Removing the engagement and attention roadblocks of virtual trade fairs.
When creating or adding any virtual elements to your next trade fair you should always bear in mind that it comes with a number of hurdles and roadblocks to overcome.
The assumption that introducing a virtual layer will automatically increase traffic is often found to be misplaced due to the actions of the organisers.
When we travel to an in-person event we tend to maximise our time by exploring ever inch of the venue, not so on-line. When visiting virtually we are no longer part of a captive audience so our time spent browsing dramatically reduces. We act differently on-line than we do in the physical world so why would you expect this to be any different in a virtual event scenario.
For exhibitors the challenge remains that even with the potential for greater virtual numbers, these do not necessarily translate to increases in lead generation.
Engaging all stakeholders is therefore the number one factor to consider when designing and hosting a successful event.
Exploring the event.
For the virtual attendee, the initial access portal and ease of navigation directly influences the time they spend on the platform.
If the goal is to simply apply the same thinking from a physical event into a virtual setting then you are just creating an expensive website.
Adding layers of graphics and 3d renderings can offer the very few, a more immersive experience, whereas they become clumsy to navigate from many devices. It is advisable to leave these expenses on the table and focus your efforts personalising content that retains the interest of those attending.
Exhibitors maximise their presence in a physical setting through live sessions, creating stand-out booths, hosting cocktail hours and have their teams entice attendees to step into their space. This is hard to replicate in a virtual space as multiple exhibitors try to reach a large audience simultaneously. Introducing invitations to short side-events hosted by both sponsors and exhibitors can offer effective engagement opportunities as well as free flowing creative experiences for the attendees.
One thing that is paramount is to keep in mind that those attending a virtual event may be otherwise engaged off-stream and become distracted by a work email that pops up during their visit. Is your event remarkable enough for them to quickly return after they address this work issue?
A virtual event should therefore adopt a marketing philosophy in its approach by delivering personalised or highlighted content that appeals to each attendee.
Delivering New Traffic.
If your virtual event only drives existing customers of your physical event then an opportunity is lost. By adding a virtual layer you need to target new audiences, including those of your sponsors, exhibitors and trade associations.
There is little advantage for an exhibitor to join your virtual event if it delivers less opportunity than they could gain from directing people to their own channels, website or self-hosting a live stream from their physical presence.
Organisers need to delve deeper into how they address ways to increase traffic. A key is to ensure that matchmaking and customisable content is presented to each attendee on log-in. This can be addressed by strategically delivering both live and on-demand content that pushes attendees to return multiple times during broadcast dates.
Simply solutions such as allowing attendees to share links that highlight individual pieces of content and keynotes are often overlooked. These micro links focus purely on key components of the event and are more likely to be shared with work colleagues and in extended networks.
A bit on the side.
Virtual events have the ability to not be bound by both time and space constraints. Your exhibition does not need to be broken down and packed away by a certain time or date.
This offers a myriad of connection possibilities before, during and importantly after any live published dates.
By focusing on matchmaking opportunities as well as incorporating fun gamification ideas into the program creates a more enjoyable experience.
Inviting individuals to attend informative or educational side-events can encourage smaller groups of like minded attendees to engage.
These can all be driven through gaining key insights into your attendees interests and delivering it to them.
Quite often event organisers look to cover their costs by pricing all on and off line booths in a similar way. This makes the cost of entry biased towards the physical event.
When looking to produce a fully virtual event or one that offers virtual options then the costs of the virtual elements should be offset against the revenue gain directly from participation solely in the virtual.
Virtual events should offer a lower point of entry for both exhibitors as well as more importantly attendees.
Virtual events can lead to increased opportunity only if they are treated as stand alone events and not extensions or alternatives to a physical one.
They should be designed in a way that maximises the on-line tools on hand and not be limited in any way.
If you can deliver a personalised experience to every person entering the event then the aim is to do so as this alone ensures they return more than once during the time the exhibitors are online.