All brands and businesses understand the importance of a marketing strategy. Many brands have made use of virtual events as a marketing tool. They are great for general brand awareness, thought leadership, community involvement, charity fundraising, and new product launches. But, running an in-person event is a lot of work, and a considerable investment must be made in terms of both time and money. If 2020 taught marketers and event marketers anything, it was that virtual events can effectively reach a large number of people and provide significant benefits that other event types simply cannot replicate. As we continue to journey through the pandemic and begin to think about life on the other side, it has become clear that virtual events will continue to be a part of our lives. But what does this mean for marketing teams? Can, and should, virtual events be used as a marketing tool in 2021 and beyond? We think so! To that end, here are 7 reasons why we think virtual events should be a core component of your marketing tech stack.
At first glance, you may assume that an online event presents fewer opportunities for audience engagement, but this is simply not the case. Virtual events enable you to personalize the event experience to maximize engagement with your brand. As an event organizer, you can organize the agenda in a way that allows remote attendees to customize their event experience by enabling them to choose which sessions they wish to attend, creating multiple networking channels, providing gamification, and offering multiple content types. It is important to remember that the larger your audience, the greater mix of people you are likely to have. Not everyone learns the same way, so if you can create content that speaks to multiple learning styles like downloadable pdfs and interactive demonstrations, the audience will be more likely to find a way to relate. When the audience is able to engage with your brand in the way that is most natural to them, they will form a deeper connection to it and are more likely to think favorably about the brand and even make purchases in the future.
Traditional events can present access barriers to your target audience. For many, travel and accommodation can be cost-prohibitive and prevent people from attending. Not only that, travel and attendance can be time-consuming, and individuals may not be able to take that much time away from their jobs and family. This is especially true if your target audience includes senior decision-makers or C-level executives. For these professionals, time is a precious commodity. A virtual event typically has a more compact agenda and can allow people to attend without spending time or money on getting to the event. Similarly, large, in-person gatherings may be difficult for people with anxiety disorders or other health conditions. And while event organizers should take every possible step to ensure easy access for persons with disabilities, some physical event venues make the necessary accommodations impossible. With a virtual event, these individuals are able to attend from any location and can do so in the way that is easiest and most comfortable for them. Physical locations can present a considerable barrier. If you are a global brand and trying to increase your brand reach, a virtual event will provide the greatest opportunity. Given coronavirus-based travel restrictions and the cost of long-distance travel, moving to an online event format just makes sense.
One of the greatest benefits of virtual events is that they cost less to produce than traditional live events.A virtual event can save you:
This does not mean, however, that there aren’t some unique costs associated with this format. These costs include a virtual event platform, paid social media advertising, and a potential increase in event technology costs as you will want to ensure access to proper audio and video equipment. But overall, virtual events are cheaper to host and to produce and, they also allow you to reach a much broader audience. Physical events are limited by venue capacity. Virtual events do not function under the same restraints. Where you might have only been able to host 200 people at your physical event, you can potentially reach thousands with your digital event, generating more revenue through ticket sales.
Because all virtual attendees will be logging on to your event platform and using it to navigate event sessions, you can learn much more about your target audience and how they behave. A complete virtual event platform will provide data that businesses and marketers can use to support event marketing, increasing awareness of your event. It can also provide you with detailed data regarding where attendees went when at the event and what content was most impactful. If you host a traditional conference or trade show, it is hard to know what happens once attendees have registered. You can do a quick headcount at specific sessions, but you will have no idea if the content is making an impact. At a trade show, you have no idea where attendees go once on the showroom floor. With a virtual event, you can monitor which virtual exhibit booths people visited and whether they downloaded related materials. Similarly, you can monitor session attendance, video views, length of video views, material downloaded, as well as text and video chat engagement. This information can help you better understand what your target demographic is interested in. It will help you determine which parts of your brand are of the most interest overall, as well as which features are of the most interest to specific segments of your audience. This information can help B2C and B2B marketing efforts by creating content that is more attractive to the target audience while providing brands with information that can improve products and services offered.
By registering for your virtual event, attendees have pre-qualified themselves as leads. This means that by attending, these individuals are already warm to your brand. Depending on the size of your virtual event, it can put anywhere from dozens to hundreds or thousands of qualified leads at your fingertips. You could spend your entire marketing budget trying to reach those numbers without success. A virtual event will bring these leads to you.
Because a virtual event can bring you qualified leads, it can also shorten your sales cycle. Not only can attendees interact with your brand and product/service at the event, but they can also interact with your sales representatives in real-time. Depending on where they are in the buyer journey, they may be prepared to purchase at your event. Hyper-personalization is quickly becoming a standard expectation. So, using the personal data collected at your event, you can send personalized content to attendees post-event that best reflects their interests and behavior demonstrated at the event. Because this content is deeply relevant to the recipient, calls to action will have a more substantial impact and move leads more quickly through the sales funnel. To maximize personalization efforts, conduct polls during the event, monitor Q&A sessions, and send out a post-event survey. These tools will provide you an even deeper glimpse into what your audience was connecting with and what they hope to see more of in the future!
The great thing about virtual events is that they are easily scalable. As your brand and business needs change, so too can your virtual events. If you have seen your audience numbers explode, you can easily host a large-scale event, or if you are hoping to hone in on a more niche part of your audience, you can host smaller, more specific events like webinars. How you use virtual events to evolve or evolve with your brand is up to you. For example, if you have been working on a product update, you can hold one large product launch/demo when the update is completed. Or, you can hold smaller events providing insights into your updates and keep the audience engaged in the process. Depending on your industry and your brand, virtual events can be used in just about any context you can imagine. With a range of ticketing and registration options, detailed real-time data, built-in marketing tools, integrated live streaming options, networking options, live video and text chat, keynote and breakout sessions, fundraising capabilities, and several key integrations, Accelevents is the all in one platform you need. Get in touch today and learn more about what we can do for you.