July 1, 2020

The Future of Virtual Events & Conferences

In-person events and conferences have evolved significantly - and the future is virtual. There are new things to consider with social distancing in place.
Laura Forte

Laura Forte

Marketing Director, ZTE USA

ZTE on the Future of Virtual Events and Conferences

The process and presentation of in-person marketing events has evolved significantly over the past 30 years of my career. With the current pandemic, challenges and innovations are evolving ever more rapidly. There are many new things to consider with social distancing mandates in place, and marketers need to think fast.

Industry events, small or large, provide immense relationship building value. The personal connections with consumers, partners, and customers are essential to success. How do marketing professionals achieve that same value in a truly digital environment?

Adapt Physical to Digital

Marketing professionals need to strategize on what kind of virtual event is best suited for their goals and audiences.  This strategy is a fundamental rule of any marketing project but needs to be viewed from a digital perspective.

It is easy to lose sight of the brand, objectives, and content while transitioning from a physical to digital playing field. Maintain the fundamentals of event planning and seek out digital solutions to achieve the end goal. For example, what goes into designing and planning for a tradeshow both is targeted, integrated, and engaging. Likewise, any digital environments, content, and activities should also be targeted and engaging.

Structure

Virtual events can be small and targeted for product or company announcements, product demonstrations, webinars, etc.  They can be structured in much the same way as traditional events through scheduled exhibits, speakers, panelists, break-out sessions, networking, etc.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) is a good example of how to adapt a schedule of events into screen-based forums such as their spring and fall “Technology and Standards Forum.”  The popular television show, “The Voice,” has used technology to adapt their format for its television audience. 

Interact & Engage

Virtual events can still provide live discussions and drive real-time interactions. Technology is becoming the bridge to physical distances and social challenges. 

One area of consideration is the significant planning and work that goes into powering speaker(s) during an exhibition, whether to support a one-on-one conversation, a presentation, or a live audience. Put the same amount of effort into considering digital options to help maintain more free flowing interactions or capturing audience reactions.

In any sized event you must keep your audience engaged with questions, live polls, gamification, and many other interactive methods. 

Always Improve

Virtual conferences are and will become more prevalent in the future of launch events or conferences, and technology can help overcome challenges in new ways.

For example, the data and analysis collected from a virtual event can provide new ways to gain feedback and insights from attendees. Virtual sessions, events, or panel discussions can be turned into a digital library following the event, serving as a continuation of content and information on the company’s brand and/or products. 

As many new technologies are coming to the forefront to support virtual events, marketing is evolving today and may forever change in the future.

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