Virtual events are online experiences that involve people interacting in a digital environment rather than in a physical location. Webinars, online classes, even the zoom conference you had with your colleagues are all forms of virtual events.
During the lockdown, the virtual event industry is rapidly developing and evolving, trying to replace live experiences with virtual exhibitions, conferences and summits.
Whether online or offline, every event requires a strategy, logistical planning, promotion, engagement and interaction development. Here are the pros and cons you need to consider before organising a virtual event.
The most obvious advantage of digital events is reduced budgets. You will avoid the costs of the event venue, staff, travelling, hotels and many more. On average, virtual events usually cost 75% less than their real-world equivalents.
Reduced carbon footprint
Virtual Events eliminate the need to transport people and materials, stage or booths construction, printing, and catering, which significantly reduces the event's carbon footprint.
Physical venues usually have a limit on the number of people they can accommodate, while virtual environments enable you to scale your event for a fraction of the price.
Additionally, you can increase the exposure and reach more people by enabling the event to run longer and letting users revisit the experience on their terms.
With a virtual event, every single thing the attendee does is tracked and reported, making marketing data collection and organisation easy, precise and free. The acquired data will help you better understand your audience and improve future communications.
No face-to-face communications
Networking is one of the critical components of a successful event or conference. While the virtual event industry is trying to replace face-to-face communication with live chats and online social networking events, people still need handshakes.
Lack of engagement
The virtual event industry exists since 1993; however, many digital experiences of 2020 still feel outdated and underdeveloped.
Why does it happen? A simple explanation is that the attention span in virtual experiences is 50% lower than in live events, making it harder to create truly engaging experiences. To make an impact, you have to focus on the consistency of your creative content, the use of advanced digital technology, but more importantly, on planning each step of the customer journey during the event.
Avoiding the production of branded materials can lower your budget, but it does make your interaction less personal and engaging.
But can't virtual events include branded merchandise too? Of course, they can. For example, you can replace giving out gift bags with posting branded gift boxes to the attendees of your online event. Instead of an exhibition booth or an event set, you can incorporate a green screen or VR technology that will make your brand experience engaging and consistent.
Will virtual events take over live experiences? We need human connections that can't be replaced, but virtual events can become a highly engaging way to communicate with your audience and boost brand awareness with the right strategy.