First conducted in 2013, DEI’s Digital Event Benchmark Report has been updated each subsequent year to track the progress of digital events, defined as being produced online only, and hybrid events, which are simulcast online live during face-to-face events. Respondents include both in-person and online event producers. The most recent report, released last month, compares the 2016 results against those from 2015, and helps identify three key opportunities.
Respondents to the 2016 survey indicated that streaming content with an emcee is particularly effective in engaging the virtual audience. They reported an 18-percent higher rate of success when featuring an emcee than respondents to the 2015 study who had featured an emcee.
2. Revenue streams
A growing number of respondents are taking advantage of the revenue-generating opportunities that digital and hybrid events afford — 71 percent always or sometimes provided sponsor opportunities in 2016 compared to 62 percent in 2015.
3. Tracking the attendee journey
Sixty-seven percent of respondents in 2016 did not track whether an attendee who had participated in a past hybrid/digital event attended a subsequent in-person event. This is a critical way to measure the ROI of a digital event. PCMA’s own internal research, conducted over a five-year span, indicated that those individuals who attended a PCMA hybrid event went on to attend a face-to-face meeting, join PCMA, or renew their membership, as well as purchase other products and services — resulting in more than $1 million in revenue.
The majority of event producers who participated in the survey — 82 percent — said that they plan to increase their digital-event footprint this year. Only 3 percent plan to decrease the number of digital events they produce.
The most common goal for producing hybrid and digital events remains the same year over year: to expand respondents’ reach and audience. Other popular reasons respondents cited for producing hybrid and digital events include adding more value to physical exhibitors, increasing international attention, and marketing respondents’ products.
› Getting the message out
Event producers continue to use a variety of email channels to promote upcoming hybrid events — in enewsletters, dedicated email blasts, and multiple message blasts (with other topics featured). The most popular way to communicate the event is monthly via an enewsletter, similar to last year’s results.
› To charge or not to charge?
When it comes to providing live access to a hybrid event, around the same percentage of respondents (34 percent in 2015 vs. 33 percent in 2016) don’t charge anyone a fee. However, more respondents charged face-to-face attendees and others to access on-demand content post-event in 2016 than in 2015.
› Giving credit where credit is due
A larger percent of respondents in 2016 vs. 2015 (11 percent compared to 3 percent) provide CEU credits/units exclusively for digital, non-hybrid events.