Should you host a virtual event in 2022?
Do attendees still want virtual summits, or is hybrid the way to go?
And what are the best ways to promote and monetize your virtual event?
These are just a few of the questions we will address here. Not every question can be informed by virtual event statistics. And, often, the best answers we seek are in the form of stories. Case studies. Testimonials. Advice from a trusted consultant.
However, there’s something reassuring about virtual event statistics.
I was recently asked by a large event organizer in the marketing space whether they should continue to plan their event as an in-person conference, or whether they should shift to virtual for a third year in a row, and that idea was greatly concerning to him. I wanted to begin my answer to him with the most recent data and studies that I could find, unearthing relevant virtual event statistics that could help inform a decision, and then layer on my own opinion and perspective. Here’s what I wrote:
First, let me share a few statistics I was researching over the weekend. From Kaltura, we’ve learned that 75% of attendees are committed to the vision of the organizers, and say they will attend virtual events even after in-person events have fully resumed. 84% of attendees would like to always have an online option available to them, so that they can attend any event as a virtual/remote attendee if they choose. Marketic reports that the average no-show percentage of virtual events is 35%. This is slightly higher than in-person events. They also shared that 80% of people join virtual events for educational purposes. The next biggest reason for joining virtual events is networking. (This is contrary to in-person events where the single biggest reason for attending is networking.)
Which suggests that not only will virtual events continue to proliferate going forward, as long as there are concerns about Covid, most attendees want to see an online option for events and therefore a hybrid approach.
The challenge then is to balance the potentially competing interests of event stakeholders: the organizer (& sponsors), the speakers, and the attendees. Attendees of what is traditionally an in-person event like yours are looking for both education and networking, as well as connection to key speakers. Speakers, on the other hand, as others have said well, are confronted by the reduced value of an event that’s virtual and thus limits how much they’re seen by attendees. And while a hybrid solution may help both attendees and speakers depending on their needs, that doesn’t help the event organizer who still has to pay for a venue and physical costs as well as manage the virtual platform and, potentially, charge less for a virtual ticket.
This is where it will be beneficial to you to have your own data and information available to ponder. I don’t know what your costs, obligations and budget are, nor am I familiar with your speakers for 2022, potential audience, and other factors.
I do think that, given the timing, circumstances, geographic location of your event, and your target audience, a hybrid approach makes a lot of sense. Attendees who are local and comfortable with the current situation may choose to attend in person, while out of town attendees can save themselves travel expenses and the uncertainty of what Covid may be like in your area weeks from now and just opt for attending online.
In such a scenario, I would adjust the agenda to best suit both approaches. I would focus live sessions on a single track of short workshops, Q&A’s, and other interactive content mixed with plenty of networking time and opportunities, while offering educational presentations as on-demand streaming videos.
What you’d have to consider is the numbers you need to make all of that work. Which speakers can and will be in-person to deliver that kind of content vs. remote live or pre-recorded; how many attendees can you reasonably expect for each ticket type and at what costs, what adjustments to the venue can or should you make and how that impacts cost vs. capacity; what, if any, impact on sponsors and sponsor revenue.
As you can see, there was no statistic that could say, definitely, what that particular event organizer should have decided to do. However, what virtual event statistics can do is remove some of the unknowns and personal biases out of the equation. Whether it’s a predisposition against hybrid events, or an idea about what attendees may get out of a virtual event, the right statistic at the right time can be incredibly powerful.
The Future of Virtual Events
92% of organizers have shifted to virtual events in 2021, with 94% planning for virtual events in 2022, and 48% planning to increase the number of virtual events they host next year.
75% of attendees are committed to the vision of the organizers, and say they will attend virtual events even after in-person events have fully resumed. 84% of attendees would like to always have an online option available to them, so that they can attend any event as a virtual/remote attendee if they choose.
Before the pandemic, the global events industry was expected to be worth $1.1 trillion in 2018. And, is predicted to grow to $2.3 trillion by 2026.
