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Virtual events are very much like any other corporate event; the only difference is that they are conducted online. Audience engagement is often a challenge in virtual events, and organizers struggle to make them as interactive as in-person events.
Virtual event software provides the tools to help businesses conduct online events—live or recorded sessions—and interact with the attendees virtually. It allows businesses to organize various types of events, such as conferences, seminars, town halls, and product launches.
From full-suite solutions to stand-alone applications, the market is densely populated. To help you make the right purchase decision, we’ve created this buyers guide that covers all the essential information related to virtual event software.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is virtual event software?
- Common features of virtual event software
- What type of buyer are you?
- Benefits of virtual event software
- Key considerations when selecting virtual event software
- Market trend to understand
What is virtual event software?
Virtual event software is a software tool that helps businesses stream online events as well as collaborate and share information with the attendees. Organizations can use the software to organize online conferences, seminars, trade shows, product exhibitions, and more.
The software allows businesses to sell event tickets, conduct live engagement polls, and gather real-time feedback from the attendees. Attendees also have the option to post comments, share reactions, and ask questions.
Common features of virtual event software
Different vendors offer different features in their virtual event platform. Selecting software with the right features is easier when you know what the most common features are and what they do. Here’s a look at some of the common features of these tools.
|Online registration management||Allows you to manage the attendee registration process for an online event. You can accept or decline participation requests based on intake capacity or eligibility criteria.|
|Session management||Helps you design an event website, create event agendas, set up presenter profiles, host live and on-demand sessions, and share content with attendees.|
|Survey management||Lets you conduct real-time polls and surveys during a live event to record attendee engagement metrics and get feedback.|
|Live chat||Allows you to have one-on-one chats with attendees to address their specific queries, share other details, or for professional networking.|
|Ticketing management||Lets you sell event tickets, customize ticket prices for individual and corporate attendees, set volume limits for bulk buyers, and manage discounts and referrals.|
|Payment processing||Allows you to receive online payment for the sale of tickets through various modes, such as credit and debit cards, internet banking, PayPal, and Stripe.|
|Analytics and reporting||Helps you generate reports that measure the return on investment (ROI) based on event metrics such as audience engagement, revenue generated per attendee, and converted sales leads.|
What type of buyer are you?
Before you start evaluating virtual event software options, you'll want to know which buyer category you belong to. Most buyers belong to one of the following categories:
- Small and midsize businesses: These buyers usually include businesses with up to 500 employees. The events they conduct are usually small scale and with fewer attendees. These businesses require a virtual event solution that is affordable, easy to set up, and can process payments. They can opt for a tool that offers event registration, session management, and payment processing features.
- Large enterprises: These buyers generally include large businesses that have more than 500 employees and conduct large-scale virtual summits, conferences, seminars, etc. Due to the higher number of attendees, these buyers are on the lookout for advanced features, such as real-time polls, surveys, and analytics. They also need a ticketing management function to create customized pricing for different participants. A fully-featured virtual event software would be the best buy for such buyers.
Benefits of virtual event software
While some of the benefits of virtual event software may be clear from our discussion above, we've listed the most notable ones in this section.
- Reduces costs: In-person events have several associated expenses, such as venue, travel, equipment (LED screens, microphone speakers, etc.), and lodging costs. By allowing businesses to host events online, virtual event software helps eliminate these additional costs.
- Expands the reach of events: Virtual event software helps organizations expand the reach of their conferences or seminars to a global audience. By taking events online, businesses can reach out to attendees located in any part of the world, which isn’t possible for the organizer of a physical event.
Key considerations when selecting virtual event software
Listed below are some important points to consider when purchasing virtual event software.
- Mobile app availability: Check if the virtual event software you’re planning to purchase offers mobile apps for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Mobile-ready software will allow you to perform tasks such as register attendees, manage ticket prices, and view reports even when you’re on the move.
- Customer support: Inquire about the type of support offered by your shortlisted vendors: 24/7, 24/5, or only during business hours. Also, check if your preferred support channels, such as email, phone, or live chat, are available. Support services will help fix any software glitches that can delay or even lead to the cancellation of your events.
Market trend to understand
Here’s a recent trend in the virtual event software market that you should be aware of:
- Growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in virtual events: An increasing number of businesses are implementing AI for their virtual events. AI-enabled smart events can help businesses with tasks such as creating personalized attendee schedules, deploying chatbots for live interaction with attendees, and discovering insights from post-event analytics. In line with this trend, software vendors are expected to introduce AI capabilities in their tools for offering a seamless virtual experience.
Note: The application selected in this article is an example to show a feature in context and isn’t intended as an endorsement or a recommendation. It has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.
Your Guide to Top Virtual Event Software, August 2021
Software Advice uses reviews from real software users to highlight the top-rated Virtual Event Software products in North America.
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