The new virtual normal is still taking the events world by storm. According to LinkedIn’s research, 85% of marketers held a virtual event last year, and one out of four said that 90-100% of their events are now virtual.
Attendees love how they can enjoy their favorite events from the comfort of their homes, while organizers see virtual as an opportunity to connect with a global audience. However, as event managers churn their brains and come up with innovative strategies, it takes a lot more than just sending invites and executing a thought to make an event successful.
To decode the science behind what goes into delivering stunning event experiences, Hubilo hosted NEXT and unraveled some of the most sought-after mysteries of virtual event planning and execution. Talking to experienced speakers, answering questions about the event and their planning, and most importantly infusing tech into the virtual event—NEXT was full of great takeaways for planners looking to transform their events into successful marketing experiences.
While most of the marketers hopped into the first row as we painted the virtual event town red, we missed some of you. Never fear, we have collected all the can’t-miss takeaways here. Thank us later!
COVID-19 changed the world around us. Work-from-home offices took over, commutes were replaced by extra sleep hours 😉, and in-person meetings were replaced with virtual conferencing. Virtual events increased by 1000% during the pandemic, and it looks like they are here to stay. But in NEXT, we pondered on something more substantial.
Will Curran—Chief Event Einstein of Endless Events—declared “yes.” Why? Because the world has shifted to a hybrid work mode, and going back is not an option. Agree or not, virtual is still a big part of our work lives.
“We've been a remote company for nine years now, so we're the same as we go from zoom call to zoom call. I think that feeling will never go away now. We're in this remote hybrid working environment, you know: people will be taking lots and lots of video calls. Especially if you're in a management position, it will be like 90% of your job,” Will shares as his POV in NEXT’s kickoff session.
In the long term 72% of businesses will maintain virtual events and 77% are interested in organizing hybrids. That’s precisely what Will feels is in our future.
“You must think about virtual fitting in as a piece of your larger event strategy. Virtual is not dead because you need to be thinking about maybe doing a couple of virtual events throughout the year. Chances are your attendees are going to not want to leave their homes as much as they used to. Maybe have one single in-person or hybrid experience, like a keystone event that everyone goes to,” he suggests.
Cutting-edge event tech can be your best ally as you engage your audience in virtual events. They give you a better platform to deliver your insights and make the experience more fruitful for your organization and attendees alike. No wonder over 59% of companies plan to increase their investment in virtual event technology. Here is how NEXT revealed event tech fits into your various processes.
According to Yuvraj Saxena, Hubilo’s CX Director, “Marketers do webinars all day, every day. But I feel like if you have the right tool, you can really use it to maximize your demand gen efforts.”
We 100% agree!
<span class="mid-size-title">Challenges with event planning</span>
Event planning can be daunting. From finding the right speakers to creating an extraordinary experience, crafting a perfect event can be mindboggling. Even after you’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s, the strategy could fall flat leaving everyone to wonder why.
Whether boosting event accessibility, keeping the audience engaged within budget, or using the event as a lead generation tool, your efforts all boil down to one thing. You need a systematic approach to planning your events, and that’s what good event tech gives you.
<span class="mid-size-title">Empowering events with accessibility</span>
The market is exceptionally dynamic today. Customers are spread across apps and platforms according to their preferences. Your challenge is to figure out where exactly you can find them. This is where virtual events come in.
“If you don't have a virtual component to your events in 2022, it's like the accessibility equivalent of not having a wheelchair ramp. And let's be honest: we're not even discussing the opportunity. Let's just do this because it's the right thing to do. With virtual, you can reach a global audience; like if you were at IMEX America, the number of vendors for capturing interpretation was gigantic. It's because we are trying to reach people globally more than ever before,” says Gloria Zhu, Director of Demand Generation at Hubilo, in one of NEXT’s breakout sessions.
<span class="mid-size-title">Improved demand and lead gen</span>
Introducing your business and generating demand around your products and services can be a big challenge, even for successful companies. Sometimes, depending on the market, anticipating pain points and contributing to the sales funnel gets difficult. A virtual event is an impressive way for businesses to gauge prospective customers’ interests and keep them intact.
Yuvraj discussed a case study of a client who engages his customers via virtual events spread across weeks, each one carefully tailored according to their preferences. The results were delightful. “The end result over those 67 months was at least 20 or 30 premium customers they had in these events for over one hour,” said Yuvraj. “And the result was within one of the most extensive virtual trade shows to have been organized back in 2020, this client brought their customers over 300 qualified leads into the booth spaces. Everyone knew what their customer did. Everyone knew what they had to offer and what was new in their domain.”
<span class="mid-size-title">Better CX with real-time event analytics</span>
Real-time event analytics can give you a lot of insights about your attendees and their experience. What are the yea or nay parts of your event? What kind of experience excites them? How you can build up on their recent experience to improve it further? These questions were tackled in NEXT’s breakout session about data intelligence with Tess Vismale, CMP, DES of iSocialExecution, Inc. and John Cordier, CEO and co-founder of Epistemix.
According to John, “It is important to know what's going on in real-time. So like, we're all on this app right now, and there's probably information being collected about how many people are on, who's using what feature. That's real-time information that can be important when you're using that type of data to improve the user experience.”
Data isn’t just for in-the-moment analysis either, especially when you’re an event marketer or planner in test mode. “This information can even create data for future reflections,” said John. “Look at it to create some sort of benchmark. If you're trying so many different ideas, it's hard to build benchmarks, right? Because you're testing so many things.”
<span class="mid-size-title">Branded communities and audience engagement</span>
Branded communities are a great way to build advocators for your business. You have more in-person opportunities to connect, a good mix of virtual and in-person networking, better brand content, and promotion opportunities to get your brand out there.
Virtual events take this experience to the next level by connecting with like-minded people more likely to engage with your brand. That’s exactly what we want, right?
<span class="mid-size-title">Event tech for marketing teams</span>
As customers span all platforms and geographies, an omnichannel marketing strategy is necessary for businesses going global. Virtual events allow you to break all connection barriers and capture attention. When considering success factors, 87% of marketers believe the opportunities generated by virtual events are a must-have.
Will Curran certainly agrees. “One great thing about a virtual event is not only can you broadcast it straight to the platform that you own and you know, you can also stream it to multiple sources. So you can take your event stream to Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn, and everywhere else in the world. That's truly omnichannel, which is really cool.”
With 2023 just a month and a half ahead, coming up with the right event strategy has kept the experts awake at night. A dynamic panel featuring Chloe Richardson of Explori, Darya Vokhmentseva of Acronis, and Shameka Jennings of EventsNoire joined us to share their take on what they each believe is crucial to building 2023 strategies.
A little secret: Virtual is a big part of it! (Ssshh)
Catch the full scoop by heading to NEXT’s video on demand.
Virtual is not the future, it’s now.
However, the real question is if you have it in you to redefine the future of virtual events. Event tech offers an exclusive range of functionalities and features that help you gear up against the rising competition. Build experiences, challenge competitors with strategies that deliver results, and most importantly strike a chord with your audience through Hubilo, an event tech tailored specifically for most important events-YOURS.
Get a headstart by browsing NEXT for the full package of success tips and takeaways.