When you want to increase brand awareness, hosting hybrid events is a great way to do it. These offerings allow you to substantially increase attendance, mainly because you’re eliminating the geographical boundaries that otherwise discourage people from attending. Try these actionable strategies to ensure people at the event and tuning in from home will have more awareness of your brand once the event finishes than at the start.
Offer Archived Event Content on Demand
One of the most challenging things about attending a conference is figuring out what to see and when. The schedules are usually so packed that many attendees find multiple things they’d like to do that are happening at the same time.
When the 2021 Materials Research Society Fall Meeting became a hybrid event for the first time, the planners kept that frequent dilemma in mind. They allowed all attendees to stream events for nearly four months after the event ended.
This gathering was also more extensive than many hybrid events because it included an in-person aspect — with many talks streamed to online viewers — and a fully online component that took place separately. That meant people who came in person could participate online, too.
Investigate the logistics of providing archived content that anyone who paid for a ticket can access at their leisure. In addition to increasing viewer convenience, this approach helps prove that your company brought impressive thought leaders together. Think about also having a branded frame or graphics on the video, making sure the placement and size are unobtrusive but noticeable.
It’s also wise to link to a technical support document on every video page. Give people easy-to-follow steps they can use to solve common tech issues. Since viewers may be watching the material at all hours of the day and night and across multiple time zones, it’s best to give them the information they need to tackle the problems themselves. You should also provide an email address or phone number they can use for further assistance.
Indeed, archived content may necessitate a larger tech budget. But, if you do it well, this option could elevate your brand awareness for weeks or months after an event concludes.
Provide Digital Versions of Event-Related Materials
User-friendliness is a major driver of the desire to attend events with virtual aspects. One survey of respondents who had done so revealed 77.2% had a preference for online events due to how easy it was to participate.
Hybrid events reinforce that convenience by giving people options for how they’ll take part. However, a potential downside is that those experiencing an event solely online may not get the event programs, ticket stubs, and other physical items on-site attendees do.
Many people use event programs as frequent reference items, such as to learn about a speaker’s background or find out about some of the companies exhibiting at the gathering. Others also like keeping their ticket stubs, especially if they’re long-time or first-time attendees.
Think about providing digital versions of the materials you’ll distribute to the people who come in person. That way, everyone gets the same information, even if some take part without ever leaving their homes.
When someone purchases an online-only ticket, provide them with a digital keepsake copy they can print later if desired. If not all in-person offerings are offered online, use a color-coded or another intuitive system to designate that detail on digital and printed schedules. Do something similar to call out content that people can stream later.
In addition to making things easier for all attendees by providing reference materials, this strategy gives you more opportunities to strengthen your brand throughout the content. Consider embedding links as appropriate to help people go directly to your company’s website or visit a sponsor’s page.
Use an Online Forum Before and After the Event
Building anticipation before an event and giving people a place to reminisce after it’s over are both important parts of the overall experience for many attendees. Increasing customer loyalty is a great way to raise your conversion rate. In the case of hybrid events, loyal people buy event tickets year after year.
Set up a message board where people can talk about events before and after they happen. People could ask everything from “Did any other New Yorkers buy online-only tickets?” to “Anyone else coming from Philadelphia have an extra seat in their car so we can share the trip?” before the event happens.
Then, during and after the event, they can chime in about their favorite keynote speakers, memorable quotes, and beneficial networking experiences. When people collectively weigh in about the things they’ll never forget about this year’s event or all the things they can’t wait to attend, those experiences can prove contagious, helping others feel excited.
An online forum also supports brand awareness by encouraging people to envision how an upcoming hybrid event could broaden their knowledge and help them connect with others. For example, many software providers host conferences where people can learn new tips and tricks for using the offerings most effectively.
A forum manager could pose a prompt such as, “What do you hope to learn this year that’ll change your workflow?” Event organizers could then provide the responses to guest speakers and other relevant parties, ensuring a hybrid event experience is maximally relevant.
Another useful tip is to run informal polls. Ask forum participants for details like their age range, location, and whether they’ve previously attended the event. That information helps organizers know which demographic groups are most interested in participating.
Use Real-Time Analytics and Tools to Nurture Engagement
The great thing about smartphones and the growing array of apps is that they can help people stay engaged, whether they go to hybrid events in person or entirely online. Evaluate how you could use specialized engagement tools to gauge people’s receptiveness to events in progress. Real-time analytics also support increased personalization.
For example, a live poll about people’s familiarity with a specific tool could help a workshop facilitator know whether to start with — or skip over — the basics. Alternatively, presenters could ask people to answer true-or-false questions as a way to understand whether attendees believe specific pervasive myths about a topic.
Tools also exist that help guest speakers and others seamlessly take questions from online and in-person audience members. Suppose someone suddenly sees lots of questions coming in about a particular aspect they recently covered. That could indicate a lack of clarity from the attendees, suggesting the speaker should review parts of what they’d mentioned.
Even if you use real-time analytics products, be aware that it’s no substitute for humans monitoring what’s happening. That’s especially important for people watching online. Someone supervising the chat could alert on-site staff to microphone problems, stream disruptions, and other issues. Promptly addressing those problems is a practical way to keep everything running as smoothly as possible with minimal interruptions to the experience.
Hybrid Events Are Here to Stay
Some leaders wondered if hybrid events would remain appealing once people could attend in-person ones again. However, it’s not always feasible for individuals to travel to every must-do event on their calendars. A hybrid offering fills the gap, making it easier for organizers to attract speakers and attendees from around the world. Apply these tips to increase the chances of success and satisfaction.