As we get released from the clutches of COVID-19, and as the ability to come together in face-to-face events resumes, many business leaders, managers and marketers are beginning to pose the question … “Are virtual events still relevant?” Some of the clients we at Resonate work with have already started asking whether it is time to return back to in-person events. Some business leaders are mandating that we go back to physical gatherings. Yet others are plain confused about which path to take. Should we do in-person events? Should we do virtual events? What about hybrid events?
I believe this is a somewhat flawed discussion. The basic premise must not be one where we start choosing between “in-person events” and “virtual events”. Both formats of bringing providers and prospects or customers together are valid and effective. Depending on the objectives, an in-person event can be extremely beneficial, and similarly, contingent on the objectives, a virtual event, too, can be the way to go.
Your organisation’s marketing strategy should ideally include a mix of in-person, hybrid, and virtual events.
We delivered many virtual events for our clients through the COVID period. I play the role of the CMO or co-CMO for our clients. I have first-hand witnessed the brand, engagement, sales enablement, and commercial returns from the virtual events we have run. In this blog, I will share my top ten benefits of hosting a virtual event.
1. They are more cost-effective
Virtual events require lower financial investment than physical events. They do not require travel and accommodation expenses for the presenters and the organising team to travel. They also do not require the venue and catering costs. Consequently, the ROI of virtual events can be considerably greater than that of in-person events. These costs saved from hosting a virtual event (rather than an in-person event) allow organisations to invest the funds in other marketing initiatives while still benefiting from running an event (a virtual one, that is).
2. They require less time for planning and promotion
Virtual events are typically more efficient than in-person events. Without the need to relocate people, merchandise, and physical displays, the time and effort required to get a virtual event off the ground is significantly lower. You also don’t need to cater for waiting periods for venues, etc.
3. They are more convenient for attendees’ lifestyles and schedules
Travel can be a logistical and scheduling challenge for busy executives, professionals, and anybody with home and family obligations. This difficulty suggests that when invited to in-person events, the majority of participants attend fewer events than desired. Virtual events facilitate easier scheduling in the participants’ calendars.
4. They can link you with global prospects
Geography is inevitably a limiting issue for in-person events. However, virtual events may attract participants from around the globe. This is a tremendous advantage if you are a global organisation considering international expansion or seeking to increase brand awareness on a geographically unlimited scale.
5. They facilitate tightly focused dialogues
Since virtual events are less expensive and allow you to draw from a geographically diversified pool of guests, niche-focused events have become much more plausible and lucrative. You may distinguish yourself from conventional events by engaging prospective customers with your extensive knowledge. In addition, people who attend an event with a specific focus are more likely to demonstrate a genuine interest in your offering.
6. They produce an abundance of data and insights
Obtaining survey responses following in-person events can be difficult. However, learning how attendees enjoyed your event is worthwhile, and virtual events provide a much more granular view of how participants interact with your event. The majority of event management software can record each session and participant interaction. This information benefits salespeople who are following up with prospects and marketers who are planning new events and campaigns.
7. They appeal to noteworthy speakers and C-suite presenters
It can be difficult to locate note-worthy speakers for in-person events due to their high demand. Getting a C-level executive from the event holders’ own organisation may not even be possible, especially if they must travel to attend the event. But when you eliminate the necessity to travel by hosting a virtual event, you open up an abundance of opportunities. For example, a 90-minute virtual keynote is far easier to schedule than a multi-day visit. Similarly, virtual event presentations can be recorded in advance, giving presenters even more schedule freedom.
8. They are much simpler to scale
Most in-person events are limited in size by the capacity of the venue. In reality, many events have lengthy waiting lists. However, virtual events may grow as large and as quickly as necessary, particularly if a specialised streaming platform is used instead of a videoconferencing service.
9. They can adapt as quickly as your offerings
If you need to share crucial product or service updates with your customers and prospects in an interactive atmosphere, a virtual event can be an excellent option. You can experiment with more regular and targeted launches rather than waiting until you have a large number of new product upgrades to announce in a single, major launch.
10. They can help you build pipeline quickly and easily
Since you can link appointment calendar technology with your virtual events, you can simply schedule follow-up interactions while your event is still in progress. This allows you to qualify prospects faster and speed up their progression through the sales funnel.
The technology necessary to make your virtual event a success
Virtual events are both a science and an art. They require imagination to generate captivating themes and formats that engage the audience. However, technology is required to properly organise, advertise, and execute the event, especially if your organisation plans to host numerous events annually.
I recommend that you leverage the following six solutions to handle a busy schedule of virtual events:
- An automated marketing platform
- A platform for interactive webinars and live events
- Social planning and amplification tool
- Conversational marketing tool
- Live chat tool
- A platform for event and workflow management
- Marketing attribution tools
Partner with Resonate for your virtual event (and B2B Marketing) needs
Virtual events offer many benefits to your B2B organisation. Whether you are launching a new offering, looking to expand geographically or wanting to keep costs down, a virtual event can be an excellent choice for your organisation. At Resonate, we have deep expertise in B2B Marketing. We are experienced in strategising, coordinating and marketing B2B virtual events. If you are seeking a specialised marketing partner to help you effectively reach your market virtually, please contact our GM, Joe Barnes (firstname.lastname@example.org).