Almost one year ago, RainFocus was the first event marketing and management solution to convert a massive global conference into a successful virtual experience. At that time, nobody could have foreseen how valuable virtual event content would become. As we tracked events throughout 2020, we saw some dramatic increases when comparing spring events to fall and winter events. The following statistics are derived from events delivered to 2.5 million attendees from over 165 countries worldwide.
Sessions Had More Traffic
By fall, session attendance increased by 43% and session participation raised 39%. The rise in session engagement proves that content is king when it comes to virtual events. As attendees become more accustomed to digital session formats, companies continue to add digital events to their event portfolios—creating a continuous virtual experience for clients, prospects, and other stakeholders.
Shorter Sessions Are Preferred
The rise in session engagement may be due to the fact that the average session duration has decreased 14.5%. Many event professionals discovered early on that attendees were not interested in watching long online sessions and have since shortened their sessions. RainFocus President Doug Baird explained, “Pretty much everyone is dealing with virtual fatigue. People do not have enough patience to stick with a session that’s going to be an hour long.”
In addition to shortening session lengths, event teams are playing with different session formats. Some are arranging sessions back to back while others are releasing sessions slowly over time. Both methods have proven effective in a virtual setting. We advise that you first think about your audience and then ensure that you connect the right experience to that audience. The length of your sessions should be determined by format. More interactive lab sessions may be better consumed in a longer time frame due to their immersive nature whereas presentations are better kept short.
Meetings Increased in Value
Much like sessions, we saw a significant uptick in meeting engagement. While there were 23% fewer meetings, the meeting attendance rate increased by 810% and overall participation in meetings increased by 988%. Attendees have always participated in events to meet with individuals and this growth suggests that they are still looking to connect with others at events.
Sponsored Sessions Outperform Virtual Booths in Engagement
Sponsored session participation increased 120% from spring to fall whereas the average number of exhibitors visited dropped 27%. Our customers have attributed that to utilizing better marketing strategies and the availability of additional technology features to drive more traffic to sponsored sessions. Enabling exhibitors to gather and qualify leads through session attendance has never been more valuable.
In addition to gathering leads through attendance, sponsored sessions also have a positive effect on virtual booths. Exhibitors who produce a sponsored session net greater virtual booth visits, meetings, chats, downloads—resulting in a magnitude of leads.