Best Software for Virtual Events & How to Choose
Online events have skyrocketed during 2020. And in the wake of COVID-19, the benefits of virtual events are clearer than ever. Whether you need to replace a live event that was canceled or are seeking a great way to expand your scope you are probably looking for the best software for virtual events. With that being said online events offer a welcome solution.
But if you are new to the virtual event industry, you may not know where to start. So the key to a promising online event campaign is to choose the right software platform for your needs. Below is a look at the best software for online events and the key to maximizing success at your next virtual event.
What are some factors to consider when choosing the best software for virtual events?
No two online events are exactly alike. Software systems are also unique. Therefor, platforms vary according to services and features offered. When choosing an event software platform, it's a good idea to consider your event scope and goals. Before you dive into the event software pool, take a few minutes to outline your needs in the following areas:
The Best Software for Online Event Events will be determined by YOUR specific Event. Here's what to consider:
1) Event Size
Many of today's software systems are designed to meet the needs of small to medium-size events. But not all systems can handle virtual events with over a thousand attendees. For example, virtual trade shows and expos may last multiple days and attract thousands of attendees. meetyou is an example of software made to accommodate virtual trade fairs and other large online events:
"With meetyoo's online event software, several thousand people can visit your virtual trade fair at the same time. Even from abroad, your trade fair can be reached quickly and easily at the click of a mouse. By participating quickly and easily in an online trade fair, the number of participants can be increased many times over compared to a trade fair in attendance." - meetyou.com
Generally speaking, the cost of a software system tends to increase with the number of features offered. And with many platforms, the total price you pay depends on the size and frequency of your events.
If you are starting small or don't plan to host many virtual events, you may wish to start with a free trial. You can also consider one of the free event products on the market. Many providers offer a free demo or trial option and some even offer free usage. So if you don't see a free trial button on their website, just ask a representative about available trial options. Here are a few providers that allow you to use try their software at no charge:
3) Interactive Capabilities
The ability to physically engage with hosts and other event attendees is impossible to replicate online. However, today's software platforms have come a long way in their ability to simulate the interactive nature of live events. From electronic hand raising to polls to live chat, software designers continue to provide tools that promote interaction.
ON24 is an example of a software system that is known for boosting audience engagement. Their highly personalized software offers "interactive digital experiences your audience loves." Also the software offers over 20 interactivity tools designed to increase audience interactivity. ON24 also offers close captioning and allows you to edit captions to reach more viewers. And with automatic translation, you can scale your events internationally.
4) Technical Support
If you are new to the world of virtual event planning, you may have worries, concerns, or questions. It's natural to be a bit nervous, especially as your first few online events unfold. Here are some concerns and questions commonly shared by novices and veterans alike:
You can overcome your worries by choosing a software package that includes live 24/7 technical support. Accelevents is an "all-in-one" software provider that offers 24/7 live support. And Accelevents users have access to this support before, during, and after their events. One Accelevents user in the education management field said she "had a couple of glitches during the event, but (she) went on the chat and within minutes, it was all taken care of."
5) Mobile Access
Mobile access, ease of use, and convenience for users are critical in determining the best software for online events. Today's virtual event attendees are often on-the-go, while others need to multi-task while participating in your event. Seeking a mobile-friendly platform is therefore a must.
Whova is a highly rated virtual event software system that is known for its simple, mobile-friendly platform. Event attendees can easily access schedules, speaker bios, and other event details. Whova also offers a customizable design. Attendees can choose their favorite layout and select the event features that are important to them.
6) Event Type
Do you specialize in a particular type of event planning? If you cater to sports enthusiasts, medical professionals, or another specific audience, take some time to explore software options that are designed to best meet the needs of your audience. For example, RegFox is a top choice for planners of sports events and team activities. Also RegFox is similar to Zoom and is designed for virtual events with up to 200 guests and 6 hosts:
"Regfox by Webconnex is a cloud-based registration management solution designed specifically for racing sports events. The solution allows event organizers to create customizable registration pages and send invites to the team or individual participants." - Softwareadvice.com
7) Reporting and Analytics
Analytics are vital to any virtual event marketing strategy. Today's best software for virtual events will tell you everything you want to know about your event's performance. For example, you can discover which sessions and speakers were well-received by attendees. You can also monitor engagement in real-time so you can make live tweaks to presentations.
