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Choosing the Right Virtual Event Tech

In recent times, the number of virtual events platforms has exploded.

However, not all of them are created equal and even the best platforms may not offer everything you’re looking for.

Each platform has its own set of features, capabilities and limitations, some of which may not align well with the type of event you’d like to host or experience you’re trying to create.

A question we hear often is, “What should I consider when looking for a platform?”

We think that’s an excellent question! In this article we’ll walk you through a few things to consider when choosing a platform for your next event.

Consideration 1: Your Audience

Before even considering which platform to use, it’s super important to have a clear definition of the type of audience that will be attending. By defining your audience clearly, you’ll avoid a lot of headaches that tend to appear during the planning stage. Also, the better you know your audience, the more likely you are to be able to plan an engaging experience that provides them with value.

Of course there’s the typical questions to ask about your audience such as demographics and interests, but when it comes to choosing a virtual event platform, you should also keep the following in mind:

  • Is my audience tech savvy?

  • Where are they located (time zones)?

  • Do they prefer to consume content on demand or live?

  • What part of the event-going experience is most valuable to them?

  • How do they want to interact with speakers? Sponsors? Partners?

Understanding the technical needs of your audience will assist you in selecting a platform your audience will love. If they’re not very tech savvy, you want to choose a platform that is easy to access, use and navigate. If you choose something that has a bunch of bells and whistles, but is complicated to use, you’re going to frustrate your attendees and they’ll give up before they even get started.

If your attendees prefer to consume content on demand or are spread out across multiple time zones, you want to make sure your platform supports pre-recorded content and has dynamic features to adjust to different time zones. For example, encaptiv’s agenda automatically displays in attendees’ local time zones so they don’t accidentally get the time conversion wrong and miss a session (this one is a real crowd-pleaser).

If your audience prefers the engagement of live sessions, but also wants the ability to come back and watch sessions they missed, make sure your platform supports both live and pre-recorded content (at encaptiv, we offer both — you can even serve up blended sessions with both live AND pre-recorded content).

If you’ve hosted events before, you may already have a clear understanding of your audience and their needs.

However, if you’re new to the events game or are launching a first-time event, you may be asking how the heck you find these things out. Reach out to your audience! Send out surveys or start a discussion forum to gather the answers you need.

Consideration 2: Event Size

Great, you have a better understanding of your audience’s expectations. Now, let’s talk numbers. Estimating the number of attendees for your event is another foundational step to consider. For a free event, a good rule of thumb is that about 50% of those who register will show up.

With regards to paid events, the size is dependent on industry and type of event. If attendees receive continuing education credits for example, attendance will be higher. Try to establish a number based on previous events you’ve held. If this is a first time event, perform some industry research or reach out to peers in the same space.

Why are numbers important? Bandwidth is at a premium right now because of remote work and stay at home orders.

The increasing strain on bandwidth has a direct effect on all streaming components of a virtual event. Generally, more attendees and faces on the screen equates to a larger strain on bandwidth. To mitigate risks associated with live streaming, ask your tech provider some simple questions about their reliability and redundancy:

  • How many simultaneous streams can support at one time?

  • What’s the max number of users that can safely be on the platform at once?

  • What hosting provider do you use?

  • What are your redundancy plans?

The bottom line is that you want to be sure that whoever you’re working with has the ability to fully support your event from a technical perspective. And when all else fails, ask for references!

Consideration 3: Analytics

Another thing to consider when choosing an event platform is what type of data and analytics you’ll be provided with.

We’ve already mentioned how important it is to know your audience before an event. Well, it’s also crucially important to know them after an event, and analytics can help out with this.

With a good understanding of attendees, you’ll be able to create more effective post-event communications and follow up content. You can even use this data to make improvements for the next event.

Most good events platforms should provide a variety of attendee engagement metrics such as:

  • Name

  • Contact info

  • Number of sessions attended

  • Which sessions attended

  • Session level interaction metrics

  • Which exhibitors they visited

  • Polling and survey data

  • Conversion data (i.e. clicks)

To truly get the best value out of your virtual platform, choose a platform which paints a detailed picture of each attendee by offering expanded data points such as how long each attendee spent in particular sessions, and more.

This data is also highly valuable to sponsors and partners. If sponsorship is an important aspect of your event,, make sure to select a platform that provides you with detailed data that can be tracked back to specific sponsors so that you can demonstrate ROI.

But wait…there’s more!

These are just a few of the things to consider when selecting a platform for your virtual event. Executing a great virtual event is about providing the best possible experience for your sponsors and attendees, while also achieving your event goals.

Need more guidance on how to select the best tech for your next event? Download our free guide and worksheets.

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