How the Publishing Industry Can Find Success with Virtual Events

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The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way that nearly every industry operates. And now, more than ever, it is vital that businesses, large and small, find a way to survive throughout these ups and downs.
To remain relevant and generate revenues, many industries and businesses are moving their events to a virtual space. An industry like publishing can also take advantage of this shift to virtual events by driving revenue through a virtual event. Publishers still need to market new releases and promote book publications and virtual events are one way in which this can happen. To draw in the relevant audiences and reconnect with consumers, the publishing industry needs to get creative about how they can drive revenue through virtual events.

Why Shift to Virtual Events

Different industries all over the world are asking themselves how they can sustain their sales models. There are clear signs that suggest that the publishing industry needs to move to the virtual world in order to survive. As with other marketing and promotional events, social distancing is required for each attendee to attend an event safely. And even with COVID protections in place, like contactless registration and proper sanitization methods, fewer and fewer consumers are attending physical events in the first place. However, there are die-hard consumers who want to attend these events, even though the risks associated with the pandemic still rage. This is where the publishing industry can benefit from virtual or hybrid events in order to promote community, connectedness, and the shared passion of trade shows and book readings in an environment that provides more stability and security to people’s lives.

By shifting to a completely digital event, a publishing company can still make up lost revenues that have been common to the industry in 2020. B2B publishing companies have seen a significant loss in revenue - around 70% of its revenue. Largely, this revenue came through live events. And media companies are spending less on digital advertising so it’s not like publishers can make up that lost revenue through eCommerce sales alone. By shifting to a more creative mindset, publishers can still hold events that connect with target audiences, consumers, buyers, and other businesses in the industry. Especially with a virtual event platform, a publishing company can still hold networking events that connect with a virtual event attendee, feature trade shows and kiosks, connect authors and presenters, and create a substantial opportunity for sponsorships. Virtual events are likely to stick around for the long-term, so setting up the infrastructure to host a virtual event can support long-term hybrid events and creative marketing strategies. In the short-term, a virtual event venue is far cheaper than a physical venue, so the publishing industry can still facilitate a large event at a fraction of the cost.

How the Publishing Industry Can Shift

If we haven’t seen it already, the publishing industry can and should shift to hosting virtual events or hybrid events in order to promote virtual book launches, book sales, new authors, and new releases. Questex CEO Paul Miller agrees with this sentiment, and questions whether a “single location, three-day event” is really something that the publishing industry can, or should, count on in the future. While these staple events draw crowds and are the industry standard, they are also obsolete in certain ways without event technology. B2B sales at the event are only slowly shifting to an online payment platform, and connecting to those businesses, consumers, or buyers after the event is not streamlined. Therefore, by shifting to a more virtual event environment, it will normalize digital operations when the time comes for the event to also welcome a physical audience again. At present, it makes more sense for the publishing industry to go completely virtual, that way the industry can collectively hone in on the features of a virtual event that make the most sense for its continued survival. Then, the industry can begin to reintroduce in-person, physical elements to create a versatile and future-forward hybrid event, one that embraces diversity, accessibility, and ingenuity. Shifting to this flexible environment is only possible when using a digital event platform. This platform is software that can be accessed through a web console and can adapt to the many needs of hosting an online event. It needs to be scalable and adjustable depending on the event type (i.e., virtual vs hybrid) so that it can be used when an in-person, physical event is allowed once again. The virtual event platform should also be financially scalable with a strong and knowledgeable team of customer service ready to help them make the pivot to virtual events. Hiring an event organizer with experience in the virtual event space would also make this transition easy to accomplish.

Features the Publishing Industry Should Look For in Virtual Event Software

Naturally, virtual event software is not a one-size-fits-all model. The publishing industry should not have to reinvent the wheel in order to survive in the digital space. Instead, finding an event platform that adapts the current model to the virtual world is key. Virtual event features that would benefit the publishing industry include:

Networking capabilities

While networking in the digital space might seem foreign, it is very much the current reality. Networking software shares demographic and contact information with the relevant buyers and consumers (usually for a fee for companies or partners seeking this information). It will enable personalized conversations with AI and live chat features.

Augmented reality in digital spaces

Augmented reality in digital spaces allows online users to visualize what the space will look like through the platform. Users might have an avatar that can represent them as they move around the virtual space. This is ideal for a trade show set up, so users can move their virtual person to exhibitors at their kiosk booth to speak with a certain brand or business. This will also boost attendee engagement.

Marketing and promotion

The brand hosting the event still needs the capability of promoting the event. A virtual event software that allows event promotion simplifies and streamlines this process through integrations with CRM software. Virtual event planning software can provide a landing page and brand event URL that can seamlessly function for event promotion, linking the event URL to the event brand’s social media accounts, including Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and Twitter.

Agenda builder

When hosting multiple touchpoints at one time, an agenda builder through the event software makes intuitive sense. You don’t want to have to plan a virtual meeting outside of the virtual format only to find out that the schedule that was created does not make sense for the virtual platform. A virtual event software with an agenda builder will streamline this process to integrate live webinar presenters, kiosks and trade show setups, and a keynote speaker.

Analytics and integrations

While many of the benefits of hosting an event online will come through the connections made possible through the live event feed, the live chat, and video features, the event also needs to keep track of event data and analytics. By analyzing the ways that the event was successful or unsuccessful, and by identifying the revenue streams that were the most beneficial, the event hosts and organizers can better understand their overall successes and failures. A virtual event software should provide a number of integrations in order to export data and analytics to allow for easy interpretation before, during, and after the event.

Successfully Shifting Publishing Industry to Virtual Events

Members of the publishing industry can host a successful virtual event with a strong virtual event platform, allowing event planners a streamlined transition to the virtual space, increased opportunity for virtual audience engagement, strong eCommerce integrations, and networking opportunities. A virtual event platform like Accelevents can provide the necessary tools and supports for hosting virtual and hybrid events. Features include live video streams which can be shared live or used at later times in the webinar-style format or in future content marketing campaigns. Host a virtual conference now and save the video session files for backlogged content behind a paywall. Or host a virtual trade show that is available for 1-2 weeks, allowing buyers and potential attendees more time and flexibility when navigating the B2B networking space. You can also reap the benefits of the CRM and lead retrieval services that are available through virtual events. Sponsors should still consider sponsoring a virtual book promotion event or virtual trade show, especially since events, in general, are hard to come by at this moment in time. While a virtual event might suggest a different way of navigating the book show and marketing space, the publishing industry should still seek ways to drive revenue through this format so that it can still earn profits and be better prepared for a time when a hybrid event is the safe and acceptable way to host events while respecting crowd limitations and social distancing protocols. Furthermore, this type of format makes it easy to reach a global audience and increase sales opportunities.

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