What’s the best kind of advice to follow to address the challenge of how to help exhibitors be successful at virtual events? Data-backed recommendations. That’s what Swapcard offers in “The Business of Virtual Events: How to Close Business Deals at a Virtual Event, According to Data,” the virtual and hybrid events platform company’s recently published research report.
Swapcard reviewed 461 events with a minimum of 1,000 attendees with 51,843 total exhibitors, more than 1.6 million total attendees, and more than 6.5 million total leads generated at virtual trade shows and conferences to provide 10 insights. Here are five.
- The pre-event period is the golden moment for closing business. Swapcard’s data reveals that in the days leading up to a virtual trade show, up to 28 percent of the time attendees spend exploring the platform is spent browsing exhibitors. Considering that 32 percent of attendees’ time during this period is spent bookmarking sessions, that’s a significant opportunity for exhibitors to capitalize on the interest attendees show in their booths and products before the show officially opens. More importantly, more than 95 percent of leads are generated in the pre-event period of one-day-long virtual trade shows and 80 percent is generated in the build-up to a two-day virtual trade show. Virtual conferences show similar pickup prior to launch.
- The best way to close business? Sponsor sessions. During a one-day virtual conference, more than 40 percent of leads came through watching a sponsored session; for a two-day conference it was 50 percent; and a four-day conference, the leads that were generated while attendees watched a sponsored session were as high as 60 percent. “Speaking at a sponsored session,” the report notes, “also gives exhibitors a human aspect by giving a face to the brand, and it positions them as experts on a particular topic, making them more credible to attendees.”
- Virtual booths have gotten a bad rap. “Time and energy should be spent making the virtual booths look attractive, immersive, and interactive,” Swapcard data reveals. Of all the business closed by exhibitors, 30-45 percent is closed at virtual trade shows and up to 33 percent is closed at conferences via a virtual booth.
- Sponsor status trumps regular exhibitor status. Organizers should invest extra effort in spelling more sponsorship packages because the ROI generated by a sponsor is greater than that of an ordinary exhibitor at a virtual trade show or conference. “On most virtual platforms, attendees have the option of bookmarking their favorite exhibitors to come back later and interact with them,” according to Swapcard. “Sponsors at a virtual trade show had an average of 2.1 times more bookmarks on their booth than ordinary exhibitors. Data shows that sponsors at virtual trade shows generated an average of 3.1 times more leads than the ordinary exhibitor.”
- When it comes to closing business, the optimal length of an event is two days. The longer the event, the less business is closed after day two, Swapcard has found.
Download a free copy of the full report at Swapcard.
Michelle Russell is editor in chief at Convene.