Virtual Conference Best Practices: The Complete Guide

Joni Taisey
28-Aug-2012 16:41:00

Virtual conferences are a great alternative to traditional in-person events in 2020, they provide businesses with a safe and socially distanced option for hosting large-scale events for their audience.

Virtual conferences can be used to establish thought leadership within your industry, create networking opportunities for your audience, or generate revenue through conference sponsorships opportunities. 

One of the biggest benefits of running a virutal conference is that their upfront costs are significantly lower than in-person events, all you need is a trusted virtual events platform and a few tips to help you run the best possible event. 

Virtual Conference Best Practices

1. Set Clear Goals 

Virtual conferences can be as simple as running a few live webinars in a single day, or be scaled up into complex events where you have multiple sessions running simultaneously over multiple days. Setting clear goals for your virtual conference will help you prioritize, stay organized and maximize your ROI. 

Some of the goals we usually set for our conferences and individual sessions are below: 

Virtual Conference Goals: 

  • Number of registrations
  • Daily attendance rate
  • Sponsorship revenue

Individual Event Goals: 

  • Number of registrations
  • Attendance rate
  • Average engagement rate
  • Attendee conversion rate
  • Overall event rating from survey feedback

2. Include Breaks in Your Agenda

Just because this event is online and people are watching from the comfort of their homes doesn't mean that they won't need bathroom breaks, food breaks, or just a minute to stretch their legs. Avoid running back-to-back events and include a minimum of 15 minutes between your key sessions. While this may stretch the duration of your overall conference, it will provide a much nicer attendee experience and give you the opportunity to fix any technical or speaker issues that arise between events.

3. Use a Mix of Live and Pre-recorded Content

One of the benefits of running a virtual conference is that you can pre-record some of your content and run it as a simulive event without compromising the quality of experience provided to your audience.

Simulive events should always include a live Q&A at the end with your presenters, but the bulk of the presentation will be pre-recorded, edited and embedded into your presentation. This guarantees the quality of the presentation and removes some of the pressure from the team overseeing the events. It is a lot easier to manage and troubleshoot a simulive event than it is a live event, so do yourself a favour and include a few simulive sessions throughout your conference. 

4. Optimize for Mobile Experiences 

When looking for a virtual events platform, don't forget to test their mobile viewing experience. Depending on your audience, you should expect at least 30% of attendees to be joining via phone. If you have a younger, more tech savvy audience it could be closer to 60% of attendees viewing at least part of your conference from their phone. 

Make sure that regardless of device, your audience will receive the  same quality of experience. People attending from a mobile device should still be able to engage, ask questions, and access your resource section. 

5. Don't Overwhelm Attendees With Post-Event Emails 

You'll be tempted to set up an email engagement series after each event to help increase the conversion rates, gain feedback on the session, or even just to say thank you. This approach is okay for people who attend a single session during your conference, but if somebody attends multiple events per day they will not want to be bombarded by emails from you every hour. 

Rather than set up a simple email engagement series for each individual event, create a complex workflow for the virtual conference. You will want to structure your workflow so that people who attend a single event are communicated to differently than those who are attending multiple events. This will help increase your engagement from your highly engaged audience without overwhelming them with too many communications and CTAs. 

Following these virtual conference best practices will help you manage your risk during the event, increase your ROI and provide your attendees with an enjoyable experience. For more tips on how to increase engagement during each individual session, check out 7 Interactive Ways to Increase Webinar Engagement

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