Bevy's virtual event software that offers enterprise level analytics and security. Laura Nestler, Head of Community at Duolingo, says that Bevy is "critical for (their) platform." After using Bevy to host over 1,000 events in 6 weeks, Nestler was quick to point out the platform's strengths. Nestler said, "It is the infrastructure that drives everything, from the analytics, to the planning, to the coordinating."
What are some options for BEST software for online events to consider?
Now that you know the factors to consider when choosing a software provider, it's time to take a look at some well-known industry players. Below are some of the top names in the online event software industry along with a summary of their key benefits.
I should also mention our founder April Iannazzone has been using ALL of the below software options for her virtual events for several years. The ones we LOVE and always stick with are Ontraport, Vimeo, & StealthSeminar.
"The app's main selling point, at least to the broader consumer world, is that it offers free, 40-minute conference calls with up to 100 attendees. It's easy to use — people don't need a login to access a meeting — and the interface is relatively intuitive." - Ashley Carman, Tech Reporter, The Verge
With more than 300 million daily participants, Zoom seems to be a model of overnight success during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, Zoom surged ahead of other apps to become the leader in downloaded apps for the Apple App Store. Not surprisingly, Zoom users are diverse. The platform is used by businesses for team meetings, medical doctors for telehealth appointments, and educators to communicate with students.
While Zoom users love Zoom's simple design, the platform is linked to a number of security issues. At the top of this list of threats is "Zoombombing," which occurs when uninvited people hack into an event. Despite these privacy and security risks, Zoom continues to be one of the most popular event hosting platforms available.
Fans of WebinarJam point to its simplicity and its intuitive design. WebinarJam is used by sales and marketing professionals across dozens of industries because they can easily engage with their audience. More importantly, you can use special pop-ups to promote special offers and encourage purchasing. Here are some key features of WebinarJam:
StealthSeminar offers users the option of hosting a live automated webinar. In a nutshell, you prerecord your webinar and then play it on a specified date or dates. This option is attractive to many users because they have time to clean up and perfect their webinar before it runs live to participants. Here is a look at some of the key reasons why virtual event producers like StealthSeminar:
Vimeo markets itself as "the world's leading professional video platform." But Vimeo offers more than high-performing videos. It offers live streaming, hosting, analytics, and monetization services designed to "turn data into more dollars." Those items alone land vimeo as one of the best software for online events.
Vimeo has been a key player in the live streaming market since its market emergence in 2004. Here are some reasons why virtual event producers turn to Vimeo for their live streaming needs:
While the software options above focus more on the presentation and engagement aspects of online events, Ontraport and Clickfunnels play a key role on the lead management end. They enable you to track and store customer clicks so you can better manage your leads and marketing activity. More importantly, you can craft automated marketing campaigns based on this activity.
While the two platforms share similarities, it's important to note that there are key differences between the two. A comparison of the two platforms shows that Clickfunnels specializes more in email marketing and templated funnels. But Ontraport offers a wider breadth of services and reporting. Before investing in either platform, it's a good idea to look at your marketing budget and prioritize your online event goals.
What is the best way to maximize your online event success?
Choosing the best software is essential for your event's success. But you need more than the right software to produce a winning online event. The single best way to becoming a better virtual event planner is to register for April Iannazzone's FREE Masterclass: "3 Secrets to a Successful Online Event That No one Wants You to Know."
In addition to discussing software options, the class will provide a variety of tools and tips to help you sharpen your online event planning skills. Some of the wide array of topics covered include the following:
Register today to discover how you can make your next virtual event a spectacular one. We look forward to arming you with the tools to become a world-class online event planner!