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How to Plan and Host a Virtual Event for Your Business

Discover how to successfully plan and execute a virtual event for your business.

In the past, businesses would host in-person events. Everyone from your company would come together and network to learn more about the company. However, in recent years, in-person events have become more seldom in the corporate world as companies are switching over to virtual events.

In the world of remote work, it is crucial to unify your business through virtual events. But to ensure your virtual event is a success, there are several tried and tested best practices you should follow.

So, what are the key components for hosting a successful virtual event and how can you go about executing it flawlessly?

In this article, we'll discuss how to host an online event, virtual event ideas, and more. Continue reading to learn more about how to host a virtual event that can increase engagement for your business, drive sales, and strengthen your relationships with your customers.

Why should you host a virtual event?

Before exploring how to host a virtual networking event, you might be wondering why you should host a virtual event in the first place.

There are many reasons why virtual events are beneficial for businesses. First, virtual events allow you to target a much wider audience than physical events.

With an in-person event, event organizers will typically measure the success of the event based on the number of people who show up. But if the event is virtual, you don't have to worry about the event being constrained by limited space. This means there is no limit on the number of people who can show up, which can increase the number of sales you make.

Also, if you plan to have sponsors and exhibitors at your virtual event, they will find the event more valuable because they will have an easier time reaching a large number of people.

A virtual event could make it easier for you to follow up with leads down the road, as everyone who attends the virtual event will have to provide their contact information. You can then contact the attendees for future virtual events, or even just send them information about your business.

Virtual events are also great for facilitating networking and increasing brand awareness for your company. Networking events are a great way to expand your business as they allow you to connect with other companies and customers to drive traffic to your brand.

Set your goals and objectives

So, if you are curious about how to host a virtual event, the first thing you need to do is set your goals and objectives.

Identifying your goals will help you better understand why you're hosting the event, who you want to invite, and which virtual event platform you'll use.

There are a few important steps to follow when planning a virtual event. They include:

Determine the purpose of the virtual event

As you go through the process of how to plan a virtual event, you need to determine the purpose of the event. Is the event intended for you to announce a new product? Do you want to roll out a new service? Or do you want to announce a new arm of the company?

You need to think about the purpose of the virtual event before you move forward with any planning. Then, you need to make sure that every element of the virtual event is planned with that goal in mind.

Define the target audience

The next step in hosting a virtual event is determining the target audience. Who do you think is going to attend the event? Why do you think they will benefit from the event?

Think about the demographics of the people who will attend the event. Do you want to target current and former customers? Or do you want to try to generate new leads?

You need to determine what the demographics are of the people who should be in attendance at the event. This will help you create a successful event that the virtual attendees will actually be interested in.

Set measurable goals

Your next step in hosting a virtual event is to set measurable goals. There are different ways to set goals for a virtual event, and you need to figure out what metrics are most important to you.

Some of the metrics you may want to track include:

  • The number of people who attend the event
  • The overall attendee engagement rate
  • The number of people who leave their contact information with you
  • The number of purchases that stem directly from the event

Because different events have different goals, you need to figure out what goals are most important to your event.

Choose the right platform

In addition to defining the purpose of your online event and figuring out your target audience, you also need to choose the right virtual event platform for your networking event. There are plenty of choices available, and some factors you need to consider include:

  • Registration: How easy will it be for your audience members to register with the platform? You want to choose a user-friendly platform to get as many attendees as possible to sign up.
  • Ticketing: If you plan to charge people for event tickets, you need to accept various payment methods. Make sure you choose a platform that allows for this.
  • Brand Customization: You might be using a specific platform to host your event, but you still need to customize the platform to reflect your brand.
  • Engagement Tools: You need to have access to tools to track the customer engagement levels of the audience members during the event.
  • Accessibility: You need to choose an event platform that is accessible on as many devices and operating systems as possible. This includes not only computers but phones as well.
  • Event Analytics: It's important to choose a platform with event technology to keep track of the analytics during and after the event. You need to be able to track specific analytics so you can figure out what went well and what you can improve for your next virtual event.

