Marketing

15 Virtual Conference Best Practices for Marketers to Shake up Your Event

Published on July 13, 2022 • Updated on December 7, 2022 • About 10 min. read

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15 Virtual Conference Best Practices for Marketers to Shake up Your Event

Hosting a virtual conference is a great way to build your company’s brand and generate leads. But with people overwhelmed by online events, it’s important to make yours stand out from the crowd.

We’ve put together a list of 15 virtual conference best practices to make your event a success and maximize your lead generation efforts.

Let’s dive in.

Computer screen with virtual conference host full screen and attendee names in the sidebar
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How to Make Virtual Events Engaging
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How to Make Virtual Events Engaging

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What are the 15 virtual meeting best practices for marketers?

Our virtual event best practices can be split into pre-event planning, in-event engagement, and post-event follow up.

  • Setting virtual conference goals
  • Identifying your audience
  • Setting a budget
  • Tiered registration fees for paid events
  • Attracting sponsors
  • Choosing speakers and moderators
  • Promotion
  • Automating invites and reminders
  • Choosing the right virtual conference platform
  • Customer support
  • Engaging audiences
  • Networking opportunities
  • Swag and meals
  • Event analytics
  • Sharing the recording
  • Follow up and nurturing of leads

Let’s take a look at those in more detail.

Pre-event

A successful virtual conference takes careful planning and preparation. Here’s what you need to think about.

1. Set virtual conference goals

Before organizing your virtual conference, be clear about what you want to get out of it. That might be lead generation, relationship building, education, establishing yourself as an authority in your field, or launching a new product or service.

Think about:

  • Who you want to attract, and how many signups you need
  • The content you want to share, and which virtual event speakers you need
  • Which brands you want to get involved, and how you want them to promote the event
  • How you want people to participate, and via which channels
  • The revenue you need to generate to cover costs and hit ROI
  • How many leads you need to generate

Once you know all that, set your targets and define key performance indicators (KPIs) and success metrics and start organizing your event.

Livestorm event landing page and reminder notification to use when hosting a virtual conference

2. Identify your target audience

Knowing who your audience is will guide your marketing efforts, program, and choice of guest speakers.

Remember, with a virtual conference, attendees can connect from anywhere, so you can reach more people than an in-person event. However, if you’re going global, remember to take time zones, languages, and other factors into consideration when planning the agenda.

Virtual event speakers on stage facing an audience at an event

3. Set a budget

When setting a budget, you need to factor in costs for promotion, ads, speaker fees and swag for guests (if applicable), and your virtual event platform.

Once you know this, work out how much you can pull in from sponsors and registrations and whether this income will allow you to achieve ROI.

4. Offer tiered registration

Tiered registration options like early-bird discounts help boost sign-ups by enticing people to book early. You can also offer perks like gifts, a chance to meet speakers, or take part in networking events. Group or company discounts help draw in more people than single tickets. Remember to have a balance of both ticket types, though, to attract a varied audience.

Depending on your industry, you may want to offer a student discount to establish your company in the minds of tomorrow’s key players.

webinar presenter smiling at desk

5. Attract virtual conference sponsors

Sponsorship is a vital part of achieving ROI, so you need to put together an attractive media and sponsorship package that covers:

  • A breakdown of your target audience and how many attendees you expect
  • How many leads they get access to
  • What assets and information they need to provide – logos, speaker bios, etc. – and when
  • The visibility they get for different levels of sponsorship. So, where assets will be displayed: a logo on the event webpage, content in the event newsletter or during sessions, etc.

Make sure sponsors align with your topic, content, and audience. Ideally, they shouldn’t be your direct competitors but if they are, assign them to tracks that don’t compete with your own content.

If you’re running a paid event, you should also provide guidelines to avoid sponsors pitching to attendees too much.

To find sponsors, look for companies that have sponsored webinars or similar events in your industry, and try to attract one or two big names to give your event cachet and appeal to attendees.

6. Choose the right speakers and moderators

Your content is the main draw for attendees, so you need to put together a program that delivers value.

Then, look for expert speakers or well-known names from key companies that will draw in attendees. Scour previous event programs for names or, if you’re using an event management agency to host an online conference, sourcing speakers may come as part of the package.

