As B2B businesses adapt their annual conferences into virtual events, they must start mapping the ROI for this format to measurable objectives as well

It’s been a year now since virtual events are the new normal for event professionals. It took a while to adjust, but the events industry was probably the quickest to bounce back. If not in terms of revenues, then surely in working out the modalities of keeping the event experience as close to in-person events as possible for the attendees, speakers and sponsors. While adapting to these new expectations may have meant sidetracking the ROI on B2B events for most organizers, it’s high time now that event professionals start weighing in their cost-benefit ratios, spends on attendee acquisition, customer conversions for sponsors – in short, quantifying the goals against the expenses on them.

So, in this unusual situation where online events are the best option for B2B companies to connect with their prospects, how can you ensure an ROI for your flagship events against measurable objectives? Here are 3 ways to do this:

Charge for virtual events, even if nominally

If events have to be a sustainable lead gen opportunity for B2B businesses, a free format will not work in the long run. While sponsors are what most events sustained on through last year’s pandemic, free events will soon lose their charm even for attendees facing virtual ennui. When paid for, it keeps the attendees engaged, motivates the event organizers and event professionals to go beyond the expected, helps the sponsors get true intent-driven virtual visitors and ensures satisfied speakers due to great audience interactions. As they say, there are no free lunches and this will be truer for virtual events than ever before.  

Ensure virtual events meet your vendor needs

While most event management tech platforms have created networking options within their software keeping in mind the shift to virtual events, what most vendors rue is the matching of attendees with their offerings, thereby affecting their closures. It’s important to think out-of-the-box to ensure your sponsor vendors can close business deals even in the virtual format. Go for interactive tech tools that are ideal for business meetings, can showcase sales content as close to in-person meets as possible and have transaction/collaboration systems that operate perfectly. This will, in turn, make vendors be your preferred event for sponsorship even at a higher fee than the competitors.

Make attendees feel special after your virtual event             

This may seem an uphill suggestion for event professionals already struggling to decide on the pricing for their virtual events and getting attendees to register. However, for business events organizers with more than one B2B company as a client, you can create a subscription model for the attendees to avail of the session recordings throughout the year. And, though difficult to believe, there will be attendees who are willing to subscribe to dip into the knowledge resource from time to time.

This can even be extended to creating a community of attendees based on their roles and functions like attendees for B2B business events focused on Marketing, HR, IT and Finance, where they can exchange notes or discuss best practices shared by speakers. This way, you have a ready registrants list for the upcoming editions of your client events. It does mean additional effort to pull attendees away from the social networks they are used to, but if this can be initiated, imagine the long-term ROI on your annual events with lesser effort.

With virtual events expected to bring up newer dilemmas for event professionals, targeting ways to fetch returns will at least lessen the pain of putting maximum effort with no gains.

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