Build a Virtual Event Environment with Sitefinity’s Webinar Widget

Build a Virtual Event Environment with Sitefinity’s Webinar Widget

Posted on June 15, 2020 0 Comments
Build a Virtual Event Environment with Sitefinity’s Webinar Widget

Learn how we built our own virtual event environment in Sitefinity in just 10 days by using the existing webinar widget and making a few tweaks.

We all know the world changed in the first few months of 2020. For us here at Progress we were launching a new roadshow series with a marque analyst firm and a new national venue partner. Interest was high, registrations were good and then COVID-19 hit the US. Like so many marketing teams we had to reinvent our event strategy overnight.

So we did what so many of you also did, we moved our events online, we looked to replace live face-to-face events with our own hosted virtual events as well as sponsoring and participating in third-party online events.

See our Digital Experience Showcase

Virtual Live or Virtual On-Demand?

One of the first choices we had to make is will our virtual events be live or only on-demand? We took different strategies for different audiences. For our installed based events, we know these folks, they’re interactive, they’re engaged and engaging. We knew virtual live was our best bet for this crowd. We did a platform evaluation and landed on a tool that met our very specific requirements. We needed the ability for our “keynote” sessions to splinter off into self-selected breakouts. For live streaming at scale and this breakout session need, we went with BrightTalk as our event platform partner.

But for some of our prospecting events we wanted as many eyes as possible on the content, so we knew an on-demand format was our best choice. We had several types of content:


Specialty spotlight sessions

  • From our amazing digital agency partners


  • Our solution architects and engineers from around the world show video “how-tos” on the product. Shout out to all of them because they were able to record their sessions from their home offices during the COVID quarantine mandates, and they all did it with a smile!

The On-Demand Marketing Business Requirements

For our on-demand only project, as the project owner from the “business” side, I had already been demoed a variety of virtual event environments and I knew what they could do from a functionality standpoint. But I am a Sitefinity fanatic so I also knew what Sitefinity could do. I wrote a simple request to my Sitefinity internal implementation team of frontend and backend developers and I outlined my requirements. This is what I wanted:

  • To show a collection of pre-recorded content
  • The ability to mix the gating requirements of the content—some sessions would be without forms gating them, some sessions would require form fills (OK, OK, I’m demand gen at heart and in the end I gated them all, but I wanted to know if I had flexibility. I did.)
  • On-demand attendees should have the ability to leave questions for the presenters of each session
  • Every session viewer should have the ability to share on social media that they were watching this content and recommend it to their own networks
  • We should be able to present related content to anyone watching any given session
The main index page of our virtual event environment showing various types of sessions we could choose to gate or not.

The main index page of our virtual event environment showing various types of sessions we could choose to gate or not.

Making it Happen

I met with the whole team on March 20 and outlined my vision. By April 1 we had live prototypes that we continued to refine and perfect. We troubleshooted issues with our Eloqua forms integrations—could we have attendees register for one session and then unlock all sessions? Could we prepopulate the form fields for our cookied audience but still allow them to make updates if their information changed?

Individual session form page with cookied data prepopulated on the form.


Individual session form page with cookied data prepopulated on the form.

I, as the “the client,” continued to inform our web team what we wanted to do, and they continued to tweak it, until we launched something I am so proud of that I had to edit expletives out of this blog! The team did amazing work and did it so collaboratively that I am sending them all Siitefinity socks to warm their feet they way they warmed my heart (DM me for your own pair).

How did we do it? The webinar widget. We just zhooshed it up a bit.

For building the desired business functionalities for this page in Sitefinity, we were able to re-use functionality of an already existing custom dynamic module for hosting our product webinar resources and a prebuilt web form in the forms module of Sitefinity.

How does the dynamic module work? We have a hub page, listing all videos content items of a specific type and each of these can be viewed after the Sitefinity web form integrated with Eloqua is filled out by the user and submitted.

The steps were simple:

  • Duplicate the two pages and two widget templates that our webinar module uses. There’s a listing page with all videos and a detailed page for each of them, respectively the same for the widget templates—one for the list view and one for the detailed view.
  • Tweak them a little bit, so they fit the new designs and business requirements (some data fields were hidden, some were added).
  • Finally, create the new video content in the same webinar module we already have.

These new videos weren’t supposed to appear on the main webinars page, so the way we filtered them is by creating new a classifications category. All items tagged with this category will appear only on our virtual event page.

Having the webinars dynamic module in the Sitefinity CMS, allowed us not only to build a new event page in a matter of days, but also to enhance its functionality easily, so we meet our business goals. Marketing people are enabled to add new videos on the event page easily and decide if these will be gated or not. In a similar manner, we could build a new event or other type of resource landing page for another marketing initiative in a couple of days.  

One other element we thought was important was a video intro that was consistent for all sessions and grabbed the attention of the viewers right away and tied everything together. We turned to our partner LEAP Agency for assistance. In tandem with our talented in-house design team, LEAP was able to give us something visually compelling that set the stage for what the viewer was about to have—a captivating digital experience.

The outcome is our Digital Experience Showcase with so much fun-to-watch content you can do it in or out of quarantine. Watch the showcase sessions to learn more about digital transformations built on Sitefinity, our partners success stories on Sitefinity, and the market landscape we’re developing Sitefinity to respond to. Watch keynotes to hear what is trending in the industry. Or watch the demos to see how easy Sitefinity is to use.

But while you’re watching, know you’re in a Sitefinity environment the team was able to spin up in 10 days using the functionality of the webinar widget.

See our Digital Experience Showcase

Jennifer McAdams VP of global demand generation and field marketing Progress

Jennifer McAdams

Jen McAdams was Vice President of Global Demand Generation and Field Marketing.


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