With all of the different marketing tactics available today to drive pipeline – and there are a TON of them – live, physical events remain one of the most important pieces of the marketing puzzle for many organizations. For some, it is THE most important marketing technique and the one that swallows up most of their budget. With that said, these organizations could be doing so much more to touch a larger piece of their target audience and maximize their investment… enter the Hybrid Event!
Across all industries, Virtual Events are becoming more and more popular due to their cost-effectiveness and ability to cast a wider net and drive more measurable response on the backend. A hybrid event is simply a conference/tradeshow/summit/workshop, etc. that combines an in-person event with a virtual/online extension. The bottom line is that the majority of the people you invite to your in-person events aren’t going to attend, and it’s not because they’re not interested. Studies have shown that 90% of the time the reason your target audience doesn’t attend your events is because they can’t justify the cost and/or time away from the office. This means that more than likely they want to hear what you have to say, there are just obstacles that won’t allow them to be there in-person. Hybrid events provide a medium for you to reach these folks, interact with them and measure their engagement. There are a number of advantages to adding hybrid events to your strategy, and here are a few that I believe are incredibly compelling for any organization:
• Extending the reach of your events – as mentioned above, the majority of your audience is not going to attend your in-person events because of cost, time and travel restrictions. Too many companies make no effort to touch these folks and that’s a huge mistake. Adding a virtual component allows you to engage with this piece of your audience that you’re currently missing out on.
• Extending the shelf-life of your events – you’ve done all of this hard work to build an impressive list of presenters and a stack of fantastic content for your event. Unfortunately for too many organizations, once an event is over, it’s over. They don’t do anything to extend the shelf-life of their event’s content. By adding virtual to the mix, you can essentially capture the event and offer it on-demand, extending the life span of the event and allowing it to keep working for you as a lead generator for months to come.
• Creating new revenue streams for your business – many companies are starting to realize the revenue potential that hybrid events bring with them. Some examples include:
1) Additional sponsorship revenue from your in-person sponsors/partners by telling them they can gain access to an online audience by sponsoring the virtual component of the event.
2) Registration revenue from your virtual attendees. As a best practice, many companies that charge for their events will offer 50% off for online attendees. And NO, this model is not going to cannibalize attendance of your in-person events. If anything, giving them the opportunity to see what they’re missing in person will increase the likelihood of them attending your event next year…if they deem your content valuable, of course!
3) Assuming the event is for marketing purposes, adding a virtual extension allows you to get engaged with more prospects, which will allow you to drive more qualified leads, which will lead to more pipeline value…you get the picture.
• Measurability, Measurability, Measurability – Along with cost and time and driving more traffic, perhaps the most compelling reason to add an online piece to any event strategy is the fact that you can measure end user engagement more effectively, ultimately giving you a better sense of event ROI. The fact is there are certain things that can’t be done with in-person events in terms of measurability. Adding a virtual extension gives you more visibility into what all of your attendees are doing, allowing you to essentially score your prospects based on engagement and focus on the lowest hanging fruit.
If you’re compelled, please share your feedback below. Talk soon!
Jason Stegent is the Founder & President of Elastic Solutions. Email him @ firstname.lastname@example.org