Discover how you can create a successful virtual event without coding. This guide delves into what a virtual event is, best practices for hosting virtual events, creating an exceptional attendee experience, and leveraging software like HeySummit for effortless organization.
Content Contributor, HeySummit
The global market size of virtual events is predicted to hit $657.64 billion by 2030, according to a report by Grand View Research.
That’s a pretty hefty number if you ask me…
Now, you probably already know that more businesses have adapted to online events especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. But even if you’re only just starting out, the trend will be here to stay for years to come.
In this complete guide, you’ll learn how to create a virtual event.
A virtual event is basically an event that happens entirely online rather than in person. You know how you could join a live online group call from your laptop or phone? Well, a virtual event is sort of like that but on a larger scale.
Think of it as a video call on steroids – the difference between a normal video call and a virtual event is that the latter involves a lot more people and organized activities.
Virtual events take on many forms such as conferences, summits, and trade shows. These may include activities such as networking and Q&As. Event organizers present to attendees either through livestreaming or through pre-recorded video often by using an event management platform such as:
Set clear event goals to work towards
Do at least 1 event practice run
Tailor your content to a specific type of attendee
Prioritize audience interaction
Offer attendee networking opportunities
Send email reminders and follow-ups
There are 2 ways to create a virtual event: by yourself with multiple software or with an all-in-one virtual event platform.
A virtual events platform becomes your venue. This is where you’ll bring together attendees, set up the stage for your speakers, and carry out all of the logistics from setting up signs so attendees know where to go to distributing agendas so everyone knows which sessions are on.
Without a virtual event solution, you’ll have to focus on the technical aspects of running an event as opposed to being solely focused on:
Building relationships with your speakers
If you want to follow along the step-by-step process as we’re going through method 2 with HeySummit, sign up here for a free 14-day trial!
Here’s a few examples of virtual event formats:
The best format depends on your audience’s interests. Refer to your attendee personas and consider what type of event would best meet their needs.
Think about the kinds of tools you’d need your platform to support – from features like enabling audience participation (chat, polls) to having multiple speakers present at once… Hosting an engaging online event requires several tools if you’re going to deliver an immersive experience.
Here are some of the tools that are typically needed:
Video conferencing: Hosting an online event requires online video calls. Platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet are popular choices.
Audio and video equipment: Good microphones, webcams, and lighting kits enable you to deliver a high-quality online experience.
Presentation: Using slides or other visual elements during your event may require presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides.
Interactive features: Keep your attendees engaged with interactive features such as polls, live chat, and DMs. Popular tools here include Kahoot and Slido.
Ticketing system: Manage payments using software like Stripe or PayPal.
Analytics: Using analytics software like Google Analytics to record data and measure event performance.
Content management: Whether that’s email or social media, you’ll better manage a volume of content using a platform such as Klaviyo and Buffer.
The first step is to let us know the background details of the type of event you’re looking to create. See below.
After filling out the fields provided above, you’ll have access to all the tools you need to customize and manage your event in one place:
Rich descriptions and linked media
Video delivery options (live or pre-recorded video)
Optional offers and giveaways
Update talk details
Optional offers and giveaways
Auto-created affiliate setups
Live registration stats
Over 1,000 speakers available to work with
Rich speaker profiles
Custom registration questions
Terms and conditions
Set countdown timers
Webinar usage reports
The time and date have an impact on the success of your event. With that in mind, consider the following:
Time Zones: Choose a time that works best for your target audience.
Days of the week: Consider what day of the week would be most convenient for your audience.
Clashing events: Double-check the calendar to ensure there aren’t any conflicting events or holidays that may affect attendance.
Event duration: Decide on the length of your event that your audience would prefer.
Follow-ups: Schedule the event taking into account how you’re going to follow up with attendees and engage with them post-event, e.g. surveys and scheduling additional meetings.
Pre-event marketing: Give yourself enough time to promote the event and build excitement beforehand to increase attendance rates.
Talk sessions are presentations or discussions that take place during an event. Examples of talk sessions include:
These are covered by speakers who are experts on a particular topic.
The purpose here is to give value to attendees by sharing insightful information and ideas for their benefit.
To set up a pre-recorded session, you’ll need to choose a video-hosting platform like Vimeo or YouTube.
To set up a live session, you’ll need to choose a live webinar (or live streaming) platform like Zoom or BigMarker.
