Find the format that fits
Virtual formats work for training and content delivery, but not so much for commerce and intellectual networking. We learned that content (or learning) is the key attraction for virtual events, with 67% of survey respondents citing it as their primary reason for attending. Conversely, it’s hard to squeeze the value of a trade show or consumer expo into a digital format. Our data shows 89% of attendees and exhibitors consider events irreplaceable. Those attendees want to kick the tires, consult an expert and socialize.
Quality over quantity: Attention spans are shorter
Was that a squirrel? Our collective tolerance for sitting and listening is waning. This is compounded by more options on how to spend our time and find the content we need. Participants who attend virtually like to focus on concise, relevant content; your thoughtful curation is appreciated. The data indicates that, unlike people who commit to traveling to an event, virtual attendees spend only five to six hours participating in events that span two to three days. Read this as a mandate from virtual audiences to make it easy to find and access the content they desire—when and where they want. Design interactive, engaging features into streaming content to leverage the value of live-but-remote participation. Make it so rewarding and must-see that they hate to leave.
Everybody’s working for the weekend
Unlike people who invest the time and money to travel to destination-oriented events, those who attend virtually prefer weekday-only schedules. Tuesday through Thursday sessions typically see the highest attendance.
Digital + data = insights
The ability to understand audience behavior is the Holy Grail for marketers. Virtual events afford us the extraordinary ability to track, measure and monitor the attendee journey across multiple personas. We can do this with amazing granularity. We can do it in real time. Better yet, we can apply the data analysis from virtual meetings to predict audience behavior as we design live events. So, if you crave insights into in-person attendees, design a digital layer that will reveal all. Think of it as an opportunity to experiment with new engagement ideas and apply data analysis to learn what works best. The trick is to start with a plan to harvest the critical data you need and design your attendee tracking accordingly. Use permission-based persona journeys to make content more relevant to attendees while potentially converting them to qualified leads. Even small operations that may not have big data capabilities can run simple digital surveys that occur during registration, after each streamed session, and as a thank-you and follow-up message.
What’s next? We are thrilled to see a return to live and in-person conferences, trade shows and corporate events. Nothing can replace the appeal of a live event that engages all five senses and connects us with our tribe. Nothing has to. Virtual platforms have proven value as part of an integrated, year-round event-marketing plan. To empower and engage more participants, to encourage diversity, to provide relevant learning opportunities for audiences and to learn about them in return, virtual connectivity is no longer an option.
Welcome to the age of digital transformation and always-on outreach. You’ve got this.
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