20 Ways to Plan a Successful Virtual Conference

 

You’ve probably attended a few virtual events in the past. But only a few will come to mind if you do a memory jog. Memorable virtual conferences are always a great measure of success. But what distinguishes a successful virtual conference from an unsuccessful one? We’re about to find out. 

Before we do that, what is a virtual conference exactly? A virtual conference is a formal meeting or discussion in an online space. It brings people with common interests together to discuss ideas and share research. 

Here are 20 ways you can host a successful virtual conference.

Planning Your Event

1. Begin Strategizing 

Before you start, it’s really important to know your goal and your audience. Clearly outline and identify your audience. Answer these questions:

  • What do I want to achieve from this conference?
  • Who am I targeting? How am I going to reach my audience? 
  • How am I going to promote the event to them? What are they interested in and how might they enjoy the conference? 
  • What kind of topics and activities would keep them engaged?
  • How am I going to reach my audience? 
  • How am I going to promote the event to them?

Once you have these questions answered, you’ll be able to understand the topics to discuss at the event, the speakers to contact, the activities to host, and the sponsors to engage. 

Understanding this will help you plan your conference and how to market it. Knowing your audience will help you design a successful virtual conference.

 2. Choose the Right Virtual Events Platform

The strategizing phase will help you identify your conference needs. Choosing an event platform that best fits them is then crucial. 

So, what are your needs? Are you looking for a lot of engagement activities? Every solution offers a different set of engagement features. Do you want to emulate your physical office? Some tools will bring your office to life virtually. Choose one that has all the features you would need to design a virtual conference that works for your audience. 

If you’re looking for some inspiration, we’ve put together some of our best events from 2021. You can explore our favorite conference from the year and use its wins to design your event. 

Read more: Everything you need to know about your event planning software

3. Flesh Out the Agenda

Set your agenda and schedule to be seamless. A good flow is important so people have good takeaways. 

Give them the option to customize their schedules so they do not miss out on anything. Advise and train your exhibitors to best plan their individual booths according to the schedule.

4. Set Up an Engaging Virtual Environment

Once you’ve chosen your event platform, it’s time to set up the environment. A custom-made virtual environment that looks like your office or the auditorium where you typically host conferences would give you an edge. This makes attendees feel like they’ve walked into a new space. 

For instance, vFairs offers a fully immersive environment. Participants can enter into a virtual exhibition hall. In a virtual auditorium, they can choose from a number of live or pre-recorded webinars available to them. You can play with the software to suit your needs.

Market Your Conference

A successful virtual conference depends largely on the number of attendees that show up. Leave no stone unturned to get the maximum number of attendees to your event. For this reason, your marketing strategy is essential. 

5. Create an Exciting Landing Page 

Create a custom landing page for your event. This will serve three purposes for your virtual conference: 

  1. Attendees will find all the information they need about the conference. This includes speakers, agenda, activities, ticket prices, and any FAQs.
  2. They’ll also register for the event and pay any fees through this page. 
  3. The landing page will have a link to the login portal so attendees can log in to the event once it’s live.

6. Build Out Your Drip Email Campaign

An email campaign targets those who have willingly signed up to your mailing list. Given that email still has the most ROI of any marketing channel, it’s important to capitalize on this. 

Email conversion rates should be at least 2%. The average open rate across all industries is 21.8%. This is something you should be capitalizing on. You can offer discounts or coupons to the first few who sign up. Or you can offer your mailing list early bird prices to your event.

Maximize your virtual event turnout through these steps for your email campaign:

  1. Timing your campaign at the right time
  2. Create eye-catching subject lines
  3. Prepare content that appeals to your reader
  4. Conduct A/B testing to assess how readers are responding to changes in your email campaign 
  5. Set up a sequence of emails and have them automated 

7. Social Media Campaign

In today’s world, social media is the best way to market your business. These social media networks include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn. Which of these does your target audience frequent the most? Be sure to create your content beforehand and have a social media schedule lined up. 

You can even automate your posts! For this, you’ll need a social media marketing tool. Some research on the best toolswill help you determine which one might be the best fit for your company. 

8. Develop an Implementation Schedule

Be sure to plan and make sure your marketing campaign doesn’t take place too soon before the event. Nor too close to the date. You need a sweet spot so that people register in time and are also available to attend. 

You’ll also need to send timely reminders, so your attendees don’t forget about the event. Send them via email and post them on social media. You can also send a Google event that they can add to their calendars. 

