While everyone is talking about planning for hybrid events, virtual events remain the prominent form of delivery for now. In a recent meeting our team had with event technology experts from around the world, we discussed the top concerns of modern event professionals. The leading concern was virtual event sponsorships — how do you drive value and how can your event technology provider help you?
Before 2020, 64% of in-person attendees became leads. By the fall of 2020, that rate changed to 14%. While at first, it may seem to have been a loss for exhibitors, virtual events actually yielded 4-6x the number of attendees resulting in more leads than ever before. According to our platform data, 85% of exhibitors indicated that they would exhibit virtually again. Exhibitors who were once skeptical of virtual events are quickly realizing the potential of such events to further their business strategy.
In this blog post, we’ll share forward-thinking ideas for sponsorship activation and share best practices from event teams worldwide.
Include Exhibitors in Your Planning Process
The bottom line is you’ll never reach your exhibitors’ goals until you know what they are. First, gather exhibitors’ expectations and then present them with a game plan of how you are going to help them meet those expectations. Communicating goals builds anticipation for the event and encourages exhibitors to return time and time again.
Develop Year-Round Sponsorship Opportunities
The concept of a 365 marketplace is gaining momentum. Exhibitors are excited to get prolonged exposure through virtual events. Consider different strategies for year-round exhibitor booths. Given that exhibitors likely won’t have the resources to man the booth year-round, offer self-serve booths with video demos, links to sponsored sessions on-demand, email request forms, 1:1 meeting requests, and readable content rather than instant chat.
Give Exhibitors the Experience You Would Want for Yourself
Put yourself in your exhibitors’ shoes. If you were exhibiting at another virtual event, what would you want for your money? You’d likely want lots of visibility, mentions in emails and on social, inclusion in sessions, and a way to communicate directly with specific attendees. Offering different packages with different forms of visibility can be an effective way to monetize your event, especially now that exhibitors are beginning to see the value of virtual sponsorship.
Let Attendees Decide How They Would Like to Connect
One benefit of virtual events is that attendees don’t have to be seen if they don’t want to be. Allowing attendees to interact with exhibitors however they would like is crucial to increasing exhibitor engagement. Some attendees are happy to schedule a meeting while others would prefer a more tentative approach to learning about an exhibitor, such as attending a sponsored session or opting-in for email communications. Fortunately, nearly all attendee interactions can be accounted for with virtual events and reported back to your exhibitors.
Leverage Registration Data to Pair Attendees with Sponsors
As we enter a new era of virtual and hybrid events, pre-event matchmaking will be a key driver of exhibitors’ success. Through intelligent registration workflows, you can ensure attendees get in contact with the right exhibitors, whether they are attending online or in person. Matchmaking also guides attendees to the exhibitors that they would be most interested in. Targeted Agendas, personalized recommendations, and tailored gamification can all be effective strategies for matching attendees with sponsors. Brainstorm with your exhibitors to find out who they are targeting and let the matchmaking begin.
To learn more about virtual event sponsorships and what RainFocus has to offer, click here.