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.
Livestorm helps teams collaborate and deliver memorable live or on-demand video experiences.
Our virtual event best practices can be split into pre-event planning, in-event engagement, and post-event follow up.
Let’s take a look at those in more detail.
A successful virtual conference takes careful planning and preparation. Here’s what you need to think about.
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.
Once you know all that, set your targets and define key performance indicators (KPIs) and success metrics and start organizing your event.
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.
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.
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 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.
Sponsorship is a vital part of achieving ROI, so you need to put together an attractive media and sponsorship package that covers:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lead generation opportunities don’t stop once the event is over.
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.
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.
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.
See our guide to virtual events for more virtual conference ideas.
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.
Livestorm helps teams collaborate and deliver memorable live or on-demand video experiences.
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.
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.
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.
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.