With capacity restrictions lifted in most states, Brand3 and many of our clients have begun hosting in-person work events and conferences. That said, many people still aren’t ready to even consider travel, let alone attend an event in person. The solution? Businesses can offer hybrid events.
Hybrid physical and digital events mean different things to different people. Unfortunately, to many people, a hybrid event is a physical event, in which the presentations are streamed to a remote audience. Simple live streams, however, lack interaction and give many of your live audience members a second-class experience. For a virtual audience, the experience consists of just staring at a screen for endless hours with not much else to do. Remote attendees miss out on the actual experience.
People go to physical conferences expecting an overall experience. Of course, they want to see the content and amazing speakers, but they also get excited by other elements of the experience like networking with other attendees, visiting booths, gamification, the swag, and planned entertainment. Virtual attendees want to experience all of this and more. A true hybrid event means delivering an event experience for every attendee, regardless of whether they are there physically or digitally.
The strength of hybrid events comes from the ability to engage with audiences wherever they are. This means interacting equally with both your in-person and virtual attendees. It means being able to deliver event content, run polls, have Q&A sessions, 1-on-1 sales conversations, peer-to-peer networking and, engage both a physical or virtual audience on similar terms. The more experiential and interactive your events are, the more you learn about your attendees. With technology, you can capture the digital body language of every virtual attendee. You can discover what sessions they watched, what questions they asked, what content they downloaded, who they connected with, and for how long.
Hybrid events are a great solution for extending the reach of a live event. They help you to involve your extended community, include top-of-funnel prospects and can provide a virtual participant with a budget and/or travel friendly means of participating. Running an onsite event alone limits your brand’s reach – even if it’s a massive user conference. A hybrid approach changes this dynamic and allows you to scale your event anywhere. This is especially important in an era where the funds for travel (not to mention the willingness to travel in the first place) isn’t a guarantee.
The ability to scale dynamically can also be helpful when you want to target specific regions and geographies. If you are running an in-person roadshow, for example, you can use your virtual event platform to target and connect with a digital audience in the same region – you can even provide them with a free lunch to get the full experience.
Hybrid events work great for internal purposes, as well. An internal hybrid event solves this problem by empowering remote teams to tune in and participate in the training no matter where they are or when they’re watching. A remote attendee can still participate by asking questions (which can be followed up over email, if they’re watching on-demand), downloading resources, and watching the same presentation or training as their in-person peers.
Hybrid events are also a great way to incentivize sponsors. That’s because hybrid events provide brands with two unique opportunities: first, the ability to brand a dedicated digital environment; second, the ability to measure engagement and immediately identify promising leads.
Providing sponsors with branded digital properties and direct audience engagement is a huge value add. Both empower sponsors to directly interact with audiences and provide them with on-demand resources that can be used as follow-up collateral for physical attendees.
Hybrid events will be a crucial part of any marketing mix well into the future. Sit down and work with your sales and marketing teams to identify the most suitable use of hybrid for your audience. The key objective of a hybrid event is creating an amazing experience regardless of whether an audience member attends in person or online. Remember to keep both your physical and digital audiences in mind while you plan and create content.