Running an online event can pose challenges, but with the right planning and tools, online events can increase your ROI without compromising on user experience.
As the current global pandemic began in early 2020, in-person meetings, shows and presentations pivoted to virtual events. And despite vaccinations around the world increasingly bringing us back ‘normality’, virtual events seem here to stay. Indeed, online events appear to be the emerging event model. Online events present challenges, but after more than a year of organising and attending virtual events, we have found great advantages to the virtual model and fine-tuned the keys to successful online event organising.
The challenges of running online events
Before discussing the keys to successful online events, there are few challenges that need to be acknowledged. The first of these are the technical difficulties that can arise due to a dispersed audience outside the organiser’s technical control. A survey conducted by Eventify showed nearly 40% of all organisers felt recurrently apprehensive about technical malfunctions. In addition, there is also the risk of breached security and being hacked.
Another area where online events can often fall short in comparison to traditional ones is attendee engagement, especially during single presenter events. Moreover, if people are attending a virtual event from the other side of the screen, their attention might be diverted by childcare, housework or visitors. This aspect can, therefore, be challenging for event hosts trying to keep their audience focused and interactive. Organisers need to consider their audience’s attention spans while planning. The content needs to be designed to accommodate the natural attention span and movement needs of most people. This is an aspect which needs to be thought about on both micro and macro levels, as it involves everyone: the hosts, sponsors and exhibitors.
Lastly, online events mean decreased personal contact and a potential barrier to human interaction. It has been proven multiple times, face to face communication is the best mode to effectively interact with other people. Many nuances can only be gleaned from a facial expression or body language.
Why take your event online?
However, there are several ways in which virtual events have overcome these challenges and become future-proof solutions for events. A recent survey conducted by Eventify again showed that, because of the ease and increased accessibility of virtual events, they register much higher attendance levels, up to 29%, compared to in-person ones. The reasons behind this are easily comprehensible— participants can sign up to events from anywhere even if the event is taking place in a different time zone or continent. This aspect removes all geographical barriers, making the distance between people irrelevant.
Similarly, networking and talent recruitment on an international level becomes easy on a virtual event: global recruiters can reach out to talents, experts or graduates coming from all over the world by just creating a meeting link. Moreover, the live chat options and tag-based interactions available on online platforms, peer-to-peer networking opportunities are more accessible.
Digital events offer greater flexibility for attendees, indeed, participants can attend one live session, and watch all the recorded others happening simultaneously later on as convenient. As physical presence is no longer a requirement, this new kind of event reduces risk and increases comfort. Attendees can join in safely and comfortably from their homes.
Virtual events present economic and time benefits as well. First, they are more cost-effective for both hosts and participants. Costs such as venue charges, on-location staff payments, travel and accommodation expenses, normally associated with a physical event are all avoided. In a nutshell, virtual events require lower per-event costs, while delivering a much higher ROI. And second, since the events take place digitally, shorter time investments are required for marketing and promotional purposes. Registration and virtual check-ins are much quicker than onsite procedures.
How to run a successful online event
With the new process of registering all the attendees online, organisers have all the data and facts to make informed decisions and adjust their event strategies accordingly, based on the attendee analytics, trends and preferences. Indeed, online softwares and tools make tracking participants’ wants, sentiments and activities possible, allowing the organisers to personalise more and more the experiences for every participant. This safe method to satisfy attendees is key to marketing, indeed as they will see their desires realised and wishes satisfied, they will surely remember the organisers’ name. Getting analytics of an offline event is surely possible, however an online setting and browser based tools make it far more feasible and viable.
Online events certainly require new skills and creativity, but they offer unprecedented potential to reach a large number and diversity of people. The most successful online events are able to make use of this reach by prioritising the audience experience. Treating online participants as in real life, ensuring that they experience a high quality of the event and have the same networking and learning opportunities as in offline events are the keys to success.
Online events can present technological challenges and engagement obstacles, however, attention to detail and proper planning can make an online event as efficient and memorable as a traditional one, while saving money and time. Therefore, adopting a versatile online event management strategy and platform such as godigitalexpo.com can ensure that organisers can satisfy thousands of attendees without compromising on participation, quality and engagement.
Adam is our MD for Crowd Europe and brings a wealth of experience in marketing gained over a 20 year career. Adam has experience across sport, entertainment, fashion, healthcare and consumer electronics sectors.