What can you do differently to increase the power behind your virtual events? We think it starts with having the right event team in place to help virtually produce and support the event.
And while virtual and in person events share similarities, they’re still pretty different. Which means the event team you need to elevate it all could be different, too.
As an example, the team you work with needs to understand things such as security and encryption online, troubleshooting live streams and getting ahead of bandwidth issues. When no physical venue or stage exists, it’s easy to overlook things like production complexities and how detailed speaker support is a must. While one person often owns multiple elements of a virtual event, each area needs a primary owner.
To Outsource or Not, That is the Question
The types of tasks that are best outsourced often fall into two categories. Highly skilled positions that you will use a few times is one. Specialized knowledge positions is the other, where you might not need full-time help, long-term.
When outsourcing key roles, the lift you get is ultimately getting more done with less mistakes, at a lower cost than hiring a full-time staffer. Trusting important tasks to experienced professionals without having to grow your own full-time team can save money and resources.
The decision could boil down to a financial one because paying a salary and fringe versus grabbing specific trained talent for a specific amount of time resonates. Or it could be you need an outside set of experienced eyes to help with event identity which can elevate how your event reflects your brand. It could also include the need for competitive innovation and keeping you relevant to your audiences. Outsourced experts possess a grand amount of ideas, resources and specific knowledge on what to do and not do. All of this should be considered as you build, evolve and elevate your event team.
Salesforce, Twitter, Samsung and many others are reimagining physical events for 2021. They too, continue evaluating key virtual event roles in which they will outsource. Complimenting their internal staff of marketers, event specialists, IT and creatives when it comes to virtual events is a regular part of their business model.
So could outsourcing event roles be right for you too? Let’s look at the problems organizations are consistently having when it comes to virtual events. Then we’ll size up how outsourcing can solve those problems, making communication and collaboration one of the best parts of the virtual journey.
Problems That Arise When Event Teams Lack Virtual Experience
1. Primitive Production Value
Not having the infrastructure and technical knowledge to match the flow of a virtual or hybrid event will stop you in your tracks. Elements such as creating an optimal content flow, planning an effective attendee engagement strategy and selecting the best event tech platform or streaming tool requires an expert with previous virtual event experience.
Which part of the event team is responsible for the technical expertise? In other words, who is keeping at the forefront of available technology? How can this technology operate to reach goals of engagement and revenue recognition? Experienced virtual event managers and producers working closely with those whom have technical expertise can set you apart from every other event being done virtually.
2. Disengaged Events and Audiences
Not all event management platforms are equally adaptable for virtual events. One might boast the most advanced features but it can’t be expected to replicate the live event experience. Likewise, not everyone is comfortable with new software and some won’t understand the tech terminology so plan for this.
Event teams that understand tech limitations will help you set up proper expectations for content strategies and audience engagement within the platform. You don’t want attendees getting so frustrated with a tech glitch that they log out of the event. If sound clarity and video quality are poor, you have an annoyed audience that won’t speak highly of the event afterwards. Get this part right or you’ll get bad PR. No event tech guru in house? Hire someone who has the chops you need to prevent easily avoidable mishaps.
3. Confusing Content Strategy
Following best practices to achieve in person event goals doesn’t auto translate to the virtual experience. Without an event team member dedicated to making this pivot, you’ll have knowledge gaps. When the content strategy isn’t clear, it diminishes your teams confidence in the content. A documented content strategy will separate successful content from “thrown against the wall and see if it sticks” content.
So, for example in virtual, program sessions online should be shorter than in person. Elements like multiple time zones, different access platforms and audience differences should expose a layer of complexity that has to be addressed in the planning stage. Your audience personas and buyer’s journey are key defining characteristics that shape contents goals and delivery methods. It’s a lot, right? If you don’t have a decent sized marketing team, outsourcing could save the day here. Don’t skimp.
4. Sponsor & Exhibitor Misunderstandings
Sponsorship engagement lacking new ideas is boring to vendors. Consequently, it ends up costing you money. For event sponsors (and exhibitors), they expect to see a benefit or return, in exchange for their investment in your event.
For virtual events, the path to show them that investment is completely different than in person. However, it can be just as effective if you guide the sponsor and exhibitor on best practices as part of your service to them.
Typically, exhibitors seek to generate leads and educate on their product or service. Furthermore, they want to develop client relationships. Sponsors focus on increasing brand awareness and establishing themselves as leaders within their industry. It’s important that exhibitors and sponsors recognize the value exchange from your event. If there is high value, you can secure their investment year after year. If they end up paying money for an unorganized event in which tools aren’t set up in the platform to ultimately give them analytic and lead data, you’ve missed a pretty easy mark that carries a high loss price tag.
