6 Tips for Selecting the Right Virtual Events Platform

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, we now work in a virtual world. Meetings are virtual. Events are virtual. Training is virtual. Recruiting is virtual. In an unprecedented industry shift, companies are converging on virtual event platform providers in record numbers to deliver content to audiences–to the point where some virtual event platform providers have had to create a waitlist.

But with a deluge of complex requests, how are virtual event platform providers managing the increase in demand? And how do you choose between opposing virtual event platforms? Can you tell which vendor will be with you over the long term and which will fold after the crisis?

Following are six suggestions for determining which virtual event platform best fits your needs.

1. Will the technology actually deliver what the vendor promises? You’re pivoting to a virtual event platform on a tight timeframe. You can’t afford empty claims. Do your homework so you know exactly which features and functions are available on the market, and then create two lists: 1) “must-have” capabilities and 2) “nice to have” capabilities. This will help you determine whether the platform really meets your business needs and enable you to ignore “shiny objects.” Another key consideration: make sure the vendor can deliver on your “must have” list now, not in the future.  If you learn one of your “must-have” capabilities is on a product roadmap, and not in the current product release, it’s time to move on.

2. Reputation is critical. How long has the vendor been in business? What does the vendor’s customer portfolio look like? Are some of their customers in a similar industry, of a similar size, or targeting a similar audience as you? Does the vendor have repeat customers? Can the vendor provide customer references? What is the vendor’s customer turnover rate?

3. Do not compromise on support. We can’t emphasize this one enough! When it comes to technology, things can go awry. You want to ensure your vendor is continuously doing everything possible to prevent event hiccups. The team responsible for your virtual event platform needs to be 100% invested in your event’s success and committed to their relationship with you.  This type of support cannot be outsourced. It has to be in-house and you should have access to a dedicated account manager 24/7/365. Hint: when you’re checking those customer references, ask the question, “Is your support team responsive, knowledgeable, and experienced?”

4. Can the platform scale? Understand the virtual event platform’s level of customization and scalability. As you expand your audience, the platform should scale accordingly. The last thing you want is to undergo the selection and implementation process a second time because the existing platform can’t handle new or growing needs.

5. Take a test drive. Before making a final selection, kick those tires! Reputable vendors will offer a demo to showcase features, benefits, and usability. This is when you can see the platform in action and learn what it can really do.  Best practice: if the platform will be used for more than one function, make sure you involve all stakeholders to participate in the demo.  The platform should meet everyone’s needs (and of course you’ll want cross-departmental buy-in).  Then during your demo, make sure the platform really contains your list of “must have” capabilities.  Remember this isn’t just about “cool features.”  It’s about meeting your requirements. Also, keep an eye on usability.  As you move through the demo, take note of how many clicks or screens it takes to accomplish a specific task. 

6. Insist on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) before signing a contract. Put your new partnership to the test and collaborate with your virtual event platform provider to create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) prior to signing any contracts. With KPIs in place upfront, both parties will know what defines a successful implementation.

Stay Focused on Creating Real ROI

Too often companies convince themselves it’s okay to down-play criteria like capability, reputation, and support in favor of a lower-quality, lesser-value platform–only to discover the platform doesn’t really meet their needs. Suddenly, they’re back to square one, perhaps even re-visiting the platform provider they should have initially selected. Following the six suggestions above will build your business case and help you identify the “best fit” platform for your business, one that offers the most value and yields a quick ROI. Have questions? Contact a 6Connex product specialist today to learn about our online event consulting services or get a demo!

Your business must go on.

But in what may be the start of a new normal for companies worldwide, your workforce is likely remote to prevent transmission of the COVID-19 virus. 

The good news: you’re not alone.  Globally, employers are implementing social distancing practices at the workplace. These include reducing the number of employees in the office, asking employees to work from home, prohibiting access to common areas within offices, restricting office visitors, and using virtual environments for communication and collaboration.