You also need good moderators who are experienced at public speaking, people management, and timekeeping to keep sessions running smoothly. For interactive panel discussions, you need someone who’s good at fielding questions and directing them to the right speaker. For presentations, moderators may also need to resolve technical issues, like if the audience can’t see the slides, etc.

Hiring a conference host or MC can improve the virtual event experience. It’s their job to make announcements, mark the transition between sessions, or introduce key speakers. All of which help tie the program together. Be sure to choose someone who understands your industry and audience.

Conference speaker on stage giving a presentation as part of the virtual event experience

7. Promote your virtual conference in the right channels

Choose the right channels for your brand and audience. Email marketing to your existing customer base is a great way to start generating interest. Other channels include social media, relevant communities, forums, or sponsoring other companies’ newsletters. You can also use digital ads, and your employee’s networks to promote the event.

Consider setting social media challenges and regularly sharing teaser content to generate a buzz. If you’re using Livestorm as your virtual event platform, the Slack and Twitter integrations let you share content right from the event platform.

For social media, create an event hashtag so you can track posts and engagement, both before and during the event. Create a live feed on your website and remind the audience to like, share, and comment on your content during sessions.

Your sponsors can also help boost registrations. Set up a dedicated link and use Livestorm’s automated UTM tracking so you can trace the source of registrations. Then, set goals for sponsors to generate a specific number of sign-ups in exchange for access to leads. Tread carefully with higher-tier sponsors, though. They may not appreciate having to work for leads when they’re already paying.

Hand holding a phone showing social media feed, and a pad resting on a table showing a man speaking at a virtual conference

8. Send automatic invites and reminders

Sending individual manual emails is very time-consuming, so use a virtual conference platform like Livestorm to automate them instead.

To keep your event uppermost in people’s minds, send:

  • A post-registration confirmation with the agenda and how to connect
  • Regular pre-event reminders and teasers
Livestorm settings with automatic email marketing options.

9. Choose the best virtual conference platform

Choosing the right virtual conference platform is key to the success of your event. Your choice will depend on the size of your event and the type of engagement you want to achieve.

Here’s what Livestorm offers and (of course) we recommend you look for:

  • Features to streamline pre-event organization: Customizable, branded landing pages and registration forms that you can embed anywhere
  • Automated email invitations and reminders
  • Integrations with tools like Typeform for pre and post event surveys,
  • Integrations with your customer relationship management (CRM) platform so you can send invites to people in your system and capture event data and new leads
  • Engagement features (more on these below)
  • The possibility for speakers to blur backgrounds or use your branded virtual background
  • Breakout rooms for networking spaces
  • Possibility to share downloadable materials in-event
  • Detailed post-event analytics
  • Possibility to share and repurpose the event recording

Best of all, it’s browser-based, so attendees and speakers don’t need to download and install software, which removes any barriers to access.

create engaging webinars with emoji reactions

10. Have a dedicated customer support team

If you’re getting sponsors and exhibitors on board you need to look after them. Have customer support staff on hand before, during, and after the event to answer any questions people have and resolve any issues. Make sure they know how to use your virtual event platform, and prepare a list of questions they may need to answer.

If it’s a large, complex event, create information packages and video tutorials so everyone knows how to connect and what’s expected of them. You should also organize a trial run and rehearsal sessions to test the tech and make sure everyone knows how to share their screen, install the background, etc.

You can also provide tips on virtual meeting etiquette, like what to wear on-screen, and maybe send a piece of conference swag to place in the frame during their session.

During the event

Good planning is crucial, but it’s what happens on the day that will stick in people’s minds. Here are some virtual conference engagement ideas for a truly memorable event.

11. Make your virtual conference engaging

In the age of “Zoom fatigue” it’s more important than ever to engage your audience. People’s attention spans are shorter online, so keep session types and content varied, relevant, and valuable. Have clearly defined segments, a clear start and end to each section, and short breaks in between longer sessions.

Get attendees involved and combat screen fatigue by creating opportunities to participate. If you’re using Livestorm, let people know they can send questions through the chat, or respond to polls and surveys at specific points.

