How to Maximize Your Event Strategy with Virtual and Hybrid Events
Virtual and hybrid events can make great additions to your overall event strategy. There’s been a large increase in event owners utilizing virtual events to reach their strategic goals over the last several years. This trend is expected to continue, with the virtual event industry forecasted to grow to $404.5 billion by 2027.
If you’re ready to maximize your event strategy by incorporating virtual and hybrid events, here’s what you need to know.
What Business Objectives Can You Meet with Events?
A well-crafted event strategy can help you meet all sorts of business objectives including:
- Increasing Brand Awareness: Events can help you get your name out there! Whether you’re organizing an event or sponsoring one, event marketing is a great way to get your name and products in front of people. You can use events to drive traffic to your website, blog, social media, or generate newsletter signups as well to meet specific brand awareness goals and build long-lasting relationships.
- Boosting Sales/Generating Leads: Everyone wants to generate more revenue, right? Events can make great lead generation sources. They give you an opportunity to get your sales staff in front of a large number of potential customers in a short amount of time and get them into your sales pipeline.
- Industry Positioning/Thought Leadership: Organizing or sponsoring events can be a great way to position your organization as industry leaders.
- Education: Events can be a great way to accomplish your internal training and education goals. They can also be used to provide continuing education credit or certificate courses to external participants. Offering such courses can help your organization generate funds through registration fees, gain brand awareness, and generate leads for your core business services.
- Product Marketing: Events are great ways to get your product in front of potential customers! You can offer product demos at an exhibitor booth or even hold a product launch event to showcase and create hype around new releases.
- Networking: Networking is a popular reason for attending events, and networking activities can also provide a forum for you to connect with potential customers and partners in a more authentic manner.
Benefits of Incorporating Virtual and Hybrid Events into Your Overall Event Strategy
Virtual and hybrid events can be used to meet all of the above business objectives when leveraged in a strategic manner. Here is what they bring to your overall event strategy:
Reach Wider Audiences
Incorporating hybrid and virtual events into your overall event strategy will allow you to reach a larger audience. With the general workforce and many industries becoming more geographically distributed, it’s becoming more challenging to gather everyone in one conference center for an in-person event. Virtual and hybrid events let you reach interested attendees wherever they are. Whether that means reaching attendees across the country or across the world.
Hosting or sponsoring virtual or hybrid events can also be more cost effective if you need to reach multiple markets.
In addition to removing geographic barriers, virtual and hybrid events also remove barriers related to travel, cost, accessibility, and family commitments. Not everyone can hop on a plane and leave town for a week to attend a conference, so giving attendees the option to participate from their homes or offices opens up another audience for your event. Making content available for on demand viewing after the event also helps you reach those with time zone or scheduling conflicts.
Creating Deeper Connections
Virtual and hybrid events provide not only additional ways to connect with attendees, but also more time to connect with attendees. Leveraging pre- and post-event content allows you to cultivate deeper connections.
It can take up to ten customer touchpoints to close a sale. Virtual events let you accomplish more touches throughout the event and before the event has even officially started. If your main business objective is lead generation or sales-focused, pre-event content can accelerate the sales pipeline for you. With a well-rounded pre-event content strategy, you won’t be chasing cold leads by the time the event officially starts – you’ll be answering questions and conducting product demos for hot leads that are already interested in your product or service.
Post-event content can also be used to achieve your business objectives. Event attendees are inundated with information throughout the event. Leaving content up for on-demand viewing after the event allows them to revisit the event and sponsor content that they were interested in, providing more opportunities for lead generation, and increased brand awareness. People also often like to revisit education-focused content to refresh their memories, clarify concepts they missed or had confusion on during the initial viewing, or to guide them in implementing the concepts or processes covered. Events can be hectic, so allowing attendees to rewatch on demand content during a calmer moment can lead to better information retention, more clicks to external links like sponsors’ social media or websites, and the ability to share product or service information with other decision makers within their household or company.
