Despite the increasing number of digital events, a whopping 95% of marketers believe that in-person events are more valuable to support business goals. Indeed, despite the remaining COVID-19 protocols challenges, face-to-face events are more engaging, entertaining, and can generate more meaningful leads. As a result, event marketers seek to create a purposeful experience in a post-pandemic economy.
However, digital events are here to stay. Virtual conferences, shows, and meetings have provided a unique opportunity for businesses: They can reach out to a broader audience group. Overseas customers are more likely to join a virtual event. Yet, it is fair to say that local customers would benefit from in-person events.
Therefore, hybrid events are growing in popularity. Yet, organising an event that needs to happen both online and offline at the same time is a new challenge for companies because:
- Virtual attendance is higher than physical attendance
- Physical attendance is back to a similar volume as pre-pandemic times
- Sales teams need to record and manage different types of visitors simultaneously
#1. Segment your visitors
Every business knows how difficult it can be to stay on top of their lead lists. It is impossible to tell whether an event is successful as it is running. More often than not, sales and marketing teams need to consolidate the lists of visitors and interested leads in the days and weeks following the event.
Needless to say, it is a time-demanding process. Unfortunately, the high volume of visitors with a hybrid event can slow down lead identification. So, it is essential to introduce lead segmentation during the event to support your teams.
Physical visitors, for instance, can receive a colourful printed lanyard, which can be colour-coded to their relevant interest. A visitor can register at the entrance of the venue and tick their main interest or industry sector. With each unique area being assigned a specific colour, your team immediately knows how to handle each visitor.
Similarly, online users could also receive a unique colour font based on their selection. Segmenting leads into different categories from the start can ensure they receive the proper attention and support during their visits. It also makes post-event lead management smoother and less time-demanding.
#2. Diversify event promotion campaign
Local events typically used street banners and emailing campaigns to inform their audience. However, with a hybrid event, the marketing team needs to build a presence in both local and virtual channels.
Using video marketing campaigns can be a fantastic strategy to spread the word to your audience groups. For instance, the video can be used as part of:
- advertising campaigns on YouTube, based on interest and location
- campaigns on your LinkedIn company page to inform your followers
- campaigns on social media channels targeting interest groups
- advertising campaigns on Google Display Network, based on interest, location, and platform
- local TV channels campaigns
- Relevant influencers campaigns
Additionally, you can also reach out to your audience via new channels, such as joining a podcast as a guest, using LinkedIn advertising for an event banner, publishing guest blog posts on popular blogs, and arranging for promotional street events in the local area.
#3. Create a real-time buzz
Is the event already running? It’s not too late to attract new visitors! On the contrary, hybrid events make it easy to reach out to a new audience during the day. Physical attendance may be limited, but virtual visitors can pop in easily without disrupting their routine. That’s precisely where your social media buzz campaign can make a huge difference to attract new visitors.
First of all, let’s start with the basics: Every event needs a hashtag. The right hashtag for your event is unique, short, memorable, and relatable, so it can start trending on Twitter or Instagram in no time. Once you create your hashtag, you need to start promoting it ahead of the event through a countdown or promotional campaign and behind-the-scene shots.
Secondly, you must encourage people to post about the event. Creating social-media friendly sets can make a huge difference. Why not build an Instagram-friendly booth for physical visitors? They can take a picture in a pre-built frame featuring the event’s name and relevant cloud words, for example. Virtual visitors can benefit from a screen capture function that adds a tailored frame, so they can also share photos!
#4. Free food and drinks for everyone
Who doesn’t like a free cup of coffee? Free food and drinks can help attract visitors. You can arrange for workshop activities and other meet-up settings where your physical visitors enjoy a free buffet. The advantage of making drinks art of a business-related event is that you can avoid time-wasters and individuals who don’t leave their contact data. If visitors have to sign up for the workshop, you know you can attract a valuable audience.
What about virtual visitors? It can seem impossible to arrange for free food and drinks for global attendants. However, there may be some options to encourage new leads. For example, you can arrange for virtual meet-ups and workshops where attendants need to confirm their email addresses and interests to join.
Once you’ve received their contact data, you can surprise them with a voucher for a free coffee delivery from their local branch (such as Starbucks). Is no local branch available? How about planning a voucher for snack delivery at a discounted price? Investing in your visitors will build a bond from the start.
#5. Who are the right guests?
Ultimately, people are unlikely to attend the event if you have no relatable guests. However, the good news is that finding guests is a lot easier than it seems. The right guests need to:
- share common interests or challenges with your audience
- help educate your audience
- be an authority figure
- have a unique story
You could invite a client to share the unique way they use your products or services. But you can also reach out to a local influencer to introduce a new angle. For high-tech sectors, it can be helpful to invite an expert who can showcase the challenges and progress in the current market.
Ultimately, while it can be tempting to use your own team as guests, people are more likely to tune in if you invite experts from outside your business.
#6. The business card of the future
Do your visitors still use business cards? The answer depends, and the majority of people do not use paper business cards anymore. Therefore, you need to find new approaches to capture their names and job titles.
Workshops and activities where visitors need to sign up to join can help capture leads meaningfully. However, it can be helpful to focus on engaging activities, such as organising a coffee catch-up to discuss specific areas of your industry sector.
Similarly, you can also use virtual chat rooms to create similar online activities for digital visitors. At the end of the day, the team can collect the business contact data of each visitor as well as the workshops they joined.
Social media posts are also highly effective to keep track of people’s roles and companies.
#7. Let people have a say
Everybody dreams of being the centre of attention. That’s why business events fail when only the host gets to speak. Your visitors have a lot to share about their experience of the industry and the challenges they face.
Consequently, organising an exchange platform as part of your event can encourage visitors to engage. To build trust, your visitors need to feel appreciated and valued. Open discussion panels or online votes can be a fantastic solution to get everybody to reach out and engage.
Additionally, it is the perfect opportunity for the sales team to capture valuable information for lead generation.
There is also a unique advantage to letting your visitors express their opinions as an event organiser. They can create additional content for your event.
#8. A professional media team
Truth be told, managing interactions with virtual and physical visitors can be a tough task. Ideally, you need to reach out to a professional media management team to assist your sales and marketing experts.
The professional team can fulfil many roles in a hybrid event. They are crucial to driving engagement and conversations during the day. Their roles include:
- Streaming conference panels and other expert discussions
- Hosting discussions and activities to maximise engagement
- Running virtual chats
- Taking and uploading pictures of the event
- Running social media activities
- Directing visitors to the relevant workshop
- Troubleshooting IT issues for virtual visitors
- Sharing event-branded screen captures on social media
- Bringing professional streaming, filming, and event photography equipment
It is a good idea to outsource media management activities during the event as you need professionals who will be 100% committed to your visitors’ experience. Asking your sales and marketing teams to assist visitors and manage media features could affect the quality of the event.
In conclusion, the future of business events in a post-pandemic environment combines in-person and virtual interactions. For businesses, it becomes essential to optimise activities and reach out to both audience groups. In a day and age where engagement is key to success, it’s time for companies to give visitors the flexibility and comfort they seek in their next event attendance.