Online Events: How to Stay Organized from Beginning to End
A dynamic digital content strategy is essential to helping your business stand out and attract an audience. However, as event technology and online marketing practices have evolved, the bar for creating a successful, memorable virtual event has only risen. Fortunately, as the expectations grow, user-friendly event technology has grown along with it.
Online events need technology to function, and the right software tools can provide a better frontend experience for your guests and a more organized, streamlined backend experience for your planning team. Of course, your event management and registration software will be most effective when your business implements best practices for leveraging them.
To help your business stayed organized throughout your entire event, this article will cover four core aspects of event planning and management, including how to:
- Establish event metrics.
- Create a streamlined registration process.
- Coordinate your staff.
- Use real-time reporting tools.
Your online events will require an investment of time and resources, but the potential impact they can have on your business’s overall growth and development should more than make up your return on investment. Additionally, with each event hosted, your planning team will only become more efficient and start treating these organizational practices as second nature. Let’s get started.
Establish event metrics.
At the very beginning of your event planning process, determine what your event’s goals are and how you will measure your success in achieving them. Doing so will allow your business to gather data that can be used for future event planning, helping you to identify both wins and places of improvement.
As part of your event strategy, select metrics you’ll monitor for your event. These key performance indicators (KPIs) can be used to determine all sorts of things about your event, from your marketing efforts and your guests’ experience to how effective your follow-up was. Here are a few KPIs you might consider using based on your event’s goals:
- Guest retention. How many guests that attended your previous event also attended your next event? A high guest retention rate can be a sign that attendees enjoy what your events have to offer and that your business is starting to develop a dedicated following.
- Conversion. After your business’s event, how many guests go on to purchase your products and services? Nearly all of your business’s events will focus on promoting your products or services in some way. While event-specific sales, such as tickets, certainly help your business, you should also consider how your events can start attendees on the path to becoming attendees.
- Marketing engagement. How many guests respond to your marketing messages? This can be determined through a number of other metrics, including open rate and click-through rate, as well as comments, shares, and likes on social media. When testing different marketing strategies, keep a close eye on your engagement rates to see if your audience favors one method over another.
Remember to choose KPIs that are relevant to your business’s goals. While almost all of your incoming data can be useful for different aspects of your event planning, you will likely have specific focuses based on your past data and events. For example, if you have noticed that your events regularly have high attendance but seem to result in minimal conversions, you may prioritize improving your follow-up strategy instead of your event marketing.
Create a streamlined registration process.
Guests who reach your event registration forms are at a critical point in their engagement with your business. Make sure the registration process is as streamlined as possible to boost your attendance and potentially earn more sales, based on your business model.
Here are some event registration form tips to consider when creating your forms:
- Keep forms short. Your guests are taking time out of their day to fill out your registration forms. Long forms can lead to frustration and page abandonment, costing your event potential guests. Limit your questions to only the essentials, and consider using time-saving methods such as conditional logic for longer forms. Conditional logic uses your guests’ previous answers to determine which questions to show them, shortening your forms’ overall length.
- Offer multiple payment options. Make your payment process as convenient as possible by allowing guests to use multiple payment options. Additionally, make sure your payment processor is integrated with your registration forms so guests won’t be navigated to a new window when checking out. This will help them feel more secure in giving your business their financial information, as they’ll know for sure their payment is going to the right place.
- Monitor your incoming registration data. As guests start to sign up for your event, use your registration software to compile reports on key metrics relevant to your event. For instance, your event team will need to stay updated on information about the number of attendees to expect so they can plan accordingly.
The event registration process is also an opportunity to upsell your guests and earn additional sales. During the checkout process, consider showcasing products guests can easily add to their carts, allowing them to make one convenient purchase instead of re-entering their payment information later.
Coordinate your staff.
While your online events may not need your staff to set up your venue or physically check guests in, they are still instrumental in creating a positive event experience for your guests. Provide your staff with the direction they need to succeed by:
- Train them to use your event software. While your staff know your business, they may not know the ins and outs of your online event software and practices. To make sure there are no surprises at the event, walk them through your event software so they can ask questions ahead of time.
- Ensure they can reach their supervisor quickly. Your staff may run into situations that require a more senior member of your business to intervene. This can include dilemmas with guests, as well as technical issues and other potential disruptions.
- Staff them where they are needed. Your staffing requirements will look different for your online events then your in-person gatherings. However, you’ll still need to determine how many staff members should be available for your event, especially if it’s being hosted during your normal business hours. Consider how large your expected audience will be to choose an appropriate number of staff members to monitor your live stream’s chat, run online activities, or otherwise help your guests.
Make sure your event software allows multiple people to login at the same time so your entire team can always have access to all of your tools. Additionally, consider how you will control permissions to give everyone the access they need without overwhelming them with features that don’t impact their roles.
Use real-time reporting tools.
Hosting your event will demand most of your staff’s focus, which means changes in data may get missed, especially without real-time reporting tools. Software that provides updates as they happen allows you to respond to opportunities and rise to challenges as soon as they happen, creating a better, more dynamic event experience.
While some metrics can only be determined after your event, you can respond to many important ones, including increases and drops in viewership, purchases made during your event, and overall engagement. For example, if you notice a decrease in guest engagement, you might ask staff members monitoring your chat to participate more to encourage conversation.
Additionally, your registration software should also provide real-time updates as guests sign up for your events. This can help you determine the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and give your planning team real-time information updates that can help them better prepare for your guests.
Business events are an investment, so make sure your organization sets itself up for the best chance at earning a high return on that investment by ensuring guests have a positive experience. Implement event management strategies that will help you both monitor your data and make changes as necessary to keep up with the flow of a live event. Then, after your event, take the time to reflect on how you can improve even further for your next.
Asaf Darash, Founder and CEO of Regpack, has extensive experience as an entrepreneur and investor. Asaf has built 3 successful companies to date, all with an exit plan or that have stayed in profitability and are still functional. Asaf specializes in product development for the web, team building and in bringing a company from concept to an actualized unit that is profitable.