The coronavirus pandemic forced our world to accelerate into a digital-first future faster than anticipated. It challenged companies and brands to think outside the box and find new ways to engage with their audience. Many in-person events on the books had to shift into a virtual environment – and we shared some pointers on how to successfully make this transition. Hybrid events with in-person and virtual attendees are a beast of their own, and they are here to stay.
This structure offers us access to an increased audience and improved engagement, which can result in a higher return on investment (ROI). While the focus was on the in-person or virtual event experience before, we must now ensure our content is engaging and relatable to combine both worlds seamlessly.
As more events return to in-person experiences, it’s clear that the shift to virtual events was beneficial for many companies. It’s true that in-person events remain crucial for the human connection and physical networking that can’t be replicated easily online, but when it comes to making content more widely accessible, the virtual component is key.
Because virtual events can be done (and attended) from practically anywhere, tight budgets and travel expenses are less of a barrier. By participating in and hosting virtual events, many companies were able to reach a wider audience with the ability to better qualify prospects based on their participation.
A benefit of hybrid events is that they aren’t limited by geography, so you can attract relevant attendees through targeted social media advertising efforts regardless of their location – or in specific regions you’d like to generate more awareness in.
Hybrid events must be operated through a tech-friendly events platform that will help you execute the event flawlessly in-person and virtually. These tools will allow you to track traditional in-person event metrics like registrants and attendees, but also the number of online conversations, content downloads and more. Ideally, the platform can capture and display both in-person and virtual polls and questions so that all individuals can participate and see each other’s activity.
Presenters will also need to be trained to speak to both audiences. They will need to know if they can use a teleprompter, where the camera will be recording and practice connecting with both groups simultaneously. Take note, this is not a new concept! Think about all the pre-pandemic entertainment awards shows, sports games or even press conferences where individuals were addressing people in-person and through the screen. The difference now is that hybrid models will be the new norm, and all types of events will benefit from a live and virtual component to attract and engage more people.
The main question marketers ask is how can I measure the success of this event? Luckily, hybrid events offer highly trackable ROI. Virtual event platforms offer more sophisticated engagement tracking for attendees, allowing you to see what content resonates with whom and gather more of their information in one place so that it’s easier to measure all metrics seamlessly. Metrics that can help qualify a prospective customer include participation time, engagement with live polls, Q&As and chats, post-event survey responses, content downloads and Net Promoter Score (NPS).
We’ve pivoted a lot over the past year and for the most part, we’ve adjusted well and chosen to embrace the changes. Virtual events have opened a wealth of opportunities including reaching larger audiences, engaging more creatively, and discovering a better way to measure the impact of our events. As the world continues to adjust and reopen, make sure your events plan includes a virtual component.