And even better news: there’s a wide variety of tools and technology to help virtualize office environments and enable teams to continue to work well collaboratively and simultaneously.  A 6Connex Sales War Room, for example, is a fantastic virtual environment that allows sales leaders to check in anytime, anywhere to a digital command center that tracks real-time progress to goals for every business segment.  Teams worldwide receive continuous deal updates and alerts, in addition to having access to an easy, virtual way to collaborate on sales activities such as scenario modeling.

Other tools, such as e-Learning, are perfect for training internal teams or customer user groups alike.  At 6Connex, our e-Learning environment is user-friendly, easy to set up, and most importantly, available across a wide variety of devices and operating systems to ensure everyone on every device has equal access.  Attendees receive real-time feedback during their training course, and management can get up-to-date analyses on how courses are performing, as well as track the progress of individual participants.

And on a day-in, day-out basis, companies can’t beat live event streaming as an online alternative to in-person conferences and meetings.  In fact, virtual events,with deliberate planning and excellent facilitation, can be very effective, and 6Connex has been working with customers worldwide to move various AGMs, stakeholder meetings, conferences, and business events online.  While the obvious benefit is that these meetings have been able to take place as scheduled, many of our customers have also been pleased to discover that in moving their events to a digital format, there are ancillary advantages including:

  • Increased attendance
  • Improved engagement
  • New and creative opportunities for brand promotion
  • Automatic creation of Videos on Demand (VOD)

So if you, like many, are promoting social distancing and transitioning the meetings and events on your calendar to digital formats, here are three best practices to keep in mind:

1.     Pick the right solution.

Virtual events can take many different forms, and the right virtual event provider will have multiple solutions from which to choose.  For example, are you hosting a meeting?  An event?  A training program?  When you’re planning an online event, think about what you want your user experience to look like.


If you expect attendees to mostly just listen, a webinar is probably your best option.  A webinar format is similar to a lecture or presentation. They’re ideal for sharing content with large audiences and may be open to the public. Typically, webinar attendees do not interact with one another. Though 6Connex provides features like a Q&A and polling to enable additional engagement, your average webinar adopts a ratio of one or two speakers to many attendees.

Virtual Events

On the flip side, if you’re inviting a large audience and you’re expecting more back and forth communication between them, a virtual event might be the better option.  With a virtual event, you can host interactive sessions and invite lots of audience participation.  You can even create an event environment with various “break out rooms,” where participants are assigned to virtual side sessions and can then reconvene for a main meeting.   

Video Conferences

A web-based video conference most closely resembles a face-to-face meeting and is likely appropriate when the main purpose of your event is real-time, internal communication and collaboration.  Participants can connect to the video conference from their desktop or device, and all participants can see and hear each other.  Video conferencing is most useful for board meetings, company announcements, and team meetings where it’s critical for participants to see each other, present, and work as a group efficiently.


And if the goal of your meeting or event is training, then an e-Learning platform is probably the way to go.  With e-Learning, you’re recreating the classroom environment, complete with characteristics like instructor-student interaction, Q&As, discussions, games, collaborative projects, quizzes, etc., but the instruction takes place online.

2. Be Prepared

Let’s face it: this is a best practice for any meeting regardless of whether it’s taking place in person or online.  Create an agenda for your virtual meeting or event and distribute it in advance.  (Tip: include it in the calendar invite.) If you’re new to virtual meetings and you’re using a virtual platform for the first time, be sure to take it out for a test drive and make sure there aren’t any connectivity issues. Also, be considerate of attendees’ different time zones and schedule the event at a time that’s reasonable for all participants.  The goal is to host an effective event, and if you take time to prepare, chances are your attendees will be prepared as well and you’ll maximize your event ROI.

3. Utilize Interactive Features

No matter which platform you use or event format you choose, be sure to take advantage of all of the engagement features that come with it.  For webinars, virtual events, and e-Learning in particular, tools such as chat boxes, Q&As, polls, and more are not only well received by attendees, but they allow you to track participation data so you can see how well your audience is responding to the digital format.  And with social distancing required in some states for at least the next three weeks, this data will enable you to improve your digital events for the longer-term.

