If you’re ever tasked with gathering people under one roof for marketing purposes, hybrid events may be in your future. Perhaps you’ve already had to cancel one or two events and are used to adapting on the fly. No strangers to adjusting to consumer behavior, marketers have done more adapting than ever in the past two years, from shifting to digital marketing to doing more with less and, yes, hosting virtual events.
Even as society adjusts to an unpredictable new normal, organizations will still need to factor certain safety measures into their event plans. That’s hard to do when the news is a moving target, which is what makes hybrid structures so appealing. Just as hybrid work schedules are becoming the norm, so are hybrid meetings and events. Balancing the old with the new helps ensure your organization can keep what still works without having to make drastic changes to its event plans at a moment’s notice.
There are many potential benefits of hybrid event programs:
- Combine virtual and physical event experiences
- Expand your reach
- Build engagement opportunities
- Collect data
- Adaptability to changing circumstances
Developing a hybrid component for upcoming events will be essential for engaging with customers and leads. The events can be challenging to pull off, though, especially for the uninitiated. Working with two audiences simultaneously will rely on a combination of good content, tech savvy and strategy.
What Is a Hybrid Event?
A hybrid event is any gathering in which a group or audience participates in person and a separate audience joins virtually. During the pandemic, they’ve often substituted for networking and industry events as a creative solution to closures and new social distancing rules. In place of grand openings and networking events, hybrid events allow people who can’t attend to participate from the comfort of their own homes even as other consumers or prospective clients gather in person. In response to a 2021 survey, 86 percent of B2B organizations were still seeing a positive ROI seven months after the event.
Incorporating Virtual Components in Your Events
Say you’re planning a demo, conference or company gathering in person, but you’d like to incorporate some technologies for remote viewers. A physical location still needs to be selected, but a strong digital component will enable participants to experience the sights and sounds as though they are there in person. The use of audio and digital equipment will create a way for remote audience members to access the event and expand your brand’s reach.
There are many ways to weave an interactive online component into a live program, typically by relying heavily on technology – for instance, with multiple cameras to capture a presentation or performance from different angles. Your strategy should include a way for your online viewers to participate, say, by allowing them to respond to questions via chat or Twitter.
As with virtual events, a moderator will be necessary to facilitate interactions between guests and resolve any tech issues that come up. Some consideration must go into choosing a way to connect the two audiences without confusing either group. To weave the two together, you can present questions and feedback from virtual attendees to your live audience, while the moderator handles other virtual components separately. There may be more to the event that online viewers will miss, but attendees around the country or even the globe can get an enticing view into your brand that will leave them wanting more.
Tips for Pulling it Off
Selecting the right program is important to making your hybrid event a success. Involve your IT department or someone with enough tech experience to help you choose an appropriate platform and walk you through the settings and features you’ll need to use.
Here are some considerations to help make your next hybrid event a success:
- There are many possible event programs: Microsoft Teams, Skype, GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect, Google Hangouts, ON24, Webex, and many other options. Find out which makes the most sense for your event, and practice using that program’s tools in advance.
- Incorporate interactive features that support mobile devices to accommodate attendees joining via smartphones.
- Your online audience isn’t just watching but also participating. Be sure virtual participants turn on their cameras and encourage them to take part in conversations.
- Think of creative ways to involve attendees, for example through a poll or breakout conversations in different “rooms.”
- Don’t make this another dull Zoom meeting. Have a little fun with it to keep your virtual attendees engaged!
Hosting a hybrid event still requires many of the same considerations of a traditional event: targeting groups you want to attend, figuring out what their needs are, and providing information to help them meet their goals. Consider partnering with someone who can strategize not just on the technology, but all the other elements of a good marketing event.
Need help brainstorming your next event? The team of experts at Connections Marketing can help you do that and create all the supporting materials for it, from the graphics and landing page to supporting blogs and other materials. We’ll work with you to make sure your efforts are targeted to your needs for optimal results. Contact us today to learn more.