We didn’t expect that in 2020 and 2021, we’d have to reassess the way we plan and run events. Just a year ago, we were writing down our yearly plan and focusing on the number of conferences or workshops we’d be managing, along with the expected attendance rate for each. But things didn’t go our way.
However, every crisis comes with new opportunities and ideas. Now is the time we need each other the most to discuss the new world and economy scenarios, plan the upcoming months, and decide how our world will change. Considering the number of companies, brands, and organizations that have taken their events online, we can definitely say that this crisis has made us stronger and more willing to double down on our events strategy. And although we’ll start meeting face-to-face again eventually, since nothing can change the experience of in-person events, this newly discovered format will upgrade the impact of our events.
As a matter of fact, we should expect more and more entities betting on hybrid events that combine both face-to-face and virtual experiences. This will help them attract a wider audience and capitalize on the online event content. But how can we move from in-person events to hybrid experiences the right way? We’ve outlined a few steps you’ll want to take to ensure an easy in-person to hybrid transition for both your planning team and your attendees.
Step 1. Choose the right online event technology partner
The same way you’re using digital tools to handle in-person event logistics, you’ll need a trusted event technology partner to run online events. The good thing is that there are many technology providers that are sustaining both face-to-face and virtual events. You should start by asking the event technology brand team you’re collaborating with if they can support your online events. If not, you can continue working with them in terms of event planning logistics but use a video platform for running the event itself.
Or you can search for an event technology brand that can provide an all-in-one online events platform. In other words, you may want to look for a tool that will help you handle the event management logistics (such as the event promotion, the registration process, the email campaigns, and so on) and launch your online event stage for your virtual sessions. Set aside some time to assess your options, maybe run a few trials, and discuss your needs with different event tech teams.
Step 2. Improve your online attendees’ user experience
When attending an in-person event, people will usually interact with the environment itself by navigating the venue and chatting with other guests. An online event experience, however, is very similar to the use of a platform or software. Your online attendees are becoming users. And what makes users enjoy a virtual experience? Being able to use the platform with ease.
In other words, you’ll need to make sure your virtual guests can connect to the virtual stage, interact with the speakers, and find their way around easily. To improve their experience and make your event as flawless as possible, make sure that they won’t have to spend too much time trying to figure out how to use the platform. Giving your virtual attendees an intuitive experience is a must for a successful online event.
Step 3. Give your online attendees the option to engage and connect with each other
In terms of engagement, your online event isn’t very different from a face-to-face one. After all, when you’re working with a good event technology partner, you’ll be able to launch live polls and Q&A sessions. These simple tools will help your virtual guests interact with the moderator and your speakers and express themselves when necessary.
However, getting people to talk to each other during an online event can be more challenging, because they obviously can’t mingle and strike up conversations. In an online environment, their options are more limited. The good thing is that there are certain online event platforms that also supply networking opportunities for your virtual attendees. If this is something you want to provide during your online event, talk to your event technology partner.
Step 4. Use your events’ online content as a lead magnet
The awesome thing about an online event is that you can record them and continue using the content after the event is over. A successful transition from in-person to hybrid events means being able to leverage the online content and use it as a lead magnet. For example, you can provide some video sessions as gated content, asking for people’s information in return. You can do the same with the speakers’ slides. Or you can publish an e-book based on your online event content and target high-quality leads that may later become your prospects or paying clients.
Step 5. Monetize the online content of your events
There are a few ways to monetize your online content, such as recording a series of interviews or fireside chat sessions with your speakers and packing them as an informational product. You can also offer people lifelong access to the content in exchange for a specific fee. During an in-person event, there’s really not much you can charge for other than attendance, which is why it’s a good idea to take the opportunity to try and make a profit on your online content.
Don’t delay the transition
Do you remember back when people started creating blogs? There weren’t that many of them in the beginning. But with good promotion and strong content, professionals and amateurs alike were able to make their voices heard. However, as the blog world really took off, it became harder and harder for new blogs to break through the online clutter. The same thing is true for hybrid and online events. Considering that online and hybrid events are still new, you have time to get noticed and build a strong events brand.