The COVID-19 pandemic put virtual events front and center, but as things are slowly opening up again, in-person events are making a comeback. In this phase of transition, hybrid events — a combination of live and online events — are becoming popular, and for a good reason.
They give your audience the flexibility to choose the format that best suits them. And like virtual events, they also allow you to reach a wider audience and at reduced costs because you don’t have to make arrangements for hundreds of people on-site.
The technology used for virtual events also helps you track valuable information on your attendees and gauge their level of engagement with your brand and event. Moreover, they open doors to numerous sponsorship opportunities—making it a win for both you and the audience, who get access to expert speakers while sitting comfortably at home.
All these benefits combined can massively boost your ROI from the event. But don’t just take our word for it: 86% of B2B organizations say they’ve experienced a positive ROI on hybrid events within months of hosting them.
But as lucrative as they seem, hybrid events can only be profitable if you follow some strategies before, during, and after the event. This article will explore seven such strategies that can help you capitalize on ROI in a hybrid format. Let’s dive in!
Before you start: Define your goals
Calculating an event’s ROI can be challenging, given how many of its benefits are intangible and don’t always show immediately.
However, you can still measure its ROI to an extent. The first step is to determine why you’re hosting the event, as well as the metrics or Key Performance Indicators (KPI) you need to track for the same. Now, your goal behind hosting a hybrid event could be:
- Brand awareness: for which you will need to track metrics like event registrations, social media engagement, and website traffic.
- Lead generation or sales: so track product/service inquiries and leads and customers acquired.
- Audience education: look at KPIs like sessions attended, and attendee engagement levels
- Earning revenue: track the number of event tickets sold and the revenue earned through sponsorships and new customers.
Determining event ROI becomes much simpler once you have a clear idea about your goals and the KPIs you have to track to measure them.
Then, all you have to do is compare the expenses incurred to the gains (quantitative and qualitative), and you can assess the success of your event.
7 strategies to capitalize on ROI in a hybrid format
We’ve talked about calculating ROI, and the prerequisites for measuring event success. Now, let’s explore what you can do to boost your return on investment from hybrid events.
1. Plan and market the event in advance
One of the most significant benefits of hybrid events is the massive reach they bring. You’re not restricted by your audience’s location, ability to travel or the venue capacity and can get many people to attend the event. And the more attendees you get, the greater your ROI will be.
So the key to increasing registrations is to start marketing your event in advance. Ideally, all your marketing campaigns should include a call to action (CTA) to register for the event 6-8 weeks before it’s set to happen. Some ways to promote the event are:
- Build a dedicated website that provides all vital information.
- Promote the event on your company website, social media channels, and newsletter.
- Reach out to industry influencers and market the event through their channels.
- Create value-driven content (like blogs, social media posts, YouTube videos) that positions you as an expert and builds trust with your audience.
Although it was entirely virtual, content marketplace Pepper Content implemented many of these strategies and started marketing their Elevate Summit more than six weeks before the event—the result was 10,000+ global attendees.
2. Choose an interactive virtual event platform
Hybrid events have both live and virtual audiences, so to deliver a successful event it’s essential to keep both engaged. For your on-site audience, you can use tools like surveys, Q&A, and networking sessions. But for your virtual audience, it’s the event platform you choose that will play a significant role in determining their engagement and experience at your event.
Choose a platform that offers interactive features, like live streaming, polling, chat, and breakout rooms to keep your attendees interested and involved throughout the event. Zuddl, for instance, offers matchmaking features, discussion rooms, and 1:1 meetings to help attendees interact with each other, the speakers, and sponsors.
This helps attendees derive more value from your event and create positive experiences, which ultimately boosts returns for you.
3. Charge for your event
A straightforward way to maximize ROI and generate more revenue from your event is to host a paid event.
The idea is to price your event in a way that covers your costs and justifies the value your audience will receive from it. This will be much easier if you’re bringing well-known speakers to your event and have an established audience that will be ready to buy from you.
