How to Choose the Right Virtual Event Platform
For many event organisers, running virtual events is completely uncharted territory. They might find the thought quite daunting, especially if running physical events has always been the norm.
If you’ve never hosted a virtual event before, then it’s normal to be sceptical about the effectiveness of this format. After all, we’ve all been to a physical event and understand how they work. We’re able to chat to people in person, grab a coffee together, and experience moments as and when they happen. It’s real, natural, and nothing feels ‘set up’.
However, virtual events turn these ideas on their head. Having the option to access content ‘on demand’, upload limitless resources, present to delegates across the globe, and even pinpoint where they are tuning in from, are just some of the possibilities.
The options are endless as virtual events aren’t tied down by the same restrictions as physical events. However, if you’re not experienced in this area then it can feel overwhelming, and sometimes quite confusing.
The most important part of running a successful event is choosing the right virtual event platform. You need to be confident that your chosen platform has all of the functionality you require, not to mention having access to a team of experts who can explain every part of the process to you.
You don’t want your virtual event to feel flat. You want to grab people’s attention from the moment they sign up and wow them with your content. Thankfully by doing your research first and knowing what to look out for, you can choose a virtual event platform that ticks all of these boxes.
So let’s get started!
What Features Should I Look For?
There are some key things that a virtual event platform should have to ensure the day is a success. From providing engagement tools to in-depth data and analytics, your chosen platform should help make your event a success.
Your main focus should be delivering great content and your chosen platform should be capable of managing the rest.
Easy for Attendees to Use
This has to be number one on your priority list.
If it’s not easy to use, then this is going to cause a lot of confusion. You want people to be engaged in your event – not wasting their time trying to navigate how everything works. The last thing you want is people being confused as sustaining audience engagement is already more of a challenge in an online setting.
Remember this is the platform that your speakers, attendees, and sponsors will be logging into so it must be intuitive and easy to use. Think of it as the online equivalent of a venue reception.
At a physical event, the venue would be signposted with someone directing attendees to where they need to be. There would always be someone on hand to show people how to get to different halls or a particular seminar. Your virtual event needs to do the same.
Whilst you can’t physically be there to direct delegates, you need to consider the user journey. Try to make it as smooth as possible so that there is a clear path from one area of your virtual event to another. At iVent, our design team will advise on the best structure for navigating users throughout the virtual event platform based on the optimal user journey.
This ensures people can move seamlessly through different areas, which will keep them engaged in your event for even longer.
Also in terms of hosting, you need a platform that is relatively simple to set up so that you’re not sitting scratching your head! At iVent, our platform puts ease of use at the forefront, right from the moment you choose to partner with us. There are no fancy plugins or downloads to wrap your head around, all you need is an internet connection and a modern browser. It’s that easy.
This is a huge benefit for all parties involved as there’s nothing worse than trying to figure out something technical! Our priority is making an experience that is as accessible as possible.
Option to Customise
You want your virtual event to fully showcase what your brand has to offer. Whilst it lives online, this does not mean that it needs to be boring.
By choosing the right virtual event platform you can create a fully immersive experience that allows your audience to feel as though they are in the same room. They should not feel detached from your brand, despite the remote set-up.
You need a platform that offers a plethora of customisation options as it needs to effectively communicate the purpose of your event. For example, a medical conference will have a very different look and feel compared to a gaming event. From the moment people enter your virtual space, this should be obvious.
Therefore, you need to check what customisation options are available as this will affect how you communicate your brand with your audience. At iVent, no two events are the same. Our team of designers work with every one of our clients to build a truly bespoke experience.
From a customised virtual event lobby to tailored exhibitor booths, we create virtual events that make you stand out from the crowd. We don’t use templates but instead build everything from the ground up, to ensure your event fulfils your objectives.
Your business is unique, so why would we treat you the same as everyone else?
Audience Engagement Tools
As we’ve covered, maintaining the attention of your audience can be a particular challenge during virtual events. This is because there are a lot more distractions that are outside of your control.
However, by choosing a virtual event platform with a range of audience engagement tools, you can invite people into the conversation. The last thing you want is for people to be sitting there bored, just listening to someone talking to them.
They need to get involved and have a reason to stay switched on.
As a result, check out which audience engagement tools are available before making a decision. Consider features such as virtual break out sessions, chat rooms, games, Q&A’s, live polling, quizzes, and surveys as these tools help keep your audience interested.
Remember, virtual events can sometimes be long and can run over a few days. Therefore, having the option to ‘break up’ sessions is a huge benefit. This means that attendees are not sitting, just listening, but are actively engaging with the speakers and other attendees.
At iVent, we understand the huge role engagement plays in a virtual event. That’s why our platform offers a whole host of interactive and fun games including custom treasure hunts and classics such as Pac-man. There are no limitations as it’s about working out which game you think will work best with your audience. From that point, we can fully brand it for you, and create a game that makes your attendees want to stay tuned.
You also shouldn’t fall into the trap of talking ‘at’ attendees as this can be very boring. With our platform you can engage and collaborate with up to 3000 delegates (yes, 3000!) so that everyone has a chance to get involved. The presentation live streaming platform also lets your presenters use additional features such as screen-sharing, whiteboards, polls, tests, live chat, and more for maximum engagement.
One of the biggest reasons people attend events is for the wealth of networking opportunities. Being able to chat with other businesses in a similar field is a great way to expand your network and can lead to new business partnerships.
At virtual events, it’s important to ensure these opportunities are still available, despite the set-up being a little different. Whilst live chat is an obvious solution, it’s nice to put a face to a name. There’s nothing quite like seeing the person behind the computer screen as it helps to build a better rapport.
This is where live chat video calls come in very useful.