Keep these factors in mind as you try to figure out which platform is best for your event.

Create a compelling agenda

As you take a look at a variety of marketing platforms that can help you promote your event, you need to think about what your event agenda will look like. Your agenda can include breakout sessions, speakers, or networking opportunities.

Key elements of a successful virtual event agenda

A compelling agenda is an integral part of how to host a successful event. Some of the most important aspects you may want to include on your agenda include:

  • The participants: Who will be directly involved in the event? Who is going to be speaking? Make sure you figure this out ahead of time, as you'll probably need to hire speakers far in advance.
  • The timeline: When will the speakers present? And how long are they going to have to speak? It's important to have a strict timeline for online events to ensure everything goes smoothly.
  • The testing: You need to make sure that everyone participating in the event has a system that functions properly. You do not want technical difficulties to derail the event, so make sure you choose good virtual event technology you can trust.

If you can keep these elements in mind, you should be able to structure a compelling agenda for your event.

How to structure the virtual event flow

You need to make sure your virtual conference flows as smoothly as possible. Some of the most important tips to keep in mind include:

  • Brief your speakers: Make sure you brief your speakers in advance. Let them know how much time they have to speak.
  • Have your tech team on standby: You do not want to have an awkward gap between items on the agenda, so make sure you have a technology team in the background, ensuring that everyone has a working platform when their turn is up.
  • Get the attendees to participate: You know what content you need to present, but you need to get the attendees involved as well. You can have them engage with certain events on the agenda or encourage them to ask questions.
  • Use the mute button: As different people join and leave, some people might forget when they are supposed to be speaking. When you transition, you may want to use the “mute all” button and only unmute the person who should actually be talking.

If your event flows smoothly, you will have an easier time keeping your audience engaged.

Optimize your marketing and promotion strategy

So now that you know how to host a successful event online, you then need to recruit as many attendees as possible. That is why you need to think carefully about your marketing and promotion strategy. Some of the most important elements include:

Utilize social media

Social media is one of the best ways to advertise your event because you can engage with your customers and keep them informed about when the event is taking place and how they can join.

For example, a simple Instagram post can go a long way toward reminding people the event is happening. You need to figure out where your target market hangs out and create social media posts for that platform. Different social media platforms have different audiences, so figure out which platform is best for marketing your event.

Leverage email marketing

You should also use email marketing to communicate with people who might be interested in the event. You might even want to dip into your CRM to reach out to current and prior customers who might be interested in the products and services you are discussing. Then, send periodic emails reminding people that the event is happening.

Don't forget to also use tools to measure your email marketing success so you can figure out how well your campaigns are performing.

Partner with other businesses

You may want to partner with other companies to host a combined event. There is a chance that other businesses might have attendees who could be interested in your products and services. A combined event can help you significantly widen your user base.

Measure and analyze results

You need to collect information related to the event to help you figure out what is working and what is not. By using the right tools, you can garner insights into how successful the virtual event was and how to improve your virtual events moving forward.

Engage your audience

Don't forget to engage with your audience during the event as well. Encourage your audience to ask questions during the event, as well as fill out a post-event survey. It's important to gather feedback after the event so you can gain insight into how your attendees felt about the conference.

You might even want to encourage them to react to the event live and then share the reactions on social media. Live streaming is a great way to engage with your audience and boost social media engagement.

Don't forget to send a post-event follow-up

If you want your audience members to feel appreciated, you need to follow up with them after the event. You might even want to create a website where your audience members can provide feedback and get in touch with you about the event. Then, you can use this information to ensure your next event is just as successful as the last one.

When you want to create a successful online event for your own business, you can use Mailchimp’s tools for help. Mailchimp has everything you need to create an effective marketing strategy so you can spread awareness for your event.

With Mailchimp, you'll gain access to a multitude of useful tools that can help you create the best event possible for your brand, so you can accomplish your business goals and connect with a bigger audience than you ever could with a physical event.

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