February 15, 2022
Our team's best tips for optimizing event ROI
With the emergence of hybrid events has come new opportunities, new global audiences and new expenses for marketers. But as with any other event format, it's on marketers to generate a positive ROI from their hybrid event — and prove it to their teams.
But with actionable content and strategic lead generation levers, you can host events that bring both buzz and tangible business to your company.
Here's how to do it:
You can reach infinitely more people via the internet than you can using a physical meeting space, so hybrid events are cheaper to host than purely in-person ones. So the more attendees that attend virtually, the more leads you can attract at a cheaper rate. From a cost-benefit perspective, it’s a no-brainer.
But potential guests may not intuitively see the value of attending a virtual event. And if they do, they may not understand why they have to pay for it.
So in your pre-event marketing, talk up the advantages of your remote experience. Are you offering AI-powered networking sessions—or networking circles with industry leaders? What kind of speakers are you hosting? Can attendees connect with each other days or even weeks before the event? Will you offer exclusive content in your event’s media hub? Tell them so! (Pst, these are all things you should do for your remote attendees, btw.)
That’ll encourage attendees to shift focus from what they lose by attending remotely to what they gain from incorporating technology into their event experience.
Also provide a FAQ covering technical questions, from the basic “How do I log in? Do I need to download anything?” to the more advanced “What kind of hardware do I need to use?” If guests know they’ll be able to navigate your event site, they’ll be more likely to register.
“If you’ve got two quarterbacks, you’ve got none.” Any fan of a middling football team knows what this means: If you commit halfway to two paths to success, you can’t really commit to either—and you won’t succeed.
So plan your event with a primary goal in mind. That way, you can center your content, promotion and outreach efforts around one guiding strategy.
Here are the most common reasons for hosting hybrid events—and the most precise KPIs for evaluating your success for each one:
Exposure doesn’t pay the rent, but you're not getting anywhere without it. Hosting an event for brand awareness purposes can help you introduce thousands of people to your company’s mission, products and services at once.
How to measure it: There’s no one North Star metric to measure brand awareness. But some great places to start include event registrations, number of social media engagements, percentage increases in website traffic and media coverage.
94% of B2B event organizers use “pipeline generated” as their key success metric. And that’s no surprise: Through events, companies can engage potential customers with multiple different kinds of content and generate trust in a way that’s not possible through other marketing channels.
How to measure it: Some important KPIs for lead generation include the number of marketing-qualified leads (aka, good leads), the number of demos booked, meetings scheduled, and/or deals closed. With those stats, you can calculate your event’s cost-per-lead and customer acquisition cost (CAC).
Industry associations commonly host events to strengthen their community around a shared set of ideals. The camaraderie of events also serves as an important recruitment tool for membership-based organizations.
How to measure it: This one’s pretty straightforward. The biggest performance indicators are the number of renewed memberships, the number of new memberships, and the number of referrals to your organization by current members.
If your event hosts truly industry-leading speakers, premium networking sessions, and other high-value programming, it can generate substantial revenue for your organizers. We see this most often among media companies, who are increasingly using digital events and content to replace revenue lost from print advertising.
How to measure it: If maximizing income is your goal, the math is pretty easy. Subtract the money it costs to host your event from the revenue generated from selling tickets, hosting sponsors, etc. Divide that figure by the total cost of your event and multiply the result by 100. That final answer is the ROI of your event, expressed as a percentage. Looks like it’s time to ask for that raise from your boss!
Once you’ve determined your goals and metrics for success, you can create your content and event strategy with the goal of optimizing those metrics.
Why to do it: After your event, you’re going to get a snazzy spreadsheet of brand new leads—then pass it off to sales in hopes that they’ll seal the deal for you.
But without enough context about each person’s individual needs and buying intent, your sales team won’t be as likely to convert those leads into customers. (And that sexy list of leads will just be another contact list for you.)
One easy (and underrated) way to qualify leads is to create breakout sessions corresponding to different stages in your sales funnel.
