Tomorrowland - a Belgian EDM festival and every music lover’s dream destination is a perfect example of customer engagement via virtual events. Until 2019, Tomorrowland was an in-person festival, with 400,000 visitors attending the 2019 edition.
In 2020, however, the organizers decided to move to the virtual format. This edition was attended by over 1 million viewers from 151 countries. Read that last line again to fully absorb the potential of virtual events.
Events have been an innate part of customer engagement and interaction for brands. The pandemic has led many countries to seal their borders and restrict public gatherings, making virtual events the best option for global brands.
Virtual events are a blessing for your brand. And here are 8 reasons why you should give them a fair chance if you haven't already.
1. Amplifies audience reach and business opportunities
A feature that separates virtual events from in-person events is their global reach. It’s also an important reason for you to explore virtual events in greater detail if you haven’t already.
Attendees, speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors can now participate in global events without incurring travel and accommodation expenses. It has also made events accessible to people with medical conditions and disabilities. A first-hand example of this expanded reach is Hubilo’s - Events. Reimagined. that saw attendees from 55 countries and speakers from 3 continents.
The success of virtual events has also penetrated lower into the funnel with increased business opportunities. Spain for example generated 41% of sales leads from virtual events. 1 in 5 Spanish respondents also said that they increased their sales, profits, or new customers. [Source - Virtual Events: A New Reality]. This is possible with virtual event platform features like matchmaking and 1-1 networking, which aren't available during other customer engagement activities like webinars.
2. Virtual events are independent of COVID-19 lockdowns
For Tomorrowland 2021 the organizers continued to rely on Belgium's decision to allow in-person events. This hope, however, ended in June when the organizers made an official announcement calling off the in-person event scheduled for July. What remains of the dream is to provide registrants with alternatives for tickets sold and losses from investments made.
Here’s an important lesson to learn from this example. Cut your losses while you can through event pandemic proof strategies. Virtual events are one way of doing this.
Unlike in-person events, virtual events do not carry the same level of uncertainty. They are independent of COVID-19 restrictions. Making the switch to virtual can help you save unnecessary financial losses and keep your customer engagement plans on track.
3. Facilitates relevant and personalized interactions
Unlike in-person events, virtual events allow attendees to meet the right people quickly rather than spending time getting to know them only to discover they don’t match their needs
How? Through an absolutely genius feature, called ‘Matchmaking’. This feature does for virtual events what advanced search filters do for LinkedIn. The tool allows attendees to view attendee profiles and find someone most relevant to their search based on advanced information fields.
While Matchmaking helps attendees find the right people, 1-1 Chats, Lounges, and video Meetings facilitate customer engagement through personal conversations. We’ve seen many productive conversations take place between organizers, customers, investors, and media at events using these features on the Hubilo virtual event platform
In addition, virtual events enable 1-1 interactions with speakers - something that can't be achieved easily with webinars or in-person events.
4. Provides brands with levers to educate customers and prospects
Place yourself in an attendee’s shoes for a moment. Wouldn’t you want to get value and information from spending several hours at a virtual event? Virtual events have the capability to create experiences that justify the investment that attendees make in terms of time, effort, and money.
With features such as Chats, Downloads, customer Booths, demo Rooms, and in-session Q&A, not only are organizers able to engage meaningfully with customers and prospects but also educate them through 1-1 interactions. In addition to driving value for attendees, such engagements are also a good starting point for sales prospecting.
5. Maximizes your event ROI
Virtual event platforms help in maximizing event ROI in the following three ways.
The most direct way to maximize ROI is through reduced spends. The costs of venue, food, travel, accommodations, and logistics are significantly minimized with virtual events.
An in-person event may not give you in-depth insights into attendee engagement. For this, you can either rely on tracking data points manually or forever make your peace with losing sight of this data.
On the other hand, virtual events platforms offer comprehensive analytics on a dashboard and can track 50+ attendee engagement metrics. These metrics make it simpler for event organizers to target the highest intent attendees first, thereby increasing conversion rate and event ROI.
The third way of maximizing ROI is by preparing for the future with the insights of today. The analytics dashboard tells you how many people interacted in a session, participated in a group activity, or simply, downloaded marketing collateral. These dashboards can help organizers learn audience preferences and tailor future events to improve customer engagement.
6. Aligns with exhibitor and sponsor interests
The same reasons that make virtual events a valuable option for organizers also make them an attractive option for exhibitors and sponsors.
Virtual events provide exhibitors and sponsors with branding options for their virtual booths.
The analytics dashboard provides them with insights on the audience visiting their booth, which makes following up on leads easier. This in turn impacts the lead conversion rate.
Besides, it’s also a safe and affordable way of exploring and expanding into new markets. Sponsors can study trends, interact with potential customers, and decide whether to expand into new regions by participating in virtual events.
7. Strengthens the trust around the brand
Apart from customer engagement, virtual events can help brands bring much-needed honesty to the table and build trust with customers.
Brands can share annual reports, profit margins, asset valuations, public listing opportunities, and more by regularly conducting conferences, town halls, and annual general meetings virtually. They can also organize events to bring together existing and prospective customers and encourage a transparent ecosystem.
It may be argued that this option is not unique to virtual events. But what makes it unique is that such events can be organized more frequently because of the lower costs involved in organizing than in-person events.
8. Offers organizers the option to record an event
With the world turning to virtual, distractions have been the root cause for inhibitions on hosting virtual events. But, guess what? You can win your audience’s attention even when they’re distracted.
By recording the entire event, brands can not only reinforce their messaging with attendees but also reach those who registered but were unable to attend. Event recordings also make for an additional source of content to attract new audiences through marketing and sales campaigns.
The way ahead
For the events industry, unpredictability is the new predictable. Whether in-person events will resume in their full form is difficult to predict. In order to stay ahead of the curve, you will need to continually reinvent your growth plans and look for new ways of customer engagement.
By maximizing the full potential of virtual events', you can set yourself on the path to generating long-term value for everyone involved.
Ready to see what customer engagement at events looks like in 2021 and beyond?