(Allied Market Research)
During a 2021 survey among 8,227 marketers worldwide, 40 percent of their events were predicted to be virtual in 2022, while 35 percent were predicted to be hybrid and another 35 percent were expected to be held in person. This marks an increase in virtual events from the 2020 value of 35 percent, and a decrease from the 32 percent share of both hybrid and in-person events in 2020.
Respondents said virtual events/webinars/online courses produced the best results for their content marketing in the last 12 months (58%) — those who are most successful agreed (66%).
(Content Marketing Institute)
61% of marketers plan to increase their investment in digital events in 2022.
(Content Marketing Institute)
93% of event professionals plan to invest in virtual events in the coming future.
About 52% of B2B marketers say they conduct between 20-30 virtual events per year with 21% of the participants saying they host over 30 virtual events each year.
The Benefits of Virtual Events
45.7% of marketers say the primary goal of virtual events is to generate pipeline.
68% of B2B marketers say live events help with generating the most leads.
Organizing & Promoting Virtual Events
For large virtual conferences, 65% of marketers need more than 6 weeks to promote the event and drive the desired amount of registrations.
74% of event organizers say that it takes longer than one month to configure their virtual event platform.
70% of event organizers also reveal minimum 2-15 people are involved in the event planning process.
80% of the marketers who use event software don’t have any trouble proving their event’s ROI.
83% or 8 in 10 share they included custom design elements like icons, backgrounds, and imagery to their webinars.
76% of marketers say that email is the single most effective way to drive registrations.
51% of B2B companies use their business partners (channel) to drive registrations.
49% of marketers say that programmatic advertising is a large contributor to event registrations.
Structure & Agenda of Virtual Events
63% of people say that the ideal time for a virtual round table discussion is between 60 and 90 minutes.
68% of marketers say that one-on-one meetings at large virtual events help to improve audience satisfaction.
64% and 63% of participants agree that the quality of speakers and relevance of content, respectively encourage them to sign up for events.
67% of online events attendees agree that it’s essential for presenters to be engaging and passionate about the subject they’re talking about.
Organizations hosting virtual events found that 45 percent of registrants attend live. 10 percent of registrants who don’t participate live attend on-demand.
On average, online attendees watch 68% of a 20-minute or longer session.
68% — over half of the attendees — share they rewatch content from events they’ve attended.
On average, virtual events organize 12 sessions per event.
58% of virtual events are small – reaching 300 live attendees.
When asked their top desired features of virtual events platforms, 91% of attendees chose in-session text chat, and 85% chose profiles that allow other participants to find them.
50.5% of virtual event organizers did not schedule dedicated networking sessions into their agenda and 19.7% didn’t even schedule networking breaks.
(Airmeet Fireside Chat)
Virtual Event Statistics on Monetization
78% or three quarters of businesses say organizing an event lead to “positive event ROI.”
65% of event organizers accept sponsorships for their events.
The average sponsorship package for a virtual event costs $8,456.
33.7% of marketers say that the average cost per virtual event attendee is between $500 – $1000. The average cost per attendee for a large virtual conference is slightly higher at $1000 – $1500.
The Challenges of Virtual Events
Audience engagement is the largest challenge when it comes to virtual events. The next biggest challenge is interaction.
38% of marketers say they run into technical problems when hosting virtual events.
The average no-show percentage of virtual events is 35%. This is slightly higher than in-person events.
80% of people join virtual events for educational purposes. The next biggest reason for joining virtual events is networking.
Virtual Event Statistics on Cost
Most companies allocate between 10-20% of their marketing budget to virtual events.
The majority of the budget per virtual event is spent on the hosting platform. The second-largest pool of costs is speakers and moderators.
And one final virtual event statistic…
100% of virtual event organizers needed help and guidance at some point to determine what their ideal strategy and plan for success should be. Is that where you’re at now? If you’re more convinced than ever that your brand needs to execute a brilliant virtual event in 2022, but need help pulling everything together, my VIP Strategy Day: #SoldOutSummits, will help you do exactly that.