Virtual Events: What We’ve Learned

The first in a series of reports for producers of virtual events and for those who want to be part of a communication company or communication company as an exhibitor/sponsor.

The number of organizations offering virtual opportunities has exploded with the proliferation of COVID-19. Innovation has progressed rapidly. The results were mixed.

After creating two great virtual opportunities for the martech and buzz marketing communities, with another martech event planned for the fall, we started to answer questions about the vehicle’s features and capabilities and the ability to reach visitors to meet the needs and exhibitors. storage space.

What is a ‘virtual event’?

Long before COVID, marketers participated in direct and online professional development offers. Third Door Media has hosted more than 400 presentations online since 2007, also known as webinars or webcasts. At the time, more than 100,000 people, all marketers, saw this offer in exchange for sponsors, which allowed them to connect with each other. solutions and services.

The definition of “virtual events” is evolving rapidly. For our purposes, we define them as collections of live and/or recorded presentations, usually classified by topic or subject. The content may only be available for immediate viewing, but more often for immediate viewing and, later, for viewing on-demand. Virtual events usually end and participants have to pay for admission or provide their personal information instead of paying.

COVID accelerates the development of virtual events

COVID accelerated the pace of developing virtual opportunities as potential participants sought alternative professional development opportunities and ways to stay in touch with their professional community. Solution providers, who are not allowed to attend live events, are looking for alternative ways to identify potential customers.

Interest in virtual events is likely to remain high, as the time to return to personalities remains uncertain. The marketing team is reluctant to participate in major events. Nearly 70% said they would not attend a personal event in the first half of 2021, according to the MarTech Today Event Participation Index, which measures marketers’ attitudes toward personal and virtual events.

MarTech’s suppliers are also not inclined. Many have banned their employees from traveling and canceled their own events, most notably SalesForce.com, which canceled the 2020 edition of Dreamforce.

Meanwhile, participation in virtual events – and satisfaction with that – is enormous. 81% of marketers who responded to the attendance record said they had attended a virtual event in the past three months and three quarters were satisfied with the experience.

It is encouraging that 3 out of 4 marketers are satisfied with the virtual opportunity experience. Factors that contribute to great satisfaction include:

• The risk of infection is not a problem

• Most virtual events are free or relatively inexpensive compared to personal events

• Travel costs, associated costs, and time investment are not required

• Participants can participate in the content of the virtual events, usually at their own pace, as long as the live sessions are available upon request (in our experience, approximately 70% of the sessions are attended live)

Although 100% satisfaction is a goal, there is room to improve the separation between what the environment offers and what visitors expect.

Virtual events are NOT physical events

Virtual events offer a different experience than physical events – for attendees and exhibitors/sponsors. The experience is so different that it is unfortunate that the “events” analogy and terminology have been used to describe virtual events.

For attendees, no online experience can repeat the expectation of a crowded dance floor, expect an inspiring speech, electricity in a showroom that vibrates with engagement, or a casual meeting with a like-minded colleague or reconnect with colleagues or friends.

For exhibitors/sponsors and speakers, the tangible satisfaction of being a customer is not translated correctly.

Attempts to recreate the showroom experience for exhibitors have been extremely unsatisfactory. Viewing virtual textures in Second Life does not effectively connect buyers and sellers. No significant commitments have been made with enough volume to create and contract a virtual website.

Virtual events differentiate themselves by identifying potential customers and assigning innovative leadership

Virtual opportunities are very effective in promoting a wide variety of tips and allow exhibitors/sponsors to demonstrate authority and innovative leadership. If you’re a disciple of the marketing funnel analogy, virtual events are better funnel activities than face-to-face events.

Based on our experience, virtual events can attract far more registrants and attendees than their physical counterparts. The virtual editions of MarTech (Discover MarTech, held in April) and Search Marketing Expo – SMX (SMX Next, held in June) attracted approximately 9,000 and 13,500 subscribers respectively; more than twice as many participants as your real colleagues. These participation numbers made it possible to achieve guaranteed training objectives in the first week of the event and in numbers equal to those of the most aggressive hockey teams in physical tests.

The composition of the limited liability company – company size, purchasing power, and market share percentage – was similar.

The possibilities for innovative leadership are limitless, as the time and space restrictions for physical events do not apply; the amount of stock and the time available for shipping depends on the amount of content offered. Public attention is the only aspect of a virtual event that ends.

We have just started.

In the next chapters of this series, we will discuss what “network” means in the context of virtual events, exchange ideas on platforms and “stacks” of virtual events, and discuss what the future holds for this rapidly evolving medium.

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