Since they’re hosted simultaneously, breakout sessions force attendees to choose their priorities by picking one over the other. And your attendance records show who picks which sessions. So if you plan breakouts with lead qualification in mind, you can easily pinpoint where each person is in your sales funnel, and what information they need before potentially purchasing your product.
How to do it: We recommend creating one breakout session that corresponds to each stage of your sales pipeline. For brand new guests, for instance, you could host a generalized session about what your industry does and why it matters. But for guests with more knowledge about your industry, you can host a session with more specific and tactical insights.
PS: Don’t know what kinds of content you need for each stage of the funnel? Ask your sales team what questions they’re fielding from buyers in each stage, then create content answering those questions.
Would you rather spend hours—and hundreds of dollars—on a paid ad campaign, then pray to the Algorithm Gods that you get attendees from it?
Or would you rather just call up a friend and promote your audience to their customer base?
Apologies to the digital marketers out there, but ding ding, we have a winner.
When you host an event with a partner, you can promote it to their audience and thus get access to an entirely new audience of potential leads. Done right, it’s the absolute easiest and lowest-cost way to promote your event.
You just need to pick the right partner, one with an audience that’s complementary but not identical to your own. This way, each partner gets access to an audience that’s likely to be interested in their product, but isn’t already in their pipeline somehow. Win-win, and all that.
Want to learn more about hosting joint venture webinars and online events? Check out our guide here.
Obviously, you need to invest in creating high-quality content. That should hopefully go without saying.
But if you really want to optimize your ROI, you need to create next-level networking experiences as well. That’s because 81% of event organizers say that networking capabilities are a key contributor to audience satisfaction of hybrid events.
So if you can provide focused, streamlined networking experiences, you can really resonate with attendees and encourage them to come back for more. Here’s where to start.
During a one-day event, nobody’s got time to sift through potential connections to find The One. Our AI-powered matchmaking algorithm takes the guesswork out of networking by matching attendees with similar interests.
The algorithm considers things like industry, function, seniority and interests, taken from an attendee’s social profiles as well as configurable questions during virtual event check-in. It recommends the most relevant connections, then matches can schedule video calls with each other right on the hybrid event app. Less sorting = more connecting.
Let attendees create Virtual Business Cards: Help your attendees position themselves to potential connections by creating Virtual Business Cards, individual profiles with the person’s name, title, headshot, social media and email links and a short professional bio. This way, your attendees can spotlight their expertise and spot prospective connections more quickly.
Event schedules get busy, especially for attendees who are attending remotely while juggling real-life responsibilities. That’s why we recommend opening your event site to attendees 3-5 days before the event begins. Attendees can scope out potential connections in advance, then initiate conversations with only the most useful contacts during the event itself.
Unless you are Google or Tesla, your speakers will be the biggest attractions of your event. Your attendees registered (and probably paid) to hear insights from them. So give them what they want: Host exclusive networking sessions with big-name speakers, either in the form of a round table, speed networking session or a Reddit-style Q&A.
PS: If you’ve got some really big-name speakers, consider charging for access to these networking events. We’ve seen media companies do this with enormous success.
Bonus: Include networking in your pre-event marketing: You’ve created an amazing networking experience. Tell your audience about it and you could convince some undecided attendees to sign up (and pay up). Using screen recording and documentation, show attendees how they’ll navigate your Networking Center, initiate video calls and create their Virtual Business Cards to attract more high-quality connections.
But exciting your audience is the easy part. Like, book a few good speakers, get a good feel for your audience’s needs, and you’re good to go.
Harnessing that excitement into leads and booked meetings is much, much more difficult. People are both busy and cheap (write it on my tombstone), so odds are that they’ll remember a few inspirational moments from your event, and maybe share it with their networks. But they won’t take initiative to contact your sales team or buy a product—even if they’re impressed with you.
The best solution? Strike while the iron is hot: Trigger pop-up offers to appear during sessions at your event. This way, attendees can visit the company’s website, redeem a free trial offer or even make a purchase—all while the event is still in session.
