July 14, 2021 Elena Hoffman
In the last year, event planners have had to pivot their entire strategy to digital – unlocking a more dynamic, personalized experience while reaching a much larger audience than possible with in-person events. This has been a way for organizers to learn about the opportunities with new technology to enable a better digital experience and engagement.
Companies are rethinking how they bring in-person events back. But the constraints for event professionals face are still challenging.
For example, event planners must overcome smaller teams and budgets while simultaneously developing a robust strategy, acquiring event tech and driving engagement with participants.
More than ever, the impact of the event marketer’s role depends on proving a return on investment for each hybrid event and driving growth by engaging participants.
Bringing Digital-First Engagement to a Physical Event
With all of this in mind, event planners are starting to think more about their hybrid strategy.
How, for example, can they use a virtual event platform to drive engagement with both remote attendees and onsite attendees? What about providing sponsors and exhibitors with genuine, measurable benefits? How can event marketers take a corporate event and turn it into a successful hybrid event?
The past year provides planners the opportunity to take the virtual event learnings they’ve gained and apply them to hyper-relevant and immersive hybrid events that drive deeper engagement.
By going hybrid, an event organizer can unify both virtual and physical event experiences, extend event reach, build in more engagement opportunities across the customer lifecycle and collect data on each touchpoint regardless of whether they’re engaging with a physical attendee or a virtual audience.
The Power Behind Combining Digital and Physical Event Data
Data is the key advantage of integrated experiences. In the past, in-person events were leveraged as a key strategic activity to reach large audiences, but provided minimal engagement tracking and metrics.
In the past, data collected at in-person events usually fell into four categories:
- Badge swipes
- In-person polls
- In-session survey feedback
- Conversations with either salespeople or presenters
With hybrid, audiences can engage and interact with you digitally or in-person. It provides the ability to take a digital-first approach to engagement — measuring engagement before, during and after an event.
As attendees engage with interactivity tools both online and in-person, you can see how to improve your event experience. For example, with virtual events, you’re able to collect data and insights based on:
- Attendee chats
- Resources downloaded
- On-demand content consumption
- 1:1 networking
- Social media engagement
Hybrid, however, combines the data of digital and in-person, empowering marketers and salespeople to compare metrics and see a more complete view of the event buyer’s journey.
A virtual platform built for hybrid events and engagement can help. Planners can unify their data across each experience and provide a detailed analysis on each attendee whether in-person or digital by looking at time spent watching an event, questions asked, resources downloaded – all while building a prospect profile on behaviors and intent.
Integrating Event Data to Drive Your Business
Hybrid events are big data generators. Connect the data you gain by integrating your hybrid tools with your business systems and build a consistent customer profile. These systems can include:
- Marketing automation tools
- Business intelligence
This data can help align marketing and sales teams to improve lead scoring and account profiling. It also can be a way to prove your event impact across your business and maximize your return on engagement. It can also help make the business case for more investment and optimize your event marketing efforts for the future.
Hybrid Engagement Is Here to Stay
Event planners have an incredible opportunity moving forward to truly show the impact of their work, and improve event ROI or return on engagement by using an integrated platform for hybrid events. This opens up new ways to experiment with the right mix between virtual and in-person engagement, and where to build further interactivity across experiences to make it feel more integrated for your audiences.
In this way, hybrid events are different from what was before. It offers a way to use event data to activate how to build, plan, and create memorable and effective experiences for your audience and the business. And deliver a return on engagement that wasn’t necessarily possible before.