The secret to great hybrid virtual events: how to develop standout content that beats in-person experiences 

Steve Ellis

14 June 2021

The last 18-months have seen a surge in virtual events. All signs were pointing to increased adoption but COVID-19 forced marketers to take their events online through necessity. Yet in their rush to adapt, have marketers forgotten what lies at the core of a successful event?  

During the pandemic, marketers learned much about how to excel – and how to fail – in virtual experiences. While audiences have been more forgiving in a challenging pandemic environment, the grace period is now at an end.

While expectations are rising, demands are also changing. The events market has experienced this like no other. Digital by default events were always coming – they just got here a bit sooner than we expected or planned.

Looking ahead, the future of events is hybrid.

We’ve seen the benefits of virtual – greater accessibility and lower cost, while having an impact on the bottom line – but many are also clamouring to get back to conference centres, for good reason.

In a hybrid world, digital events have live events to compete against. This makes it more important that organizers revisit the fundamentals of what makes their event great.

Getting attention is hard: deliver a fair exchange of value; and content is critical

With audiences spending time online sharing and conversing we’ve reached an inevitable information glut. There is too much to see and too much to engage with.

You want to hear from an expert?

Then tune into a podcast, a webinar, a virtual conference, an Instagram live feed, listen in to Clubhouse or watch a Twitch stream.

There are more channels available than ever before, all bring a barrage of content. Yet the hours of each day available to consume content remain the same.

We all consume information that is interesting but lacks the authority needed to inform opinions. If your content gives your audience the opportunity to impart wisdom to their peers, makes their job easier or allows them to drive real business impact then you’ve provided value.

In a survey on virtual events, Markletic found that 80% of people who attend virtual events do so for educational purposes.

So, listen up.

That job you signed up for is changed forever. Your job description is now irrelevant. You are no longer marketing, you are teaching.

Building trust leads to ROI

Providing value builds trust. It’s trust that marketers use to provoke action, whether selling a product, gathering contact details, or generating awareness.

Audiences will only offer a fair exchange of value to you if they’re getting something in return: a fair exchange.

The return value of events used to be a trip to a nice location, time away from your desk, the opportunity to network or a VIP pass. While those days aren’t gone, the reward of physical participation isn’t enough to hook an audience. Creating a fair exchange of value however…

It’s not about you...

Marketers spend too much time creating webinars, roundtables, tradeshows, videos, which are designed to tell audiences what their businesses do, rather than telling them why they do it and why the audience should care.

Events must be customer-oriented. Think about these questions, can you answer them?

  • What drives our audiences’ businesses?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What are their opportunities?
  • And on an individual level, what’s the personal win?

It’s only through this type of deep dive into fundamentals you’re your virtual events will succeed.