Enhanced Data Analytics
The robust data reporting provided by virtual event platforms allows you to more accurately measure the success of your events against your chosen success metrics. Tracking success metrics at in-person events can be tricky, but this data allows you to accurately measure the success of your virtual event strategy execution based on engagement, content views, leads generated, and more!
On Social27 Virtual Event Platform, event owners and sponsors have access to data on how visitors interacted with their content, how many chats and virtual meetings took place, a list of attendees that requested more information, and more. You can access this data in real-time and utilize post-event reporting to adjust your strategy for next time if needed.
Social27 Virtual Event Platform also has built-in lead generation forms and a Scan My Badge feature that makes it easy for attendees to let exhibitors know if they’d like more information. These helpful tools make lead generation objectives easy to track and accomplish.
How to Leverage a Diversified Event Strategy With In-Person, Hybrid, and Virtual
The shift to virtual formats doesn’t mean that you need to phase out in-person events completely. In fact, most companies and business objectives are best served by utilizing a diversified event strategy. Having virtual, in-person, and hybrid events in your toolbelt can allow you to meet multiple business objectives and cater to a wider variety of audiences.
Hybrid events are ideal for your biggest events where you hope to have the largest reach. Like virtual events, hybrid events remove geographic barriers as well as venue capacity limitations to allow the greatest number of people to attend. They come with the added benefit of allowing attendees to choose how they wish to attend and interact with the event.
For mid-size events, it may be most practical to go virtual only. Virtual events also allow you to capture the most data from attendees. Depending on your business objectives, that data may be very important. For example, if your goal is lead generation, having a seamless way to capture and engage leads in real time will help you meet your KPIs. Rather than having to wait until you get back to the office to sort through business cards and send out follow-up emails, you can capture their data throughout the event, let interested parties schedule a meeting or demo easily as their viewing your content, and provide resources that they can review immediately. This helps propel the lead qualification and buying processes while your products and services are fresh in their minds and they’re actively engaged.
There’s still room in the mix for solely in-person events. In-person events can be effective in putting on smaller, more intimate events. Virtual and hybrid events are great for reaching wider audiences, but sometimes you want to host a more localized event. If you’re planning a networking event for professionals in a specific city, in-person could be the way to go. For events centered around product marketing objectives, it may be useful to host a smaller in-person event if you are test-launching a product in a specific market prior to making it more widely available. An in-person event would allow you to target only consumers in your test market and provide an opportunity for everyone to get their hands on demo models and give potentially useful feedback.
Diversified Event Strategies in Action
Many of our clients have found success using a mix of all three event types.
One example of a diversified event strategy could be to host:
- A large annual hybrid event as the organization’s main event of the year. This event could meet multiple business objectives by bringing in respected speakers that the brand can align themselves with for thought leadership and industry positioning goals. This can also be a source of lead generation and product marketing through exhibition booths, product demos, and targeted sessions.
- Medium-sized quarterly virtual events to share product updates, launches, and generate brand awareness.
- Small local in-person events for professional training and continuing education credits to meet education objectives and industry positioning objectives by using the events for internal employee industry education and offering paid registrations to others who will view your organization as an industry leader sharing thoughtful insights. These events may event boost brand awareness and generate leads as well.
These combined would provide a fairly comprehensive event strategy. Of course, the specifics of each event need to be tailored to your organization’s goals, operations, and industry. Regardless of which format you choose, keep in mind that all events should center around the same 3 core pillars- content, networking, and sponsors.
Social27 Virtual Event Platform is Ready to Help You Take Your Event Strategy Further
Social27 Virtual Event Platform can help you create virtual and hybrid events to fit your goals. With lead generation forms and a Scan My Badge feature to help capture leads, branding opportunities throughout the virtual event platform, multiple ways to connect with attendees, and more – you can hit all your KPIs with Social27 Virtual Event Platform.
Set up a demo today to see everything the platform has to offer.