Cathy Song Novelli is Senior Vice President, Marketing + Communications at Hubilo, the all-in-one hybrid event platform designed to drive deep engagement.
Capitalizing On The ROI of Hybrid Events
The future is hybrid! You must have heard this statement repeatedly over the last few months, and rightly so. We are now moving into a world where people are warming up and getting excited to go back to the physical events, though there are still those who aren’t ready to attend a physical event (whether for safety or resource/expense) but have embraced virtual events. Hence, welcome to the world of hybrid. Now, how do you generate the maximum ROI in this blend of virtual and offline events?
The Right Strategy
What is your primary objective here? Sales opportunities, lead generation or driving a compelling brand message? Once established, lean on market research to understand your audiences’ interests and pivot your messaging, programs and campaigns to drive event success and ROI. Develop a pre-, during and post-event strategy with advertising, PR and social media campaigns. Make sure that you have effective strategies for your offline vs. your virtual event, keeping in mind the much longer runway needed for promoting in-person vs. the short sprint of a frequent value proposition-based messaging needed for virtual. The right marketing strategy is what will drive the ROI you need, and virtual/hybrid events drive exponentially greater ROI than in-person events. This is because virtual/hybrid event platforms provide real-time analytics and insights across measurable metrics, which helps understand the ROI at every touchpoint of the event. Also, the costs/investments for virtual events can be 1/100 compared to a physical event; hence the generation of the ROI tends to be organically higher from the onset.
Key Areas to Be Covered
Back to our audiences, the current psychology is a battle between Zoom fatigue and the safety concerns of traveling. Understand these two segments to identify (via polls et al.) those open to traveling and those who would prefer to attend the event from the comfort of their homes, and then plan your resources accordingly. Focus on magnetic personalities and entertainment for your ‘in person’ experience for your virtual event (ensuring safety meets “Wow!”) while honing more into unique and engaging thought leadership and utility programs such as case studies and playbooks for your offline event (I can’t attend another “Ways to make your virtual event awesome” event). Evaluate the analytics and measure the results at all points of the event; besides giving you the ROI on your current event, analytics from each event will help inform your next event strategy much more efficiently.
What to Do and Not to Do?
Have a proficient platform customer support team in place that will ensure that the entire event flow is seamless and all the gaps are looked into and closed, especially in a virtual event. Learn from every event, what worked, what did not, what can be improved. Most importantly, do not have the same marketing strategy for your offline and your virtual event; you simply cannot promote your virtual event the way you would your offline event. E.g., You have a renowned speaker who may be more impactful in a physical space; promote the speaker. Then, have that speaker’s session uploaded and available on-demand on the event platform for your virtual attendees. This programming then turns into evergreen content that you can edit down and syndicate post-event, cross-platform.
A significant part of marketing budgets was invested in events to date, and calculating the exact ROI on these events has always been a challenge. For the first time, the CMO, the CHRO or an event organizer can correctly evaluate the impact that a virtual or a hybrid event has created, whether it is brand awareness, increased deal velocity or generating a pipeline. Because of this, virtual and hybrid events have become a vital part of one’s marketing stack, and they’re here to stay.