Virtual Events: Save or Splurge?
“If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.” – Benjamin Franklin
If your company is hosting a digital event for the first time, it can be a bit intimidating. Digital event platforms offer amazing capabilities and almost endless choices, but it can be hard to know where to begin. How can you decide where to allocate your budget to get the best return on your investment? Which “bells and whistles” can you leave out, and where should you focus your attention for the biggest impact?
As with any investment or marketing initiative for your business, when planning digital events, it’s important to find the right features to “save and splurge” on. Here are a few ideas for how to choose the right “must-have” features for your next digital event.
- First, clarify your goals: Every digital event needs to help you achieve specific goals. Just as if you were hosting a major in-person gathering of customers, sales people or industry partners and vendors, you need to devote some planning to decide the major objectives and key takeaways that you want your attendees to gain from the event. Are you trying to launch a new product, solidify existing sales relationships, position your company as a though leader in the industry, or recruit top talent? Does this event need to be a “big splash” showcase for your company’s highest ambitions, or will it be focused on a smaller internal audience that doesn’t require you to pull out all the stops?
- Splurge on live video: Digital events deliver impressive features and functionality to help people access content and obtain information online – but people still respond to emotionally-impactful presentations and the feeling of “you are there.” To create this necessary emotional impact, be sure to splurge on plenty of live video (or pre-recorded video that your attendees can watch at a time of their choosing).
- Splurge on tracking: As part of your goal-setting process for the digital event, spend some time creating metrics to measure the results of the event. Do you want to change the attendee’s perception of your company? Do you want them to remember a certain product name? Do you want to drive home a key sales message or selling point? Find out what you most want your attendees to remember, and then ask them whether they remember it. Digital event platforms like Social27 give you powerful tools to track the attention, engagement and information retention of your audience at every stage of the digital event. You can find out which presentations are most popular, which of your sponsors and partners get the most traffic and which messages resonate most strongly with your attendees on an emotional level (using tools like the
- Splurge on interaction. The best digital events keep attendees engaged, interested and on their toes for the entire duration of the event. Don’t fall into the trap of making your digital event just a dry recitation of content. Remember to make it a dialogue, not a monologue. Create opportunities for interaction, game dynamics, instant polling, feedback and audience participation. Your audience shouldn’t have to sit silently on the other end of an Internet connection; instead, you should encourage them to get up and move around and meet other people at the event. Any features available through the digital events platform that make the digital event less like a “presentation” and more like a “friendly neighborhood bar” should be at the top of your list to invest in. Splurge on delivering a deeper, richer, more fun and memorable experience for your attendees, and they’ll be more likely to reward your investment.
- Splurge on marketing. Many first-time digital event planners are surprised by how much different (and more time-consuming) it can be to market a digital event. Even more so than with a traditional in-person event, digital event marketing requires you to allow plenty of lead time, send multiple communications and ongoing reminders, engage partners and make every effort to attract your audience, get them to register and get them to attend the event. Fortunately, you’re not on your own. Digital event platform providers like Social27 can also provide end-to-end support in digital event marketing, and this kind of help can often be just as important (or more important) than the technical work to design and develop the digital event itself.
- Save on unnecessary features. Every digital event is its own unique creation, so it’s hard to say which features are always going to be “unnecessary” or not worth spending on. Some companies need a fuller range of visual effects and interactive features and are prepared to invest accordingly. Other companies have a more focused audience or more modest goals and can get by with a less expansive digital event design. Keep in mind that when you plan your digital event, you need to work closely with your digital event platform provider to discuss what you want to achieve with every step of the event. Features that might seem frivolous to you might be essential for a larger-scale or bigger-budget event. Just keep communicating and clarify your expectations in each conversation with your digital events platform provider, and they can help you align your event’s features and functionality with your goals.
Join the conversation. Agree with me? Good. Disagree? Even Better! Tell me why…
What is the most valuable feature or functionality that you’ve ever experienced with one of your digital events? Are there any features you’ve used in the past that did not deliver a substantial ROI – why, or why not?
Host your own digital event:
Interested in hosting your own digital event? Social27 has been enabling organizations across all industries and sizes to host their own engaging digital events since 2010.
The Social27 Digital Events platform brings the best of content streaming, networking with rich profiles, virtual sponsor pavilions, lead generation, gamification with points and badges, AI chatbot support and deep analytics powered by machine learning.