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How to launch, host and deliver virtual events in 2021

image of video teleconference for virtual events platform article

With virtual events here to stay, organizations and publishers need to start considering which platform will deliver on the virtual experience they want to bring to customers and prospects. Brightspot enables companies to get the value of microsites without the headaches, making it possible for any business to rapidly deploy multiple sites for virtual events in the same instance. By allowing teams to quickly roll out custom microsites without unnecessarily building everything from scratch or learning new interfaces, businesses can focus on creating an engaging virtual experience for attendees.

For years, B2B publishers, brands and associations have relied on in-person events and conferences to drive revenue. This trend, however, has recently started to shift, largely due to the advancement of technology for virtual events, such as faster, feature-rich platforms for live streaming and video conferencing. By 2019, the virtual events market was valued at $77.98 billion, according to Grand View Research.

COVID-19 accelerated these changes almost overnight as the in-person events industry disappeared for the time being, and forced companies to pivot. Many businesses see virtual events continuing well into 2021, such as Microsoft, who announced that most of its internal and external in-person events will move to digital through at least June of next year. Publishers in particular are creating virtual events to offset live-event cancellations, with 72% increasing their virtual event and webinar offerings since the pandemic began. Now, the already fast-growing virtual events market is poised to grow at a rate of just over 23% from 2020 to 2027.

Today, events—in-person or virtual—serve to drive brand visibility, leads and revenue. With 81% of marketers utilizing the channel—and having it consistently rated as the most effective B2B tactic—events are here to stay. Whether you’ve already tested the waters or not, knowing how to effectively launch, host and deliver virtual events in 2021 will likely be a key strategy for businesses across the board to reach their customers.

Embracing the future of virtual event success

Even as in-person gatherings are welcomed back, virtual events will have made their mark as a viable way for brands and publishers to connect with customers in ways that they haven’t been able to before. However, organizers must master the core elements of virtual events in order to make them as successful as in-person events.

The obvious key difference with a virtual event is it will all take place on a screen, whether through a browser, desktop or mobile app. While it may seem that this format offers more constraints than an event where people can move around and have different in-person experiences, it is possible to design a unique and engaging virtual experience as well, with the right virtual events platform.

Getting Started: Leveraging digital solutions to plan virtual events

To get started, a multisite approach, often through microsites, creates an exciting opportunity for organizations when trying to launch and market a specific event.

  • Quick set-up: Instead of waiting weeks or months to build out a microsite experience, marketers need to be able to create and launch these experiences in hours or days, especially if they had planned in-person events that shifted to virtual quickly. Getting a site out on time is easier with a content management system that allows for rapid development and customization.
  • Event site management in one place: A multisite CMS makes it easy for companies to centrally manage multiple sites across their brand portfolios. Any microsite must be developed and managed within the same platform as the rest of the organization's content. Building microsites from the same CMS where its other web properties are managed allows companies to take pre-existing development work, media assets and content processes and apply them to the microsite.
  • Easy integration and migration: When a microsite uses the same CMS as the main site, rapid migration of content is possible. If an organization uses a different platform for virtual events, the main CMS should make it easy to migrate the content over. 
  • A seamless visual experience: Users should feel like an event lives and breathe naturally within a publisher’s current website. Crucially important to this is developing content that creates a seamless and personalized virtualized experience before, during and after an event. When an event is online, organizations must work hard to connect with attendees and drive engagement via relevant content shared at key moments throughout the event journey.
  • Driving ROI through a bigger-picture approach: Microsites must align with the brand's SEO and customer experience goals, and function as part of a larger marketing strategy. Getting messaging on point is simpler in a CMS with robust editing, commenting and approval tools. It can also be beneficial to add unique visual or interactive elements to make a microsite stand out as an independent entity.

During the show: Next steps in the virtual event experience

Once the event site is developed, organizers need to consider the elements that will make it an impactful digital experience during the conference and beyond.

A key element of delivering virtual events, and the corresponding content, to engage attendees is having the right workflows in place. Brightspot allows organizations and publishers to take existing workflows from existing sites and extend them without the need for IT support. For publishers looking to rapidly launch and manage microsites for virtual events, the ability to extend existing workflows and develop unique workflows is critical.

Journey orchestration is another tool that can be leveraged to enhance the virtual event experience by predicting future customer interaction. Through journey orchestration, businesses can deliver specific experiences, such as a particular offer or personalized content on a web page, at the appropriate time. This can be especially useful to organizations and publishers during a virtual event in order to engage attendees at a certain time they are participating live, or to get sponsored content in front of them. Brightspot has integrations that accomplish this, such as with Adobe’s Journey orchestration offering.

Other day-of features, like live video and blogs, make many virtual events more engaging. Brightspot has a live video plugin that streams Kaltura video events directly to the platform, while a live blog feature can be a great way to keep audiences engaged and recap the event for those not in attendance.

Checklist: Essential tools to host a successful virtual event

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Microsite to include landing pages, content and other resources, planning and event details
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Pre-built design templates for rapid launch and iteration
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Shared digital asset management (DAM) solution to ensure consistent use of brand assets pre-, during and post-event.
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Event calendars to communicate schedule, signup deadlines, individual session details
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Live event hosting integrations for video, audio and live blogging
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Online video platform (OVP) integrations for video and audio recordings of individual event sessions
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Newsletter marketing support for event registration and in-event communications
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Social-media platform integrations for pre-event and in-event promotion to social networks

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