Winds of Change
One of the collective shared experiences of 2020 was watching numerous events get cancelled; from corporate meetings, workshops, and local events to global annual trade shows, conferences, job fairs and the like.
Regardless of the industry you consider, events lie at the core of its business function. However, with travel and hosting in-person gatherings becoming impossible, event stakeholders were left with the question: What do we do now?
While some decided on a full cancellation or postponement, many others resolved to transpose their event to the virtual space. And although virtual events are not a new-found concept, what the pandemic did was accelerate their widespread adoption. As a result, a completely new marketing landscape was born.
It is astounding to see how quickly the events industry has adjusted to this new normal. As a matter of fact, Virtual Event Platforms have established themselves as a viable solution in the last couple of months.
Yet, it is understandable that despite all this change you may still be apprehensive about making the switch for your upcoming event. But the reality is virtual events offer plenty of benefits (some of which even physical events are unable to provide).
Virtual Event Benefits
Yes, online events may never fully replace the physical event experience but with strategic planning, they can help you meet many of the same event goals; be it dissemination of industry information, raising awareness, recruitment, celebrating excellence through award-giving, or even networking and building long-lasting connections.
In fact, 2020 had demonstrated that virtual events can fill in the gap left by large-scale physical event cancellations and other restrictions stemming from the current situation.
Furthermore, with the right choice of virtual event platform, virtual events can offer some substantial advantages:
Virtual events are cost-effective. They eliminate the need for venue rental, travel, accommodation and also the cost for additional services such as staffing and catering. The reduction in these operational costs, significantly increases their ROI potential. And even better, you can save a huge amount of time on planning and setup! This means you can easily shift your event to the virtual space, rather than stressing about postponement or cancellation. (Psst…on average Hubilo’s clients take up just 3-5 days to get their virtual event up and running!)
With the help of a virtual event platform, virtual events can amplify business and reach. This is because the digital venue can facilitate the participation of key stakeholders from across the globe, making your event more accessible.
The intuitive technology offered by virtual event platforms can take the virtual event networking game to the next level. Through bespoke matchmaking and communications features such as 1:1 chat, group chat, virtual breakout rooms, networking lounges and a private face-to-face meeting option, you can create a personalized ecosystem for business-driven conversations to occur.
You can also use the online sessions and event agenda option to disseminate useful content to your attendees, through both live and pre-recorded sessions, while encouraging audience participation via Q&A, polls and chat-boxes.
Gamification in the form of virtual contests and leaderboards can be utilized to not only retain attendees’ attention but also enhance their engagement with the event. Similarly, a Facebook-like event feed can also help with user retention.
Exhibitors and Sponsors can be provided with unique branding opportunities, from overhead banner placement across the virtual event and sponsored push-notifications to branded sessions and contests, giving them even more reason to be a part of your event.
And last but most important! You can host your event safely without fearing for the health of your attendees, speakers, exhibitors and sponsors. And they can tune into the event, right from the comfort of their homes.
Each aspect of the event can be tracked and measured, in real-time, to judge audience reaction and predict the event’s success, giving you the leeway for continuous improvement (without having to wait for your next event to implement the feedback!)
Data: The Selling Point of Virtual Events
Essentially, when you set up a virtual event, the advantage of everything BEING digital is that everything IS digital.
The online venue of the event offers the capability of not only storing the information submitted by the attendees but also capturing each and every action performed by them, layer by layer, in ways that weren’t fully realized until recently. The best part? All this is done in real-time, with detailed reports available for download as and when required.
An event’s success is greatly determined by the data collected. And virtual events offer unlimited opportunities to unlock data insights! From ticket sales and revenue generated to details on attendee demographics, attendee behavior, attendee preferences, live event analytics and lead generation data.
To give you an idea, here are some of the data points that can be tracked and downloaded to better understand attendees and to gauge the event’s success:
Data Available for the Event Organizer
- Total User & Logged-in User Data
- Feed Activity Analytics (No. of Photos, Videos, Comments and Likes)
- Attendee Activity Analytics (No. of Profile Views, Bookmarks, Notes Taken, Messages, Meetings Data and Business Cards shared)
- Speaker Analytics (Profile Views and Ratings)
- Session Analytics (Session-wise Attendee Count, Likes, Q&A and Chat details)
- Sponsor & Exhibitor Analytics
- Leaderboard Data
- Contest Data
- Live Polling Data
Data Available for Exhibitors and Sponsors
- Profile Views Report
- Attendee Engagement Report for their Profile
- Active Users on their Profile
- Lead Status (Bifurcated into ‘HOT’, ‘WARM’, ‘COLD’)
- Business Cards Dropped by Attendees
- Product Image Report (Image Views and Attendee Names)
- Product Views Report (Video Views and Attendee Names)
- Document Downloads Report
- CTA Report
- Lounge Meetings Data
- Chat Report for Team Members
- Meetings Report for Team Members
While this information is useful for you when you analyze the event performance and then plan and market future events, it is also valued greatly by your exhibitors and sponsors. Why? Because if you provide them with substantial access to data insights, they will have very precise metrics to calculate their ROI.
Remember, you and your exhibitors have a complimentary two-way relationship. If your virtual event brings them the value they seek, they will look forward to signing up next time. So, make sure that well ahead of your event, you figure out how you will be leading your exhibitors to the digital data-mine and make it your biggest selling point!
Look at your cancelled events as an opportunity to design new experiences for all your stakeholders. Craft virtual events that generate both engagement and revenue. Also, ensure you consult with your virtual event partner to find out the best ways you can tailor the platform to fulfill your event needs and also your stakeholders’.