With the events industry focused on hybrid and virtual events instead of more traditional live events, event producers need to pay careful attention to the attendee experience. At a live event, so much of the attendee experience is related to the venue, the food, and the proximity to other attendees. With an online event, those factors are non-existent and care must be taken to ensure that each virtual attendee has an immersive experience.
At this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all used to attending Zoom meetings and virtual social gatherings. Because of this, for your event to truly succeed, you will need to do more than create content that the audience passively consumes while sitting in front of a computer monitor. You will need to create immersive experience events that empower the attendees to create their own experience. Here are our top tips for helping you create this type of experience and ensure attendees are raving about your event long after it is over.
Before you delve too deeply into the event planning process, you need to understand your goals and objectives. Why are you hosting this event and who is your target audience? When you take the time to define what you hope to accomplish and understand the demographics of your ideal attendee, you can better tailor the event to these aims. Defining your own goals is a critical piece of any event plan. But when it comes to creating an immersive digital event, extra care must be taken to define and understand your audience. If your event is broad in scope, consider creating avatars for each attendee group so you can really take a look at what their motivations may be for attending. Once you have a grasp of these motivations, you can plan your content and set up your virtual event platform to better meet these motivations.
No one wants to be just another number. We all feel better when a message or an experience is unique to us. While you can’t necessarily create event content that is unique to each attendee, you can create an opportunity for them to interact with the material in the way that makes the most sense for them.Include event content that addresses a variety of learning styles. Quizzes, problem-solving exercises, virtual scavenger hunts, and event gamification are ways to incorporate people who may better absorb information through tactile experiences. Ensure that all guest speakers and presenters at your event understand that they should provide a media mix wherever possible.
Video incorporated into an otherwise text-based presentation can be beneficial, for example. Networking opportunities should be made as accessible as possible. Not all attendees will be comfortable with video chat and may prefer the slight anonymity of a text conversation. You want audience engagement and one of the easiest ways to get it is by providing opportunities for attendees to determine how they want to engage. If your event is large enough, you can even allow attendees to build their own agenda, choosing which sessions and segments they most want to attend. Allowing attendees to decide how they want to interact with your event personalizes the experience and fosters greater engagement and brand connection.
Immersive technologies are a way to get your audience involved in the event experience. To create an immersive experience, you need attendees to participate and take some action. If you are able to incorporate virtual or augmented reality into your event, do so! These rapidly growing technologies give the audience an opportunity to literally interact with the virtual venue and can go a long way to improving the overall experience. Incorporate QR codes to unlock additional features or downloadable content that can be accessed for reference after the event. Consider applying augmented reality to the event presentations. Mixed visuals will allow attendees to use their phones or smart devices to see the enhanced images and create a deeper, richer experience. Live polling during presentations can have a similar effect. If a presenter is breaking down complex concepts with multiple solutions, the audience can vote for which one they think is best and learn as the session progresses whether or not they are right. When you ask for an initial investment of ideas, the audience is more likely to stay engaged until the end to find out if they were right. They become a part of the content.
When hosting a physical event, you will pay special attention to event layout and event decor. Similar considerations should be made for virtual events. Start by creating an event website where people can go to find out everything they need to know about your event and the presenters. Share ticket and registration information as well as tips and tricks for how to engage with and get the most out of the event content. While you are setting up your website, be sure to create social media pages for your event. You can use these profiles to foster engagement ahead of the event and create opportunities for you to drive traffic towards your website. Once this is done, you can focus on setting up your virtual platform. For starters, choose a platform like Accelevents that allows you to manage all aspects of your event from one place. With Accelevents, you process ticketing and registrations, integrate with your email marketing platforms to send out invitations and event notifications, design a fully branded webpage, track social media interactions, raise funds, and track real-time sales statistics. Beyond these marketing and administrative tasks, Accelevents allows you to set up virtual exhibitor booths, virtual meeting rooms for networking or breakout sessions, hold interactive Q&As, poll attendees, and stream live video with high production values. These capabilities allow you to create an experience that attendees personalize and choose the interactions they wish to have for a more immersive experience.
The beauty of virtual events is that they provide you with a wealth of important data. All of which can be used to make improvements. Leading up to the event, pay attention to things like ticket sales, email open rates, social media engagement, website traffic. These numbers will help you understand how your marketing efforts are working and enable you to make adjustments on the fly. With a virtual event, you can pay close attention to attendee behavior during the course of the event. Track session attendance numbers to see which pieces of content were most popular. But dive a little deeper. Monitor how long attendees were in a session and things like video views and the length of video views. People may attend sessions or view videos but you see large numbers of them leave before the end, it can tell you a lot about the true value of that content.
Designate a team member to monitor the live chat in each session. You can learn a lot about your audience by the questions they may be asking. And finally, when the event is completed, send out a post-event survey. This is where you can ask attendees exactly how they feel about the event. Include questions that cover attendee motivations for attending the event, whether or not the event met expectations, what they might like to see in the future, and whether or not they would recommend your event to someone else.
Collect all of this information and apply it to future event plans. The amount of screen time we have in our lives is not going to decrease any time soon. This means that if you want to make a difference and stand out from the crowd, you need to make decisions that will allow for a unique event experience. Watch your audience and monitor the data to determine what connects with them and what does not. As the world grows increasingly digital and we become more reliant on technology, immersive experiences will become essential. By giving your attendees an experience that they can shape for themselves, you are making them a vital part of the event which will improve their satisfactional levels and ensure your event success. When you are ready to get started planning your immersive virtual event, reach out to Accelevents to learn more about how we can support your efforts!