Planning and managing an event is full of challenges, but those challenges can change when the event is virtual. Even if you’ve hosted virtual events before, every event is different, and the challenges that come with them change, too.
Virtual event platforms help you to solve some of the most common challenges of virtual events. They can save you time, keep you organized, and help you to put on a professional event, whether you’re contacting speakers or corresponding with attendees.
But for a virtual event platform to be effective, it needs to be the right choice for your event. With so many platforms to choose from, knowing what features and capabilities are most important can help you to find the platform that’s best for you.
Finding the Best Virtual Event Platform
When choosing the best virtual event platform, it’s important to look for the platform that’s best for you, and not necessarily the best platform in the industry. A virtual event platform might be touted for its versatility, all-in-one capabilities, extensive functionality, and customization options. But, if that platform doesn’t have the specific functionality that your event needs, it won’t be the best virtual event platform for you.
The good news is that there are plenty of virtual event platforms to choose from; you just have to narrow down the options. That will get easier as you set goals for your event.
Setting goals helps you to determine what challenges you’ll face and specifically how you’ll need your platform to function. For example, if you’re planning an interactive event with breakout rooms and workshops, you’ll need a platform that offers that specific capability.
As you work on setting your goals, it helps to divide up the event and focus on your goals for the pre-event, during the event, and post-event phases.
- Pre-Event: Think about your goals for details like event promotion and registration, payment processing, speaker engagement and management, and event agenda development.
- During the Event: Set goals for how your event will operate. These goals might include specifics about session timing and delivery, details like question and answer sessions, networking opportunities, how you’ll promote your sponsors, and how your attendees will engage both with speakers and with each other.
- Post-Event: Your post-event goals will focus on elements like speaker follow-up, communications with and feedback from attendees, reviewing metrics about the event, and more.
Once you’ve outlined your goals, think about how your event platform can help you to meet them. It’s helpful to write out a detailed list of must-have features and capabilities in your platform, as well as features that would be nice to have. With this list in hand, you can more easily and quickly identify which event platforms may be right for your unique event needs.
4 Tips on How to Choose a Virtual Event Platform
As you explore the virtual event platforms available, you’ll need to eliminate those that aren’t right for your event and make a list of the platforms that could be the right fit. To get the maximum value out of your platform, it’s important to choose one that addresses your needs and helps you to solve the challenges you’ll face in hosting your event. The following tips can help you to identify which platforms offer the features and services that you need, ensuring you don’t overlook any important details.
Consider Your Audience
The right event platform needs to not only be a good fit for your business or organization, but also the right fit for your audience.
- Ease of Use: Think about your event attendees and how they’ll be arriving at your event registration page. Are they tech-savvy or just minimally confident using technology? Ease of use when it comes to event registration and communication is always important, but it’s even more essential when your audience isn’t necessarily made up of the most confident technology users.
- Registration, Ticketing, and Payment: The registration, ticketing, and payment process also needs to be easy and efficient. Registration forms need to be straightforward and easy to complete, while still gathering the essential information you need. Look for a platform that offers a variety of popular payment options, too.
- Invitation, Promotion, and Engagement: A platform should offer the promotion strategies that will help you to reach your audience on those platforms they already frequent. If you’re already using email marketing software like HubSpot or MailChimp, then look for a platform that integrates with your email marketing service so you can easily invite your email list subscribers.
- Communication and Networking: Think about the ways that you’ll be communicating with attendees. A platform that integrates email communication and that lets multiple users access communication histories in a central location is a valuable option for those large-scale, communication-intense events.
- Technical Support: Be sure to choose a platform that offers technical support for attendees. It’s ideal if attendees can seek support not only by email and chat, but also by phone for prompt issue resolution.
Consider Your Sponsors and Exhibitors
Your sponsors and exhibitors are key elements of your event. Your event software needs to support their requirements, too.
- Virtual Booths and Expo Halls: Virtual booths and expo halls offer significant value to your speakers and exhibitors, and they can provide important networking and sales opportunities. Look for a platform that offers these benefits in an attractive, accessible, and professional way.