You could also mix in both types of recordings. A good example of this is adding a live Q&A session right after a talk or an info-heavy presentation to provide context before a panel discussion.
If you’re using both pre-recorded content and livestream videos, you’ll have to use multiple platforms to host your sessions and design a system to operate between these different resources. However, this gets difficult real quick especially when you’re running 10+ sessions a day.
Aside from that, you’ll also have to find a way to provide speakers behind-the-scenes access so they can update details about their talk sessions and have the option to add giveaways or offers. A few examples of ways to manage this are through:
Using a shared document
Scheduling regular calls
You have four ways to broadcast your event talks:
Live webinar: sync with one of our webinar platform integrations such as Zoom.
Custom stream: use an external URL if preferred.
Pre-recorded: include a link to the pre-recorded video.
No broadcast: send attendees straight to the replays.
We also offer video streaming integrations with WebEx, LiveWebinar, and more. We make the entire process simple so you can seamlessly mix different talk session formats.
It’s also easy for speakers to update their profile as they’ll have a dedicated space on HeySummit’s speaker dashboard. Instead of leaving them out in the dark and doing constant back and forths, your speakers can do the following:
Keep on top of swipe copy and promotional materials
Track live registration and attendee stats
Register as an affiliate (optional)
Share relevant links to attendees where they can see their schedules and sessions
Pro recommendation: test out your sessions from an attendee’s POV! We always suggest doing event practice runs before launching the real thing to ensure everything runs smoothly as you intended.
Ticketing for online events refers to the process of selling admission tickets. This serves as proof of purchase and grants the holder the right to attend the event. These also usually involve a unique identifier such as a barcode, QR code, or password.
Both physical and digital tickets are usually scanned upon entry to ensure they’re both valid and haven’t already been used.
Ticketing involves the use of a third-party ticketing platform or service provider for managing the sales and distribution of tickets.
Event organizers can sell tickets directly through their own website or through ticketing providers like Ticketmaster, Eventbrite, and StubHub. Through these platforms, you’re able to impose limits such as providing free tickets for a limited period of time and establishing pricing tiers.
Whatever you decide, you’ll need to set this up alongside a registration form. You’ll also need to facilitate payments as tickets (unfortunately) can’t sell themselves.
Here’s what we’d suggest reviewing in a ticketing and payment platform:
Ease of use
Ticket handling fees
Whether your event tickets are going to be free, paid, or a mixture of both, configure this through HeySummit:
You’ll also have a full record of all event attendees who purchased tickets.
Having all the information and settings in one place is a real lifesaver, especially when attendees want to make changes to their ticket type or when you want to find out which type of ticket is selling the most.
Pro recommendation: have multiple tiers with ticket pricing (including free options). Everyone loves free events and discounted tickets including sponsors because they attract higher attendance numbers. This gives you a greater opportunity to generate leads!
An event landing page is a standalone web page created specifically for advertising your event. It’s where someone ‘lands’ when they enter your event URL or when they click on the link promoted through your ads or marketing copy.
Showcase both your brand and the essential event details. This is key for making a solid first impression and setting up your event for success.
Here’s a few key pieces of details that your event landing page should include:
Unique value proposition
Dates of the event
The event host (your name/company name)
Speaker or talk session details
Either use a landing page builder, a CMS like WordPress, or hire a website designer to do the work for you.
After following the step-by-step process and entering your event details into HeySummit, a landing page is created for you where all you need to do from there is customize it to your brand aesthetic.
In other words, generate your landing pages automatically simply by entering your event details.
It’s also equally straightforward to edit your landing page thanks to their drag-and-drop model with pre-built components:
Make tweaks to your landing page design by adding text, images, logos, and banners so that it reflects your brand’s style and tone (our platform includes guidance on image optimization so there’s no need for guesswork)
Implement changes instantly to your landing page whenever you update event content
Move content around the landing page based on both your preferences and your ideal attendee’s preferences
Include a countdown timer after adding your first talk to optimize your event landing page for higher conversions
Get access to HeySummit’s built-in rich schema markup so that Google makes your content on search results stand out
No coding skills are required. HeySummit has a simple layout as shown below.
You’ve got the speakers on board and a list of attendees that signed up. Now, it’s crucial to keep the momentum going by building buzz leading up to the event. This is a huge part of driving a highly engaged audience to your sessions, which is where email marketing comes in.
Managing emails is essential for:
Event planning and execution
Maximizing marketing efforts
Overall, email helps event hosts communicate effectively, stay organized, promote the event, and reinforce branding.
