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Virtual vs Live Events, What is currently working well/not well for you and what are your plans going forward?

5 Answers
Matt Hummel
Matt Hummel
Demandbase Vice President of MarketingJune 1

To a degree this remains trial and error / a bit fluid. However, we are seeing that not over-relying on one form vs. another is the best approach.

For example, webinars used to print pipeline, as did on-demand webinars. Post COVID, webinars became everything and eventually it caught up as companies were seeing less pipeline. However, webinars can still be a great way to engage and deliver meaningful content. You have to think about the audience and purpose though, and then make sure you are using it across different channels.

We're also seeing virtual events such as user groups perform well, but just on a smaller scale. With that said though, they tend to be very engaged audiences, and something that can really be a value-add for both the customers/prospects involved (think peer-to-peer learning), but also provide tons of great insights for your organization.

Last (but not least!), in-person events are more-or-less back. Admittedly I've been hearing that for a couple years now, but I'm still not sure they are back to pre-COVID days. However, we've seen some success with in person events (in terms of attendance and also engagement, pipeline, etc.), and we're starting to see numbers pick back up for some of our larger tradeshows, too. I think it's still a matter of time before companies can really figure out the right investment to put towards in-person events, though I would contend this has forced a lot of companies who didn't have a great process of measuring ROI (aka "we have to be at this event because everyone else is") to take a deeper look at whether this is the right approach, particularly in these macro-economic conditions.

To sum it up ... there is no one-size-fits-all answer or approach. Talk to your customers and prospects. Test things out. Don't be afraid to go big, but just make sure you put the right focus and strategy when you do!

1099 Views
Joann Guo
Joann Guo
Spotify Associate Director, Growth MarketingMay 26

Depending on your objectives and target audience, you have the flexibility to deploy various strategies. When focusing on B2B efforts, we found virtual events like webinars are often effective in reaching a broader audience, particularly SMBs. Moreover, virtual events are much easier to track and measure, as we can collect more data compared to live events. However, if your objective is to foster client networking and create immersive experiences, live events may be more appropriate. Ultimately, selecting the optimal approach depends on your goals, target audience, budget considerations, and the desired outcomes you aim to achieve.

920 Views
Erika Barbosa
Erika Barbosa
Counterpart Marketing LeadMay 15

Both virtual and live events have their own advantages and disadvantages. While I believe that live events will always be favored due to the level of connection and engagement they provide, there is still a place for virtual events as well. That being said, virtual events can offer better ROI due to their accessibility, convenience, and cost-effectiveness.

Ultimately, the goals of the event should guide the decision-making process regarding the event format. Depending on those goals, a hybrid event that combines elements of both virtual and live events may be the best approach.

2975 Views
Jeff Jewett
Jeff Jewett
Atlassian Head of Global Lifecycle Marketing, Work ManagementJuly 7

I think there are additional considerations to understand before determining whether to stop, start, or continue either of these. Specifically, what is the goal of the specific event itself. Live events can provide a great opportunity for awareness building and pipeline acceleration. Virtual events, likewise if you're thinking of a virtual user conference, can be a key driver for content and messaging creation for direct demand generation via the event and for use in other channels. In addition, if you're considering webinar type events as virtual events, they can be a great activity and signal for sales readiness or as a customer success tool (i.e. expansion or retention marketing). In general, I believe all 3 are important tactics in the overall demand generation strategy. Understanding whether you are trying to generate awareness, demand, or accelerate pipeline would be how to determine whether a specific event should be planned.

900 Views
Teju Shyamsundar
Teju Shyamsundar
Okta Director, Field Solutions MarketingFebruary 16

In my experience, virtual vs live (in-person) varies a lot by segment and seniority. There's really not a one fits all answer.

for our smaller segments (SMB, emerging), we find that virtual events work well, for both leadership and practitioner/manager audiences. This is especially true when you're able to tie the virtual event in with an "experience" (like a drink mixing class, white boarding style sessions). And, for our smaller segments, we generally see more interest when we have very practical guidance on a specific topic, rather than going really high level/thought leadership (there are exceptions to that). think topics like "5 tips to do xyz" or "your roadmap for xyz topic in 2024." and you can tailor the content based on seniority of the audience.

for our larger segments, in-person events generally work well for more senior audiences, but they have to be small (like 15 people) with very intentional content, and also generally tied to an experience. for these in-person events, the draw is around exchange of ideas with folks who are in similar roles and industries, sharing challenges and solutions. we also find that bringing in an existing customer speaker works best, for either virtual or in-person events. if the event is virtual, I'd pretty much always recommend providing real world examples via a customer speaker.

a few other things that work well -

  • bring in tech partners when you can! when you show how you work together with other best-in-class vendors to deliver an end-to-end solution, you show up as more of a thought leader partner rather than just another vendor, and that resonates well with any audience

  • we've had good success at the practitioner/manager level with hands-on lab type of experiences where they have an hour or two to dive into your tech (for free), and extend them an offer 2 weeks-30 days of availability in that lab environment to do further testing. these types of events especially work well if you're trying to bring in net new logos, because it gives them an intro into your product without revealing too much, and would probably be too basic for an existing customer.

ultimately, progressing through the funnel really comes down to 1)personalization and 2)persistence (ie keeping them engaged across various channels, not just one)

210 Views
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