More than almost any other factor, when we speak to our clients about their most pressing event concerns these days, the vast majority almost always say budget. In the last two years, that concern has become more nuanced as businesses weigh the cost vs. return on investment at a time when in-person events are returning, but many marketing budgets have not yet returned to 2019 levels.
Are digital events less expensive than in-person ones? Does it really cost less to host a webinar as opposed to an in-person lecture? When is hybrid the right choice? Can you ensure desired levels of engagement for an online product launch? What value do virtual networking events bring compared to other in-person interactions?
Here’s what event industry professionals have to say about it:
1. Re-evaluate the ROI based on the various purposes your event could serve.
Instead of looking at what an event costs, shift the mindset to what it can generate. This can be either directly through ticket sales, or indirectly in the form of lead conversion, brand loyalty, market share, or some other metric that can be measured at a future time. Looking at events in this manner reveals some eye-opening benefits of digital and hybrid events in particular.
2. Virtual and hybrid events increase conversions faster than email marketing.
It’s true. Digital and hybrid events outperform email marketing in next-action events by as much as 8%. Considering the average click-thru rate for email is just under 3% – this means you could start seeing lead development above 10% by hosting an event instead of sending a series of emails.
When you break digital event components down to a per-attendee or per-guest number, it’s often similar in cost to in-person events, but the budget is allocated much differently.
A demonstration for a new product will have similar video technology costs regardless of whether the event is virtual, in-person, or hybrid. However, virtual and hybrid events can reach a larger audience without adding a lot of extra event personnel or needing larger venues, or more food & beverage.
When you can include 500 people for roughly the same cost as 300 – you can cut per-guest acquisition figures by as much as 50 to 70%.
3. Increased sponsorship opportunities
Hybrid and digital events offer more sponsorship opportunities, which can have tremendous positive impacts on your ROI as the host and cut costs for those wanting to be involved but without the budget to handle in-person. In the traditional in-person format, event hosts must transport their own materials to an event venue, allocate people to travel to be onsite for lead generation and to represent the brand, and then move on to the next scheduled event.
Fully virtual and hybrid events minimize the burden of transport costs for sponsors who choose the digital environment, and in some cases allow for brands to “piggy back” on existing technologies or infrastructure. Video conferencing and pre-production may also eliminate or reduce travel for brand representatives, or allow key personnel to appear in more events with fewer scheduling conflicts.
4. Potential to afford (and book!) bigger name keynote and entertainment increases.
For keynote or guest speakers, as well as entertainers, appearance fees can be substantial. This applies just as much to the talent themselves as it does for whatever costs may be associated with any special equipment they may need.
However, in digital environments, speaker fees are usually dramatically reduced and transportation fees are eliminated. This means that the highly in-demand speaker you didn’t think you could afford might be within reach. That translates to greater guest attendance, which means more reach and opportunities for your brand.
Since you’re being asked to verify and validate each decision, being able to communicate the value of an event beyond its raw cost is important. Including digital and hybrid platforms into events deliver the ability to show exact relationships between guest behavior and event actions in ways that support continuing, expanding, or even changing the nature of events.