With the global pandemic affecting the trade of many businesses around the world, the event industry has been forced to adapt. Many industries rely heavily on events to introduce new products, meet new partners, and generate leads. Without their usual trade events and conferences many including car manufacturers, the building sector, and food companies, have struggled to replace the leads they would typically have relied on.
As a key provider of event software and apps we moved quickly at the beginning of this year to add virtual event capabilities to our event platform, Event Builder, to enable businesses to reach their audiences without having to attend in person.
First some stats on the environment we find ourselves in now:
- Less than 50% of people had attended some kind of virtual or hybrid event (mostly webinars)
- 85% said they preferred in-person events
- 92% believed they would receive more leads at a physical event
- <33% said they would be prepared to host a virtual or hybrid event
- 93% of organisers planned an online event in 2020 (although approx 73% actually did)
- 56% believed in-person events would be back in 2020
- 55% of registrants converted to attendees on average
- More than 2/3rds of content was not watched live with average view times being around 20 minutes
Covid’s Impact on Events
- Very few in-person events expected until H2 2021
- 2021 market will be just 30% the size of 2019
- By 2022 it’s expected to be just 60% of 2019 size
- Expected 4-5 years for live in-person events to fully return
New ways of Marketing
So post-covid we’ve all embraced the use of virtual to communicate. But the platform you use to meet people is important. Companies want more than just a zoom meeting where the conversation is purely visual but additional methods of interaction.
Our platform is now being used by large organisations not just for external events but for internal events such as sales meetings and training. Using Event Builder’s interactive features like breakout rooms, group chats, Q&As, polls, and documents, we create the feel of a proper event. 1-2-1 meetings and additional social features let the event feel more personal too.
Some key findings have come from our experiences this year. Many providers concentrate on networking but feedback proves that the reason people attend events is to hear from the speakers, find out about new products, and discover new methods of doing things. It’s important then that the content of the event is front and centre and easily available.
- Content – events must deliver content that is trustworthy and looks good, has interesting speakers, and has value to attendees. Consider hiring outside help to assist with production to ensure quality broadcast. Make the content worthwhile and visitors will take the time to explore and spend time in your event.
- You are now a content provider not just a content consumer. The content created in your event can be used in other media whether it be material for blog posts or presentations or shared on social media. It has a life outside your event.
- Ability to use the data generated from the event. Insights from content watched, responses from Q&As and polls, chat generation as well as the analytics of actual viewing.
The Follow up
If you’ve gone to the effort of creating an event then you owe it to yourself to follow up on your attendees. A decent platform gives you the ability to see who has watched certain streams of content, who has downloaded material, who has requested information, how engaged people are ie. have they asked questions or clicked links? The amount of information gathered is far greater from a virtual platform and the opportunities to know who is interested in your products and services far higher. Following up is crucial for all leads but a virtual event makes it easier than ever to do this.
In our own recent experience of exhibiting at Event Tech Live’s virtual event, while we received fewer leads than previous years, the quality of the leads was in fact stronger and our overall return on investment much lower without the costs of exhibition builds and accommodation in London. Knowing what customers clicked on and engaged with from our presentation left us able to follow up strongly with the information they needed.
2021 and beyond
There will be a time when in-person events come back but technology can help bridge the gap until then and you’re missing out if you’re not attempting to engage and continue to build leads.
- there will continue to be a reduction in physical visitors throughout 2021
- content needs to remain front and centre
- networking that spans physical and virtual
- contactless will be expected
- hybrid to remain central to all events
This article is a synopsis of the presentation delivered by Oliver Rowe, co-founder of VenuIQ, for the sales masterclass series. You can view the full presentation below.