How Can Virtual Events Differentiate?

November 8, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Cross-Media & Traditional | Customer-Centric | Trade Shows & Events

More than 8 in 10 virtual events decision-makers say that their organization will plan more (32%) or about the same (50%) number of virtual events in the coming 12 months as in the past year, according to a Forrester Consulting survey commissioned by Airmeet.

Indeed, despite indications of online event fatigue, more virtual events leaders see the number of these events they’ll put on increasing (32%) than decreasing (17%) in the coming year. This reflects a feeling that virtual events have cemented their status within the organization: 77% agree that virtual events are a permanent element of their organization’s event mix. Even during the pandemic, B2B exhibitors were forecasting that virtual events would remain part of the mix after the pandemic receded, despite the difficulties they have executing them relative to in-person events.

With virtual events staying around, leaders will need to figure out ways to differentiate from their competition. The most effective way to do so is by offering unique activities, according to respondents. Virtual events leaders also believe great content, a high-energy host, and personalized experiences will go a long way in making an event memorable and differentiating it from others. By comparison, fewer feel that an immersive virtual environment is the most effective way to make their event stand out.

Previously, research has found marketers saying that one of the top ways to increase virtual event ROI is to change the format of events to be more dynamic and interactive.

Virtual events leaders should also be careful to plan the right events to coincide with the right point in the buyer’s journey. Respondents to the Airmeet survey feel that virtual trade shows are better suited for the discovery phase than webinars and virtual forum/networking events. Still, virtual trade shows and webinars tend to be seen as more effective towards the mid-to-latter stages of the buyer journey, per the report. Separate research likewise finds that webcasts and virtual events are deemed most effective mid-funnel.

Other Survey Highlights:

  • The top metric measured pre-event is registration, while the joint leading metrics measured during the event are the number of new opportunities identified and the number of attendees.
  • Post event, the joint top metrics are improvement in market awareness and number of new contacts gathered.
  • About 3 in 4 agree that they are looking to hire talent with the right skills to get their desired outcomes from their virtual events.
  • Roughly 3 in 4 agree that they want to diversify their virtual event offerings.
  • Some 72% agree that virtual events are more important than ever to their marketing strategy.
  • Almost 2 in 3 (64%) agree that they are seeking tech partners to help them measure key insights from their virtual events.

About the Data: The results are based on an August survey of 165 North American (US: 78%; Canada: 22%) senior managers and above who are responsible for digital events/demand/customer marketing strategy at their company.

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