Engagement remains a challenge for virtual events according to new research

It’s a milestone none of us thought we’d reach but in a mere few weeks time we’ll be closing in on a full twelve months of delivering virtual events.

Now new research says that 80% of successful virtual events are free but that engagement remains a challenge.

The 2021 Virtual Events Benchmark Report highlights the impact of virtual events and how event professionals and marketers are keeping their virtual attendees engaged. 

A few key stats from the report

80% of organisers allowed free registration for their events, which improved attendance rates and generated more revenue overall. 

60% of organisers included interactive elements in their events to engage audiences but 68% still believed the greatest challenge for virtual event marketers is keeping their attendees engaged,

They’re not wrong

Let’s be honest, it is a challenge. By now you’ve probably been to countless virtual events, some experiences will be good and some not so good and your experience will ultimately be down to how that event organiser engaged you. 

The best event planners already know it’s about far more than just sending out the Zoom link and hoping for the best and they also know audience engagement starts way beyond the point where you click the start event button. 

So how do you keep virtual audiences engaged? 

Here are just some of our top tips for creating audience engagement before, during and after your event.

Send a confirmation email: from the minute your attendee signs up you can start to connect with them. Confirm their event booking and share some more information. Many online event platforms integrate seamlessly with email marketing options making this a really nice way to kick off engagement.

Follow on social media: collect social media handles during event sign up and follow your attendees on social media. Create Lists or even a group for a larger scale event to create engagement for and with your audience. 

Ask a question: our polling functionality allows you to run quick polls which your audience can vote in and which can inform the direction of your event, you can also run short polls on most social media platforms. 

Get Your Speakers Involved: They’re usually the reason many of your attendees will be joining you, so utilise them, allow your audience to ask them questions ahead of the event and share any previous talks they’ve done or other content to get your audience warmed up for your event. 

Keep it snappy: We are overwhelmed with information right now, our whole worlds are digital so when it comes to events less is definitely more. Keep smaller events quick and to the point. Attendees reported being engaged just 53% of the time during a virtual event. 

Use the Tools available: Don’t just be a face on a screen for an hour. Use presentation tools and interactive functionality to engage the audience. Post links and useful resources in the chat – this isn’t like an ‘in-person’ event it’s not rude to do this and it keeps interest high. 

Provide Networking: Plenty of platforms are able to facilitate this and with 69% of those surveyed saying it diminished the event when it wasn’t available, it’s definitely an area to put the effort in. Get familiar with break-out rooms and other functionality designed to bring your audience together.

Don’t forget to follow up:  Consider this part of audience engagement for this event, and your next one. Use this to say thanks for attending, to gather feedback, to share any follow on resources you might have or even the recording of the event itself – and if you already know when your next event is happening then be sure to include that too.

And finally, keep experimenting! Whilst we’re all clamouring for the return of live events – you’ve never wanted a canape more right? There’s lots to be learned from delivering virtual events with high audience engagement that can be brought into hybrid and live events for the future.

Want to learn more about our platform and how we work with event organisers to deliver maximum engagement. Check out our case studies or get in touch for an informal chat.