Reap all the added benefits with a hybrid event...
As social restrictions lift over the coming months, you may be tempted for a full return to in-person events. However, hybrid events should still be part of any event strategy even after the pandemic is over.
Why? Hybrid events can provide you with many more incredible benefits than a physical only event. So many that over half of event marketers plan to use hybrid as their go-to format once in-person events resume. Let’s take you through why and how you can nail your hybrid events…
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What Are Hybrid Events?
A hybrid event is any kind of in-person event such as a live conference, that has virtual elements. This allows an audience to also attend virtually and engage with the event. Your hybrid event can be anything from a simple webcast, to a full scale online experience with virtual breakout rooms, sponsor booths and more.
Before we get into the how, let’s look at why you should host a hybrid event in the first place…
What Are The Benefits Of Hybrid Events?
Larger Audience Reach & Attendee Rate
Your audience reach is larger than ever before .Introducing virtual elements means people from pretty much anywhere in the world can tune in without money or travel stresses. Just remember to include different time zones on your event details!
More than 80% of marketers actually agree that audience reach is the most positive effect of shifting events digital!
More Audience Engagement
Hybrid events can provide additional engagement opportunities which allow interaction from both audiences throughout.
For example, you could host a Q&A session at your physical event and live stream it to your online audience so they can get involved too.
You may find that those watching remotely are actually much more likely to engage.
Since they’re already at their computer or watching from their phone, it’s super easy to vote in a poll, start a chat conversation or visit a sponsor booth in between sessions.
Contrary to what you might think, hybrid events can also provide effective networking opportunities if you’re using the right software.
Using a networking app such as our chat app, allows both your audiences to engage with each other. There’s more on how hybrid can help with networking further below. We’ve also got lots of other ways to make your events more interactive with both of your event audiences.
Accurate Data & Better Success Measurement
One thing virtual events absolutely win at is being able to provide you with accurate audience data that you won’t get at a physical only event.
Physical events rely on manual head counts and survey responses which are easy to miscalculate. With online elements, you’ll have all this data at your fingertips – as long as you’re using a platform that can track specific metrics.
Our virtual event platform at streamGo will track distinct interactions throughout your event. Below is just a handful of the data you’ll get out of an event with us that can help you measure your event success.
Session attendee rate
Common dropout sessions
Increased Sponsor Satisfaction
That leads us nicely onto better sponsor satisfaction with hybrid events. Sponsors are investing more into virtual sponsor booths than ever before because they can see the benefits.
A larger online audience reach, plus all of the data they can get from a virtual booth equals more potential buyers and better performance insights. It’s not hard to do the maths, is it? There’s lots of ways you can engage your audience and satisfy your sponsors at hybrid events.
At streamGo we’ll make sure everything is fully branded and can include things like games, Q&As and polls to get attendees interacting. Here’s a sponsor booth we created at one of our client events:
Of course, you can still have sponsors at your physical event as well. However the added benefits of having them for your online audience are hard to ignore.
Reduced Costs & Improved ROI
You’re reaching a much larger audience with a higher engagement rate, resulting in a higher return on investment than a physical only event.
Your follow-up campaigns are also likely to be more successful with the extra insights from online interaction which can give your ROI a boost.
By growing your online presence you might also be able to cut down on resources at your physical event, helping you reduce your overall event costs.
Larger Choice of Speakers
Just like your audience isn’t restricted with hybrid events, neither are your speakers. The physical side of your event might be held in London, but you could still get your dream speaker from North America to live stream into the event.
Hybrid events also open you up to a better quality of speaker. When approaching a speaker, one of the first things they’ll ask is how many people are expected to attend. They use this to gauge whether or not it will be worth it for them.
As you’ll also be getting a larger audience reach with a hybrid event, you could be in with much more of a chance of landing that super star speaker. Something that wouldn’t have been possible with an in-person only event.
Reduced Environmental Impact
Providing people with the option to tune into your event from home, reduces the need for unnecessary travel to your event location. This helps make your event way more carbon neutral and can reduce the carbon footprint by a surprising amount!
How many times have you returned from an event with a bag full of leaflets, only for them to collect dust on your kitchen table?
Providing resources digitally at your hybrid events also cuts down on your paper usage and waste. Digital resources could be document downloads or links to additional reading.
Plus, you get that added bonus of being able to track how your audience has interacted with the content you share online!
Better Inclusivity & Accessibility
Physical only events can hold many barriers. People may have mobility issues, physical disabilities, or might even be shielding during the pandemic. Hosting a hybrid event provides much better accessibility as it gives your audience the option to participate from the comfort of their own home.
Adding captions to pre-recorded and even live streams will also help those that are deaf or hard of hearing. Studies have even shown that attendees are actually much more likely to remember and retain captioned information during events!
It’s still important to make your physical events as accessible as possible. However by using a virtual event platform that caters for these types of issues, you’re providing better inclusivity all round at your events.
Bigger Networking Opportunities
Networking isn’t just limited to in-person events. In fact, adding a virtual audience opens up the networking opportunities even more.
Using an online networking platform such as our chat app allows both your physical and virtual audience to connect and chat. Attendees simply create an account, find potential network matches, then chat and book meetings on the app.
Hosting virtual breakout rooms can also be great. Things like fireside Q&As and workshops will get your online audience mixing just as much as your physical audience will be.
Here’s some more ideas to help you get the most out of networking at your hybrid events.
More Flexibility & Reduced Risk
Hybrid events let you plan for uncertainty to avoid having to cancel an event altogether. But what could go so wrong?
Well, cancelled flights or storms could prevent people from travelling. Oh, and how about a worldwide pandemic? As you’ve already got your virtual elements in place at your hybrid event it’s much easier for you to react and accommodate without cancelling completely.
You’ve got access to a lot more insight and audience data with online events. Therefore, your follow-up campaigns can become a lot more targeted.
You can see who interacted with what during event sessions, what they liked, where they dropped out and questions people submitted. So rather than sending out generic follow-up emails you can make them a lot more personalised and effective after a hybrid event. Here’s more tips on creating effective event follow-up campaigns.
How To Run A Successful Hybrid Event
This does require a delicate balance and there are a few different types of hybrid events.
Treat each audience separately where needed, whilst avoiding what seems like two completely different audience experiences.
Here are some ways you can make sure your virtual audience is integrated easily throughout your hybrid event:
Keep Your Virtual Attendees Excited
Don’t forget about your online audience at home. They’re just as invested as your physical audience and may need more hand-holding as they navigate through.
Provide virtual attendees with an online agenda they can refer to. You can utilise your live chat to keep them updated on what’s coming next and how they can get involved.
Create Separate Content For Your Virtual Audience
You can also give them something to do in-between sessions so they’re not feeling abandoned at home. Whilst your physical audience will be grabbing a drink or chatting to other attendees, provide those online with additional on-demand material they can watch whilst they wait.
Heres’s an example of how you could display a number of on-demand webinars or content for your virtual audience:
Allow Integrated Interaction
Make sure your speakers are aware that you have people watching online. Allow both audiences to get involved in things like Q&As and polls. This means your virtual audience will feel more like a valued customer and less like a spectator.
If it’s not feasible to allow questions from both audiences during one session, create a separate virtual only Q&A session for those online.
Use the Right Platform
As an event planner you can only control so much. Therefore it’s important you’re using a reliable hybrid event platform that caters for everything you need.
At streamGo your hybrid events will be run via a trusted, quality platform. You’ll also have access to our expert support that will make sure the event runs as smoothly as possible.
Ready to take the plunge and go hybrid? We’ve listed 4 types of hybrid events with hybrid event examples here to get you started.