But regardless of that, there are many ways you can increase ticket sales. The first is to create ticketing tiers—offering different access levels at different prices. This will give your audience the flexibility to choose as per their needs and budget and can thus increase registrations for you.
Another strategy to get more attendees is to offer an early bird or group discount—this will encourage more people to sign up fast and even build hype around your event.
4. Create sponsorship deals
Finding sponsors can reduce the costs you personally incur on organizing events and help you invest in better tools and arrangements for attendees.
But the question is, how can you convince people to sponsor your event? The best way is to educate them about the increased exposure and visibility they’ll get through it. Sponsorships are beneficial for both you as the event organizer and for the brand that is providing you resources. You can add their logos to event banners, landing pages and Stage backgrounds, create virtual sponsor booths, and encourage them to offer attendees giveaways or digital swag bags.
Moreover, you can give sponsors access to the attendee data you collect during the event and give them in-depth insight about their target audience, so they're further motivated to collaborate with you. See how AdWorld has clearly stated the benefits of being a sponsor on their website.
5. Leverage attendee data
The good thing about hybrid events is they allow you to collect a vast amount of data on your attendees, including:
- Registrations and attendance
- Demographic information
- The sessions they attended
- The topics they were interested in
- How long they participated in a session for
- The sponsor booths they visited
This information can help you understand what your target audience likes and doesn’t, create detailed buyer personas, and thus, more targeted marketing campaigns. You can also use real-time feedback and polling features to assess your event’s performance and make improvements on the go—this can further enhance attendees’ experience and customer sentiment.
The bottom line: Such insights into your audience can help you optimize your marketing efforts and current and future events.
6. Focus on lead retrieval
A Marketing Charts survey revealed that events generate qualified top-of-funnel leads. And hybrid events make tracking and retrieving information on leads even easier—since all your attendees (in-person and online) register through a single platform.
Collecting and storing information on potential leads is also where your event platform plays a crucial role. Zuddl, for instance, helps you track attendee data, engagement, and buyer intent and prepares solid lead sheets for you. You can immediately start following up with these leads after the event ends.
Now, some ways you can enhance your follow-up efforts are:
- Sending out thank-you emails with a feedback form.
- Sharing keynote speakers’ clips or relevant articles through your company newsletter.
- Connecting with participants and prospects on social media platforms like LinkedIn.
- Sending targeted ads to their IP address.
- Creating exclusive post-event communities.
The idea is to integrate these leads into your marketing campaigns and keep your brand on the top of their minds. This can not only help you convert leads but also build meaningful relationships and retain them.
7. Repurpose event content
If re-used intelligently, your event content can bring you returns for months after it ends. Here’s how you can go about this:
- Share event recordings with attendees so they can revisit sessions. This will further improve their experience with you.
- Turn sessions into gated content on your website—ask for email addresses to access it so you can build a list of leads.
Click here to watch a recording of Zuddl and ETP’s hybrid event about hybrid events, SHIFT 2021.
- Create a paid content library to let people watch sessions on-demand, like HubSpot’s Inbound does.
- Turn video content into a webinar series or online course.
- Use event materials to market your next event, like ONECelibre does here.
With these strategies, you can generate leads and customers from your event content and turn it into a recurring revenue source for yourself.
By reducing operational costs, expanding reach, and providing valuable data, the hybrid format can considerably boost your event ROI and provide benefits long after the event ends.
Follow the seven strategies highlighted in this article and focus on improving attendees’ experience—whether it’s through the speakers you bring onboard, the content shared, or your event platform—and you’ll optimize your quantitative and qualitative results from the event.
Zuddl is a unified platform for events and webinars that helps event marketers plan and execute events that drive growth. The platform has clients across the globe, such as the United Nations, Kellogg’s, Microsoft, HSBC, VMware, Google, StackCommerce and Cipla amongst others. In January 2022, Zuddl announced that it closed $13.35 mn in Series A funding.