What is A Virtual Conference?
It’s simple as the name suggests – a virtual conference is a conference held online. So, let’s find out what a conference is.
- A conference is a large-scale, formal B2B event. The attendees are usually professionals and specialists of a given field and industry.
- A conference is a platform whereby like-minded people gather to connect and talk about ideas or a particular issue. Attendees usually sit in to learn about the latest ideas or key speakers’ professional views and perspectives towards the issue in question.
- A conference can last for days or even weeks. A series of activities are planned based on the topic and key speakers are selected ahead of time.
Virtual Conferences? Virtual Summits? Webinars?
Going virtual is the current trend and yes, all of the above are business events hosted on the online platform. You’ve seen them all but as an event organiser, do you know the differences between webinars, virtual conferences and virtual summits? And, how do you decide which to go for?
Here’s a simple breakdown of how they differ. While all of them entail meeting, socialising, and networking, there are unique subtleties between them that naturally attract different groups of individuals.
|Webinar||Virtual Summit||Virtual Conference|
|Level of Formality||Casual or Formal||Formal||Formal|
|Target Audience||Anyone||Top-level executives involving industry leaders||Business partners of a generally broad field|
|Objective||Educate people on a particular topic||Propose concrete solutions to an industry-related problem||Open-ended, no end goal, focusing on exchanging information|
|Activity||Seminar||Discussion, problem-solving & idea sharing||Idea sharing & networking|
|Other elements||–||–||Brand promotions|
|Duration||Hours||Days||Days or weeks|
|Number of Sessions||Single, one-off, standalone event||Multi sessions||Multi sessions|
If your event concentrates on idea exchanging and often welcomes more promotional activities, a virtual conference is likely what you’ve been looking for.
What Can Your Company Achieve With A Virtual Conference?
- KPI 1: Further reach
Virtual conferences often draw a broader range of audience compared to summits. That’s so because admission to summits is usually limited to invitations whereas virtual conferences are open to the public. Despite some being ticketed, virtual conferences can bring people who have interest, goal and background in common together to discuss, connect and grow.
- KPI 2: Improve networking opportunities
Connection building is one of the key features of virtual conference 2021. We understand that physical proximity is withdrawn from a virtual setting. Yet, you can leverage your choice of virtual conference platform to build a community experience (i) between your firm and the attendees, (ii) among the attendees and (iii) between sponsors and the attendees.
- KPI 3: Expand brand awareness
Organising a virtual conference can be a very good PR investment for your firm when it’s done right. Not only do you get to increase your company exposure, but you can also establish your company as the leader in the CRM space by hosting such a great virtual conference.
- KPI 4: Increase lead generation
Creating a top-of-mind awareness consequently cultivates leads, in no question. Through an online conference, you get your brand in front of people’s eyes without having them visit you onsite. Let your target audience be aware of what you have to offer. Nurture those who are most interested in it and you will likely increase your chances of generating leads.
- KPI 5: Customer appreciation or loyalty/Membership growth
To convert a lead successfully, you ought to optimise your prospect’s experience. If you’re aiming to improve membership growth and build customer loyalty, consider hosting a virtual conference. It can help to engage your customers and keep them updated with the latest
When they recognise your brand, they tend to become more familiar and comfortable to pick you out of the competitors.
Best Practices For Executing Virtual Conference 2021
- Set event goal(s) and objective(s)
Knowing what you wish to accomplish is the first step to planning an online conference. Your event goals will act as the driving force behind your planning. Once your event goals are determined, everything that follows will fall into place. From budget to content, they will be planned based on the agreed event goals.
- Create A Virtual Conference Budget
Similar to any other event, a comprehensive event budget is pretty important. By detailing out every single item and keeping your budget in place, you will more likely be able to stay on track and will also allow other stakeholders to understand where the money is going.
- Choose The Right Virtual Conference Platform
Instead of an amazing in-person venue, start searching for a virtual conference platform that is as amazing. This is the digital environment your attendees will get to know your brand and experience your virtual conference.
You may be overwhelmed by the options out there and sorting them one by one can be quite a tedious journey. What you need to do is to opt for a platform that provides streamlined solutions to power your virtual conference, i.e. techs and tools that integrate marketing technology stacks and CRM systems.
To host a virtual conference that offers an intuitive experience, ensure the platform you choose can help you
- create a seamless virtual environment,
- process registration,
- track attendance,
- broadcasting live sessions,
- foster networking (engagement),
- hold rewarding events,
- collect and generate event data,
- display video, in a smooth manner.
- Curate Content with Context
Virtual conferences are complex. Following the theme of your virtual conference, draft your content with related topics. Many elements need to be included in the content programming to effectively connect, engage attendees, and amplify their brand voice.
Keynotes set the tone for virtual conferences. These presentations (including storytelling, speech and insights) bring out the event’s core theme and important messages.
- Breakout sessions
In designing a virtual breakout session, consider having panel discussions, roundtables, workshops, demonstrations in your activity list. Since these sessions are more intimate, we suggest you separate your attendees into smaller groups (about 10-15 attendees with a facilitator).
Back-to-back discussion sessions can be tiresome. Add excitement to your online conference by bringing in entertainment between sessions. Virtual DJs, magic shows and stand up comedy are some great engaging entertainment ideas to steal.
