More than a third of marketers cited virtual events / digital experiences as one of their top engagement tactics, while additional research found that 61% of marketers plan to increase their investment in digital events in 2022. While in-person events are making a comeback, virtual networking and/or hybrid strategies still play an integral role in amplifying the event experience.
Virtual networking elements at in-person events are table stakes for companies. In 2023, we will see the influx of virtual elements incorporated into in-person events to satisfy expectations and measure attendee engagement. Companies that fail to incorporate these elements into their event strategies will fall behind in collecting and optimizing attendee insights to better inform their marketing efforts.
According to a recent questionnaire of more than 3,000 respondents declare hybrid events are favored among B2B organizations. Specifically:
- 86% of B2B organizationssaw a positive ROI from their hybrid events seven months after the event date.
- 34% of event organizersexpect to invest more in hybrid events in the next few years.
- 21% of marketerssaid they are procuring a hybrid event platform.
- 57% of respondentssaid they would rather attend an in-person version of a hybrid event than the virtual networking version.
- 25% of respondentsstated they will host between five to 10 hybrid events per year.
Even though the lockdown is over, marketers aren’t throwing away their virtual networking event playbooks and only hosting live events. They learned to meet customers where they are by offering both methods to target and engage audiences.“Virtual networking events have certainly proven their ROI,” said Mike Slater, Founder of Speednetworking.com, the industry’s legacy premium preferred provider of virtual networking events. As such, event leaders are looking to take the benefits of virtual networking events and translate them into physical ones. For example, attending events where the speaker or panelists are tuning in remotely from around the world, giving in-person attendees opportunity to connect with topic leaders globally. These hybrid events also extend to participants, helping to maximize event attendance and connection.
Marketers must leave behind binary thinking that pits physical and virtual networking against one another. When it comes to event experiences, marketers must focus on matching personalized content and experiences with individual customers in the format they prefer — whether at a conference center, through a screen or a mix of the two. Moving forward, event strategies will focus on engagement and impact rather than format, reaching attendees where they prefer to interact.