Online events over offline events: how to turn flaws into advantages
When we think about moving events online, we tend to focus on the challenges that need to be faced. However, we might be so concerned about the difficulties that we don’t see that the whole process can even bring us joy.
Of course, organizing a virtual event instead of running it in the traditional way is entirely different. However, going out of your comfort zone might pay off, not only now but (maybe above all) in the future too.
If you don't want your event to drown in a flood of cancelations, consider moving at least the flagship parts of it online. We're not saying that it's a piece of cake, but that it's possible and more comfortable to implement than you might think.
In this article, you’re going to see both the pros and cons of moving events online. You can decide for yourself whether the benefits overweigh the disadvantages.
Comparing online and offline challenges
Almost everyone feels uncertain about trying new things, especially if they relate to the job sphere. Most of us prefer to have a stable income and not risk too much in order not to waste money or time. However, it's crucial to realize that hesitation and stagnation also have costs. If you don't adjust your actions to the market and competitors' demands, the form of your event might turn out to be outdated.
Let’s take a closer look at some potential challenges that might (but don’t have to) happen.
#1 Technological aspects
Hosting a traditional event might seem easier, as everything can be taken care of in person. You can use technology, but the whole event doesn't entirely rely on a stable internet connection, software systems, and additional tools. Depending on the type of event and the budget, you can use the newest equipment or stick with basic items such as projectors and microphones.
In digital, you have to take care of every aspect online. Although you can't fix anything "with your own hands," there are fewer separate elements to take care of. When you choose a robust platform that has integrations with other tools, a flawed sound system or a screen that doesn't run is no longer a problem.
#2 “Social animals” - the human factor
Meeting people during business events is one of the key factors that increases their value. Although listening to speeches and joining Q&A sessions are important, meeting other companies' representatives is another key reason for participation in a conference. By being in person at an event, you can not only meet new people from your industry and expand your contact list, but also get to know the big fish in the business world.
Online it's less natural to meet other attendees. You can't simply wait for them next to their company's stand or bump into someone in the corridor. Although it might be less intuitive, you can guide your participants to get to know one another. This process would be more structured and planned than normal. With help from tools, you can create meeting spaces to facilitate the integration of attendees. It could be a breakout room, a separate speed-dating, or anything else that pops your mind.
#3 Decrease in event popularity
We all know that digital advertising has changed the world of marketing forever. Even in research from 2018, 58% of marketers said they use social media for marketing before, during, and after their events. To reach more people who are likely to take part in your events, you can use paid advertising and organic traffic.
These can be combined with traditional marketing, but they don't have to be. If you promote your event online and show the advantages of participation, you might also convince people to attend the online version. You have to show clearly how they can benefit from being a part of the digital event. Adjust the content and form of the campaign in order to maintain (or boost) the event's popularity.
#4 Keeping participants engaged
No one likes to sit in an auditorium and listen to the monologue of one person. A lack of interaction can kill even the most exciting subject, and thus potentially a whole event. It concerns contact between the entrepreneur and the audience, as well as between the attendees.
The numbers speak for themselves - 39% of event professionals agree that ‘engaging attendees’ is the most crucial element of a live event. To create boundaries with participants during an online webinar you can let them ask you questions during the presentations, make polls and surveys, or enable them to use a whiteboard for sharing their ideas with you.
#5 Unintuitive onboarding
When a system is advanced and has lots of features but isn't intuitive, it might cause trouble. Participants won't want to spend too much time figuring out how to use the platform, as they didn't come to your event to learn the software system.
It’s easy to avoid by choosing a platform that’s both packed with options yet simple. If you want to make the experience even better, you can send a short instruction and an infographic via email before the event. This is the equivalent of the map that’s a part of a welcome pack in offline events, just moved to digital.
Analyzing costs from different perspectives
The majority of event planners feel that event budgets will remain the same, while 26% actually expect an increased budget for the next 12 months. That means the event industry doesn’t want to cancel all of its planned conferences and expos, but find a solution instead. Many brands have already moved their events online, such as Apple, Cisco Live, Adobe Summit, and Dell World. Also, the Infoshare conference, which was powered by LiveWebinar, took place entirely in digital.
How much does an offline event cost?
Creating an event is an extremely expensive operation. It costs money to organize, including the rental of space, production of welcome packs, use of an online platform for selling tickets, marketing campaigns, and more. Even though it's often an unimaginable amount of money, we still think events are worth it.
