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Flip the Switch: In-person to virtual audience

Power your event with advanced technology to smoothly run an online event your audience love!

The industry was once gazed upon for its sporting games, concerts, festivals, trade shows, conferences, movies, chartered flights, luxurious accommodations, and flavourful cuisines .

The fierce outbreak with hundreds of thousands of confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world forced almost all industries to come to a standstill. With the declaration of the unprecedented COVID-19 as a pandemic by World Health Organisation, the knock-outs were within months. Billions of dollars were turned into ashes following stay-home-notices and social distancing laws, to prevent the spread of the virus.

All events regardless of size and duration were either cancelled or postponed until further notice. With no possibility of meeting physically in person, virtual events have been brought into the limelight to be the new normal, to transform the event industry.

Read on to discover what it means to move your event to a virtual space.

What is a Virtual Event?

A virtual event replicates a ‘physical location-based event, but online. These organised meet-ups can range from small Q&A sessions to large-scale conferences

with thousands of attendees

When do we host a virtual event?

Virtual events are usually hosted under the following circumstances.

1. Limited Accessibility

Due to various reasons such as travel restriction when your attendee is not able to attend in person, they are still able to experience the event online.

2. Budget Constraint

An organization usually has a series of event built up to achieve their objectives from the start of their financial year and budget has been pre-allocated accordingly. By going virtual, cost can be reduced in various aspects (eg. Sourcing of venue, catering, etc) and the excess can be channeled for more effective outreach at the biggest event of the year.

3. No Other Options Available

In times of extreme weather, travel bans, or like the current COVID-19 situation, we are forced to make in-person events virtual or cancel it altogether.

The main types of virtual event:

1. Webinars

- Typically lasts between 45 to 80 minutes. - One or more speakers - Typically uses video conferencing tools that allow Q&A - Live presentation vs pre-recorded video vs on-demand - Educational nature - Organisers may charge fees vs FOC - Online payment services

2. Virtual conferences

- Much like in-person conferences - Built around a live, complex agenda that includes keynotes, sessions, breakouts and more - Multi session content - May involve community engagement tools - Allow attendees to view keynotes in real-time - Allow attendees to build their own agenda from relevant and on-demand content - Allow attendees to interact with other attendees

3. Internal hybrid events

- Usually events of part in-person and part virtual - Usually on a relatively reasonable scale such as town halls, sales kick-offs, companywide events, trainings, department meetings, and more - For organisations that span countries, even continents, internal hybrid events are used to share messages to the entire company where employees are scattered in different places

4. External hybrid events

- Usually industry or user conferences - Require high levels of video production so that virtual attendees are provided a similar quality to in-person attendees - Allow attendees who are unable to travel to the event to participate and learn - Poses a significant level of challenges to virtual attendees as in-person attendees are able to network more freely and engage easily with content

Elements of a virtual event:

Virtual events rely heavily on technology. We need computers and mobile devices to capture attendance. But there's more to virtual event technology than video conferencing tools. Just like an in-person event, virtual events benefit from the user of an entire Event Technology Platform that helps us to promote, execute and manage our event.

Below are some of the most important pieces of event tech to use when executing our virtual events:

1. Event website

- Used for event promotion. It serves the same purpose regardless of virtual or in-person event.

- Key promotional tool to interest potential attendees and entice them to register for the event.

- Communicate the value of your virtual event, contain the event schedule, showcase speakers, include FAQs, and point potential attendees to registration.

2. Registration

- First tool for data collection and it is critical to your event.

- Allow attendees to register for virtual events, submit preferences and personal information, and provide payment if required.

- A robust online registration tool allows attendees to register easily and provides planners and marketers with the data they need to plan a great event and prove event success.

3. Email

- Email marketing can drive demand for an event and increase registrations, keep attendees informed before the event and be used to engage attendees leading up to our virtual event, and finally through feedback surveys.

- Email is the best way to communicate with attendees at all stages of the event.

- Using an email marketing tool that can deliver branded, personalised emails, automate when emails are sent and to whom based on attendee data, and provide open rates and click-through metrics.

4. Online event guide & mobile event app

- One of the most important pieces of event technology for virtual events, the online event guide & mobile event app are home base for attendees during the event.

- Mobile apps are as critical to in-person events as they are to virtual ones. These tools work on mobile devices and web browsers and are main information hub for attendees

- Agendas with links to sessions put content at attendees' fingertips. This is where attendees pick and choose what sessions to add to their agenda and where planners gather data on session popularity and attendee engagement.

- Connect attendees and provide messaging tools that allow attendees to network and foster connections virtually.

5. Event feedback

- Crucial for virtual events when planners don't have the ability to gauge reactions by the expressions or verbal feedback from attendees onsite.

- Use event feedback tools to collect feedback using post-event surveys that can be used to prove event success.

- Additionally, event feedback can be used as a tool to qualify virtual leads and drive them to sales.

6. Integrations

- Ensure that vital registration and attendee data is shared between your event technology system and your virtual event platform. It also enables this data to be shared with our marketing automation, and CRM systems.

- Keep your attendance data in one place to allow us to jump on leads more quickly and analyse key insights from events such as session attendance and engagement.

Best Tips and Practices

Replicating the same in-person experience online isn’t easy, but businesses that can achieve this can deliver their values, boost brand awareness and drive engagement in a large scale. Streaming your events in a virtual space requires in-depth planning and behind the scene work, from accessibility to attendance monitoring.

Take these actions to visualize your planning process:

1. Establish a marketing strategy that is in line with your objectives

2. Select suitable digital technology tools to host and broadcast your event

3. Craft out a clear and captivating story to stimulate learning, arouse the intended emotions, and persuade action.

4. Produce high-quality videos, animation and infographics to command attention and engagement.

5. Keep it short, focused and straight to the point!

Start Planning as early as possible

Spend the necessary time to have a game plan facilitating proactive event communication and solidifying the basics. Regardless of your event date, you can easily create a content calendar to plan ahead, which will save you the headache of worrying about blowing your budget or other discretionary costs.

Not too sure where to begin? Fret not! Roxwell is here to support your virtual event marketing and management needs. By understanding your vision of the event in the physical environment, we will translate your imagination into the virtual space.

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