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In May, Atera hosted a virtual event that drew an astounding 10,091 registrations. Not impressed by the number alone? Let us put it into perspective: around 60% of virtual events host 300 or less attendees.

In 2023, we launched our flagship event, Ateraverse—a two-day virtual conference for IT professionals, which was an all-around success. This year, for our second Ateraverse, we achieved a jaw-dropping 236% year-over-year increase in registrations.

In this blog, we’ll outline an action plan for you to do the same.

#1 Set clear objectives—but don’t be afraid to move the goalposts

Decide your KPIs before you start planning your event. Some of the ones we defined were:

  • Number of registrations and attendance rate
  • Engagement metrics (number of questions per session and chat participation)
  • Post-event feedback scores
  • Post-event lead conversion rate

Be open to adjusting your KPIs as your event promotion rolls out. We started with a registration goal of 4,000 registrations, based on the numbers we saw the year before—and reached it within the first week. Once we realized we hit on something good with our strategy, we updated our goal to 10,000, and achieved it a day before the event started.

#2 Be strategic about planning—and promotion

When it comes to events such as these, having a project manager and a clear roadmap will make or break your event. Decide on your work methodology: Will you have “pods” with a writer, a designer, someone from acquisition, etc., or split your tasks evenly across available resources? How will you keep everyone in the loop, via a dedicated slack channel, weekly meetings, or both? Don’t forget to have one source of truth for all assets and information.

Promotion strategy:

  • Create a compelling landing page
  • Use email marketing and organic and paid promotion
  • Leverage your partners and customers
  • Tap industry influencers
  • Increase engagement with strategic moves such as raffles among attendees

KPIs to track:

  • Email open and click-through rates
  • Impressions and engagement
  • LP conversation rates

#3 Don’t shy away from thinking creatively about speakers and content

We chose the theme “AI in Action” for Ateraverse ‘24, to align with the official launch of our Action AI™ technology. AI was therefore the underlying thread of our agenda, and we aimed to strike a balance between thought leadership—such as our responsible AI discussion with Microsoft’s Dr. Sarah Bird—and practical content like our AI workshops that closed both days. We also provided a variety of formats, with panels, hands-on workshops, fireside chats, and interview-style sessions alongside live Q&A.

Our keynote speaker, however, was chosen not for his connection to AI, but for his iconic status among our target audience: John Romero, of Doom and Wolfenstein 3D fame. Some of our attendees were ecstatic about our choice and some were decidedly—and emphatically—not, but the engagement around his promotion was hundreds of percentages higher than around any of our other speakers.

Tips for choosing speakers:

  • Consider not just expertise but also influence, and even engagement with promotion
  • Coordination can be difficult, especially across geographies and time zones. Choose which sessions to pre-record and which to do live, and have backup plans in case of last-minute crises.
  • Provide all speakers with clear guidelines, make all questions and topics available beforehand, and have at least one practice run with all participants before the event.

KPIs to track:

  • Session attendance rate
  • Average time spent per session
  • Audience feedback on content, speakers, and user experience 

#4 The right tools for the job

Running such an event is stressful enough without having to worry about technical issues. Consider what capabilities you need from your virtual platform:

  • Do you need interactive features such as polls, Q&A and chat, breakout rooms, and networking rooms?
  • Does the platform have a support representative assigned to you for the duration of your event?
  • Do you need to run several tracks simultaneously? 
  • What kind of files does the platform allow? PDF or PowerPoint? What about audio and video files? 
  • Does the platform record your sessions automatically for on-demand use later? Does it have automatic subtitle capabilities?

Those are just a few of the questions you need to answer.

Don’t skip event dry-runs to test your slides, videos, streaming, and session switches—and clear instructions for attendees on using the platform won’t go amiss, either.

#5 The Command Center

Yes, it deserves capitalization. The Command center is your final—and essential—step to ensuring a smooth, successful event. Having everyone involved in the live running of the event in one place ensures communication is instantaneous and every issue is handled efficiently by the right person. 

Pre-event setup:

  • Conduct a detailed briefing session for the Command Center team covering roles, responsibilities, and escalation procedures.
  • Ensure all equipment and software are tested and functioning.
  • Set up a clear communication plan with multiple channels among both the supporting staff and the speakers.

During the event:

  • Assign team members to specific tasks such as chat monitoring, Q&A management, and social media tracking.
  • Station team members backstage 10 minutes before each session to assist speakers with any last-minute preparations.
  • Have a dedicated person to log and manage any technical issues and communicate with platform support if needed, ensuring quick resolution.

#6 Post-event follow-up and analysis

Give yourself a big pat on the back for a great event, but you don’t get to rest on your laurels just yet. There are several actions still needed, both attendee-facing and internal.

For your attendees and registrants: 

  • Conduct a feedback survey.
  • Send thank-you emails with all the information you promised during the event, be it decks and documents, recordings, or survey results.
  • Ensure all content is made available on demand on your website.
  • If you ran any raffles or promised prizes, now is the time to send them.

Internal:

  • Make sure all leads collected go into the proper nurture tracks and all contact requests are taken care of.
  • Analyze all data collected to measure success and identify areas for improvement.
  • Conduct a retrospective with all personnel involved to collect feedback about the planning, communication, and more.
  • Have a repurposing plan in place for all the amazing content you generated through your hard work.

The success of Ateraverse ‘24 showcases the potential of combining meticulous planning, strategic promotion, engaging content, and the right technology—a process that allowed us to set a new benchmark with over 10,000 registrations.

By following the insights and action plan outlined in this blog, you can replicate our success and elevate your own virtual events to new heights. Remember, the key lies in setting clear objectives, being strategic about planning, engaging your audience with relevant content and speakers, leveraging the right tools—and of course, having the best people available on the job. 

Here’s to your next record-breaking virtual event!

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