This way delegates can network 1-to-1 and explore topics in greater depth. Seeing the other person also allows them to build a deeper emotional connection which can facilitate more effective networking.
At iVent, our events are supercharged with networking features that help delegates meet and connect like never before. You’re quite literally spoilt for choice as you can take advantage of various tools such as Meeting Manager which lets you organise meetings with ease. You can also video chat with up to 25 delegates and screen share which makes it easier to communicate information.
There is also the option to create a virtual lounge which is a great way for like-minded individuals to come together to share their ideas in a more relaxed setting. Or perhaps you want to take advantage of a virtual booth? No problem! This is the equivalent of a physical exhibition stand you see at trade shows or festivals but complete with features such as social media integration and unlimited resources. This means it’s never been easier to attract people to your stand and expand your network.
Data and Analytics
Knowing what works for your event is just as important as planning your event. It’s no good having lots of fantastic ideas and engagement tools if you don’t know which ones are resonating with your audience. Captured data is also one of the biggest incentives for your sponsors and exhibitors to keep investing in your event.
That’s why choosing a platform that provides you with data and analytics is essential. This information will act as your guide and will drive future decision making. Perhaps a format that you previously assumed would work with your audience, fell a little flat.
Knowing this information is key as it means you can make improvements to your event planning moving forward.
At iVent, our data and analytics features provide invaluable information 365 days a year. This gives you complete transparency to view the data you need at any time, either before, during, or after the event has taken place.
There is so much information for you to get your hands on! As a host, you can pinpoint exactly where delegates are joining from allowing you to take advantage of global opportunities. You can also drill down into more detailed insights such as click-through rates, viewing times, and chat transcripts.
It’s all there, and it’s right at your fingertips.
For even further control, hosts can restrict who has access to reports. Your exhibitors and sponsors will only be able to see their dashboard, meaning your data is safe, secure, and hidden.
Team of Experts
We mentioned this at the beginning of the blog, but having access to a team of experts who can craft your virtual event is invaluable.
You need to be confident that you’ve got a team behind you that you can rely on should you have any queries. Navigating your way in the virtual event space can be tricky, especially if this is all very new to you.
Therefore, being able to reach out and speak to an expert makes you feel more at ease. At iVent, we’re with you every step of the way as dedicated support is only ever a click away. We also provide you with a variety of training programmes and a knowledge base which covers everything you could ever need to know!
You also want a team who can bring their ideas to the table instead of applying a generic approach. We’re truly passionate about this as the best online events are created in partnership with our clients. Whilst we have the technical know-how, we work with you to create the very best online experience that fully communicates your offering. From the strategic planning phase to amazing content ideas, our team is here and ready to get started!
What makes partnering with iVent different is our people. We thrive from the challenge of creating a new virtual event and making the impossible, possible. From launching the world’s first virtual fish and chip event to supporting the NHS, our portfolio is varied and vast.
Maybe you have some ideas floating around, but are unsure how to execute them? Simply get in touch with a member of our friendly team, as we can make any virtual event request a functional reality. And with over 12 years of experience, you can rest assured that you’re in safe hands.
Consider the Cost
When choosing the right virtual event platform, price is very important. It’s also an area that can catch people out as they get hooked into a cheaper deal only to incur costs later down the line.
Often, people can get caught out with what seems like a low price, only to find that different features and functionality are classed as an add-on.
Many companies do not show how their pricing structure is built up, meaning customers have no understanding of what they are paying for. Therefore, when it comes to selecting different features to make their virtual event a success, it will cost the client even more money than they had initially thought.
However, with iVent, our pricing is very transparent and we are always honest with every one of our clients. We are committed to working with you to find a way that we can tailor our services to suit your budget.
Don’t just take our word for it…
When it comes to delivering great virtual events, don’t just take our word for it.
We’ve helped numerous organisations across a variety of industries to achieve their goals. We love working with clients and we’re committed to providing the very best service – it’s great to hear that we’re doing a good job!
So without further ado, let’s hear from some of our happy clients …
“iVent were fantastic, they quickly understood our brand, values and vision for our virtual conference. They helped every step of the way and were able to meet all of our asks, no matter how big or small. The style and design were excellent, and the conference was a great success. Thanks so much.” – National Trust
“This year we had our best experience with iVent to date. We have been a client for 4 years and found the communication this year to be super responsive considering the time zone difference.
The support was also outstanding. Katie’s support during the lead up and on the day was superb.
Also helpful and went the extra mile to ensure we were ready – she even cross checked out presentation time zone conversions which was greatly appreciated.” – James Cook University
“I wanted to thank you all for your support with the Q2 Careers Fair.
You were ever so patient, helpful and supportive during the entire process but also at the very stressful moments and the last minute changes. You put up with my mindless questions and I am thrilled with how it has turned out.
The client – Kevin Dooley – Chief HR Officer is truly delighted with the layout, branding, engagement with attendees and the platform. He has also flagged it to the parent company IQVIA and we have filmed a quick tour on the platform to share with them.
All the RS stakeholders are also very engaged with the platform and impressed with what they have seen and they are already talking to clients about it.” – Q2 Solutions
How to Choose the Right Virtual Event Platform
As you can see, there are a lot of things to take into consideration before choosing a virtual event platform.
The most important thing is to choose the right virtual event platform; one that comes complete with all of the functionality needed to make the day a success.
As an event host, your priority is delivering the very best online experience for all those involved, whether that’s delegates, keynote speakers, or sponsors. That means choosing a platform that allows you to make your ideas happen.
At iVent, we’ve delivered virtual events across a whole range of sectors and understand what it takes to bring your vision to life. Virtual events aren’t just something we ‘do’. We’re passionate about creating the best experience for your audience, and creating an event that you can be proud of. For more information, get in touch with our team today.