Virtual event platform features have evolved over the past several years. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of virtual events by brands and businesses around the world. In 2022, it is expected that virtual events will become the mainstay of the events industry due to the sheer reach, convenience, and affordability offered by such events.
However, the virtual events technology is still evolving as there are many virtual event platforms from which to choose. You can reap the real benefits of a virtual event by using the right platform that includes a comprehensive set of features.
Here is a look at the key virtual event platform features that are key to achieve audience engagement and event success.
Must-Have Virtual Event Platform Features
A quality virtual event platform should offer custom branding to engage and attract the right audience. You should be able to incorporate your brand identity into the platform’s interface. This includes:
- Ability to upload and incorporate your brand logos
- Option to create a 3D environment that looks and feels like an event rather than a glorified website with links to sessions
- Ability to add custom avatars
- Branding opportunities for sponsors
- Ability brand the registration pages and email confirmations
- Mobile app branding
Customization is crucial because it creates a consistent customer experience. If your logo or brand identity is visible everywhere on the virtual face of your event, it looks authentic and genuine.
- Social Media Integration
Social media integration is vital to maintain audience engagement and excitement. Most guests at a virtual event already have a social media presence. Social media integration helps them share content from your event directly on their profiles and timelines to give your virtual event a buzz.
When done right, social media integration should allow you and your guests to instantly share quotes, screenshots, video clips, and other content directly from a virtual event. Make to choose a virtual event platform that allows easy integration with social media networks like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
- Email Marketing
Email marketing is a highly effective way of targeting your audience. You can use email marketing to send out branded invitations and reminders.
A top virtual event platform should offer the ability to prepare and send e-mail invitations using an easy-to-use admin interface with ready-made email templates. Further, some virtual event platforms offer the ability to send unique emails by attendee type. For example, a single registration form for a hybrid event should send a different confirmation email to in-person attendees (driving directions to the venue) vs. virtual attendees.
Finally, you should be able to include campaign codes. These let you analyze the success of your email marketing campaigns and tweak the strategy accordingly.
- Event Logistics/Management Automation
A virtual events platform should provide a full range of event management tools you to help seamlessly manage the many different operational elements with planning, marketing, set up, executing live days, and post-event.
- Planning and Marketing: Creating the event agenda, registration collection, email confirmations, payment processing, and discount codes. In addition, role-based access to rooms, sessions, or tracks might be necessary.
- Set Up: The virtual environment rooms and spaces, collecting speaker slides/content, sponsor/exhibit booths, networking tools, and other engagement activities (games/prizes, scavenger hunt, photo booth, social media wall, trivia, meeting scheduling, matchmaking, etc.)
- Executing Your Virtual Event: Speaker support, broadcast messages, Q&A, surveys, tracking and issuing CE credits, etc.
- Post Event: Reports and metrics, follow up emails, CE credits, and sponsor reports.
You can save time, staffing, and money with a virtual event platform that offers the right event logistics automation tools.
- Mobile Device Compatibility
As more and more people attend virtual events, many will join using mobile devices. If your event is optimized only for the desktop, your mobile attendees will have a poor experience.
If you are hosting a hybrid event, a mobile app is critical for in-person attendees. When choosing a platform, ask these questions:
- Does it offer the ability to create mobile-optimized and mobile-compatible virtual events?
- Does the platform have a customizable mobile event app?
- Can the platform deliver high-quality video and audio content over its mobile app?
- Can the attendees who access the event from mobile devices enjoy features like networking, viewing sessions, accessing booths and content?
- Hybrid Event Support
Hybrid events are events with both in-person and virtual attendees. Depending on the nature of your event, you may want to leverage both types of event experiences for your audience.
The platform you choose should facilitate delivering a uniform and integrated event experience for both in-person and remote audiences. This includes the ability to seamlessly broadcast to live and virtual audiences, engagement such as Q&A, and networking across both in-person and virtual attendees.
- Event Registration & Ticketing
Registration and ticketing of an event are important steps in the event journey of an attendee. If the registration and online ticketing process is easy, smooth, and secure, the attendee is more likely to attend.
