In 2019, Coachella live streamed both its weekends on YouTube for the first time ever. In its first live streamed weekend, it got 82 million live views. Similarly, amidst the COVID-19 restrictions, 91.63 million fans watched the Super Bowl live on TV versus the 25,000 attendees it could reasonably host at the stadium. Hybrid events may be gaining popularity among event professionals and CMOs just recently. But the concept isn’t new.
The world is all digital. Events should be too.
Many corporations have used a hybrid event strategy for years to successfully scale their marketing efforts. Salesforce is one such example. Its flagship conference, Dreamforce – the world’s largest software event – has had a digital component for years now. About 170,000 people attend it in-person and about 10 million join online.
After going completely virtual in 2020, Salesforce announced its first-ever global Dreamforce in September this year. It will take place in San Francisco and cities around the world, including New York City, London, and Paris, both in-person and digitally. “Whether you join us in person or online, it will be the most innovative and immersive Dreamforce ever – another example of how, in this new all-digital world, we can achieve success from anywhere,” said Sarah Franklin, President and CMO, Salesforce.
High-quality virtual and hybrid event platforms are now available to any marketer because of incredible improvements in event technology. There are many different reasons to go hybrid – depending on the type of your organization and your events strategy.
But here are four universal reasons you must consider adding hybrid events to your marketing mix:
1. Meet your audience where they are
Millennials and Gen Z form 42.43% of the total US population. And virtual communication is the default for this Insta-generation. They hang out on the internet much more than they hang out in person. Brands and businesses must meet them where they are and want to be. Hybrid events make it easily possible because:
- You can give attendees the choice to attend virtually or in person. And audiences appreciate this flexibility quite a bit. Even more than usual in the times of COVID-19.
- You are free from the constraints of a physical event space being too small or inconveniently located.
- Your geographical and budget limitations to scale your event strategy go out of the window. So, you can effortlessly reach a wider audience base.
- You get greater control over how your message reaches attendees as well as where it reaches them from. Whether you want to reach out through live streaming on the event platform or post videos on YouTube for later consumption, hybrid gives you more options.
2. More event monetization opportunities
Reaching a large number of global audiences with hybrid events presents unexplored monetization opportunities. This means you can offer an exponentially higher reach to your event sponsors and exhibitors. It is not only this increased audience reach that leads to better event revenues. The hybrid event format renders itself useful for many new event monetization opportunities that aren’t available at in-person events. Here are a few options you can explore.
- Set up various types of ticketing with different price points to attract different categories of audiences – both in-person and virtual. Define what content and what type of area access is available for what type of tickets. Powerful hybrid event platforms make it seamless to create multiple variations of tickets. And you can also assign access controls to attendees accordingly.
- Offer custom branding opportunities to sponsors and exhibitors. Use features of the hybrid event app as well as the event platform to do this. For example, sponsored sessions, in-app advertisements, sponsored contests on the event feed, virtual booths with on-demand as well as downloadable product demos, branded breakout rooms, sponsored networking lounges, etc.
- Extend custom matchmaking, lead retrieval, and granular analytics to partners. You can use smart matchmaking features of the hybrid event platform to connect sponsors and exhibitors with highly qualified leads. Additionally, you can offer lead retrieval options and robust analytics to your partners based on how attendees interact with different booths, what content they view or download, and what advertisements they engage with. The same data for in-person attendees gets captured using the QR codes/RFID tags or the event app they use.
3. Rich data and insights that result in better event ROI
Hybrid event platforms offer the opportunity for data collection and analysis across the entire event lifecycle. This is made possible by:
- Integrating marketing automation tools with the hybrid platform.
- Ensuring attendees at the physical venue use the native event app to register at the venue, network with virtual attendees, and interact with various in-app event segments (contests, polls, Q&As).
- Organizers looking at the right metrics to track different KPIs that drive event ROI.
The metrics about speakers and sessions can help organizers understand what content and which speakers worked best and what just didn’t click with the audiences. Similarly, access to live data about engagement at the virtual booths or sponsored ads means organizers can be quick on their feet to make any changes that can deliver better business results for the sponsors.
There are plenty of insights about user behavior that you get access to. So, event marketers and organizers can use these insights to:
- Plan and scale future events.
- Optimize event ROI by understanding what works and what can improve.
- Showcase event ROI to their own teams, event sponsors, exhibitors, and partners.
- Develop future marketing campaigns.
4. Build marketing and sales pipeline for the future
All the sessions at hybrid events get streamed and recorded for virtual attendees. So, at no additional cost and with minimal efforts, marketers can use this digital content in multiple ways to build a marketing and sales pipeline for the future.
- Firstly, you can use this large bank of good content generated at the event in future marketing campaigns. This will help you extend the reach, recall, and lifespan of events.
- Secondly, you can offer on-demand content access post-event. This will help you build a pipeline of audiences who may be interested in your future events or even in your product.
- Lastly, you can open up a small virtual segment of your event for anyone to attend. Offer a sneak peek into what the event looks like and what people can expect from the next editions. This can help you meet two objectives:
- Attract attendees who aren’t sure of attending the current event but may decide to attend a future one.
- Engage with sponsors and exhibitors who may be interested in future collaborations.
Hybrid events give audiences the flexibility they want, organizers the revenue opportunities they would like, marketers the analytics and insights they need, and CMOs the impact they desire. On the whole, whatever your event marketing goals, hybrid events offer a superior opportunity to deliver better business results. They create a wonderful win-win situation for event organizers, marketers, attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, and every other stakeholder.
Excited to incorporate hybrid events in your marketing mix? Start your hybrid journey by scheduling a 1:1 demo with Hubilo today.