11 tips on how to choose a virtual event platform for 2021
Today there is a jungle of platforms available to help share your content online. We see how many organisations are struggling with choosing the right platform to host their events. They are looking for a tool to make virtual events more engaging and appealing than Teams meetings and webinars. Organisations need a solution that gives them more opportunities and insights such as communication and engagement tools, business metrics, and sales & marketing systems’ integrations.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Event goals, target audiences, and key messages are so specific that there is no “one platform” that solves it all. But we can give you some guiding pointers to help you with making that decision.
Here’s a quick checklist of capabilities to look for when choosing your virtual event platform:
1. Attention – how to win it and keep it
First impressions matter. To get attendees, you must win and retain your target groups’ attention. This is especially important in a series of events. Find out how the event platform handles the invitation and registration process.
Attendees should immediately recognize who is sending the event invitations, reminders and other communication. Consider the design and whether you would like to add visuals or embed a video.
Can you track your communications, so that you know how well your messages were received and improve when necessary? Make sure that the platform uses an e-mail and SMS system with the highest deliverability so that your messages don’t end up in junk or spam folders.
2. Accessibility – everyone loves simplicity
Make your virtual event as easily accessible as possible. Do participants have to create an account and a profile? Consider whether this is necessary for your event.
Are you catering to a global audience? Will your platform be accessible from countries with user access restrictions such as China? It’s also good practice to carry out connectivity tests prior to the event to ensure access. All to guarantee that your audience will reach your event.
3. Customizations and branding – build your world
Think about what aspects and how much does the platform allow you to customize. Does everything feel like it’s a part of your world and brand? You can create the most immersive experiences from branded event invitations, ramp-up activities, URLs, branded and customized engagement tools, to post-event actions. Find out your possibilities.
4. Engagement – an engaged attendee is a happy attendee
What opportunities and tools does the virtual event platform offer to engage with attendees? Make sure that you have the possibility of two-way communication. This is what drives the event experience and helps you get to know your attendees better.
5. Metrics – identify business opportunities and save time
We cannot stress enough that metrics reveal business opportunities. It’s important that you set goals and targets so that you can later measure the success of your event.
Ask what kind of metrics you can get from the virtual event platform. What is the lead generation process? Does the platform give attendees engagement scores or something else to assist with identifying potential business opportunities? You might have hundreds or thousands of attendees. This lets you know where the most potential business is – what a time saver!
6. Integrations – make it fit your needs
One of the key things to consider is easily getting that valuable metrics data directly into your sales & marketing systems. Using a platform that is also open to different pre- and post-event tool integrations makes life a lot more convenient.
7. Production and set-up – look for quality and expertise
Ask what kind of connection opportunities the virtual event platform provides. Do you want to stream exclusively from (home)offices? Do you need a supporting studio set-up for recording? Would you like to go for the highest quality production and set it up like a live TV-show?
Find out whether the virtual event platform provider also offers technical and video production professional services. While everything is handled backstage, you can focus on stage.
8. Streaming – the quality that matches your event format
Different platforms are built for different quality streaming. Depending on what type of production and set-up you choose, make sure that your platform supports the streaming quality. Ask what are your options.
If you are organising an international event, make sure that the platform supports global streaming.
9. Support – there when you need it
Ask what type of support the platform provides for presenters, attendees, and organisers. Is there a live help desk available?
Also, find out where is your support. Time zones are especially important when you have a global reach. You or your attendees might need to get in contact with someone immediately when any problems arise.
10. Commitment and pricing – eliminate surprises
When planning your procurement, think about how fast your company makes decisions. Discover how long is the platform’s onboarding time.
Usual commitment options for virtual event platforms are either per event or an annual plan. Consider what type of commitment are you comfortable with and what it means for your organisation.
11. Security and backup solutions – basic hygiene
Make sure that your virtual event platform is secure, fully tested, and ready to perform. It should also be load tested to make sure that it can smoothly handle traffic from all your attendees and presenters.
Confirm that the virtual event platform has all the essentials for you to be able to comply with privacy and data security regulations. You should know the location of your data, so find out where are the servers.
And of course, ensure that there are well-functioning backup solutions. You think you don’t need them until you do!
How we got here…
Our teams have invested a lot of time analysing and testing different virtual platforms to find out how we best can support our customers. We were also navigating in this virtual jungle. We know the pain of trying to choose a virtual event platform. We felt that we could not find the right fit to replace live events. The available solutions were too technical, too boring, without enough engagement possibilities.
We wanted to differentiate from the competition, be fully branded and have engagement as in live events. Our mission is to create a virtual event that would feel like a live event.
We believe that we got as close as we can by creating Global Virtual Hub platform. It’s an all-inclusive, business-first, fully tested and ready to perform virtual event platform.