The CMO Council calls it “the NextGen event landscape” and says it will look “vastly different from pre-pandemic events.” In a new report, “NextGen Event Optimized for Outcomes,” a survey of 150 global marketing leaders finds that 65% believe event marketing “will mature to align all events — virtual, in-person, and hybrid — to marketing outcomes.
Virtual is here to stay. Virtual events will continue to provide expanded reach, especially at top of funnel, despite virtual event fatigue and concern that marketers are only moderately effective, or not effective at executing them (64%).
Three out of five marketers, however, are eager to re-start in-person events, believing they are better for nurturing customers and driving conversions.
Hybrid faces challenges. The potential value of hybrid events is recognized but marketers also acknowledge obstacles to pulling them off successfully. Indeed, the group surveyed felt they were less effective at executing hybrid events than in-person, virtual or webinars. Adding a virtual element to an in-person event was viewed as steeply increasing costs and there was concern that vigorous promotion of virtual aspects could depress live attendance.
Why we care. For a few weeks last summer and fall it felt like in-person was back. Businesses started to host live events, even if on a small scale, and many found it a relief to meet people face to face after over a year of video calls. Then came winter and Omicron and it all seemed over again.
There’s no doubt, however, as this report reflects, that the effect of digitzing events has been to pull event marketing out of its silo and make it part of a holistic digital marketing strategy. Everyone is now trying to read the future of events with marketers reluctant to abandon the huge reach of virtual but missing the true connections of in-person.