Hybrid events give marketers the best of both worlds, leveraging the strengths of live and virtual events.
Recent studies show that 95% of marketers believe in-person events are crucial for business outcomes, while 74% reported positive ROI from virtual events six months after the event. While live events have come back, virtual events are here to stay, giving marketers access to potential audiences who are unable (or unwilling) to attend in-person sessions.
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A hybrid event is the ideal way to combine both formats, expanding your reach and offering flexible options for attendees to tune in from anywhere. Here are some clear and simple steps to ensure you’re maximizing your potential to land and then nurture leads from your hybrid event.
Maximize the lead gen potential of hybrid events
One critique of virtual events is that the pre-planned, remote nature of the experiences make it difficult for spontaneous conversations to occur. That can be a problem, as these interactions often result in stronger leads. But, with strategic planning, hybrid events can keep those conversations and network opportunities going, ultimately improving the tracking of those prospects across the customer journey.
Play matchmaker – with AI’s help
Most digital event attendees still want to network, but webinars aren’t the best platform to have those conversations. Increasingly, conferences and industry events have started to include virtual networking hours, where attendees can enter chat rooms matched to their industry role, and reasons for attending. Some events have gone one step further by leaning into AI-led matchmaking, suggesting potential matches to attendees prior to the event, helping them talk directly to the people who fit their goals.
AI matchmaking is not just for the virtual space; in-person events can also leverage this technology to tease the types of people attendees could meet on arrival. This could include matching in-market buyers with relevant sellers, matching people looking for work with those who are hiring, or simply matching those who want to build industry contacts.
Create year-round leads by releasing on-demand access, session by session
Digital access doesn’t have to encompass the whole event, but can instead be shared on a per session basis. This means you can generate leads throughout the year and target more specific audiences at a time that’s right for both you and them. This comes down to the art of atomizing – or repurposing – your content. A useful tool for this is Informa Engage’s Content Multiplier, which can amplify your marketing ROI by converting a single video into over 10 powerful content assets using AI to do the heavy lift. Multiplying content in this way gives you more assets through which to reach a wider audience across numerous channels.
Gamify your product demos
An Informa Engage audience survey found 41% of respondents rely on product demos when making purchasing decisions, with 14% using product demos to stay informed and 37% using them to research solutions for their organization. Digital events open doors to sharing demos in new ways, from the gamification of registrations to one-to-one demo sessions paired with expert advice.
Map leads in real time
You can track engagement in real time through digital event platform analytics, capturing leads and assessing the ROI on your event investment. This typically includes attendance information, content downloads, information requests, and other interactions in a clear and accessible report.
Take the best of both worlds
As we experience the resurgence of in-person events, don’t neglect the advantages of digital. Rather than adopting an either-or mindset, we should consider incorporating both into our marketing mix. Webinars, in particular, have remained highly effective.
Based on NetLine’s research – which analyzed over 5.4 million content registrations – webinar registrations rose 81.2% in 2022. That same research showed those who registered for webinars were nearly 44% more likely to make a purchase decision within six months.
How to optimize hybrid event leads using in-person event insights
Analyzing the most successful ways to generate leads at in-person events can, in turn, show you how to boost leads from the digital audience during a hybrid event. While these two audiences’ desired experiences might differ, their requirement for insight, advice and solutions at different stages of the buyer cycle does not.
Here are three insights on hybrid event lead optimization from Informa Engage’s 2022 Audience Survey: Information Needs & Preferences, which collected responses from over 11,000 Informa brand customers across 13 market verticals.
Perfect your event lineup
Having the right lineup counts. According to Engage’s report, nearly 70% of attendees review speakers and sessions in advance. Would-be attendees want to evaluate the subjects up for discussion, but also the caliber of speakers who’ve committed to your event.
Advice: Tease speaker names on social media in the months and weeks ahead of the event to drive demand. Ask speakers with large social followings to start a topical debate with each other on Twitter, using your event hashtag to generate interest. For digital audiences, flag adaptations such as shorter sessions and interactive elements.
Plan your content marketing well in advance
The majority (74%) of event attendees are likely to search for related content prior to your event, with 44% beginning to look at content at least one month in advance and 23% looking two or more months in advance. Maximize these opportunities by planning and delivering topic-aligned and audience-centric content early on.
Advice: Build a long pipeline of related content such as articles, blogs and social posts to drive demand and reflect intent. While most of this content should be ungated, sharing gated, proprietary, high value content (such as whitepapers) at the time of the event is another way to generate leads.
Don’t make your event website an afterthought
The most common way for delegates to prepare for an in-person event, according to 78% of Engage’s survey respondents, is to review the event website. That means an easily navigable, up-to-date site is fundamental.
Advice: Use website and marketing communications to promote early registration. Break the in-person event into atomized digital offerings to drive a larger pool of more targeted leads. Share upsell options, such as workshops and access to networking events.
Don’t neglect the follow up
Generating event leads is crucial, but it’s what you do with those leads that really matters. According to the Engage survey, attendees believe having access to additional post-event insights enhances their overall experience. The survey revealed that 52% of respondents were interested in obtaining event materials for future reference and sharing with their colleagues. Additionally, 49% of the participants wanted recordings of keynotes and sessions, while 42% were keen on the opportunity to connect with exhibitors. It’s evident that event organizers must heed these demands to ensure attendees have a quality experience.
Advice: Simply making on-demand assets available to in-person attendees doesn’t provide you with follow-up material for your digital leads. Furthermore, while events can be hard lift for your team, they’re just a single point in time for your customer. This means the event must be viewed as an opportunity for continued interaction. Consider your post-event nurture program for both audiences and build this into your larger content marketing strategy early on. While session recordings are in high demand, engagement often comes when you offer the unexpected. This could be in the form of performance-focused case studies with investment and ROI figures for attendees to share with their senior teams. Practical worksheets for attendees to use as coaching tools or invites to free solution-based advice clinics are also actionable ideas.
Hybrid events combine in-person and virtual benefits, offering a unique opportunity to maximize leads and provide a valuable experience for attendees. Embracing them is a smart move for organizations looking to maximize their reach and impact in our evolving world. With the potential to create a continuous, engaging experience, hybrid events are transforming the events industry.
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