The results of our recent State of Events study suggest that engaging attendees is event organizers’ number-one goal for hybrid events. According to the Virtual Event Tech Guide, published by EventMB Studio, “Engagement features are up across the board, and even old standards like live chat grew from 85.9 percent in 2021 to 93.4 percent in 2022, with surveys (up 18.5 percent) and Q&A tools (up 7.4 percent) both topping over 90 percent for the first time.” With so many organizations stepping up their virtual and physical engagement, setting a comprehensive engagement strategy has never been more important.
What does a comprehensive engagement strategy look like? Review the following steps to find out.
Step 1: Identify Patterns and Interests
Organizations can achieve high engagement when leaders understand what attendees are looking to learn and do at your event. Ask the following questions: What topics are trending at other events and in your industry at large? Are attendees more likely to join in person or online? How did attendees choose to spend their time at your last meeting or event? Who do your attendees likely want to meet at your event? Taking time to answer all of these questions will help you personalize experiences for your target audiences.
Step 2: Determine How You Will Measure Engagement
As you begin plotting out experiences for your target audiences, be sure to set engagement scores to simplify post-event measurement. Engagement scores will likely be different for your different audiences. For example, you may give a digital attendee a certain engagement score for viewing a session for more than three minutes while giving physical attendees a similar score for simply scanning into a session.
Step 3: Offer Informed Suggestions
When it comes to making suggestions, one size does not fit all. Some people want to attend events to receive continuing online education, whereas some want in-person networking. It is imperative to offer paths so that they all can find what they’re looking for. To do so, some teams use menus similar to those found in consumer video-streaming services. Others construct different agendas for online and offline audience segments. Whatever your method of offering suggestions, ensure your target audiences have a variety of opportunities to interact. As your event is happening, leverage real-time insights to push out notifications and recommend similar content to attendees.
Step 4: Measure Receptivity
There are multiple ways to measure hybrid engagement. You could look at session attendance, number of gamification tasks completed, survey responses, number of exhibitor leads, or the quantity of 1:1 meetings that were booked. Take your measurement to the next level by considering how closely attendees followed your suggestions. Did they complete the actions you outlined for them? Did they meet your engagement thresholds? Understanding how select audiences strayed from your suggestions not only will help you better prepare for your next event, but also can be used to inspire marketing and sales outreach.
Step 5: Leverage Enagement Metrics to Demonstrate ROI
Engagement is the primary measurement for event ROI. Demonstrating the value of your event starts with setting up integrations with your CRM and marketing tech stack. These integrations allow events to have a greater impact on the customer journey. If you have implemented engagement scoring as mentioned above, these integrations will help your sales and marketing teams quickly identify event-qualified leads.
Step 6: Put Attendee Data to Work at Your Next Event
Once all of your attendee data has been shared and your event is over, it’s time to restart the cycle. Analyze your event trends and identify new attendee interests. When you send attendees recommendations based on their behavior at past events, you remind them that they are known and offer them a continuation of their experience.