More brands are holding or thinking about holding virtual online events this year than ever before. But if you’re still on the fence about digital events, let’s run through some of the ways virtual events are better than physical events.
Yep, that’s right: we’re not just saying that digital events are a great substitute for face-to-face events when you’re working remotely or in the middle of a global health crisis — although there’s no denying they are.
We’re saying online events offer many advantages over physical events at any time — and there are very good reasons why they should be part of your regular event program.
We obviously love a good digital event at Redback. Every day we help customers stage brilliant webinars, conferences, internal Town Hall-style meetings, workshops, investor events, online TV shows and industry briefings — you name it.
Here are 10 of the best things about virtual events that face-to-face events can’t match.
- Physical location (and time zone) is no barrier to attendance
A little obvious in the current circumstances, but this is the No.1 advantage virtual events have over face-to-face gatherings: it doesn’t matter where you’re physically located, or what time zone you’re in. As long as you can connect to the internet, you can attend an online event.
That opens your event to a broader audience immediately. You’ve instantly gone from a city-wide or regional audience to one that’s national or international.
And if you make your event available on-demand or send out a recording after the event, your audience can watch it regardless of their time zone.
- They’re great for busy people
People are busy, and sometimes the very prospects or customers we’d love to come to our events just can’t make it because they’re already committed to half a dozen other things, or something crops up at the last moment.
While virtual events can’t clear a diary, they can be made available for viewing online at a time and location that suits each individual respondent.
So if you miss it, that doesn’t mean you have to miss it.
You also don’t need to clear an afternoon to travel to a face-to-face event: online events are just a few clicks away.
- Virtual events are very cost-effective
Face-to-face events need to be staged somewhere. That means you’re looking at venue hire costs, catering and drinks at a minimum.
Not only can you avoid those charges for your digital events, you can charge less for tickets because your costs are lower, thereby increasing your pool of likely attendees.
- They’re low-risk
No need to wear a face mask, have your temperature checked, maintain 1.5m distance from every other attendee or limit registration numbers. Digital events are low-risk when it comes to some of the factors impacting the way offline events can be staged at the moment.
Studio broadcasts are, of course, subject to stricter COVID-19 compliant hygiene regimes — check out how we’ve changed the way we work at Redback.
And in general, more speakers are dialling in remotely to give their presentations.
But by and large, the virtual event attendee experience is not affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.
- You can cast a wide net for talent
Just as attendees can come from anywhere, your event is no longer limited for talent to speakers who are resident in your city or country. Your presenters can dial in from anywhere, which instantly opens up your available talent base.
If time zones are inconvenient, you can always pre-record one presenter and roll the video during your live event — or just pre-record the event and broadcast it online as-live. Questions can be answered in a post-event FAQ. Read our tips for taking questions online.
- Online events encourage interactivity
It might feel like face-to-face events are inherently more interactive: you travel there, you talk to someone at the registration desk, you chat with someone while you get a coffee, maybe you even ask a question after the presentation.
But we beg to differ. Online events actually encourage a broader range of meaningful interactions — including online poll questions to chat functions on your webinar platform. Even people that shy away from asking questions in a live setting will respond to a poll or submit a quick question in a chat.
On top of that, you can ask attendees to rate your event before it wraps to get immediate feedback, send follow-up resources and the event recording, and continue to have a relationship after the event.
- You can’t pause or rewind a face-to-face event
Face-to-face events undeniably offer some advantages — the atmosphere in the room, in-person networking, free coffee or drinks, a chance to get out of the office, or bump into old colleagues, and so on.
But you can’t pause or rewind a face-to-face event and watch it again. Unless it’s a hybrid event that’s being offered live in a physical venue and online, in which case it’s already a digital event.
If you pre-record or make your live-streamed event available on demand, your audience can watch, pause or rewind it as many times as they like.
And you can slice and dice a longer event into shorter clips and segments, so you have arguably a better chance of getting your message across.
- Additional resources are at your fingertips
Who really pays a lot of attention to those flyers in a delegate bag or on your chair seat? With a virtual event, you can not only offer your slide deck available in the additional resources via your webinar platform, but you can provide other in-depth information sources such as eBooks, whitepapers, links and so on.
And that gives you the opportunity to track when attendees look at these resources, so you know who might be close to purchasing.
- Sponsors are just a click away from the audience
It might seem like it’s hard to make it worthwhile for sponsors to get involved with an online event, but actually, the reverse is true. Check out the 21 ways you can provide value to sponsors of your digital event.
Not only do you have a captive audience when it comes to on-screen sponsored real-estate, your sponsors can make offers via in-platform call-to-action buttons and other features that enable them to generate leads and build relationships for the long term.
- Virtual events are highly measurable
Did your audience prefer this week’s webinar to last week’s one? No more guesswork. If you ask your audience to rate all your events as you bring them to a close, you’ll be left in no doubt — in fact, you should be able to say how much more they liked it (or didn’t).
Digital events are made to be measured. Your attendees are already online and in front of their computer. You can track preferred speakers, get ideas for future event topics, measure engagement via online poll responses and so on. They’re very accountable. In most cases, it’s much harder to collect the same information from physical event attendees. See the 8-must-have metrics for measuring online event performance.
So there you have it — at least 10 ways in which virtual or digital online events out-perform face-to-face events.
At Redback, we run more than 200 virtual events a month. Contact one of our sales representatives if we can help make digital events part of your regular event program.