Virtual events – whether used by themselves or in tandem with your on-site trade show – can extend the reach of your message, create a greater return on investment. See how hybrid events provide added value in a time when travel budgets have been slashed and your target audience may not have time to attend a live show!
Virtual Events for Greater Flexibility and Cost Savings
It’s easy to see why a virtual event can save money versus the traditional live exhibition. You’re not required to book a venue, spend on transportation, or lose valuable time traveling to the destination and back again. And customers who are also short on time and money may have more incentive to participate; since virtual events live on a server, “attendees” can view the content when it’s convenient for them if they’re unavailable while the show is streaming. Also, since there’s an opportunity to make your company’s collateral available via download rather than having to stuff the pieces into an already-full suitcase, customers may be more likely to take the time to review them.
Of course, a fully virtual event may not translate well for products that are best viewed in person, and you’ll miss the opportunity to connect with your customers face-to-face. There’s also anticipation and excitement that surrounds a new product introduction that may be better served with a live event that engages all the senses.
Streamed Live Events Add Engagement as Well as Attendees
Streamed Live events are not only for the benefit of those who aren’t able to attend your show. According to conference-recording company, Digital, live streaming from your booth can create buzz and draw attendees to visit your exhibit. It’s like adding an extra dimension to your sales presentation, while also building authenticity. If you fear that a video stream will mean reduced attendance at trade shows, be comforted by the fact that 30% of those who watch a streamed live event will attend in person the following year.
Of course, you’ll need to find creative ways to use the live stream to entice show attendees to visit your booth. You could share company news, conduct interviews, announce the results of a contest, give attendees a behind-the-scenes tour, or show booth visitors something surprising or unexpected about your brand. Or how about a Social Wall? Social Walls are growing in popularity to engage both in-person attendees as well as remote viewers. Post announcements or feature real-time social media posts on your wall to keep your exhibit or presentation fresh and up-to-the-minute. Include votes or polls on your Wall, with the ability to post information on your website concurrently. Some vendors also include sponsorship and advertising opportunities.
Finally, the bonus of a streamed live event is that you can use the recorded footage to repurpose the content for the attendees you met at the show or others who couldn’t make it. The content could be shared later to social media or incorporated into other marketing activities.
Hybrid Events Are the Best Way to Maximize Your Trade Show Success
Hybrid events – where live events are streamed with the intent to pitch both to in-person and remote customers – are most effective for improving marketing metrics like customer engagement and ROI.
But hybrid events are not simply about increasing the number of attendees. Some vendors use techniques at streamed live events so that the customers watching remotely can be just as engaged as those who visit your booth in person.
The presentation software company, Glisser, uses quizzes and polls to help ensure that remote viewers are paying attention and not just “logged in” while doing something else. U.K company, ivent, connects in-person and remote attendees so they can engage with each other during the live show and exchange business cards. And all of the data captured during the webcast can be integrated into an analytics platform, such as Glisser’s InsightXM. The result is greater knowledge about your customers and better information about how to customize the sales experience for them. Ecommerce can play a role as well, so you can sell both to actual show attendees and those watching the event in a different location.
Siemens Medical Solutions USA Inc. elected to use a hybrid approach to create different experiences for the in-person attendees and those who logged into the virtual show. Their Innovations for Healthcare IT conference is a popular event that typically draws hundreds of attendees every year. But reduced travel budgets meant that many regular attendees were not likely to make the trip. The company created a representative virtual model of the live conference – 55 of the 190 total classes offered at the conference – and made them available in an online version of the show later in the year. The virtual show was also able to draw in those who did attend the live show with an opportunity to take classes they may have missed during the conference.
Casting a Wider Net Means More Than Coming up with More Fish
It’s apparent that the combination of a live trade show and a virtual/remote experience can do much more than increasing the number of attendees. Creative planning can improve attendee engagement, reinforce sales messages, create opportunities for multiple exposures, and provide a means for capturing vital customer information.