- Brand promotions
Compared to summits, virtual conferences encourage attendees on gathering additional knowledge and often welcome more promotional activities such as pitch meetings.
- Look For Sponsorship Opportunities
Build a strong sponsorship committee to clinch as many event sponsorships as possible. Apart from obtaining extra financial support, great sponsors can be valuable in expanding the reach and credibility of your event. In exchange, they will get the opportunity to interact with the attendees at your event.
With the many moving parts of a virtual conference, you must rehearse before going live. Rehearsal may be time-consuming but it is essential to perfect your event as this is the time to clear up all doubts and ensure your crews, production teams and speakers are familiar with the event flow.
How Do You Create A Virtual Conference Strategy?
Requiring the same attention you give to host an in-person conference, virtual conferences have you to consider one more thing extra – how to ensure your attendees stay focused on the other side of the screen?
With content as a vital catalyst to grab attendees’ interest, an effective virtual conference strategy can be created by asking yourself the following questions:
- What are your event goals?
- How do you wish a virtual conference to help in your ongoing campaign?
- What resources do you have in hand?
- How much budget is allocated to host a virtual conference?
Virtual Conference Engagement Ideas For You To Grab
Be it small or big, it doesn’t matter. You plan your own style of virtual conferences. It is alright to have no hefty theme but do not give in to a boring flow.
- Offer free e-books, slides or decks
- Add live polling or short game to the mix
- Create a hashtag
- Surprise your attendees with home-delivered gifts
- Start a social media challenge
- Allow attendees to create virtual avatars
- Offer food vouchers
- Offer event exclusive products
Why is Hosting A Virtual Conference The Best Option Now?
Here we’ll cover 5 major reasons why virtual conferences are here to stay among the other event options.
- Current Pandemic
COVID-19 has brought about a new normal and it is difficult for businesses to go back to the way it was to host a physical event. Hence, pivoting to a virtual conference is the best any company can do to accomplish their event goal whilst prioritising the safety of the crews, speakers and attendees. No physical contact, no virus spread!
- Improved in Accessibility
Virtual conferences are much more broadly accessible. Since the conference is relocated to the online platform, most barriers to attending an event no longer exist, i.e. cost, time and energy.
For instance, an education conference made online can expect a larger audience because it can now attract students who do not have much research funding or just can’t afford to travel.
- Improved in Inclusivity
We may not be able to take care of all the attendees present onsite. However, virtual conferences can help extend the reach of your message and be more inclusive to your audience.
With live captioning, virtual conferences can benefit more than hard of hearing and deaf people or people who speak that language as a second language. Moreover, the instant translation function will also make it easier for a global audience to consume the content of the event.
- Better Data Management
Data and analytics is a powerful business tool. Choosing the right virtual conference platform can assist you in collecting, analysing and reading the information behind those data. Once you decrypt and understand your data, you can build your tactics and strategy for future events based on them.
Profile data can help your sales team build new prospects or close sales of the existing ones; engagement data can help your marketing team better understand the attendees’ interests. These data can also be used to entice and secure a sponsor.
- More Sustainable
Comparing it to their in-person counterparts, virtual conferences are proved to have caused lower environmental impacts. Aside from the reduced carbon footprint, less waste is produced as virtual conferences eliminate material fabrication and large-scale food & beverage service.
Q: In what way online conferences are better than physical ones?
A: The number of attendees a virtual conference can hold is no longer restricted by the physical venue capacity. Hence, it allows the events to easily and quickly reach a much wider audience than ever before. Furthermore, it helps you to seize the opportunity to collect a large amount of data on attendees.
Q: What are the pros and cons of virtual conferences?
A: Pros of virtual conferences include
- Flexible and expanded access
- Cost and time effective
- Improved attendance level
Whereas, the minor drawbacks of virtual conferences can include
- Reduced human contact
- Require quality equipment
- Require experienced and creative tech expert
- Require stable connection speed
Yet, the cons shouldn’t be bothering you too much as they can be overcome by hiring the right virtual conference solutions provider.
Q: What types of business do virtual conferences suit?
A: Virtual conferences are not limited to any specific industry. Every company, regardless of its size, possesses the potential to benefit from hosting virtual conferences.
Q: What can your attendees take away from your virtual conference?
A: Here are the three main goals a person participate in a virtual conference:
- Goal 1: Networking
- Goal 2: Accepting new ideas
- Goal 3: Learning
Q: How to set a budget for an online conference?
A: For every event budget you create, always remember that it needs to justify your event goals. Get your budget under control to avoid overspending. For instance, if you are ordering a care pack for your virtual conference Malaysia attendees, you should list down every item that will be included, together with the shipping cost.
Q: What are the most basic tools to host a virtual conference?
A: Since different tools and technologies can support facets of your virtual conference, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. But, here is a checklist of basic tools every virtual conference Malaysia planner needs.
- Virtual environment
- Engagement tools
- Live streaming tools
- Networking tools
Q: In what form can a sponsorship opportunity be?
A: Sponsorships that can add value to your event include
- Sponsored sessions and speakers
- Sponsored lucky draws or giveaways
- Sponsor placement in graphics and banners
- Sponsored after-party
Nail Your Next Virtual Conference With Evenesis
Elevate your virtual conference 2021 with Evenesis virtual experience solutions. We have the techs and tools you need to set you up for success. Delivering impactful and engaging virtual conference Malaysia experiences has never been this easy!