A Quick Guide to Planning Virtual Conferences on a Budget


Share on LinkedIn

As technology has developed, so have opportunities to start hosting conferences online. While this tech was previously going through a stable yet slow growth in popularity, the COVID-19 pandemic soon came along and forced the world to digitize at a rapid rate. 

Social distancing and, to be frank, genuine health anxiety put a stop to most in-person conferences globally, and while many decided to postpone or simply cancel, others took the opportunity to innovate and explore the world of virtual conferencing. 

In general, this seems to have been a successful exploit, with 85.3 percent of people thinking the virtual conference is here to stay. 

Image source

While we might anticipate that conducting conferences online makes them automatically cheaper, it can still be challenging to organize a successful event on a budget. Hosting platforms, equipment, and even process management software come at a price. 

This article, however, offers a quick guide to planning a more affordable virtual conference. 

1. Work out your budget

The first thing you need to do is obvious – figure out what your budget is. This will depend on your objectives. So, before we talk about the logistics, take a moment to think about what you want to get out of your conference. Is it supposed to maximize revenue? Or are you looking to engage a community or generate new leads? 

Your objective will impact what elements of your conference you’re willing to invest more money in and is an important consideration. 

You need to make a list of all elements that will have a cost attached, whether big or small. Make a list of any item you might need. For example, if conducting interviews, you may want to improve sound and video quality by renting or buying video and audio equipment to improve the digital customer experience

Alongside every element, write a description, note the amount needed, the estimated cost, and (afterward) the actual cost. It may also be worth ranking how essential the element is, so if you find yourself going over budget, making cuts is simplified.  

Once you have a budget in mind, start doing research to find your resources. 

Image source

2. Decide what your format will be

How do you want your conference to play out? Are you intending a series of ‘lectures’ or do you want the opportunity for breakout rooms and networking or a live channel for your audience to submit questions and post their thoughts?

These considerations are important when selecting a platform, as some are more sophisticated than others, and there are a lot to choose from. There may be an inclination to go for a widely used platform, but these might lack the necessary tools or be expensive. It’s worth looking around for other options, as you never know – you may find the perfect platform in a list of RingCentral alternatives. 

Despite this, don’t forget you’re saving money on the venue, catering, and branding, and investing in a reliable and sophisticated platform can make or break the quality of your virtual conference. It deserves prioritization. 

Make a list of the pros and cons of different tech solutions and platforms, as well as the cost, and use this information alongside your budgeting plan to make a decision. If you’re still struggling, it’s worth reaching out to someone with experience running a similar event and asking for advice. 

Don’t forget to assemble a strong customer support team too. Things can go wrong when using an online platform, but what will help keep clients satisfied is dealing with problems quickly and effectively. When you don’t take care of this, issues can spiral and customer support can become the problem rather than the solution.  

3. Don’t underestimate high-quality content

The quality of content in a virtual event is arguably more important than in a live conference. People can leave with the click of a button and will already be comfortable and back at home. This means incentives to stay have to be high, and the best way to achieve this is through your content, so this is an area where you don’t want to scrimp.  

Live chats, polls, and opportunities for your audience to stay engaged can be a great way to improve the quality of your conference without spending an extortionate amount. It also goes without saying that speakers and topics should be relevant and interesting. No one likes to waste their time, and listening to material that doesn’t resonate will lead to people tuning out. 

Make sure to record any talks or events that happen during your virtual conference to maximize their value. These can be added to an on-demand platform and are a great way to generate more views post-event day. 

Image source

4. Use intelligent independent marketing 

One way to save money is to take on the marketing yourself. This is an area of the event which can be done for free (in so much as your time is free). 

Rather than outsourcing to an agency, do your own marketing. If you’ve spent money on high-quality content, your virtual conference shouldn’t be a hard sell. This could be a mix of email marketing, social media posting, and content marketing designed to create hype and beat the challenges of appealing to a B2B audience. 

During the event, it’s worth live-tweeting, as this may encourage others to tune in to some of the episodes on demand. You can even run surveys to gather feedback and post some of the better responses to encourage people to attend your next conference. 

Marketing is an expensive aspect of an event, and while extremely valuable, when working on a budget, it’s something that can be done internally to save money. 

To summarize 

When it comes to running a virtual conference on a budget, your success will be reliant on how well you organize and research beforehand. The better prepared you are, the less likely you’ll have unexpected last-minute expenses or waste money on tech solutions when there’s a cheaper or better option available. 

By taking your time and considering every cost, you can effectively prioritize where your money goes and host a successful virtual event.

Jenna Bunnell
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here