How marketers can make the most of virtual events

Tim Groot, CEO and founder of Grip, reveals some tricks of the trade for making your virtual event stretch further:

Lockdown precautions have heavily impacted the events industry across the world. In 2020, event organisers radically pivoted towards hosting virtual events online. As in-person events start to return to the US, and as Europe plans to reintroduce them later on this year, hybrid events look to make a strong return at the back end of 2021. 

 As virtual and hybrid formats will take centre stage for the near future, it’s vital that event organisers and marketers know how to maximise their returns on these kinds of events, to improve client offerings and to future-proof their business models. 


Making the most of your revenue streams

At Grip we’ve noticed digital events tend to be smaller than their in-person counterparts, however, this isn’t necessarily a reason for event organisers to fret. The fact that virtual events tend to be more focused should be seen as an opportunity to generate industry leads that benefit all parties involved and move specific industries forward. 

Where a trade show in the food industry which might bring together 100,000 people annually, a virtual event - for example, a show specific to French cheese for restaurants across Europe – might attract 1,000 buyers and suppliers, but in a hyper-targeted setting.


Let data guide your digital event strategy 

Unlike in the physical world, running a virtual event allows organisers insight into the behaviour and priorities of exhibitors and attendees. Collecting and collating this data can help organisers discover and understand patterns, trends and the interconnected nature of the events industry in a whole new way.  

Data insights such as these change the way event marketing works. Organisers and marketers can plan around tailored and segmented audiences - connecting attendees, exhibitors and sponsors with information known to be of value to them. 


The golden goose of ‘sequential’ events

Undoubtedly, in-person events will start to make a return. This transition period will see a rise in the number of hybrid events – of which there are different formats to utilise based on the event’s needs. Sequential hybrid experiences are particularly lucrative in terms of reaping returns on investment. A sequential event occurs when the ‘live’ experience and the ‘virtual’ experience occur on different dates or times, one after the other in order to extend the event experience. 

 This format has been proven to increase overall engagement and event value over multiple moments - making it ideal for show teams of any size who are eager to maximise value for sponsors and exhibitors, while also providing a tailored experience for virtual and live audiences.


What the future holds 

Data insights are just one of the additional capabilities hybrid formats offer to event organisers and marketers.

Combining virtual and live elements increases audience reach, lengthens the event timespan (resulting in a higher ‘return on time’ for organisers and attendees) and increases overall revenue opportunities for exhibitors, with longer events allowing them to provide more value to both attendees and exhibitors.

The future of the events industry is in a great moment of change, as event organisers are becoming ‘Market Organisers’ - specialists who bring together and combine different elements of event experience, to help push their industry to evolve, become more agile and advance their various markets.