PS: If your session is an hour long, we recommend waiting until the 45-minute mark to make a sales pitch and distribute offers. This gives you time to establish trust and subject matter expertise with your audience before asking them for their money.
The benefit of having two event venues? Two spaces for sponsorship activations! Take full advantage by providing multiple tiers of physical, remote and hybrid sponsorship packages.
The benefits are twofold: Not only can you accommodate more sponsors, but you can give your top partners more advertising slots and sponsored sessions.
The additional exposure increases the value of your sponsorship package, which in turn boosts your event budget. With more money comes more resources to create content—giving your guests a better experience, more value, and increasing the likelihood that they come back for more. (Virtuous cycle and all that.)
Lower-tier sponsors can add their branding to a virtual event session room, whereas higher-level sponsors can add their branding to the physical and virtual lobbies, sponsor networking sessions or set up a physical booth in a prominent location.
And if you think sponsors are shying away from virtual partnerships, think again: 72% of corporate sponsors are interested in participating in hybrid events.
Tip #8: Empower your sponsors and create long-term partnerships
Want that one-time sponsorship to become a lucrative long-time partnership? Harness your event technology to help your sponsors get leads in a more natural, mutually beneficial way.
Below are some simple ways to set your event sponsors up for success:
1. During the mid-afternoon lull, when guests are less likely to attend sessions, send push notifications reminding them to attend sponsor booths.
2. Encourage sponsors to host 3D product demonstrations or product tours in their booths, then trigger pop-up offers for interested attendees to book a demo or buy on the spot.
3. Help sponsors get face time with leads during the event. On BigMarker, sponsors can include their contact information and link to their calendars within their booths, then hold video calls with leads on our platform during the event.
4. Use multiple picture-in-picture displays, so attendees can visit sponsor booths in one window while still tuning into sessions in another.
Now that you’ve spent months producing content for your event, what should you do? Continue to use that content to attract even more like-minded leads over the coming months? Or ask your poor marketing team to recreate the wheel, at significant cost to their productivity (and sanity)?
Survey says: Repurpose your event content! Besides saving your marketing team some stress, this also stretches the ROI of each piece of content you create. That, in turn, frees up your marketing team to work on higher-impact programming for, say, your next event or eBook.
Start with these low-labor, high-reward ways to repurpose your event content:
1. Convert the audio from sessions into podcasts people can listen to on their own time.
2. Post pull quotes from key sessions on social media.
3. Compile key research findings from the event into a whitepaper, ebook or infographic.
4. Write blog posts summarizing key takeaways from the event, especially as they relate to your product and company mission.
5. Use reviews and testimonials from guests to highlight this event and promote future ones.
Pst, if you’re charging admission for your event, wait a few days before sharing the good word with the rest of the world. Or give them just enough of a sample to want to register (and pay) to watch the sessions on-demand.
Want to optimize your most popular booths, sessions, and event modules? Be prepared to nerd out over your hybrid event’s analytics.
With this information, your sales team can personalize their outreach based on each individual’s interests, questions and pain points… and convert more of your attendees into paying customers.
Hybrid event platforms can track the following metrics for each session and/or sponsor booth:
1. The number of attendees present at each five-minute interval throughout the session (Use this to determine what parts of your session resonated and which missed the mark)
2. The number of offers clicked and number of handouts downloaded
3. The number of questions asked in the Q&A and the number of chat messages sent, along with text transcripts for both
Similarly, hybrid event platforms can track the following metrics for each individual attendee:
1. Sponsorship booths and sessions visited, as well as their engagement activity in each one
2. The amount of time spent in each session and/or booth, and the percentage of that time for which they were “actively engaged” (had the session open in their browser tab)
3. The number of offers clicked and number of handouts downloaded
4. The number of questions asked in the Q&A and the number of chat messages sent, along with text transcripts for both
Use the findings above to identify what worked and what didn’t, then tweak your event strategy accordingly.
Have other hybrid event must-haves that your manager is pestering you about? Let’s chat! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our new hybrid event solution.