9. Encourage Attendees 

Get your attendees engaged! Maybe a cool hashtag that they take forward with them will help engage others. Or for every new individual they refer to, they can gain points, or a coupon or a discount. Depending on how you wish to engage them. Capitalizing on those already engaged to spread the word can be a great way to create engagement and more visibility.

10. Encourage Speaker Engagement 

Get your speakers to market their talks and share the event as well. Ask them to utilize the social media hashtags from your social media campaign. Share any video or other content you have created with them so they can share on their own social media platforms. This will create traction from their own followers.

Looking For a Detailed Event Marketing Guide?

Read It Here

Keep It Engaging 

During the pandemic, webinar fatigue has become a very real phenomenon. A successful virtual conference is not one where your participants simply hop in, then hop out. Make sure you have other activities for them. Be ready to market these activities as well during your marketing campaign. This will generate interest and also have your participants stick around at the event. 

Here are some ways you can keep them engaged:

11. Scavenger Hunt

A virtual scavenger hunt keeps attendees active during the event. They use clues to find items at various locations of the event, be it the booths, the main lobby, or the auditorium. For every item they find, they gain points that are displayed on the virtual leaderboard. At the end of it all, those with the highest score win vouchers, gifts or discounts. This is a great way to incentivize engagement and keep people invested in the event. 

12. Virtual Leaderboard

Apart from the scavenger hunt, you can also use a leaderboard to reward attendee behavior. Attendees can gain points for every activity they participate in, such as entering the event on time or being one of the first 10 people to join a webinar.

13. Q&A and Polls

Include polls and Q&A sessions to make your presentations more interactive and engaging. Your speakers have worked so hard to plan them. Two-way communication breaks the monotony of a presentation and keeps things interesting.  Not to mention, this can offer greater insight into your audience. You can ask key questions that can further inform your research about the target audience. 

vfairs live polls

14. Breakout sessions

Breakout sessions are important so the audience also feels like they have some input. This is also an integral part of conferences as many webinars might want to be in a workshop format. In order to make participants feel like they have contributed, have a whiteboard display that shows the discussion pointers. 

15. Multiple Languages

Your research will tell you the many languages your audience might speak. Create more engagement by providing them with a platform that is offered in multiple languages. You can also offer language interpretationfor your webinars.

16. Virtual Photo Booth or Social Media Wall

Remember how you tried to create social media engagement during your marketing campaign? Have attendees see their posts on your website through a virtual hashtag. This can be displayed on a social media wall. 

You can also have a virtual photo booth that can take pictures of attendees with fun backgrounds with their speakers and fellow participants. 

17. Virtual Games

Explore some games from vFairs virtual holiday party ideas and add them to your agenda. These can include Pictionary, Would I Lie To You, Jeopardy, Trivia or anything under the sun! The virtual world is your oyster. 

18. Networking Lounge

Conferences are a great place for people to meet. A virtual networking lounge is just what you need. Here, people can chat with speakers, panelists, or even other attendees. They can make use of live video, text, or audio chats. 

19. Poster Hall

Have your panelists and speakers share some of their thoughts or research in a virtual poster hall. Alternatively, you can even display some of the whiteboard discussions from breakout sessions in these poster halls for other participants to see. 

20. Mobile and Accessibility Features

Make sure your event is accessible on mobile devices. This way people can join even if they are on the go!

 A successful virtual conference relies on factoring in diversity. You can add all the accessibility features you need as well to make your conference more inclusive.  

the vFairs mobile app

Wrap Up

Rest assured, if you follow these steps, you are sure to host a successful virtual conference. The virtual world offers great opportunities for all types of events. Explore some more ideas for different event types! Read more about our virtual conference solution now.

Or watch our webinar on the best events of 2021!

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20 Ways to Plan a Successful Virtual Conference

Azal Zahir

Azal Zahir is content and copy writer at vFairs, working closely with and providing support to the marketing team. She has a Masters degeree from New York University, and has dabbled in journalism, education, research projects and project management in the last 5 years. Primarily an environmentalist, she identifies as an environmental educator. vFairs is the perfect zero carbon footprint platform for the likes of her!

About

20 Ways to Plan a Successful Virtual Conference

Azal Zahir

Azal Zahir is content and copy writer at vFairs, working closely with and providing support to the marketing team. She has a Masters degeree from New York University, and has dabbled in journalism, education, research projects and project management in the last 5 years. Primarily an environmentalist, she identifies as an environmental educator. vFairs is the perfect zero carbon footprint platform for the likes of her!
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