Why virtual events should still be part of your 2021 marketing strategy

Greg Armshaw, senior solutions sales director, Asia Pacific, Brightcove, advises corporates and associations to continue navigating the virtual space, and offers tips on how best to execute it well

Virtual conferences are here to stay

Business events traditionally have provided valuable opportunities for organisations and individuals to come together, showcase solutions, and build strong professional networks.

At the same time, the need for in-person gatherings is constantly being re-evaluated as the new normal created by the Covid-19 pandemic evolves.

Virtual conferences are here to stay

Many enterprises have realised they can reap the benefits of hosting an event without having people come together physically. Organisations that stay ahead of the curve have taken their events virtual.

Virtual events enable organisations to reach larger audiences, expand geographical reach, and the ability to track and extend the life of all interactions. While in-person events have had virtual components built-in for some time, Covid-19 has raised the stakes for event organisers to go virtual, and accelerated the adoption of video streaming technologies and solidified the future of events is going to be a hybrid mix of the physical and virtual.

Event planners and marketers now have more ROI opportunities due to the nature of hybrid and virtual events. Many event technologies today are built for revenue generation, and virtual or hybrid events produce revenue through multiple streams – each of them providing a broad range of monetisation possibilities.

Maximise sponsor recognition
Some of the most successful sources of event revenue include sponsorship of the event, particular tracks or sessions, speaking slots, exclusive closed-door discussions, or branded sponsor overlays on the video player.

Whether presented as a sponsorship menu, tiered package, or an a-la-carte menu that businesses can pick and choose from, virtual and hybrid events represent a valuable opportunity for sponsors to build brand awareness and generate high-quality leads from a greater pool of audience across the world.

Offer premium content
A premium content model provides important flexibility in terms of how companies structure virtual events. Give attendees the opportunity to pay for access to highly valued or in-demand content. Alternatively, create a tiered structure through which multiple pricing levels are provided where increasing amounts of content is made available depending on the tier.

Another option is to organise content by track and allow attendees to pay for access to tracks that are of particular interest providing a more personalised experience.

Create exclusive and premium networking opportunities
Although networking at virtual and hybrid events looks different than in-person events, there is still an opportunity to create meaningful virtual experiences by taking full advantage of the flexibility and possibilities for mass personalisation that virtual formats offer.

For instance, participants at physical events are often shuffling from one talk to another, or jumping from a conversation with one individual to another, with no guarantee of meaningful interaction. Ensure your virtual events enable participants to strike up a conversation with someone within a simple click for a meaningful interaction or conversation that both participants will remember, with the opportunity to follow up shortly after.

Extend the lifecycle of virtual event content
Even after the virtual event has concluded, presentations and speeches by speakers and sponsors are valuable assets for promotional and educational purposes. Make these assets available to participants after the event has ended for an additional fee and charge new on-demand attendees a premium to consume the content.

Thematic panel discussions can also be re-packaged as an online course series following the event, stored in a digital library and charged for access to generate on-going revenue and provide additional value to existing subscribers.

Share post-event video analytics and data
Lastly, one of the reasons why video is so powerful for organisations is that it provides detailed and actionable data to help shape planning and decision-making for the future. This is especially true for virtual events which provide a plethora of information on audience behaviour as well as the performance of content.

Monetising post-event video analytics also brings value for event participants. Executive leadership, sales and marketing, research and development, sponsors and vendors, speakers, and presenters, will find that this data provides a powerful look into the interests and behaviours of customers and prospects.

The most important point to remember is that virtual events are fundamentally different from in-person events. For purposes, like knowledge and content sharing, virtual events perform better than the physical version. The key to monetising your virtual event lies in exploring all the above opportunities to provide utmost value for sponsors, while completely reimagining how you connect with audiences.

The world eventually will be able to get together again in person, but video will always remain central to the mix, because businesses have discovered video enables them to expand their reach online and go beyond the limitations of a physical conference room seating.

The future belongs to the hybrid model – and the sooner you get up to speed on the virtual part, the better.

Greg Armshaw, Brightcove’s senior solutions sales director, Asia Pacific, helps to build businesses with video. He designs and delivers workshops and programmes – themed around facilitating the acquisition and retention of customers, and maximising revenues – with a company’s business goals as the focus.

Sponsored Post