Huddle rooms are another great way to let people interact in small groups. Reaction emojis also let them contribute passively outside these times. Don’t forget to direct people’s attention to CTAs or offers displayed during the event, too.

polls can make webinars engaging

12. Facilitate networking sessions

The chance to grow networks and generate leads is a major attraction for attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors, so use Livestorm’s huddle rooms and build networking opportunities into the agenda, either as stand-alone activities or during sessions. You can even set up huddle rooms for people to continue the conversation after the event.

13. Coordinate swag and meals for attendees

Everybody loves free stuff, and you don’t have to forego swag just because your event is online. Getting physical addresses for attendees can be tricky, so keep it all virtual. Uber Eats, Amazon vouchers, or experiences are a good way to go.

Post-event

Lead generation opportunities don’t stop once the event is over.

14. Check your analytics

After the event, you need to analyze how it went so you can learn and improve for next time.

If you’re using a video engagement platform like Livestorm you can access engagement analytics to see what people enjoyed, compare registrations with attendance, and check participation and interaction rates right in your dashboard.

Along with data from chat, Q&As, polls, and surveys can then be exported to Salesforce or HubSpot CRM so you can segment your lists and understand who enjoyed what. This will help with future lead nurturing campaigns.

webinar analytics tracking page

15. Repurpose and share the recording

To boost ROI and lead generation opportunities, use Livestorm’s automated recording feature and repurpose the recording as an on-demand event that people can access anytime. You can also share it with anyone who couldn’t attend. With Livestorm, you can also see who watched it and add them to your marketing lists.

16. Follow up and nurture your leads

Lead generation and relationship building are two of your main goals when running a virtual conference. Get off to a good start by sending a thank you email to all attendees, speakers, sponsors, and moderators. Summarize the event, share the recording, and pull out the best moments to share on social media.

If your virtual conference had different tracks, you can segment leads in your CRM according to which day or track they attended. Check engagement data to create buckets of topics you know they enjoyed and follow up with related content at regular intervals and relevant CTAs or offers to drive them through the funnel. For example, sign up for another webinar, a free trial, or download content. Set up automated cadences to send emails at regular intervals while the event is still fresh in people’s minds.

Finally, send out a post-event survey to get attendee feedback and suggestions.

Livestorm post-event poll as part of housekeeping rules for virtual meetings

See our guide to virtual events for more virtual conference ideas.

How to host a great online conference

Virtual conferences are a great way to generate leads and build your relationship. To make it a successful event, establish your goals, define your target audience, speakers, and sponsors, and budget. Promote your event in the right channels, encourage signups with tiered pricing and offers, and by leveraging your employees’, sponsors’, and employees’ networks.

Get off to the right start by choosing a video engagement platform like Livestorm that has all the features you need for smooth pre- and post-event organization and follow-up to maximize your lead generation efforts. It’s also packed with features to keep audiences engaged on the day to ensure a truly memorable virtual conference experience.

How to Make Virtual Events Engaging
How to make virtual events engaging ebook cover
Ebook Ebooks

How to Make Virtual Events Engaging

Find out actionable tips to engage your audience and discover how to create lasting experiences.

Read more

Frequently asked questions about virtual conferences

What is a virtual conference?

A virtual conference is an online event that is similar to an in-person conference, with speakers, varied sessions, and opportunities for networking and interaction. The only real difference is that speakers and attendees can connect and participate from anywhere in the world.

How can you make a virtual conference better?

You can make a virtual conference better by making it interactive and engaging. Use a video engagement platform like Livestorm that has features to promote engagement, like live chat, polls & surveys, and reaction emojis.

How do you organize a virtual conference?

You can organize a virtual conference by setting your goals, identifying your audience, finding speakers and sponsors, and creating a varied, engaging online event agenda. You also need to choose the right video engagement platform that integrates with other tools to facilitate creating, promoting, and running your event. Finally, you need to test the tech and hold rehearsals beforehand.

Can you run a virtual conference in Zoom?

You can run a virtual conference in Zoom, but it has limited engagement features. Participants also need to download and install the software, which is a barrier to joining the sessions. Instead, use a Zoom alternative such as a browser-based video engagement platform like Livestorm that has built-in features to facilitate creating and promoting your event, and engaging audiences.

How to Make Virtual Events Engaging
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How to Make Virtual Events Engaging

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