You’ll often collect attendee emails from the signup form on your landing page. So, import the email list into a platform like Mailchimp then start sending personalized email sequences.
An email marketing platform would be super useful because of features such as:
Automated email campaigns
This also helps with ensuring you and your team are all on the same page.
Another method is to communicate with your audience through social media or to add attendees to a private community page. But, most event organizers go the email route because people are more likely to read information sent to them personally via email rather than information that’s posted on a public page.
All HeySummit accounts come with pre-written customizable email templates. Plus, you’ll be able to schedule emails so that they’re sent to attendees automatically instead of having to send each email yourself.
You’ll get a range of email templates such as:
Event reminders with session details and how to access them (with links)
Showcase of event highlights
Wrap up message
On your email dashboard, you’ll also see bounce rates and complaint rates as shown below.
In short, you’ll get access to the main features that you would normally see in email marketing software except it’s embedded with HeySummit.
Without promoting your event, not as many people are going to show up.
A winning event marketing strategy generates awareness and interest, which leads to attendance and ticket sales. Moreover, event professionals will review and analyze performance metrics to refine their strategy for future events.
On top of email marketing (which is pretty much essential for promoting a virtual event), here are a few other strategies you might implement:
Schedule regular social media posts using a platform like Buffer
Use paid ads to reach a specific demographic
Set up an affiliate program using an affiliate marketing software
Give incentives to attendees to help spread the word
Offer early bird discounts
Partner up with influencers in your niche
Your speaker, existing customers, and affiliates are some of your biggest marketing assets. People are more likely to trust and buy from a brand that’s recommended by someone they know or resonate with.
So, consider doubling down on word-of-mouth marketing because it tends to lead to more sales and influence compared to all other forms of advertising!
All the marketing tools and features that you would need for your event are built-in with HeySummit such as:
Again, this is a step-by-step process. Or some of the above is automatically generated for you, e.g. speaker and talk promo banners.
Here’s a sample process for setting up viral incentives using HeySummit:
1. Head over to the “content tab”.
2. Fill in the form provided as shown below.
3. Press “save" and you're all done!
There’s always going to be a possibility of technical issues arising during an event even when you’ve done a few practice runs beforehand.
Test run your event before launching it live. Next, research the potential technical errors that could arise and how to overcome them. Since you’re operating alone or with a small team without external support, make yourselves familiar with the ins and outs of each software that you’re using so you can fix any errors that might come up.
But that’s a process that eats up your time and effort from the things you should be really focusing on:
Another option is to hire an experienced professional. Then again, this can sometimes be even more costly compared to using a platform like HeySummit in the first place.
Things are 10x easier when you get step-by-step guidance and support from a team that lives and breathes online events. And in many cases, it eliminates the need to hire someone with design and coding experience.
At HeySummit, we guide you through the entire process from start to finish.
We tell you what details to plug in, where it goes, and what to take into account so that you can put together a winning online event.
Here’s what one of our users, Larry, had to say about our team on G2:
“They are incredibly responsive and thoughtful and really care about my questions and technical needs! This is huge for me and it has been a great confirmation that I chose the best possible platform for my events. I can count on the team at HeySummit to be so responsive and to care so much for all of the small details that ultimately help me produce a successful virtual summit.”
Get started now with HeySummit by signing up here for a free 14-day trial.
Zoom and Google Meet are designed as video conference platforms so they may not be sufficient for hosting large virtual events because:
Limited customization options to deliver a fully branded online experience
Offers no features or dashboards for managing keynote speakers and getting sponsors engaged
Plans don’t include ticketing features or tools to optimize for higher sales revenue
Limited technical support
Although Zoom has some useful features like creating breakout sessions, it’s not optimized for building a virtual environment.
I mean, you could run a webinar or a small online event but it’s a different story when it comes to putting together large virtual events involving third-party speakers, sponsors, and affiliates.
Good job for making it to the end! Now, you know how to create a virtual event by yourself and by using HeySummit.
Although it’s completely doable to go at it on your own, it is going to cost a lot more time and effort, which can ultimately impact the bottom line. That’s why we recommend an affordable online platform like HeySummit to help you deliver all types of events that your attendees can’t forget.
Thanks for reading this guide. Feel free to check out some of our other guides and blog posts too!
Ready to Take the Stage with HeySummit?
Try for free. No credit card required.