March 9, 2020·8 min read

Running an online event? Whether you’re planning a virtual event from the outset or travel restrictions are pushing you to consider new alternatives, this guide will help you get started.

The spring events schedule has effectively blown up for many brands. Health concerns abound, leading many event organizers to cancel in-person conferences and events.

If you’re scrambling to figure out what to do with your suddenly unspent conference/trade show/event budget and how to drive leads and pipeline in the absence of these opportunities, then this guide is for you.

An online event or virtual conference might be just the answer you’re looking for.

  1. Contents
  2. 1.What is a Virtual Event?
  3. 2.Virtual Events Benefits
  4. 3.Types of Online Events
  5. 4.Virtual Event Platforms (and Other Useful Tools)
  6. 4.1Beginner Online Event Tool: Zoom
  7. 4.2Entry-Level Virtual Event Software: HeySummit, Big Marker, and Hopin
  8. 4.3Virtual Event Platforms for Summits and Conferences: ON24, 6Connex, and INXPO
  9. 4.4Video Marketing Platform to Host On-Demand Sessions: Vidyard
  10. 5.How to Run a Online Event: Before, During, and After
  11. 5.1Before Your Virtual Event
  12. 5.2During Your Virtual Event
  13. 5.3After Your Virtual Event
  14. 6.Best Practices for Virtual Events
  15. 6.1Choose Your Speakers Carefully
  16. 6.2Focus on the Content
  17. 6.3Get Your Sales Team Involved
  18. 6.4Use Personalized Video to Build Buzz
  19. 6.5Think About Offering Virtual Event Bags

What is a Virtual Event?

Virtual events, also known as online events, are just that: Events with a specific date, time, and agenda but which take place in a virtual space rather than a physical one.

Virtual events typically offer both live and on-demand presentations and, in many cases, give people the opportunity to interact with other event attendees in a web-based virtual environment.

When it comes to businesses, virtual events can include things as small as a webinar and as extensive as an entire virtual conference. Sometimes these replace in-person events and, in other cases, they’re a supplement to IRL (that’s “in-real life,” in case internet acronyms aren’t really your jam) events.

Virtual Events Benefits

Contemplating holding an online event and not sure if it’s worth it? The list of virtual event benefits is lengthy, even under standard circumstances. Add in new concerns surfaced by the current landscape, and a couple more benefits join the already long list.

  • Save Money: Virtual events are more cost-effective, both for attendees and hosts. Hosts don’t have to pay for a costly venue, use budget to get staff on-site, etc.
  • Save Time: Online event hosts save time on setup and planning. Attendees save time on travel and don’t have to worry about making out of office arrangements.
  • Expand Attendee Base: Because virtual events only require a device with an internet connection, they’re wide open to nearly everyone. More people can easily attend online events with reduced concerns around time commitment, budget, and event location—including international attendees who might be too far away to make attending an in-person feasible.
  • Expand Potential Speaker List: Likewise, reduced commitments for a virtual event may also make it easier to get speakers, especially if your event includes a mix of live and pre-recorded sessions.
  • Continue Driving Leads and Pipeline: The content you create for virtual events can be gated and offered on-demand or repurposed and reused in other ways throughout the year—meaning these events are the gifts that keep on giving back to businesses.
  • Reduce Risk of Outbreak: Of course, this one is on everyone’s minds. In a time when many companies are limiting employee travel and even offering work from home options (Twitter, Amazon, and Microsoft among them), virtual events make it easier for your event attendees to still get value from your content without worrying about getting sick or spreading germs.
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