In March 2020, Microsoft Teams noted a daily record of 2.7 billion online meetings. The following month, a challenger app, Zoom, reached over 300 million daily meeting participants. In answer to the global outbreak, the usage of online meeting solutions, including virtual event platforms, ballooned almost overnight.
Digital events have opened new doors for connecting people and businesses online. But how do you make virtual business-to-business events as effective in terms of networking and generating new deals as physical ones? Let’s explore the essentials of B2B portal development for virtual events.
What is a virtual event platform?
A virtual event is a business meet-up of any kind (whether a one-to-one meeting, a team webinar, or an international digital conference) that takes place online rather than in a physical location. Web-based event platforms are the enabling technology behind virtual events. These are software applications that deliver interactive online experiences with live and recorded sessions and make remote get-togethers as immersive as in-person ones.
8 essential features to look for in virtual event software
Virtual event platforms make business events possible not only during a global pandemic. In more ordinary circumstances, they provide an experiential in-person alternative for companies to expand their reach beyond borders, cut down on conferencing and logistics costs, and accommodate users who are unable to attend a meeting in person.
To create opportunities for attendees to connect and network in a way that benefits your business, these platforms need to meet several technical requirements:
Removing user distraction is one of the most significant challenges for virtual event software. Out-of-the-box video-conferencing solutions often fail to provide the individualized user experience that’s essential to generate and sustain participants’ interest. Customizable platforms allow you to tailor each event to your exact audience and offer branding opportunities for a consistent professional look-and-feel.
Digital product/service showcase
Digital showcases bring online conferences to the next level, leveraging AR and VR to offer a real-life product/service experience. Animated 2D/3D walkthroughs reinforced with captivating digital storytelling techniques enable every attendee to interact with each product presented on the platform as if with an actual physical object.
Q&A and live chats
Modern virtual event solutions transform one-way lecturing into genuine attendee engagement by baking in live chats, user polls, and Q&As into the webinar or conference experience. These interactive features allow presenters to rise above merely acknowledging the audience and but give them a voice instead. By providing a channel for attendees to join the discussion, you can foster user engagement and keep your event participants hooked.
Diverse virtual event spaces
In their most basic form, virtual meeting platforms provide pure live streaming and video calling capabilities. However, to deliver end-to-end corporate support, more sophisticated solutions offer a vast range of virtual event spaces that correspond to the entire spectrum of business interactions. These include lobbies, meeting rooms, exhibit halls, one-on-one interview facilities, and sponsor space. As a result, an event host may adjust the meeting size and format to each audience, which helps shape more meaningful and productive online encounters.
Curated networking opportunities
The ability to connect with industry peers is among the chief reasons for attending business events. That is why a virtual event platform should integrate networking into the online conference experience. This can be achieved in multiple ways. For example, you may set up themed rooms for users to hold topic-specific discussions or allocate particular hours for attendees to meet informally. Another option is to create touchpoints integrated with the event platform, such as a mobile app or a social channel, for attendees to connect before the event or build follow-up sessions for users to continue their conversations after a meeting or a conference is over.
Social media integration
Social media plays a vital part in generating attendee engagement. By allowing participants to share updates about your event, you can reach a wider audience and generate more buzz around your webinar or conference. You can also take advantage of specific social media features such as Instagram countdowns or Facebook events to amplify your impact. Insights into social sharing enable you to monitor your reputation among participants and quickly react if any issue needs to be addressed.
Cutting-edge virtual event platforms utilize artificial intelligence to enhance the attendee experience. Based on user information and other data, these solutions deliver curated lists of events, topics, and panels that may be of interest to each individual. Integrated with calendar apps, they send alerts and notifications, making it easy for end users to track event agendas and keep their schedules organized.
AI also helps virtual event systems understand attendees’ goals and match them with like-minded peers to schedule an online conversation. Additionally, intelligent chatbots can be integrated into event platforms for user support, answering questions about events and immediately troubleshooting common issues.
User insights and metrics
Finally, data-driven insights gathered and analyzed by virtual event solutions allow businesses to understand their audience better, be it internal teams or external exhibit attendees. Virtual events provide ample information about each topic, participant, and meeting host. Based on this data, companies can glean and analyze key insights to make data-driven business decisions and optimize the next events.
To sum up
As the global business is forced to transition to online channels, companies across industries are shifting from physical to virtual events. To create a meaningful replacement for in-person interactions, such virtual events need much more than simply rounding up a few slides or scheduling an online meeting with a team.
Virtual events, whether one-on-one interviews or multinational online trade shows, need to grab user attention and generate genuine engagement. Customizable virtual event software helps organizations deliver a real value and impact during these online encounters, providing a cost-efficient, convenient and highly productive solution to serve the meeting needs of the future.
Darya Efimova is a Digital Transformation Observer at Iflexion. With MA in Creative and Media Enterprises, Darya is an accomplished writer and industry insider helping IT leaders make sense of today’s tech disruptions and new market imperatives.