Virtual Events Part 3: Choosing the right martech

All-in-one platform or build your own stack? You must choose. Here’s how to get started.

This is the third in a series of virtual events. In Part 1, we discussed the differences between virtual and personal events. Part 2 focuses on virtual networking events.

In the early days of martech, the discussion was furious about whether implementing an all-in-one platform or “stack” of the best applications produced the best results.

This is the choice that virtual event producers now face and the benefits and pitfalls of each approach apply to virtual event production as well.

What are you trying to achieve? Set goals and requirements in advance

As with any other Martech choice, the answer is “platform or stack?” it depends on what you are trying to achieve. Start defining your goals. Do you offer a corporate program with many sponsors, and is this the purpose of the interaction between visitors and sponsors? Is training where learning produces the greatest benefits? Or is the participant-to-participant network the square root of the value it will generate? Answering these questions (and many more) will lead to the decisions you make.

For example, if you are planning a large event with thousands of attendees and presentations, it’s important to consider scale, because you need a powerful platform that can handle a large number of attendees at the same time. On the other hand, if your opportunities are limited and include pre-recorded content, or if it’s a mixed scenario with living and on-demand, you’re in for a different challenge.

The implications of the desired business model or opportunity experience cannot be underestimated. There is no solution for everyone. You will have to study to find the right solution. 

Start with the three “Revs”:

• Document the required properties;

• Define use cases for the most important stakeholders;

• Determine the budget.

In addition to goals, you need to define requirements, a list of resources you expect from attendees, sponsors, and your team. By compiling a detailed list, you can get started on the right track and save a lot of time in the long run. You avoid unnecessary conversations with hundreds of suppliers who are now competing for virtual opportunities for your business.

Your needs should start with ideas about the experience your attendees expect, including a simple, mobile-friendly application form. Request your registration? If so, how does the registration system handle payments (and refunds!). Are there different types of tickets? Will the event be live, pre-recorded, or a combination of both? How do you contact visitors? What benefits do sponsors get? How do you measure activity, engagement, and ultimately the success of the event?

Make sure your business model takes into account your opportunities. For example, if your event is free and sponsors pay for a delivery, ask about sponsorship needs, such as branding, reporting, and support. If your meeting template is based on combinations or a 1: 1 meeting, you also need to work harder to meet the requirements. Where possible, involve the most important participants – visitors, sponsors, and most importantly your team – in the decisions. In the process, you will receive the necessary and essential purchases for the success of any Martech project.

Multifunctional virtual event platforms offer a standard feature set. Some of them you will love them. I hate some of it. And ignore the others.

Depending on your team’s resources, choosing a multifunctional platform can be a smart way to impose a structure, especially in the workflow. Find a clear way to get things done and support the vendor’s customer service team, including integration and training.

The alternative to a multifunctional platform is a stacking event. A stack consists of tools that offer the same or more functionality as a platform, but with the advantage of being able to replace elements or as needed.

An opportunity stacking approach offers flexibility to integrate advanced technologies and features and is usually cheaper than using a multi-functional platform.

What are the disadvantages of a battery? You buy items from different suppliers and need to combine them to provide a seamless user experience and collect data for sponsors and for your own personal use. You are also alone; batteries do not reach customer success organizations to support their efforts.

Avengers (er, stacked), come on!

Setting up your own opportunity stack means taking responsibility for things like managing multiple content management systems and landing pages, hosting the video, and other widgets and tools. It is highly recommended that you trust the document you need and stick to what is important (you didn’t skip this step, did you?). Do you need recordings and recordings or are they just things that make you feel good, but are not used on your premises? Do you have many or no sponsors? This affects your reporting needs. Are there questions and answers live during sessions or do they appear on a Slack channel or private Facebook group?

The building or assembling a stack can seem exciting because of the flexibility it offers and potentially cheaper. But the meeting has disadvantages and concerns. For example, if you don’t have a technically qualified or curious team, it can be difficult to connect all the dots between the different solutions. A well-designed event stack has more moving parts than an all-in-one event platform. You need to manage multiple providers and have no sources of support.

While the idea of   having everything in an all-in-one solution sounds comforting, it can also be extremely limiting. In this virtual and digital environment, where innovation occurs at the same speed as the customer expects, a platform contract can have major disadvantages, such as agility and flexibility, in addition to creating the experience for its customers.

When researching your options, I recommend that you clarify your main requirements and combine them directly with your business model. Identify who on your team can manage integrations and prepare everyone for the benefits of stacking and how everything changes, from initial experience to event management.

So, what’s the best approach: all in one or stack? It depends. You can only answer the question by taking the time to understand your needs, budget, and the experience you want to offer.

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