Many marketers know the benefits of hosting in-person events. Especially in B2B marketing, developing relationships with your prospects and customers is pivotal. However, in many cases, there are more benefits to hosting virtual events.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of virtual events in the marketing mix of companies around the world. Most companies will host over 20 virtual events per year!
So why are so many companies hosting virtual events?
The main reason why companies host virtual events is that they are scalable, they have low barriers to entry, they are cheaper and they provide networking possibilities in times where in-person events are not an option.
Let’s go into more detail and look at 6 reasons why companies host virtual events.
1. It’s a widely adopted alternative to in-person events during the pandemic
In-person events have always been key in B2B marketing strategies. The most successful sales are the ones who excel at networking.
In-person events provide sales the ability to build relationships with prospects straight away. Through digital marketing campaigns, relationship building happens at a delayed rate. First, your leads need to be warmed up and when they are warm enough, a handover to sales will take place.
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on events around the world. Event organizers were forced to cancel or postpone their events. However, businesses still needed to generate a sales pipeline.
Virtual events are the answer to facilitating fast relationship building when in-person events aren’t an option. People are very social beings and they feel the need to network.
Therefore, people were very receptive to virtual events and that aided the quick adoption around the world.
However, it must be noted that virtual event organizers must get more creative. Loads of people are consistently working from home and that’s one of the reasons that virtual event fatigue is kicking in. I wrote an article about how you can combat virtual event fatigue.
Virtual events give companies a possibility to network with their audience and that’s why it’s one of the major reasons why companies host so many virtual events.
2. They are more scalable to set-up
Another reason why companies are hosting virtual events is that they are far more scalable to host than in-person events.
Check out this article with a more extensive list of virtual event platforms.
B2B companies set up all sorts of events from small executive dinners to large user conferences. Naturally, the latter takes more time to prepare.
However, with any in-person event, you need a venue and take care of logistical things. You need to arrange audio and visual equipment, you need to take care of catering, you have venue cancellation periods to take into account.
Now, let’s say you are going to host a roadshow and host in-person events in many different countries. This creates an exponential impact on the workload.
On the contrary, with virtual events, hosting international events won’t create an exponential increase in your workload. It’s easy to host events in many different countries and therefore, virtual events are extremely scalable.
Here is an outline I made on how to easily host virtual events.
3. Low-entry barriers
Low-entry barriers are a critical reason why you should host virtual events. People can participate from the comfort of their homes.
In-person events are much more time consuming for your audience. They need to travel to a location and the agenda is typically longer.
This is especially important if you are targeting senior people with your virtual events. Those decision-maker level people are tight on them.
But let’s say you are hosting a virtual roundtable session, then the chances of senior people attending are much higher.
Now let’s say you are hosting a large virtual conference. It’s very straightforward for your audience to invite colleagues. This is beneficial because, in B2B sales cycles, you need to influence a lot of people to get that deal.
Are you looking to host a virtual roundtable, then look at my guide on how to host virtual roundtable sessions.
4. They are cheaper than in-person events
Another reason why you should host virtual events is because of their cost-effectiveness. If you were to set up an in-person event there are many costs involved such as:
- Venue costs;
- Audio and Visual equipment;
- Branding such as roll-up banners.
The primary costs of virtual events are the hosting platform. Of course, you can go all-out and build an expensive studio, but typically this is not something that you need.
For small virtual events, you need basic items such as a decent microphone like the Blue Yeti.
In addition, platforms such as Zoom are perfect for small virtual events. Here is how to set up a virtual roundtable using Zoom.
5. Sales cycle acceleration
The benefit of small virtual events is that they are fast to set up. Especially if you have hosted virtual events in the past because you’d have content laying on the shelf.
B2B sales cycles are about influencing and relationship building. Events in general are a great way to achieve this.
Having various virtual events formats in your arsenal will make you a very flexible marketer. You can set them up with short lead times and use them when necessary to influence sales cycles.
B2B sales cycles are long and don’t be surprised to see sales cycles that take a year or more. Sales cycle acceleration is always a very welcome activity. If you can accelerate sales cycles, then you’ll effectively be able to close more business in a year.
That’s why you should host virtual events. They are quick to set up and therefore you can apply them in your marketing strategy with laser precision - at times where they will deliver the most value to your company and audience.
6. Content is available on-demand
Did you ever attend a large conference? It’s a unique experience and it gives you a lot of positive energy.
Keynotes are great and a lot of valuable information is handed to you on a silver platter. If you’re lucky, the event organizer will record every session and share it after the fact.
When YOU are hosting large conferences, you will use the recorded sessions in the follow-up strategy in order to maximize lead generation.
Now, with virtual conferences, you have a huge opportunity for long-term lead generation. Most virtual event platforms allow the event to be available on-demand for as long as a year.
This means that for a year, you can drive people to attend your virtual conference and experience the event in (almost) it’s full glory. They will be able to visit all the booths, look at all the sessions, and participate in pre-defined activities. The only thing they will miss out on is networking with other people.
However, an on-demand virtual conference is excellent when it comes to marketing follow-up. Usually, companies use whitepapers and other documents in their follow-up strategy.
This is very plain and boring. Additionally, it doesn’t require a lot of interaction from your audience. However, if you drive them to an on-demand virtual conference, they will have a much better experience and your conversion will increase.
It must be noted that all virtual events can feel a bit awkward at first. It’s easy for people to mute themselves and see how the event plays out.
You can combat this with virtual event icebreakers. Icebreakers are a great way to increase interactivity within your audience. Here is a list of virtual event icebreakers that you can start using today!