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How to Drive ROI from Virtual and Hybrid Events in 2021


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The world has changed in numerous ways in the past year. This is especially true for the event industry. Events as we knew them have changed forever.

When an overwhelming 93% of event professionals plan to invest in virtual events and a staggering 97% of event marketers believe we will see more hybrid events in 2021 than ever before, one can’t be more certain that virtual and hybrid events are here to stay.

And even though the event industry landscape has changed dramatically, one thing hasn’t changed: more than half i.e,  54% of marketers find it difficult to prove event ROI.

While events are the most critical marketing channel for achieving business goals, ROI at events is generated at something organized at the sidelines of the event – the strategic B2B meetings. These meetings are where multi-million $ deals are discussed, sales pipelines generated and alliances built. 

The switch to virtual has brought new challenges. Managing, or even planning and scheduling meetings is something businesses have just begun to think about. Attendee engagement is by far the most important KPI for event marketers executing virtual events, yet event marketers agree that this is also one of the most challenging aspects of the medium. Audience fatigue is another known issue. Most event organizers have limited or no experience in managing virtual events, or the technologies needed to run flawless meeting management at such events.

How does one even drive meetings at virtual and hybrid events, let alone make them successful? Here are a few ways:

1.Virtual events are not just about driving more people to interact with your content, it’s also how the interactions at the event are converted to meetings. With the virtual event platform, we typically capture registration data. That registration data can be brought into a Meeting Automation platform and made available to the Sales teams. The Sales teams can then schedule outbound sales meetings with their prospects and customers to meet with their product experts, executives, and specialists to drive opportunities forward. We could also drive inbound meetings by letting attendees request meetings through inbound meeting request pages.

Virtual events can also have programs such as Meet the Expert or Sessions tied to them to take customer engagement to the next level:

2. Meet the Expert programs: Meet the Expert (MTE) programs provide enterprise customers with the means to learn and understand details about products or services to make informed decisions throughout the year. While most companies have a pool of experts available by region and topic to assist partners/customers, the process (largely manual) of scheduling appointments lacks efficiency and impacts the productivity of internal and external attendees. Using a Meeting Automation platform, you can easily set up the program, and customers or prospects can book a meeting in a few simple steps rather than having to wait on a chat queue, make several phone calls, or send back and forth emails.

3. Virtual Sessions: Virtual sessions are a little different from webinars which are a one-to-many campaign where everyone gets the same experience and same content. A session or a track is Marketing’s ability to customize a prospect’s or customer’s experience based on their preferences There are many ways prospects or customers can attend a track or session. They can be nominated by a Sales Rep, following which they can be automatically invited to the session and a confirmation email sent out, or they could themselves register for a track or session.

Another important factor is that until now meeting automation was applied to large industry conferences to manage a flurry of meetings in a short time. With the digitization and the success of using meeting automation to schedule, manage and analyze via both outbound and inbound methods, marketers are standardizing the meeting platform from 10 to 20 of the biggest events to 100s or even 1000s of small events and programs across global teams to streamline the workflows and maximize the ROI of all campaigns.

An average enterprise attends close to 2k events in a year. These generally consist of 2-5 mega corporate events, 10-15 large industry events, 300-400 mid-sized events, and almost 1500 sessions. Taking an average of 10 business meetings per event – that’s a whopping 20,000 meetings need to be consistently scheduled and managed.

Thus, leveraging a reliable meeting automation platform (MAP) is the answer to automating and driving meaningful interactions and engagements at virtual or hybrid events. These meetings are where sales pipelines advance and influenced revenue is impacted.

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