Events, as we traditionally knew and conducted them, are currently out, and virtual events are the in-thing now. Actually, they have been since shortly after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the new normal, and it is good, or at least it has to be made good. Designing immersive virtual events that are memorable enough to leave a lasting imprint is hardly an easy thing to pull off, especially after the demise or partial demise of in-person events in 2020. despite the restrictions on in-person events, people still want to feel strong connections, probably even stronger ones than they felt back in the days of in-person events. The problem is, they must achieve this connection while interacting with each other behind computer, smartphone, or tablet screens.
Piecing together a powerful PowerPoint and presenting it over a Zoom session, and referring to the effort as a virtual event is easy. Anyone can do it. However, designing immersive, unique experiences that engage attendees entirely is hardly easy. It takes considerable planning and conscious effort. Fortunately, this article seeks to turn you into a guru with regard to these skills. Please read on.
Any effort you aim at designing a virtual event must be based on a sound strategic foundation. This foundation highlights the reasons or logic behind the event in light of what you perceive as the desired outcomes. The strategy formulation process is thus necessary. However, it does not have to be long or complicated. It merely incorporates outlining the goals you want to achieve and the outcomes attendees, sponsors, and other organizers will acquire from the event. An equally important part of the strategy formulation process plans on enhancing engagement.
Designing a virtual event is synonymous with creating an experience. The fact that the people engaged in the event will need to be fully immersed in the entire experience should be kept in mind. Indeed, it should be at the center of your efforts to design a strategy.
The questions you should ask during this process are outlined below.
What are the primary goals of holding this event? What are we hoping to get out of it?
What outcomes are attendees and sponsors hoping to get out of this event?
How are we going to measure success? What KPIs can we set?
How will we establish and sustain engagement and interactions among and with the attendees?
How can we account for engagement with attendees before, during, and after the event?
The strategy should be based on answers to these questions. The answers also provide direction to your decision-making in the process of planning your event. More importantly, sponsors, attendees, presenters, and other key stakeholders should align with the goals and strategic foundations of the event.
The strategy formulated in this manner gives direction to the design and preparation of your event. Read on to find more information on the strategic aspects embedded in designing a virtual event.
Envisioning and Mapping the Attendee Journey
This requires a bit of marketing expertise. Envisioning and mapping out the journey of the attendees is a process that mirrors the ways marketers use sales funnels in mapping out journeys of potential customers to generate leads. The logic behind this activity is relatively simple. Attendees are likely to hail from a wide array of demographics, implying that they do not have the same traits or behaviors. The mapping process enables for the personalization of experiences at the individual and group levels. This process is also crucial to maximizing sponsorship opportunities. It also offers the opportunity to provide targeted promotion to the groups as segmented using attendee-type tools such as the analytics tool on Peepalike.
Segmentation can be done by conducting the mapping process on some of the most important attendee touch points.
- Pre-event awareness and promotions
- Session tracking
- Sponsor interactions
- Post-event follow-up
- Registration and agenda
The process should start with a refined virtual event platform with segmenting features that provide the opportunity for curating and personalizing the experiences of attendees. In a context involving a hybrid event, the platform allows attendees to choose the types of tickets they want (in-person and virtual). When using Peepalike, the information used during the registration process seamlessly populates into the event platform. This information can be utilized in the back-end to control the features that are visible to the audience. This process ensures that you can tailor the experience of the attendees to suit their needs.
Event journeys can also be designed based on preferences, using the registration form customization feature on Peepalike. The aim here is to discover as many traits and desired topics about the attendees as possible. The information is useful in personalizing their journeys.
Having a firm understanding of the target audience using this online planning process is fundamental to planning an immersive, memorable experience in the form of a virtual event.