The virtual event platform should offer customizable registration forms, ticketing, payment processing, discount codes, and the ability to display the agenda and speaker bios. At the same time, you and your team should be able to track these activities in real-time so that reminder emails can be sent to attendees that did not join. This will lead to a higher conversion rate for your event.
- Sponsor Opportunities & Placements
Virtual events with large attendances attract sponsors at all levels because they offer the opportunity to target the right audience in a highly effective manner. Adequate sponsorship opportunities and placements are likely to translate into better monetization prospects for your event.
The virtual event platform you choose should support sponsor-branded registration pages, logo placements throughout the rooms and spaces, webinar sponsoring, exhibit booths, and other digital marketing tools. Depending on the nature of opportunities available, you should also have the option to create tiered sponsorship packages for your sponsors.
Virtual event gamification yields more than just in-event entertainment. Gamification will increase traffic to key spaces, and sessions, within your event and incentivize attendees to stay engaged with you.
Gamification is the ability to assign and award points for attendees who complete specific tasks within your event. Reward attendees for attending a webinar, accessing content, viewing videos, booth visits, and other engagement activities. A key feature is the ability to display a live leaderboard so that attendees compete for prizes.
- Event Recording
A virtual event can be a treasure trove of useful content. If the entire event is virtual, it is possible to capture and record it in its entirety. You can later make it available on-demand for anyone who didn’t attend. You can also use the content from your event for remarketing and retargeting purposes.
The platform you use should support full content backup and recording for your event. You can also specify the types of content you want to capture and the kind of content you want to leave out.
Live video streaming is an essential ingredient of any virtual event. It is a tried-and-tested medium to engage attendees at a virtual event. Your event may include one or more live sessions.
The platform should support both webcam and high-end production video streams (e.g., RTMP). Further, the technology should support adaptive bit rate streaming (ABR). Adaptive bitrate streaming is a technology designed to deliver video to the user in the most efficient way possible and in the highest usable quality for each specific user. In other words, it provides for the best possible attendee experience. Without ABR the stream for all attendees will match the requirements of the lowest attendee. This is a must have for virtual events and why the quality of webinar technologies (Zoom, WebEx, etc.) vary widely depending upon the service.
Live Chat & Polling
Live chat and polling anchor audience engagement during a virtual event. They are the cornerstone of an effective networking environment during the event.
Live chat allows the attendees to get in touch with other attendees with similar interests. You can create group chat rooms, one-on-one virtual booths for individuals, or separate breakout sessions for different groups or topics. A superior virtual event solution should facilitate attendee matchmaking (unintentional networking) by using audience interest tags, backgrounds, and other details.
Live polling is useful in gauging audience sentiment and getting first-hand feedback from your guests. You can use the data from polls to improve a live event as well as to improve the quality of future events.
- Q & A Sessions
Q&A sessions with the speakers are often a notable attraction for many attendees. They also create a realistic sense of interaction between speakers and attendees. The proper support for such sessions must be in place to ensure that the Q&A sessions are well managed. The platform you use should facilitate booth public and private (moderated) Q&A sessions.
- One-stop-Shop for Technology
The ideal partner can help you in creating the right tech stack to serve all your virtual event goals. They should be able to incorporate a variety of technologies such as a ticking, payments, virtual photo booth, social media wall, etc. to provide a complete attendee experience.
- Live Day Support
One of the most important features of a virtual event provider is live day support. There can be technology issues, set-up issues (broken links), or just users needing help with where to find something or how to do something. In a virtual event, if these are not resolved immediately, they can drastically impact the results of the event.
Live support means that qualified professionals are on standby to provide any help you need with issues.
- Data & Analytics
Proving the ROI on events is a must have priority for most organizers. One of the many advantages of virtual events is the wealth of valuable data they provide. You can get insights into the attendance, interests, demographics, interactions, and other aspects of your attendees. This data is useful in charting the success of your event and improving future events.
An essential feature for a virtual events platform is the availability of reporting from your virtual event. The reporting data should be accessible in real-time and available in an easy-to-use dashboard.
Hosting a virtual event can be risky but also present an opportunity. The risk lies in the technical problems, a poorly designed agenda, improper set up, or unsatisfactory design if not executed properly. However, choosing the right partner with the right platform, people, and process to set up and execute a successful event is critical to take advantage of the upside opportunity of virtual events.