Because virtual events have stormed the industry in an unprecedented manner, they understandably lead to some uncertainty surrounding virtual event ROI. Having part of your event team that not only understands the marketing but also can advise and help sponsors and exhibitors get the most out of the setup is crucial. Remember to support sponsors with a game plan. How can they interact with attendees? What will help audiences get exposed to their brand or offering? How should they follow up on this data for measurable ROI. That’s the only way they will spend again or spend more the next time.
5. Missing Event ROI Metrics that Matter
While this job typically falls on the shoulders of marketing teams, measuring event ROI with accurate and relevant data and analytics starts in the virtual event platform. If you don’t set this up at the onset of building out the platform, you’ll have talented marketers without any information to be leveraged.
Virtual event ROI should focus on the contribution of these meetings to your bottom line. In turn, you take this measured information to prove the worth of investing in future events when presenting your budget. It all starts with the KPI’s.
Additionally, the choice of technology used to measure the attendee footprint and performance of your event metrics and goals is critical. Virtual event teams have an advantage here. If they have the online platform and understand all of its engagement tools, they can get data from attendees at every twist and turn. Done right, this yields real-time feedback with detailed data from significant points throughout the event.
6. Security Unawareness
Your exact security requirements depend on the size of your event plus the level of security you require. Cybersecurity breaches in and around our industry have been on the steady rise since 2019. As a result, elements like encryptions, password protections, custom registration links and the ability to approve or deny registrations are the base level of protection for all events. Don’t wing this.
Premium content existing of video assets should be gated and only accessed by authorized users. Likewise, you have to rule out the possibility that you’ve checked and balanced too much. Make sure those who have signed up, possibly paid and expect to have access to the sessions don’t end up blocked. Maybe more than any other part of the event team, these roles should have specialized training and know the right questions to ask providers before selecting partners in your event.
7. Anxious and Awkward Speakers
Assuming event speakers are poised perfectly for delivering a quality performance, in front of a webcam, with no audience is a big mistake. Whether it’s for remote or live recorded filming, presenting in a virtual environment is awkward. Therefore, it can be equally awkward for the listener.
The problem is solved by supporting your speakers with a coach. As part of your event team, this key person prepares speakers, practices with them, and puts them at ease. Speakers should present as if that webcam is really listening.
In short, virtual presenting is weird, so its your job to make it comfortable. If you don’t, content will miss the mark when delivered. Attendees aren’t interested in two-way communication if the speaker makes them feel out of place. And that’s where you can fall down on heightened engagement and interaction.
Should I Outsource Part of my Event Team to a Production Partner?
We can’t tell you if you should outsource or not. Hopefully, the potential problems we’re outlining can be a guide. Creating great events is hard. And if it’s not your job 365 days a year and you haven’t done virtual events several times, it presents a huge challenge.
Going direct to a partner that offers turnkey technology, creative and production support and is experienced doing this day in and day out offers many great advantages. Be mindful when evaluating a direct partner versus an agency that will find that direct partner for you. Costs and commitment can vary greatly when you hire an agency to find the additional staff you need versus you finding them yourself, based not only on your criteria but instinct as well.
Whoever is part of your virtual event team, the best internal and external support can come together beautifully. Executing on all cylinders, promoting your brand and making your attendees coming back for more.
How to Choose the Right Virtual Event Team if you Outsource
Ask the right questions. Interview them through a discovery call or demo. Talking to someone from a company that seems appealing to you should make you feel like the idea you brought to the table for your virtual event is exciting to them, too.
Most importantly, you should walk away with new ideas and visual examples of what they can do to help. A firm belief that they have the right team of experts for every element you need help with must exist.
Flexibility and customization should be a core belief of the outsourcing experts you choose. Bringing what expertise and resources you have to the table should be complimented by what you can choose to use from an agency or software provider. This is about you, not them. Adding them to your virtual event team is just the icing on the cake.
In a recent blog post, we share our take on the 5 virtual event roles you need on your team. Keeping up with the ever changing technology and audience engagement demands is not easy. It might help further define if, when and who might trigger the need for outsourcing now or in the future.
While you’re deciding which of your virtual event roles to outsource or develop internally, here’s a few vendors to consider that can add value to almost any event.
OVATION is a fully integrated virtual event platform and production partner. We can support you with production teams or creative staff to support your internal teams. Get in touch for a discovery call to learn how we might help you change the game.