Remember when “events” was synonymous with “in-person events”? Us too. Marketing has changed a great deal in a short period of time. Now, virtual events are number one on event marketers’ radar. And, despite our nostalgia for travel and seeing people in person, they’re working out surprisingly well and only getting better.
In fact, virtual events are shattering attendance records. For example, more than 500,000 people visited Adobe’s virtual Summit in the spring, roughly 16 times more people than we expected to attend the event live. In the first 24 hours alone, visitors watched 22,600 hours (2.6 years!) of video.
And Adobe isn’t alone. Businesses everywhere and across multiple industries are getting great results. Even as in-person events return, most marketers plan to retain virtual events as a key part of their overall event strategy. More than 80 percent of marketers see themselves moving to more online events in the future.
This post covers 10 reasons why marketers love virtual events—and 6 technologies you need to make them happen.
1. They cost less to produce.
It’s common sense. Virtual events cost less—often, a lot less—to plan and execute than in-person events. They don’t require spending on travel, hospitality, or venues. As a result, their ROI can be significantly higher than for in-person events. More than a third of marketers say that the average cost per virtual event attendee is between $500 and $1,000.
You can invest the money you save in planning even more virtual events. Or you can use a portion of your extra funds for unique gifts and fun activities like a collaboratively prepared meal or chocolate tasting.
2. They take less time to plan and promote.
Without the need to move people, products, and physical displays, virtual events can often be delivered faster than in-person events. On average, you need three to four weeks to plan a virtual event vs. six to eight (or more) weeks for an in-person event. In a survey of nearly 3,000 marketers, more than half said that it can take as little as 2 weeks to plan a small virtual event.
3. They’re easier for attendees to fit into their lives and schedules.
Travel is logistically challenging for busy executives—and for anyone with home and family responsibilities. This means most people attended fewer events than they wanted to. Now, with so many events going virtual, more people are broadening their virtual horizons and attending more online events than ever before.
4. They can connect you with prospects from all over the world.
With in-person events, geography is always a limiting factor. But virtual events can attract attendees from all over the world. If you’re a global business—or even if you’re thinking of becoming a global business—this is a huge benefit.
5. They lend themselves to highly focused conversations.
Because virtual events are less expensive and allow you to draw from a geographically diverse pool of attendees, focusing events on niche topics has become a lot more profitable. You can impress prospective customers with your depth of knowledge and stand out from events that just skim the surface. Also, attendees who attend a narrowly focused event are more likely to be serious about your product or service.
6. They generate lots of data and insights.
Getting people to fill out survey forms after in-person events can be a hassle. But it’s worth it to find out how attendees experienced your event. With virtual events, you get a much more granular look at how attendees are engaging with your event.
With most event platforms, every session and every interaction is recorded. This data is invaluable to salespeople following up with prospects and marketers developing new events and campaign strategies.
7. They’re appealing to high-profile speakers and C-level presenters.
It’s hard to find great speakers for your events because these people are always in high demand. You may not even be able to get a C-level exec or VP from your company, especially if they’ll have to travel to your event. But, when you take away the need to travel, you open up a lot of possibilities.
For example, it’s much easier to book a 90-minute virtual keynote than it is a multi-day visit. Likewise, may virtual event presentations are recorded in advance, which provides even greater scheduling flexibility for busy presenters.
8. They’re a lot easier to scale.
Most in-person events can only scale as big as the venue they’re held in. In fact, many events end up with long waiting lists. But virtual events can scale as big and fast as you need—especially if you use a dedicated streaming platform rather than a videoconferencing service.
9. They can evolve as fast as your products.
If you need to communicate important product or service news to your customers and prospects—and you want to do it in an interactive setting—a virtual event can be a great solution. Instead of waiting until you have lots of new product updates to share in a single, big launch, you can experiment with more frequent and focused launches.
10. They can help you build pipeline event faster.
Because you can integrate appointment calendar technologies with your virtual events, you can easily set up follow-on conversations while your event is still running. This means you can more quickly qualify leads and accelerate their journey through the sales funnel.
The event technology you need to succeed
Virtual events are both an art and a science. You need creativity to come up with amazing topics and formats that will captivate attendees. But you need technology to efficiently plan, promote, and deliver your event—especially if you’re planning to run multiple events throughout the year or you have a small marketing team.
Six solutions you will need to manage a growing calendar of virtual events include:
- A marketing automation platform
- An interactive webinar/live event platform
- Social scheduling and amplification tools
- Live chat and conversation marketing
- An event- and workflow-management platform
- Marketing attribution tools
All of this technology is especially important when you’re working with multiple teams around the world. According to Julie Martin, Senior Director of Corporate Events at Adobe and a major contributor to the Summit event, “It takes a village to produce Summit, but taking Summit online required even more villagers. Since this was the first time Adobe Summit was built on Adobe.com, the team not only included Adobe speakers, experiential marketing, demand generation, PR, executive communications, social, creative, BU product and marketing experts, but also the Web team, engineering, analytics, and UX designers.”
Technology helped the Adobe Summit team work together, break through siloes, and stay on track. To learn more about how you can deliver excellent virtual events—and which technologies will help you do it—read our eBook titled Launch Virtual Events That Stand Out, Scale Up, and Soar.