From the participants’ point of view, coming to an event also isn’t a cheap experience. They need to save time, not only to attend the conference itself but also to get to the location that it is taking place. Some guests might live in another city or country, so they have to include the extra costs of the journey - airplane tickets or gas for their car - as well as the price of a hotel room.
Exhibitors need to invest even more in the event than a regular participant. They have to book a place for a few nights for their employees and pay for a stand. Creating a booth requires another financial contribution, meaning rising costs.
Online events can be cheaper
Taking into account the cases mentioned above, we can see that any company that decides to organize a festival or conference needs to have a quite considerable budget. No matter if it's financed by external corporations or by the brand itself and if it's big or small, money is still an important factor.
By hosting an event online you don’t have to invest so much into space rental, technical equipment, transport, or traditional forms of promotion, and so on. The expenses can be smaller. An online event requires buying access to a robust webinar platform, digital promotion and maybe other tools, as well as experts who can help with IT aspects. Online advertising tends to be more affordable compared to traditional marketing, so this is a cost-saving option.
How to turn flaws into advantages?
Factors that play a significant role in event organizing are closely related to budget and effectiveness. Here are a few main aspects that might help you change perspective and evaluate how much you can genuinely get in return for your investment.
Digital vs. traditional space
We tend to behave differently online than in real-life situations. However, it doesn't mean that it's harder for us to get to know each other in digital. Some of us might find it easier to talk with people via the internet. Although during an online event moving between spaces might be less natural for us, it can be made easier.
Even in the offline world, we tend to get lost in spaces if the event organizers don't provide us with an agenda and building scheme. By sending short guides to attendees before a webinar, you can make this process easier and cheaper, because you don't have to print these materials.
Online events are more eco-friendly and sustainable
Because everyone is taking part in the event from their own houses, the pollution caused by travel is greatly reduced. Also, there's no need to produce welcome packs or print building schemes and agendas, so fewer materials are wasted. Instead of making branded items, which might never be used again by the attendees, you can invest in other forms of promotion.
You can prepare special handouts with your company’s logo and colors, then send them via email. Another form of promotion that doesn’t harm the environment is making customized webinar windows with a branding tool.
International fame and more participants at once
Thanks to the possibility of attending from home, anyone in the world can become a part of your event. You can ask business experts from any country you want to give a speech without the need to bring them to your location. Also, more people can attend your event at once, so you can sell more passes.
By making your event digital you might gain international recognition and become one of the important dates in the business calendars of many representatives.
Organized data and information in one place
A strong point of organizing an event online is that you can gather relevant data automatically. A proper analysis of your actions and comparing your goals with the results can help you make the most of your event.
During offline events, it's more difficult (or sometimes impossible) to collect information about participants, their preferences, and opinions in one place. The numbers show that 55% of event professionals think they do not measure the success of their events well enough. Following the right metrics is simpler and more intuitive online. Some work can be done for you. LiveWebinar provides the option of detailed statistics and reports to make the process easier, for example.
Wrapping up the benefits of moving events online
We've mentioned quite a lot of aspects that could be perceived as problematic when moving events online. Many of them might actually turn out to become an advantage if you handle them out properly.
To condense the key information mentioned in this article, some benefits of moving online are:
- Saving money on traveling to where the event takes place. That includes transport, payment for a hotel, paying your employees for their time spent commuting, and more.
- The possibility to invest more into promotion while saving on space rental, technological equipment, and physical materials.
- Focusing on delivering the best experience possible by sharing knowledge and creating business meetings instead of paying attention to irrelevant details.
- Consumers’ spending habits are changing, as more and more people decide to do their shopping online and attend meetings remotely. By running an online event you can live up to their expectations and create a space where they feel safe.
- By focusing your promotional efforts on digital marketing and investing less in traditional methods, you can save money and reach a more specific target audience.
- Generating less waste by reducing travel pollution and using more sustainable online materials.
- Investing in a robust platform might be a base for a digital-oriented strategy that will be tailored to today's world.
- Because you invest less, the risk of poor budget allocation is lower. Even if a new event isn't incredibly popular, you won’t lose as much money as testing one in an offline formula.
- International aspect - thanks to the technological possibilities, more people can participate no matter which country they live in.
- Automatically gathered data that boosts analytics.
These are just a few reasons why organizing online events is a future-oriented strategy. Now it’s all in your hands, but remember that we have your back.
If you have any more questions, we’ll be more than happy to answer them and analyze your doubts.
Happily combines a love of writing and new technology as a copywriter, and enjoys the puzzle of putting together a good article. In her spare time she likes to catch up on the latest, greatest books, bake chocolate chip cookies and ponder her next travel destination.More posts