With the growing impact of COVID-19 and the prioritization of social distancing, virtual events are gaining popularity. As this virtual shift continues, it’s important to ensure that you’re optimizing the online experience and keeping your attendees engaged behind the screen.
Just like with in-person events, the attendee experience should remain a top priority. From the moment that someone registers, each factor that follows can affect the perception of your organization. Continuous negative feedback can hurt your reputation and make it much more difficult to attract people to future events.
Many turn to external websites like Eventbrite to help facilitate registrations, separating attendee data from their core system. While online platforms like these may seem convenient in the short run, they often cater to a wide variety of industries and lack the specific capabilities that your organization needs. It’s also difficult to see a full view of your registration data and marketing efforts when they’re managed through different tools.
Your best bet is to turn to a comprehensive event management system that meets all of your planning needs. With features like customizable event websites and real-time attendee insights, it’s easier to make critical decisions around your events and keep attendees in the loop. In these times of uncertainty, tools that enable better communication are more important than ever.
With all the event management tools out there, it can be difficult to determine which would best benefit your changing needs. Here at Fonteva, we regularly help organizations improve their event management process based on their unique objectives. That’s why we wrote this guide on the vital elements of any event management system for a successful virtual event.
Prioritize these strategies to enhance the attendee experience at your virtual event:
- Streamlined registration process.
- Consistent communication leading up to the event.
- Connections to a mobile app.
- Make the next one even better with data-driven insights.
Are you ready to learn more? Let’s get started.
1. Streamlined registration process.
When someone learns about your event, the first place they’re going to go look for more details is the internet. As social distancing continues and most people stay home, online activity is likely to increase even more than usual. That’s why it’s so important that from the very first touch point with your organization’s online presence, you’re taking the necessary steps to streamline your visitors’ experience and make it easy for them to register.
Your event management system should prioritize attendees’ preferences and eliminate any unnecessary steps that may cause them to abandon the shopping cart. Your registration process should be convenient and intuitive.
Learn how to anticipate your attendees’ needs and empower them to take ownership of their experience with these top tools:
- Event microsite. A microsite is a temporary webpage (or group of webpages) that is associated with your core website. While still branded to your core organization, you can customize microsites to act as a hub for all your event details. This way, potential users can easily find necessary event information without getting distracted by other things your organization may be doing. If you’re making changes to an event due to COVID-19, you can configure your event website to serve as a go-to resource for attendees to access the latest information.
- Customized registration form. One of the biggest reasons people abandon their shopping cart is a lengthy form. Make sure your event management software lets you customize your form to your event. This way, you don’t ask unnecessary questions while still having all the information you need.
- Embedded registration form on site. Interrupting a potential user’s journey by sending them to a third-party website for the registration form can turn them off. Make sure your online registration is accessible through your event page or microsite!
- Let attendees create their own agenda. If your virtual event consists of multiple segments, let your registrants schedule their own agenda. This ensures that they don’t miss out on the part that convinced them to sign up!
- Connections to payment processors. You don’t want your payment page to be what repels potential registrants. Make sure your event management system can securely process financial transactions so that people feel safe about inputting any information into your forms.
The right event management software helps streamline the entire registration process and ensures that users make it to the end.
2. Consistent communication leading up to the event
After a person registers for your event, your engagement with them shouldn’t stop. Depending when they registered, weeks or months could go by before the actual event date. And with the unpredictable developments of COVID-19, it’s increasingly crucial to provide attendees with consistent updates on progress or changes.
However, it’s not enough to just send emails. With almost half of all daily emails being spam, many people don’t appreciate when their inboxes are flooded with irrelevant content. Using insights from your event management solution, think about the ways you can leverage your communications tool to ensure that your attendees are gaining value from your emails and won’t send them straight to the junk folder.
The right marketing content will engage your event attendees with relevant information and get them excited. Consider these strategies:
- Segment your registrants. No one wants to get emails that don’t relate to them, so make sure you can segment your audience. This is helpful if you have varying registration levels (general admission vs. VIP) or different virtual event sessions. This way, attendees are more likely to open the email and digest information that’s important to know.
- Incorporate personal details. Sometimes, simply including the recipient’s name can elevate your marketing content. By using the information that was provided in the registration form, you can create a more personal experience.
- Automate emails based on user actions. Triggering certain emails based on user actions can save your staff time and keep attendees updated on relevant news. This is great for receipts or registration confirmations. As soon as someone registers, automate an email with personalized event details and a payment invoice.
- Schedule your emails in advance. Get people excited about the event and remind them of crucial items in a timely manner. Scheduling your emails in advance is a great way to do this efficiently. You can even schedule a thank you email to be sent as soon as the virtual event is over!
Ongoing communication leading up to your event will boost excitement and foster a positive ongoing dialogue. The best event management solutions give you access to real-time data, so you can easily communicate changes to your event and quickly address follow-up inquiries.
3. Connection to a mobile app for your event
With 77% of Americans using smartphones, mobile apps are changing the event game. From helping guests bid at auctions to letting attendees communicate with each other, a mobile event app can offer many opportunities. Consider offering video sessions for your community to connect remotely as an alternative to an in-person event.
If you don’t know where to start, check out Pathable’s list of top mobile event app builders to see if any of them are a good fit. Your best bet is to depend on an event management system with mobile app functionality. This way, your event data is already in the system.
Make sure your mobile event app has these capabilities:
- Access to schedule and personal agenda. Users can refer to the schedule with ease and won’t miss out on key moments. Each mobile app will be personalized to each registrant.
- Provides a portal for attendee engagement. People will appreciate the opportunity to digitally connect with each other during your virtual event.
- Notifications for urgent announcements. If you have a last-minute update to your event, quickly send a push notification and let attendees know about it within seconds!
- FAQ resources and customer service. Your event mobile app can also be a resource for questions. If attendees need help changing their registration status or have an urgent question, they can refer to their app for the best next steps.
An mobile event app will provide a more personalized experience and help maintain a sense of connection while social distancing.
4. Make the next one even better with data-driven insights!
As your virtual event comes to a close, you now have a whole new set of valuable insights. Looking at past events is the best way to improve future ones and provide the best attendee experience.
Because you invested in a comprehensive event management solution, your events’ data and constituent relationship management (CRM) data are centralized in one convenient system. This includes attendee data from registration forms, email preferences from your communications tool, and more!
Your system should also have an intuitive dashboard and user-friendly reporting options so that key results can be viewed by everyone on your team! This way, it’s easy to visualize key metrics and determine trends that might affect how your next event is managed. For example, if more people responded to social media posts over your email outreach, consider prioritizing that engagement strategy for upcoming events.
You can also compile reports based on different processes and steps of your event management. These reports can help you pinpoint areas of strength and weakness.
Some event management platforms connect seamlessly with popular CRMs, equipping you with even stronger data to improve future events. For example, Salesforce event management allows you to leverage an array of tools to improve the attendee experience and manage every aspect of your event in one centralized location.
The more time and effort you put into meeting your attendees’ needs, the better experience they’re going to have. Ensure that your tools and solutions work well together and empower you to successfully digitize your strategies. Good luck!
Guest Author: Jake Fabbri
Jake Fabbri is the Vice President of Marketing at Fonteva with over 18 years of experience working in marketing management. He has experience with lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.