virtual event software buyers guide
13 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Virtual Event Platform
Using the right virtual event platform can take your virtual event to the next level. From automated email marketing to hosting live broadcasts, an event platform is necessary if you aim to put on a professional, high-level virtual event.When choosing a virtual platform, though, it is important to ask the right questions so you can be sure that it will provide the right features and benefits for your event. After all, there are dozens of features that are available with many virtual event platforms. To help you to discern between platforms, and to prepare you for choosing the right one, we’ve prepared a list of questions to have on hand. These questions will help you learn more about the platform and find the right fit for your virtual event. [embed]https://youtu.be/Mzpyueq8fHw[/embed]
A virtual event platform is dedicated to hosting, planning, and producing your virtual event. With so many available features, a virtual platform can automate and organize your event for your event team. There are many different types of virtual event platforms available, and each can offer their own unique benefits. Features common with virtual event platforms include:
The virtual event platform that you go with should be web-based with mobile compatibility. Make sure that it offers live 24/7 customer support so that you can reach out to them in case your event experiences technical issues. Some platforms are also tailored for a specific task. If you are hosting an in-person event and you want your attendees to access digital aspects of the event, like a schedule or map, then you can choose a virtual event platform designed for mobile apps and small amounts of digitization.Other virtual event platforms are robust, and they can host not only the event itself but also the initial marketing, the data collection, lead rendering, event follow-up, attendee engagement, and much more.
A good virtual event platform will have customer service and a supportive sales team to answer your questions. Be sure to ask specifics and keep track of what each platform offers. Here’s a list of 13 questions to ask when choosing a virtual events platform:
Being able to network and communicate with other participants is one of the key reasons for attending an event and a virtual one is no different. A virtual event allows for a more diverse audience and it will be important to bring them together in an interactive way. Communication features include:
Make sure that your participants not only can view the content of your event but can also engage with others at the event.
In addition to hosting the virtual event, you’d like a virtual event platform to help the event organizer manage virtual event production.Event management features can include hosting professional event registration services, email marketing, integrated mobile event app, and the hosting and building of a professional event website. Event management capabilities will allow you or the event organizer to manage the presentations and Q&A for a keynote speaker, as well as fully control the video, audio, and other interactions. If the virtual event planning platform does not have these features included, then you want to be sure that you can integrate event management software with the platform. This way you are using one dashboard to manage your event.
Whether you are hosting a completely virtual event or a hybrid event, recording the content and playing it back can generate more long-term ROI and engage attendees long after the event has ended. The event content that is produced is a part of the event or company brand, so be sure to go with a platform that can record and store this information for you. That way you can access it at a later date and promote it as feature content.
Whether or not monetization is a main goal of your event, you want to be sure that the event platform at least offers this capability as you will need to provide avenues for vendors, sponsors, and event hosts to market or sell to attendees. Options for monetizing usually include advertisement spots or hotspots which link to their own advertisement space where sponsors can interact with the audience. A key feature of your virtual event platform should be the availability to enable sponsorship opportunities and sponsorship promotion. Without the ability to promote any of your sponsors, you may struggle to find traction promoting and funding your event.
Spaces on a virtual platform are areas that are dedicated to a specific thing, group, or session type. From sponsorship spaces to a virtual exhibit hall, session spaces, lobbies, registration, and other dedicated sites, you want your platform to easily and clearly separate out these areas so that attendees can navigate the digital event more easily. This makes it easier for attendees to move around your virtual event and they can even use the space names in event promotions or social networking. You can even create a dedicated space that generates a networking opportunity around a given session, topic, or vendor. That way, people know that they can go to this space to interact with another participant who is interested in this information.
While your virtual event platform should facilitate your event hosting, visitors do not need to see the branding of the virtual platform. In fact, seeing that branding when they are registering for your event or navigating the event is free advertisement for them and it may confuse visitors and accidentally turn people away. Make sure that the virtual event platform is essentially “white-labeled.” In that way, your event branding is prioritized during pre-event marketing, during the event, in web rooms, and even with a branded website.
