By David Betke
Some believe virtual events were only a covid-19 pandemic phenomenon to bridge the gap left by cancelled in-person events. However, I argue that this is just the beginning. Virtual events have proven to be more than just a temporary solution to a problem. They have opened up possibilities for innovative and accessible experiences that were not possible before.
In 2023 and beyond, virtual events will transform into a vital component of brand building. Marketers will use them to easily build global brand communities, establish thought leadership, and generate compelling content to improve SEO.
Virtual events eliminate location and time restrictions, making it possible to reach a global audience in real-time. This expands the reach of events and offers the opportunity for people who may not have been able to attend in-person events due to physical, financial, or logistical constraints.
Online events are also environmentally friendly as they eliminate the need for people to travel or transport equipment, reducing the carbon footprint. This aligns with the growing consumer demand for sustainable and eco-friendly practices.
Therefore, I believe that virtual events are here to stay, and we will see a transformation in the events industry as organizers and participants embrace the potential of virtual experiences.
Participating in virtual events like webinars, online conferences, or live streams can be beneficial to reach a more extensive audience. Virtual events have made it possible for businesses to interact with people from all over the world, thus breaking geographical barriers that were impossible to break a few years ago. This broader audience can bring new leads, customers, and partners and help businesses expand their brand awareness in new markets or industries.
One of the most important reasons to have virtual events in your marketing stack is to build a community around your brand or business. Virtual events allow people worldwide to connect and engage with your brand, fostering a sense of community that can help you build lasting relationships with your customers.
Hosting virtual events can also be a great way to establish thought leadership in your industry. By hosting informative webinars, panel discussions, or other events, you can position yourself as an expert in your field and build your reputation as a trusted authority.
Virtual events are essential to any modern marketing tech stack because they provide a powerful platform for leveraging touchpoints with prospective customers. In today's virtual world, creating multiple touchpoints with your target audience is essential to capture their attention and build a relationship with them.
Virtual events offer a variety of touchpoints, such as webinars, online trade shows, virtual conferences, and virtual summits; these events allow your brand to meet your prospective customers where they are and engage with them on multiple levels. Through live chats, breakout sessions, and Q&A sessions, you can create an immersive virtual experience that builds trust with your audience.
On-demand virtual events are valuable for companies looking to create evergreen content that can continue providing value long after the event. Event sessions can be recorded and kept online to be accessed by potential customers at any time. This means the content can continue to provide value, generate leads, and increase brand awareness long after the event ends.
On-demand events provide an excellent opportunity for content creators to increase their reach and monetize their content. Multi-channel distribution allows you to reach a wider audience and build relationships with new customers.
Content from the event can be repurposed and used in blog posts, social media posts, email newsletters, and more. This creates a wealth of marketing material that can be used to promote your brand and attract more potential customers.
On-demand virtual event content can improve SEO by increasing the amount of quality and relevant content available on your website. Search engines like Google are always looking for high-quality content that provides value to users, and on-demand virtual event content can do just that. The content can also attract backlinks from other websites, boosting your website's authority and search engine rankings. Additionally, using keywords and metadata in the content can improve the visibility and searchability of your website.
Event analytics can provide valuable insights into attendee behaviour and preferences, allowing businesses to target and segment their marketing efforts better. By analyzing attendee registration data, interaction with event content, and post-event survey responses, you can identify specific demographics, interests, and pain points and tailor your messaging and offerings accordingly.
By segmenting leads into specific categories, your sales team can prioritize their efforts and focus on the leads most likely to convert into customers. This allows them to tailor their approach and messaging to each group, increasing their chances of success.
Additionally, by identifying and targeting qualified leads earlier in the process, sales can reduce the time and resources spent on leads that are unlikely to progress. Better lead segmentation can streamline the sales process and lead to faster conversions, ultimately shortening the sales cycle.
In addition, event analytics can also provide valuable data on sales cycles, allowing marketers to understand better their marketing efforts' impact on the sales pipeline. By tracking metrics like lead generation, conversion rates, and post-event follow-up, they can identify areas of improvement and fine-tune their tactics to drive more significant ROI.
Virtual events offer better integration of customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing tools than in-person events. The reason is that virtual events allow for more data collection, tracking, and analysis. With virtual events, organizers can collect data points such as registration information, attendee engagement, and session attendance. This data can be used to update customer profiles, personalize marketing content, and better target prospects.
In addition to the marketing benefits, virtual events can help you reduce your environmental footprint. Minimizing travel can reduce carbon emissions and save resources while engaging with your audience.
A few of the advantages virtual events offer:
1. Cost-effective: Virtual events eliminate the need for a physical venue, which can be expensive to rent and maintain. Therefore, virtual events tend to be more cost-effective, as they require fewer expenses on logistics like venue hire, catering, etc.
2. Convenient accessibility: Guests do not have to travel to participate in a virtual event, eliminating the need for travel expenses, booking hotel rooms and other inconveniences. Guests can participate in virtual events from anywhere, with nothing more than a computer or mobile device and an internet connection.
3. Increased attendance: Virtual events can be attended by people throughout the world who would not have been able to participate in physical events due to distance, cost, or schedule constraints. Thus, virtual events offer a higher likelihood of attendance and can be accessible to a broader audience.
4. User-friendly technology: Virtual events offer easy access to innovative technologies. Tools such as live-streaming, chatrooms, online panels, and Q&A sessions are great ways to interact with guests and create a sense of community.
5. Greater data analysis: Virtual events require guests to sign up and participate, and virtual event organizers can analyze attendees' data and preferences, which makes it easier to tailor future events to their specific needs. It also allows event organizers to know the attendees' feedback and improve the virtual event's quality.
6. Follow-ups and Sharing: Virtual event organizers can easily follow up with attendees and share more information or resources after events.
7. Environmental Benefits: Virtual events eliminate the need for physical travel, reducing the carbon footprint and environmental concerns.
When building your Marketing Technology (Martech) stack, consider the following:
The most crucial tool you'll need for your virtual event stack is an easy-to-use virtual event platform with all the features you need to create a memorable event experience.
Integrating your virtual event platform with your CRM can help you better understand your attendees and provide a more personalized experience for them.
With marketing automation, you can create targeted email campaigns, social media posts, and other customized marketing materials for your attendees. This tool also allows you to track and analyze the results of your campaigns, so you can make data-driven decisions to improve your marketing efforts.
Breakout sessions and networking tools can help you create a more engaging event experience and provide opportunities for attendees to connect with your brand.
The ability to offer on-demand and evergreen content is an essential feature of any virtual event platform. This allows attendees to access pre-recorded sessions, webinars, and other similar content at their leisure without missing out on anything. Your benefits are expanded reach, content monetization opportunities, and improved SEO.
Hosting a series of virtual and hybrid events can be a great way to help you build a strong community around your brand, establish thought leadership, engage with your target audience, and reduce your carbon footprint.
By leveraging virtual and hybrid events, you can expand your reach beyond physical borders and cater to the needs and preferences of a wider audience. Additionally, the data and analytics gathered from these events can provide valuable insights to inform your overall marketing and event strategy.
When implementing a virtual and hybrid event strategy, it's essential to consider the various technologies and platforms available and select those that align with your goals and objectives; it's also necessary to prioritize the attendee experience and ensure that your events are engaging, interactive, and inclusive.
Overall, virtual and hybrid events provide a unique opportunity to connect with your audience in convenient and sustainable ways. Investing in these technologies as the events industry evolves can help future-proof your brand and ensure continued success.