- Monetization: Sponsors can help to cover the cost of an event, but you need to be able to offer them value, even if the event is virtual. A virtual event platform can offer sponsorship optimization opportunities including ad banners shown during sessions and breakouts, logo placement on the virtual main stage, and promotion in networking spaces.
- Communication and Networking: With a virtual event, providing distinct communication and networking opportunities is important, and it can encourage sponsors and exhibitors to participate in the event. Look for a platform that offers these opportunities, like networking spaces, and that facilitates easy communication between all event participants.
Consider What’s Necessary for You as the Organizer
Make sure you have all the tools you need to organize and deliver a successful event.
- Live, Pre-Recorded, and On-Demand Content Delivery: When you host your event, chances are you’ll want to be able to deliver content in multiple ways. Live content can facilitate engagement, but presenters may want to share short videos and other pre-recorded content. On-demand content delivery also lets you customize and design your event so it’s just right for your goals. The best platform will usually offer all three content delivery options.
- Recording and Playback: The ability to record your event is essential. It not only adds value to your event and allows you to reach attendees who couldn’t be there live, but it also lets you preserve those recordings for your own business. You can reference them when planning and marketing future events.
- Integration Capabilities: A virtual event platform is most helpful when it works seamlessly with the programs and software that you’re already using. Integration with your payment processing platforms, email marketing software, and social media platforms will save you time and make the platform more effective.
- Data Management, Reporting, and Analytics: The more accurate and detailed metrics that you’re able to access, the better you’ll understand your event’s success and be able to identify areas for improvement. Analytics and reporting will contribute not only to the success of this event, but also to the success of your future events. Look for a platform that not only provides detailed metrics after the event, but that also lets you access those metrics in the phases leading up to the event.
- Technical Support: Deadlines approach quickly in the event management industry, and you never want to be in a tight spot because of technical issues with your event platform. Consider a platform’s technical support hours, as well as whether that support is available by phone or only by email or chat.
- Automation: Event management is full of repetitive, time-consuming tasks, like emailing updates to attendees and uploading speaker data. Many platforms offer automation features that can save time and leave your staff free to focus on other important tasks. Automation features can differ from platform to platform, so be sure to verify that a platform’s automation capabilities fit your needs.
- Security: It’s essential to choose a platform that offers plenty of security to not only protect payment information and attendee details, but to also protect your event from hackers, as well. Be sure to carefully review the security precautions in place, including end-to-end encryption and data storage protections. Make sure that the software also complies with any applicable regulations, like the California Consumer Privacy Act.
- Customization: While you might rely on a virtual event platform, you want to present the event without a third-party platform’s branding. Verify that the platform lets you fully customize it with your branding, so all correspondence and the event, itself, appears to be hosted by your business or organization for the most professional appearance.
Consider the Price Tag
A virtual event platform might have all of the functionality and features that you need, but if it’s not within your budget, it’s still not the right virtual event platform for you. Keep in mind that event pricing can vary depending on the number of attendees, so carefully review subscription plans and extra fees, like payment processing fees.
Virtual Events Made Easy
Even with the best virtual event platform, planning and hosting an event is a major task that’s full of challenges. If you’re planning to host an event for the first time or want to ensure that the event is truly the best it can be, consider hiring a virtual event producer like AMP Event Group.
There are many benefits of hiring a virtual event producer. A virtual event producer specializes in this industry, so they’ll be able to help you strategize, plan, and ensure that the event is a success. Your event producer will come prepared to help with your equipment and technical support, helping to keep the event running smoothly and taking the stress of troubleshooting technical issues off of your plate. They’ll even help you analyze your event, so you can identify ways to improve future events.
Hiring a virtual event producer can help you to create better virtual events than you could otherwise put on by yourself. A bad event can harm your business, so working with a virtual event producer can be a wise investment that pays off in multiple ways.
Check out our free virtual event platform comparison chart to see at a glance how the top virtual event platforms in the industry stack up.