Options in the Wake of Coronavirus

While in-person interactions and meetings greatly contribute toward building relationships and fostering collaboration, virtual environments can go a long way to replicating this while still enforcing social distancing, whether the goal is internal communication, sharing thought leadership, or training new employees (because some of us are still hiring!).

Still have questions? Contact a 6Connex product specialist to learn about our online event consulting services or get a demo today!

Virtual event planning software is clearly on the rise, with lead generating virtual events consistently proving themselves as the most powerful weapon in the digital marketing arsenal. 

With such powerful results, multi-sponsor marketing events that have always been predominantly physical are now turning into virtual summits. Companies are learning how to connect with attendees through virtual booths and sponsored sessions.

But all of this commotion begs the question… what are the real differences between physical and virtual events?

For those of you thinking about replacing a physical event with a virtual event, here is the definitive pro-con list of physical vs. virtual events from the perspective of a virtual event insider. 

For visual learners, here is a handy infographic summing it all up. If you need a more elaborate breakdown, scroll down a bit more.

Making Connections Bang for your Buck Making Imprints Mass Data Networking Cost Effective Flexibility Customized Merchandise LongTerm ROI Virtual events decrease your per attendee cost, eliminating traditional expenses such as facility rental, labor, and travel. Virtual events can remain live year round, increasing ROI. Virtual events collectcontent engagementdata and analytics tohelp sales closeprospects quickly. Virtual eventsshowcase your brandand increase boothtraffic for productdemonstrations and 1:1meetings. Virtual event sponsors may ship merchandise to registrants to promote their brandoffline. Virtual events can be leveraged year round to increase brand awareness and authority across a broad audience. Physical events collect registration data, requiring extensive qualification activity from sales to identify target prospects. Handshakes, eye contact, and happy hours – physical events are conducive to networking success. Physical events incur costs such as event space rental, staff, and travel (transportation, food, hotel, and entertainment). Physical events have a finite shelf-life of 2-3 days. Attendees collect merchandise, allowing companies to promote their brand during and after the event. Physical events create strong brand associations that build authority over time.

Differences Between Running a Virtual Event and a Physical Event: Pros and Cons

In this section, we are going to breakdown the biggest differences between virtual events and physical events, weighing both the pros and cons of each difference. 

1. Cost-Effectiveness 

One of the best parts of an in-person event is coincidentally one of the most expensive: travel.

Traveling to a new city or stomping ground is exciting and can help employees shake the daily grind, but it is also extremely costly. Costs for physical events include the following:

  • Renting event space
  • Hiring staff and caterers
  • Booking live entertainment
  • Paying for employee travel costs
  • Putting speakers up in hotels

… you get the picture. 

There is definitely something to be said for changing it up and giving attendees a memorable experience in a new city, but it’s going to cost you.

Fortunately, there is a simple alternative.

Virtual event companies offer “virtual venues”, 2D or 3D event spaces that can accommodate all of your employees and guests, no matter where they are in the world (and if you have a battle-tested virtual platform provider like 6Connex, you can even invite the entire internet if you so please). 

But wait, it gets better…

In-demand speakers will agree to speak for a fraction of the price at virtual events because of the convenience. You can afford better speakers (and more of them) for the same price. 

What does that mean? For marketing events, more high-quality speakers translate into more potential leads.

Bottom line – virtual events are more cost-effective but do not have the benefits (or setbacks) of travel.

2. Flexibility 

Our workforces have gone global. Our employees are in every corner of the globe, and more and more of them are working remotely. 

How do we accommodate our growing workforce?

Virtual event solutions have emerged to solve the problem of different time zones and varying schedules.

As exciting as travel is for employees, the time it takes to plan, fly (often internationally), and drive to the hotel can amount to excessive “dead” time where emails pile up and calls get pushed – not to mention the time blocked off on the calendar for the conference itself. 

