Hosting a virtual pharmaceutical conference? Avoid these 6 mistakes.

Virtual healthcare and pharma conferences can be just as impactful – sometimes, even more so – than physical ones.

Like any new endeavour – as virtual events are likely to be for many pharma companies following the COVID-19 pandemic – there are a lot of considerations you’ll need to make in order to ensure your conference runs smoothly.

We previously shared our top tips for transitioning from physical to virtual health conferences in this blog; and below, our experts at Gravit8 have outlined the six most common mistakes that we have found pharma companies making when planning their virtual conferences.

We’ve also included some helpful tips and advice on how to prevent these from occurring! Read on to learn more…

6 critical mistakes to avoid when hosting a virtual pharmaceutical conference:

1. Not establishing any goals for the event

According to Digital Healthcare Consultant Len Starnes:

“During the previous three years we have witnessed the pharmaceutical industry’s growing interest in virtual conferencing, particularly in the context of medical society events. However, for the majority of pharmas, interest has yet to translate into business-relevant strategies or initiatives.”

As a result, these organisations are bypassing immense opportunities to generate interest in their latest findings, products and services, and are losing out on a substantial ROI; not only financially, but in terms of professional connections, time and other resources, too.

So, when it comes to hosting a pharmaceutical virtual conference, it is essential that you establish what the overall goals are for the event. From there, you will be able to plan the conference with a clear structure in order to achieve those goals.

2. Not placing your focus on the needs of your delegates

As we have mentioned in previous blogs, two of the main reasons that pharma professionals attend virtual conferences and events are to network with other professionals in the field, and to gather and learn new information about their specialism.

Unfortunately (and understandably), it can be all too easy to focus your virtual pharmaceutical conference on promoting your products and services, as opposed to providing both this and something of value for your delegates to take away with them. As a result, these delegates (who are likely already time-poor) may leave the event frustrated.

With this in mind, it’s important to ensure that any content shared (such as presentation slides, brochures and so on) is available to download and take away, so that delegates are not having to take notes and worry about missing out on any information.

What’s more, if your virtual space only makes use of a virtual auditorium or a simple streaming interface (more on this in the following point), this will make it difficult for delegates to connect with you and other event attendees.

Therefore, when planning for your conference, ensure that you place your focus on providing valuable content and information for your delegates, as well as virtual spaces for them to meet and connect with you and other attendees.

3. Choosing the wrong virtual platform type

When it comes to running a virtual conference, there are a variety of different platforms you can host on – and choosing the wrong kind of platform for your virtual conference could be the difference between a flop and a hit.

For example, while a simple webinar interface may seem like an affordable choice which will allow speakers to present to delegates, it may not be able to provide the “wow” factor and interaction opportunities required to keep them engaged (more on this below).

Or, you may choose to implement streaming software; however, while this will offer your delegates a high-quality presentation with great content delivery, it may not supply the networking opportunities they or your business desire.

Therefore, when it comes to planning your virtual conference, ensure you choose the best possible platform that will meet the needs of everyone involved to avoid disappointment (you can learn more about the different types of virtual event you should consider in this blog).

NB: It’s essential that your chosen platform also complies with the pharma meetings and events regulations set out by The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

4. Missing out on opportunities for engagement

We’ve said it countless times before in previous blogs, but engagement really is key to any successful virtual event!

In a physical conference setting, providing opportunities for interaction to boost engagement is notoriously difficult, and therefore rarely implemented. This often means that these opportunities are also forgotten about when it comes to virtual pharmaceutical conferences.

Unfortunately, not being able to hold the attention of your delegates is a sure-fire way of losing their interest and (as it’s much easier to click “leave event” than get up and walk out of a physical venue) them potentially even dropping out of the event altogether.

However, with the right platform, virtual conferences can offer pharma companies multiple means of interacting with delegates; from interactive polls and quizzes, live Q&A sessions, surveys and more.

Therefore, when planning your pharmaceutical virtual event, be sure to include as many opportunities for interaction as possible.

5. Not tracking attendee activity and engagement

The above being said, maximising opportunities for engagement at your pharma conferences will be for naught if you do not implement any tracking or data gathering/analytics to reflect upon for future events.

In short, by implementing engagement tracking within your virtual conference auditorium, you’ll be able to see how many delegates are actively participating in the interactive elements of your conference and downloading content, or at which point (if at all) they drop out of the event.

With the right platform, information such as this is only the tip of the iceberg of data you can gather and use (in line with GDPR and pharma regulations/compliance) to determine what to include or exclude at your future virtual conferences. Therefore, ensure that you implement this where possible in your event.

6. Not following up with delegates after the conference

Following up with your delegates shortly after your virtual pharmaceutical conference is essential. By not doing so, you will be missing out on the chance to leave a lasting and positive impression that will encourage delegates to attend your conferences again in the future, or to foster additional networking opportunities with them.

What’s more, in the increasingly busy and time-stretched pharma landscape, it can be all too easy to create a follow-up that is un-impactful and doesn’t offer the delegate anything of additional value, subsequently discouraging them from signing up for your next event.

When creating a follow-up (usually an email) to your event, be sure to:

  • personalise it by addressing the delegate by name
  • thank the delegate for their attendance
  • provide a survey link where they can provide feedback
  • provide a link to all the content and resources shared at the event
  • include a calendar link to your next event if you have one planned

Other common virtual pharma conference mistakes to be aware of include:

  • Overwhelming delegates with too much, unvaried or irrelevant content
  • Not scheduling in any rehearsal time prior to the event
  • Not preparing for any potential technical hitches
  • Missing out on sponsorship and branding opportunities
  • Choosing the wrong speakers and/or sponsors

Fortunately, all the above mistakes can be easily prevented.

At Gravit8, we’ve been working in the pharma events industry for over 20 years.

In that time, we have refined our approach to ensure that the virtual conferences of the pharma companies we work with not only go smoothly, but are truly engaging, exciting, and provide them with every possible opportunity to connect with their delegates and achieve profitable outcomes.

In fact, we have been chosen by seven of the world’s top 12 healthcare and pharma organisations to help them pivot to the virtual event space, and have helped them to exceed their event goals as a result!

If you’d like to learn more about this and how we can support you to achieve the same outstanding results through our innovative Gravit8 platform, schedule your free discussion and demonstration with our team today.