This week, our team presented multiple solutions for driving engagement in a virtual environment in a webinar titled: Dialing Up Engagement for Your Fall Events. Throughout the webinar, our presenters addressed the blockers for virtual engagement, discussed the benchmarks behind virtual success, and opened up the floor to participants to weigh in their experience with virtual events so far. Here are 9 key takeaways:
Virtual Event Present Teams with the Opportunity to Drive Peak Engagement
Now is the time to measure what is driving the most engagement at virtual events. Virtual events are rich in data as they frequently enable event teams to reach up to six times their average audience size. If you put in the work to measure your virtual event engagement now you’ll be able to dial up the right combination of both virtual and physical engagement as physical events re-emerge.
Virtual Events Require an All-in-One Platform, Not Just Session Tools
Very suddenly, event teams are being pressured into accomplishing big events with small solutions. Many will recall that prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 webinar solutions only ever managed one session at a time. Now companies are relying on those same solutions to host multiple sessions and are missing out on opportunities to personalize their events. To drive true engagement at an event, teams need access to tools that can not only deliver live videos but also drive recommendations to personalized content.
Virtual Providers Are Legacy Solutions that Perpetuate the Problems of the Past
Before all-in-one platforms such as RainFocus existed, event solutions were often large one-off investments that delivered cookie-cutter experiences and isolated event results. All of these problems and more have returned with the forced pivot to virtual. By separating their physical event software and their virtual event software, teams are forfeiting their ability to compare and optimize data.
Events are an Ecosystem
Events are an ecosystem where attendees, executives, partners, SMEs, sales teams, and exhibitors all interact and grow together. Unlike digital marketing campaigns, which interrupt a person’s day with an email or pop-up ad that they may or may not click on, events create a captive environment and, in turn, a captive audience. To create an engaging ecosystem event teams need to enable networking and communication between attendees and exhibitors.
Virtual Is Bringing About Unprecedented Load Spikes
From what we’ve experienced, up to 20% of registrations happen in the last 24 hours leading up to an event. Having the ability to scale is of utmost importance. Unfortunately, we’ve watched from the outside as many companies have failed to scale their events with webinar technology. RainFocus provides event teams with the ability to check load spikes at any point in the event. As loading increases our systems scale. We’ve tested half a million users while using multiple systems simultaneously. Using SSO to track attendee movements we ensure everything goes off without a hitch. In addition to the ability to scale, RainFocus securely houses all event data so event teams don’t have to pass around attendees’ personal information to gain insights from their events.
Consistent Experiences Magnify the Success of Your Events.
Providing attendees and exhibitors with a consistent and delightful experience now and in the future will increase the value of your event. In our Q&A CEO, JR Sherman explained that when physical events return sponsors will still benefit tremendously from forming virtual connections with attendees prior to an event. RainFocus uses a consistent virtual Event Portal to provide attendees with a single home to access event content, schedule sessions, plan 1:1 meetings, and engage with other event activities. Incorporating consistent virtual elements into your physical event will allow you to gather more insights, facilitate stronger relationship building, and determine year over year success.
Your Virtual Event Does Not Have to Be Free
The vast majority of spring events went from a paid model to free online delivery. In fact, 75% of our webinar participants indicated that they too switched to a free event. Despite this trend, paid sessions or tracks look to be the most promising in terms of driving engagement and revenue. Our data indicates that if people have invested in an event they are more likely to attend sessions and engage with sponsors.
The Digitization of Events Has Accelerated the Merger of Events and Marketing
Since the pivot to virtual, digital marketing teams have taken a larger interest in events. The majority of the webinar participants stated that their digital marketing team greatly influenced their virtual events and over half stated that building pipeline and client engagement/retention are their primary objectives for hosting a virtual event. This forced cooperation between marketing and events will drive greater outcomes for marketing and sales. Events enable teams to qualify leads by moving them through the different marketing channels and using session content to determine interest. However, unifying marketing has to be preceded by unifying your events. This is how you make your event success tangible, by narrowing in on a platform that can aggregate all of your data in real-time and then feed it into a marketing channel.
Provide Live or Simulive Content Every Day
Attendees want to interact with sessions as they happen. By comparing several events, our team has found that those who promote live sessions (or simulive* sessions) every day are able to maintain virtual engagement throughout their entire event, whether it is one week or six weeks long.
*simulive sessions are sessions that are made to look and feel as though they are happening in real-time.
To learn more about our virtual delivery options click here. Stay tuned for future insights about virtual and hybrid events, the return to physical events, and more.