And what if some people can’t make it? 

Physical conferences sometimes provide access to the presentation decks after the event and sometimes offer recorded sessions for later viewing. But in general, once it’s done, it’s done. 

Smart companies run virtual conferences with the idea that attendees will come back again and again. 

Maybe there were too many great sessions playing at the same time, or attendees want to grab some collateral to share with their CEOs. Whatever the need, virtual event attendees can revisit the experience on their own terms, increasing the conference’s value for the attendee and its ROI for the summit producer.

The flexibility medal goes to virtual.

3. Mass Data  

At in-person events, whether internal or external, the extent of the data collected is usually a handwritten sign-in cheat. 

Virtual events, on the other hand, are master data-miners. 

Hot leads leave all kinds of clues into their buyer journey – what type of content they’re viewing, which sales reps they’re talking to, which attendees they’re engaging with, and what resources they’re downloading. 

The best part? All exhibitors can access this data, grow their e-mail lists, and nurture leads better than ever before.

If you want big data, go virtual.  

4. Networking 

The battle royale of Face-to-Face vs. Interface-to-Interface.

In a world where we spend so much time online, sitting in front of our laptops or staring down at our mobile phones, it’s nice (even special) to look someone else in the eyes when you say hello. 

Meeting people in person that you’ve only ever spoken to on the phone or via email adds an important layer to the relationship, allowing for a different kind of communication. 

Although virtual event providers have advanced chatting technology, making it exciting and engaging for attendees to chat within the event, the world still needs handshakes.
However, over in the buying experience department, networking can actually be easier virtually.

Let me explain.

Attendees are generally interested in seeing what vendors have to offer. There are tons of tools out there that we don’t yet know about, and by chatting it up with booth reps on a virtual events platform, we can learn a lot about what’s new and what’s possible, all without feeling the pressure of buying anything.

Finally, let’s be honest… we don’t REALLY want to chat with everyone. 

At a physical event, we often avoid eye contact or try to browse datasheets while dodging overzealous sales reps. In virtual summits, we can take our time and browse what we want when we want. It is a much more relaxing experience.

Bottom line – no chat box will beat a real handshake, but uninhibited sales inquiries are often better for business. If you’re curious about taking your next exhibition online, learn more about virtual trade shows.

5. Personalized Merchandise 

I admit it – even as a virtual summit veteran, I still pick up conference t-shirts and peruse booths for the best freebies to take home, even though the last thing I need is another water bottle.

Personalized merchandise is a fun and engaging part of in-person events, although when I think of packing that swag in my suitcase, I start to reconsider…

I can almost hear you thinking “Can’t virtual events create merchandise as well?

The answer? Yes, they can.

Although unnecessary, t-shirts are often shipped out to staff to wear in videos or given to speakers with the option of recording their videos in the personalized swag.

Some marketers even offer exclusive merch to All-Access Pass participants for a personalized touch.

Our conclusion? Everyone loves t-shirts. In-person events are king in merchandise.

6. Long-Term ROI Effects 

Long-term ROI is difficult to measure right away. 

Both physical and virtual events leave strong brand associations in the minds of the participants.

The difference is that virtual events are able to run longer, accumulate more leads, and reach more people. The big data acquired during the event also leads to a ton of revenue in sales as a result of lead nurturing. 

The victor? It depends on your company’s goals, but the possibilities with virtual events are virtually endless. 

Is Your Company Ready to Run a Virtual Event?

Will virtual events lead to the demise of physical events?

We’d say never. People are still people – at the end of the day, they want connection. But they also want convenience.

Many opt for a hybrid event that combines the two, with live streaming, repeat days, or any number of the many options that add value for physical attendees while extending reach to virtual attendees.

There’s a place for both in any marketing mix. When you’re ready to go virtual, give 6Connex a call to book a demo and discover how virtual event software can help grow your business.