is because your overheads are likely to be much lower than they would otherwise be.

The event only needs to be recorded once to be used forever.

This means that, once it is recorded, it can be cut and manipulated almost endlessly. This makes it possible to be used in so many different circumstances.

For example, parts of the event are likely going to be perfect for you to use in future marketing material (especially those parts that were really popular!). You therefore have yourself some brilliant marketing, that you know works for hardly any extra cost to you. This passive income will significantly improve your ROI.

Analytics

Holding a virtual event can give you the opportunity to gather metrics that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. In fact, if you are not using data to drive your business strategy, your competition will leave you behind.

Other than counting the number of attendees, and who signed up to attend each seminar, live events are difficult to produce any kind of usable data.

A virtual event can give you the opportunity to gather data you wouldn’t have been able to before, data like:

engagement

At a virtual conference, the barriers to entry are broken and you drastically improve your reach.

Livestream vitals

At an in-person event, you can count the number of people who bought tickets and then those who attended (to a degree). What you can’t do is record data on peoples’ engagement while they are at the event.

But you can do all that (and more) with a virtual conference.

Your livestream is the heart of your conference, so make sure your virtual event platform provides ample reporting on it to help you understand:

  • The interests of your attendees
  • The number of attendees and the amount of time people are spending viewing the event
  • The questions participants asked
  • Which parts of the event people are enjoying, sharing and the comments they are making about what they are watching, as they are watching it
  • Where people are attending from, at what times, on what devices, who is watching live and who is watching a replay
  • How many people are taking up opportunities to take part in separate seminars, 1:1 sessions with sponsors and speakers etc.

For the first time, you will have hard data rather than assumptions as to how your event was received by attendees.

These metrics are key to understanding your audience and what they want from you in the future, helping you host a better conference year after year.

It is important not only gather this information but to use it to your advantage.

Content performance

Content is key and so it makes sense that you should be measuring its performance.

The analytics will help you to understand what content your attendees liked, want to see more of, didn’t find helpful, wanted to see that wasn’t there, and more.

These kinds of metrics are essential for selecting future content and will give you invaluable feedback that you wouldn’t otherwise have on what your participants thought of your event.

Market & content trends

Following on from the above, when you know what works and what your attendees enjoyed seeing, you can also combine that with matchmaking interests to create a detailed picture of the current market and content trends.

At in-person conferences, you could measure filled seats and social media discussion after the session to gain a minor understanding of your most popular sessions.

However, with the right virtual event platform, you can:

  • Understand livestream views, entries, dropoffs and more
  • View the interests of attendees who participated
  • Combine these to understand what sort of people participated in which content

By using the analytics to understand trends, you can create a detailed profile on what people like and don’t like from what you do. This is powerful information, both internally to inform strategy and externally as 1st-hand research and content.

interests

With the clever use of analytics, you can ensure your sponsors understand buyer intent and find the best leads.

Buyer intent

The analytics you gather at your virtual conference can help you to understand why people are or aren’t buying from you. They are the difference between knowing what your audience wants and taking an educated guess.

Not all prospects are created equal. Some are more ready to buy than others, and with a virtual conference you can understand their interests, the problems they face, and how warm or cold they were to your (or your sponsors') company.

All of this is incredibly useful information in helping your business improve and assisting both you and your sponsors with revenue generation down the line.

1:1 meetings

Understanding metrics for such things as the below are so important as networking engagement is vital to your virtual event:

  • who met who?
  • meeting requests sent and received
  • meetings accepted and declined

This will tell you how well connections are being made amongst the attendees.

And along with 1:1 meetings, you can see the interests and titles of your attendees, to help you determine which segment of attendees appreciate networking most.

Provide the best virtual experience at your conference

Virtual event platforms are the future for hosting your conference.

They are so flexible, versatile and adaptable to both your needs and those of your attendees that we believe you won’t be able to go back to simply holding a live, in-person event in future.

The cost of hosting a virtual event against the revenue opportunities make it so much more attractive than an in-person event. Revenue continues to come in for months, if not years, after the event itself as opposed to a one-day event when held in person. The ROI is incomparable.

Virtual events offer so many more possibilities. Having the opportunity to know what your attendees are thinking of your event in real time is a true game-changer. The analytics available will help you adapt and evolve to design your event around what people want. From different types of content, to location and medium through which it is delivered.

We would love to see you hold your next conference through a virtual event platform, so download the conference organizer's handbook to virtual & hybrid events to understand what you need.

We also offer end-to-end support in planning your virtual event so that you don’t need to worry about planning the event yourself, taking away any additional stress or worry this might cause you.

Leave your email here and we'll arrange a demo call with you and your team.

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