Nonprofits and associations are increasingly turning to virtual events to engage their supporters, no matter where they are in the world.
From conferences to fundraisers, and everything in between, virtual event technology has resulted in tons of opportunities for organizations to reach their community, grow loyalty, and measure engagement.
But how do you bring the energy of live events to desktops, mobile devices, and laptops? All you need is a solid plan. Check out these five steps for creating a successful virtual event plan.
1. Understand your goals and audience
Kick off your virtual event planning by laying out your marketing, fundraising, and community relations goals. Some common virtual event objectives include:
- Boosting online fundraising revenue
- Retaining your current supporters
- Acquiring new supporters
- Increasing brand recognition
- Strengthening your community
Next up, define your target audience. To do this, use the information you already have about prospective attendees to identify what topics they’re most likely to be interested in.
Developing attendee personas around characteristics like industries, job titles, and interests will help you decide what topics to cover and who to target. Consider what learnings and solutions you can offer attendees and what their technical skill levels are.
2. Leverage virtual event technology
Now you’re ready to pick the digital tools and resources needed to organize your virtual event.
Virtual event software
If this is your first virtual event, you’ll need to find the right software. Virtual event software should include immersive features like live chats, breakout rooms, and polls. When picking virtual event software, decide your other must-have features such as:
- Simple navigation
- Event registration and ticketing
- Payment processing
- Software integrations
- IT support
- Data analytics
Review your predetermined goals and target audience to find the solution that works best for your organization and the event you’re planning.
Video livestreaming platform
Depending on the solution you use, you can livestream your virtual event. This way, viewers can interact with your organization in real-time, ask speakers questions, and get instant feedback from hosts and live chat moderators. To maximize success, remember to:
- Focus on creating two-way conversations with your attendees
- Make attendees feel welcome by shouting out specific names
- Engage your audience through activities such as trivia contests
Livestreaming provides a convenient yet exciting way for your organization to connect with supporters in and outside of your local area. Just be sure to focus on memorable real-time interactions to keep your attendees interested throughout the entire event.
Video editing software
After the event ends, edit the recording to remove any unpolished moments from the event and create a higher-quality video.
Then, send the polished recording to people who couldn’t make the session or splice it into a compelling social media post.
Dedicated event page
Use intuitive website-building tools to create a dedicated landing page for your virtual event. Add relevant information about the event like the theme, agenda, speakers, ticket prices, and registration details.
Online registration tool
With customizable registration forms, you can capture attendee information, including their names, contact information, industries, and job titles. These details help you learn more about your audience and customize your communications.
When attendees sign up for your event, notify them of successful registration by email or text. You can also keep them in the loop by sending them emails to build up excitement for the event, share updates, and provide an access link when the event begins.
3. Decide ways to engage attendees
Make your virtual event a success by figuring out how to keep your attendees engaged throughout the session. Interested viewers are more likely to take action and promote your events to their peers.
Popular strategies for making your virtual event interesting include:
- Having a host who kicks off, runs, and concludes the event
- Featuring professional speakers and subject matter experts
- Presenting prepared content such as slide decks and pre-recorded videos
- Offering interactive content like polls and quizzes
- Answering audience Q&As from submitted questions and the event’s live chat
- Creating breakout rooms for workshops and networking
- Sending virtual goodie bags like ebooks and infographics
- Holding giveaways like gift cards, products, and discounts
Having a mix of these engagement tactics will capture your audience’s attention, make the event more memorable, and provide more value for viewers.
4. Create a virtual event promotion strategy
Set your virtual event up for success by creating a virtual event promotion strategy that gets people excited to register. Here are a few easy ways to promote your event:
- Create an event webpage. Cover all the details about your event like its topics, schedule, and registration details in a comprehensive webpage.
- Build an email nurture campaign. In an email nurture series, you can announce your event and share more details about it in several emails, each of which prompts recipients to register.
- Add to your newsletter. If you have a newsletter, include a section about the event in it.
- Make social media posts. Highlight your event and its registration details across your social media channels.
- Create a hashtag. Make a custom hashtag for your event to add to your social media posts and encourage attendees to use it when posting about the event.
- Leverage your speakers. Ask event speakers to share details and registration information for the event on their social media channels to reach a wider audience.
- Send reminders. Get your supporters excited about attending with email and text reminders that count down to the event.
Additionally, consider producing a video to promote your event and distributing it across your digital marketing channels. To create a high-quality video that engages supporters, be sure to leverage storytelling and tailor your content to your target audience. Consider looking into nonprofit video production companies to ensure that your video is polished and effective. This can be a more attention-grabbing way to encourage people to learn more about the event.
5. Prepare to gather data and feedback
There’s still work to do once the virtual event ends. Collect data and feedback about your event to measure its success and optimize future experiences.
Get feedback from attendees
Send attendees follow-up emails or surveys asking about their experience. Questions you can ask include:
- How much did you enjoy the event?
- What were your favorite topics, speakers, and interactive content?
- What did you like least about the event?
- What topics would you want to see in the next virtual event?
Meet with your team to discuss these responses and strategize how you could improve. For instance, you may need to re-evaluate audience participation, the effectiveness of your virtual event software, and team communication throughout the event.
With the data collected from your virtual event software or from the survey responses, you’ll have plenty of information to review. Key data points to look at are:
- Number of registrations, actual attendees, and no shows
- Attendee demographics such as interests and management level
- Promotional email bounce, open, and click-through rates
- Promotional social media engagement and registrations
- If event goals were met, like gaining new supporters or receiving more donations
By regularly collecting data and feedback for your virtual events, your organization can continue refining your virtual event planning to boost engagement and raise revenue moving forward.
Virtual events are here to help you engage with supporters, share your expertise, and meet your goals. And there’s never been a better time to add live virtual events to your digital strategy. By following these steps and leveraging the latest technology, you can build a meaningful event that enriches your community.