This question is huge! You want to know that the virtual event platform that you go with has automated systems and processes. If not, then that means that you are relying on humans to get your event rolling and running smoothly. While a lot of times this can be reassuring, it can actually hold your event up. If you are constantly needing to rely on humans, you risk waiting on longer timelines and slower transitions, which can turn away attendees. Asking to view the backend of the virtual event platform functions will tell you a lot about a company. To start, if the company is not prepared to do this but they are still eager to tell you about their functions, then that means that the company is growing but is proud of its processes. If there are a lot of automated features, then that’s great!If the company does not want to show you or talk about their backend functions, then they might not have it together. If, however, the company is prepared to show you the backend and you like what you see, then you have a winner.
Ask about social media buttons, such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. When asking this question, it will also enlighten you as to whether or not the platform hosts social media integration in the first place. Social media integration is crucial in allowing your event to be shared seamlessly and interacted with online.By posting social media integration buttons on the platform, you are opening up the possibility for attendees, vendors, and sponsors to promote the event on their personal social media pages and to garner a wider reach.
Whether you are hosting a completely virtual event or a hybrid event, you need to be able to upload pre-recorded content and even schedule it. The ability to upload, schedule, and pre-record content makes life easier not only from the host’s point of view but also as an attendee. This feature also allows you to produce events as “Simulive”, which is a simulated live webinar or webcast. The simulated live production style has a number of benefits, including being able to produce the unique opportunities of a live event but with more flexibility. With Simulive, your presenters and sponsors can pre-record their content and it is presented as live with an interactive Q&A or live chat feature. Attendees will love the intimate feel, but it will give the presenter more flexibility in when and how they present. It reduces the number of technical issues that could crop up, and it allows for the session to be scheduled at a reasonable time across a number of timezones.
Similar to simulated live, live broadcasting or live webcasting gives online viewers a more intimate experience. Live broadcasting is great for hybrid events as you can show remote attendees what the event looks like in-person, giving them a more real and genuine experience. This also allows for in-person presenters, vendors, and attendees to reach out to the digital attendees, bringing in more ways for networking and connection.Even if you are not hosting a hybrid event, live broadcasting or webcasting is required if you want to host true live sessions. You can leave the camera running and walk in and out of the frame in between shots, show behind the scenes action, and provide impromptu meet-and-greets.
The virtual event platform company that you go with should offer 24/7 live troubleshooting in case the event platform experiences technical issues. While this support is necessary throughout the promotion of the event, and to make sure all the backend stuff, such as data collection and lead gathering, is accurately being collected, it is required so that you have knowledgeable support staff on hand during the event. A good platform company will provide you with a dedicated team member or support staff who you can reach out to during your event if something comes up.
Collecting analytics or metrics will help you and your brand to define ways that your event can improve, areas in which the event is gaining traction, and audience engagement hotspots. If you are hosting recurring events, having analytics is necessary. And, if you want to track the level of engagement or the lead generation funnel after the event, insights will clue you in to the areas in which the audience was most active. Having a metrics dashboard will make viewing this information a lot easier. After all, running your own event can be tiresome and there is often a lot on the go that you and your team need to be aware of. A metrics dashboard can quickly fill you in with the necessary information that will help to guide your event.
Investing in a virtual event platform is more than just money. A virtual platform is something that your team will use exclusively for a year or more in setting up the event. You will be getting to know the features and functionality of the platform day-in and day-out. Better yet, if you have come to experience unique features of that platform, then you will notice when those features are lacking and when you have to switch over to another platform in order to manage and promote your event. You want to look for a company that expects to stick around for the long-term and to continually improve upon their platform in the meantime. Ask the areas where that company expects to grow and this will tell you about their long-term strategic plans and the features you can look forward to. If they don’t have an eye for the future, then they may not be the best company to move forward with at that moment.
Choosing the right virtual event software for your virtual conference, virtual meeting, virtual trade show, or online event will make all the difference in how the event runs. Investing in software of this type will create a unique virtual experience and can lead to a successful virtual event. One virtual event platform that can support you through your virtual, hybrid, or in-person event, and can provide event management services for a fully integrated event experience is Accelevents. Connect with us to learn more and get started today.
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