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How to shift from physical to virtual events

From physical to virtual events

Right now, it’s not an easy time in the traditional events industry.

Postpone. Reschedule. Cancel.

It’s the same story around the world. According to our APAC 2020: Enterprise Risk Management Readiness Survey Report, 80% of businesses have had to cancel a physical event in recent months. Whether it’s seminars, trade shows, or conferences, if they don’t take place face-to-face and don’t shift from physical to virtual events, then the disruption and commercial impact can be considerable.

Of course, even during a global pandemic, events are vital. They provide a focal point that brings people together within each and every industry sector and niche. They spark inspiration, conversation and connection.

But, if the show must go on, how can you do it? How do you shift from physical to virtual events? How do you create a worthy online alternative that is just as creative and engaging? It’s not only possible, but now readily achievable. And shifting to a virtual event in uncertain times can mean you not only bring people together and meet your goals – but also even exceed your original objectives.

Like anything new, there’s a lot to learn

Don’t worry if this is new territory. A recent poll of event organizers showed that only 34% of respondents had run a virtual event before. The good news is that with some out-of-the-box thinking, some creativity, and the right technology, you can do it. You can embrace the versatility and expanded reach that a virtual event can offer your business. 

Making a virtual event great means creating a collaborative and immersive experience for attendees. It’s not just a physical event with a camera crew. It’s not people coming together on a video meeting to chat. It’s about creating engaging content and value-added experiences for those logging on. And yes, it’s all possible thanks to the latest technology, tools, and techniques.

Begin with what you want to accomplish

To make it a reality, just start with what a successful event looks like to your business. And work backwards from there. When moving your physical event online, your goals can be the same as for an in-person events: to inform and engage your audience, and to acquire and retain customers. Likewise with your KPIs. Determine the individual measures of success, whether it be leads or prospects, number of attendees, interactions, downloads or views.

Use new tools and tactics for an immersive online experience

Of course, how you go about achieving your event goals in the virtual space will be different. If you consider all of the elements you created for your physical event, it may seem quite a challenge to create a consistent interactive experience. The key is simply to know that there are versatile online event tools that can help you deliver everything you will need.

There is a range of platforms designed for virtual events that feature new and interactive ways to showcase your products and services. If you’re planning a tradeshow, the latest online event tools mean you can completely recreate the conference hall environment. You can have virtual exhibitor halls, booths, auditoriums, lounge areas for networking via chat, and resource centers for downloading information. Plus, operating in a virtual environment means you have much more visibility over who’s interacting with what event element.

The presenter and attendee experiences also require different tactics to ensure both these groups get the most out of the event. For example, a virtual event presenter can be so much more than just a live or pre-recorded head on a screen. You have the opportunity to weave in video, have a multi-screen presentation, and polls for instant feedback, surveys and chat boxes. Gamification offers a quirky new interactive feature for events: you can offer a ‘quick quiz’ after a presentation, perhaps with prizes. These can encourage your audience to pay close attention to the content and can reward those who do.

You’ll gain more insights than ever before

Perhaps the most important aspect for any event is the ability to track and measure performance. Virtual events offer a deep level of attendee customization across online touchpoints, and because their journeys involve clicks and links, it’s completely measurable. You’ll gain new and more significant insights into your audience, not only understanding more about how they interact with your brand, but also how they interact with each other.

Simply switching from physical to a virtual event means you’re going to extend your audience reach. Traditionally, senior leaders might attend a conference, gather information and return to share with their teams. The reduced event costs by going virtual – coupled with the removal of travel time and expenses – mean that a larger group of people will now be able to attend and engage. You’ll gain a bigger audience, coupled with more sophisticated data collection that just isn’t possible with a physical event.

Act now to get ahead – and shift from physical to virtual events

Everything has changed, and it’s hard to imagine us ever returning to a world dominated by physical events. Businesses who take the plunge now by shifting events online will gain a significant advantage over those who decide to wait it out. Arm yourself with the right tools and knowledge to take your events virtual.

To discuss how we can help you shift from physical to virtual events, please do get in touch.

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About the author

Jacqueline has more than six years' experience in combining disruptive marketing and the magic of technology to solve business problems around the world. As a product evangelist, Jacqueline’s experience has led her to innovate and launch unified communications and collaboration solutions that improve the way people work. Today, she continues to support the digital transformation journeys of customers in the Cloud Communications division of NTT Ltd.

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