If you’re a digital marketer, you’re likely familiar with the rising importance of hosting webinars to the development of your business. A webinar, short for web seminar, is a presentation-style digital conference consisting of live audio and video. Webinars are typically formatted as a one-way exchange of information, given by a presenter via screenshare to a remote audience with limited interaction, during an allotted period of time.
Webinars can be used to position a company as a thought leader, generate leads for new business and gain feedback from participants. For attendees, webinars are a cost-effective alternative to physical conferences with the same benefit of learning about new topics and industry trends. Based on these mutual perks, it’s no surprise that webinar attendance has grown rapidly in recent years. In 2013, webinars with over 1,000 attendees totaled only 1%. One year later, that percentage shot up to 9%.
However, webinars are far easier for attendees to bail on than their physical counterparts due to the relatively nonexistent cost of breaking their commitment.
As a digital marketer, this can make you pull your hair out.
Many interested webinar registrants will sign up, indicating that they’ll attend, but can’t for a variety of causes (we’ll get into this later). According to webinar statistics by Adobe, 51% of page viewers will convert into webinar registrants while only 36% will convert into webinar attendees.
So what happens to the other 15% of people who expressed interest but weren’t able to attend? Many digital marketers are finding the solution in virtual events. A virtual event can amplify the value of your investment and save that 15% from being chalked up to a missed opportunity by engaging more users with the same content over a longer period of time. (The other 49% of your page viewers can join in too, of course!)
Perhaps you’ve hosted a webinar before but never thought to compliment it with a virtual event. At vFairs, we’ve actually built a webinar component inside our virtual event platform to make it easier.
Hang on, how does a Webinar within a Virtual Event work?
Virtual event attendees log into the virtual event where they are presented with a few destinations to choose from:
1) a hall featuring a collection of virtual booths which promote interaction with content as well as people (via chat tools)
2) an information desk with information about the event itself and what it has to offer.
3) a virtual auditorium which is essentially a stage for scheduled webinars. Visitors simply click on the auditorium and which opens up the webinar page to see the video that is being broadcasted. Here, virtual event attendees can join Q&A sessions and participate in polls.
Virtual events let visitors engage long after your webinar ends.
Let’s say you’re a potential webinar attendee. You’ve been prompted to sign up for a webinar that takes place 2 weeks from now. The topic sounds exciting and your calendar is wide open. You register and submit your information. Then two weeks later the webinar comes around, and BOOM! Your boss wants a meeting with you, the IT guy wants to update your computer, you woke up feeling ill, the power goes out and aliens take over – somehow something comes up and you miss the webinar.
Whereas webinars are set up as once-off opportunities, virtual events give registrants the freedom to return to webinar recordings at their own convenience until the virtual event's closing date. Those that have to bail last minute (causing a marketer somewhere a headache) can always log into the virtual event to find the information they want (causing a marketer somewhere to smile).
Sometimes virtual event sponsors choose to keep the virtual event open so visitors can continue to interact with their content after the official closing date. However, this type of virtual event is called “evergreen” and there is no live support or customer reps manning the virtual booths.
Virtual events give you a detailed view of your content metrics
Virtual events can reaffirm your message, knowledge, and expertise through multiple facets of content, not just through a webinar presentation. You probably have a lot of interesting material in your marketing arsenal, such as videos and brochures, which you’d like to share with your virtual event participants. Thanks to the open format of virtual events, attendees can choose when to engage and what they would like to engage on. This can give you better insights than the structured format of a webinar.
Virtual events are a space for meaningful networking
Webinars are typically constructed for one-way communication, with attendees remaining anonymous to other attendees. This turns into a missed opportunity for people in the same industry to connect, share ideas and network. Virtual events create a digital space, though group and 1:1 chats, for a fusion of thoughts, questions, interpretations, concepts, and beliefs to come together among like-minded professionals.
To sum up, virtual events are key to maximizing the impact of your webinar and keeping you at the forefront of the industry with new leads, fresh insights, and happy participants. With virtual events, you can make sure that the missing 15% of registrants get access to your webinar and other content – after they resolve their issues with their boss, the IT guy, and the aliens.