For event marketers in 2023, there is one thing that matters more than anything else.
Beyond lead generation. Beyond brand awareness. Even beyond revenue.
The attendee experience impacts it all.
But according to our State of B2B Events report diving deep into the latest attendee preferences, digital event attendees still aren't getting the experiences they deserve.
And to be honest, we kinda get it. As an event marketer, there’s already a lot to juggle and with new digital and hybrid event formats to contend with, the challenge is as complex as ever.
But with digital events now a cornerstone of practically every successful go-to-market strategy, elevating the attendee experience is critical to improving your marketing and sales performance.
At Goldcast, we surveyed more than 500 attendees to find out what they’re expecting from a digital event experience and how event marketers can step up and deliver.
We hate to be the bearers of bad news but according to our findings, only 10% of attendees say their virtual attendee experience was excellent.
That means 90% are likely leaving your event feeling less than inspired by something that has your brand written all over it.
Unfortunately, the picture isn’t much rosier when it comes to hybrid events, with only 11% of attendees rating the event experience excellent. But it’s not all doom and gloom.
Because the truth is, today’s attendees are still very optimistic about digital events. Our report found that a majority 73% of participants predict hybrid events will become the most common event format in the near future.
Even though attendees may not yet be getting the five-star experience they want, there is still a strong desire to keep — and keep improving — your virtual and hybrid event offerings.
You can get the full data from our free 2023 Attendee Sentiment Report but in case you’re short on time, we’ve recapped some of the top takeaways below. 👇🏾
When we choose to attend an event, we’re paying for that event in time, energy and in some cases — cold hard cash. We expect to get something back in return.
But while certain attendee expectations are well-established, others can be slightly more nuanced depending on your audience and event format.
❌ 7 things attendees don’t want to see:
✅ 7 things attendees do want to see:
Understanding modern attendee expectations is just the first step. Actually meeting those expectations is something else entirely.
Getting registrations is one thing, but actually getting people into the event on the big day — well, that’s more than half the battle. And forcing attendees to go password hunting through their inboxes doesn’t exactly help.
In fact, 72% of the attendees surveyed in our report say it’s the technology that makes a virtual event excellent, with 51% prioritizing automated calendar invites sent straight to an attendee’s inbox upon registration, with a login link in the body.
From automated calendar invites to magic links, offering your attendees a seamless registration and access experience is probably simpler than you think.
“Our priority is making sure people enjoy our event,” explained Ashleigh Frank, Senior Demand Generation Executive at Cognism. “We've been able to build up a following around our event series. We’ve never had that kind of repeatable event that people like before. That's a massive win for us.”
Since launching their monthly webinar series Demandism, Ashleigh and her team have seen an impressive 50%+ increase in attendance rate due in part to the smooth attendee experience from sign-up to curtain close.
“It’s become more important to make something that people actually want to attend, we’re always thinking about how we can create something our audience actually likes,” says Ashleigh.
If you know you’ve got the right content, the only thing left to do is offer a smooth and immersive experience from registration to closing. For teams like Ashleigh’s, it’s this end-to-end commitment to quality that has kept attendees coming back for more.
“The most ideal feedback is when someone says, ‘Hey, I want to volunteer for your next session’. That's just gold for us.”
Raise your hand if you’ve ever signed up to an event, then forgotten to show up?
We’re human. It happens. But according to our data, nearly half of event attendees said they want email reminders in the run up to the event and on the day of with a login link present.
For ThoughSpot’s Demand Generation Manager Katie Dunn, part of ensuring your attendees get the best event experience is nurturing them just enough to keep the event top of mind and increase your chances of securing a healthy show rate.
To create a seamless brand experience from registration to live attendance, Katie and her team send multiple personalized email reminders straight from their fully integrated event platform, including:
And the communication definitely doesn’t fizzle out after the event.
Post-event, Katie passes her sales team key attendee insights like sessions attended, questions asked, booths visited and more, to make sure every follow up message is relevant and personalized.
To create a digital event experience that replicates the magic of an in-person event, you’ve got to set the right scene.
For the marketing team at Onspring, fully customizable event branding has become the gold standard. The team has achieved an 87% engagement score and succeeded in keeping attendees inside the event for an average of 8.8 hours.
“From an end-to-end user experience, when you’re using Zoom, you're looking at Zoom. When you use Goldcast, you're looking at Onspring. It's a truly branded experience. It's completely immersive,” says Megan Guerra, Onspring’s Director of Marketing.
From branded favicons and lower thirds to virtual chat banners, there are so many ways to brand your event. One of the simplest, most impactful ways to elevate the attendee experience is to simply tap into the full suite of customization tools available to create that immersive experience for your attendees.
🪄 Ready to get creative with your digital event branding? Don’t miss these 11 awesome examples.
Did you know that 89% of people with a disability found online events to be more accessible than in-person?
Accessibility is the foundation of a positive attendee experience — if you don’t feel included, seen, and safe at an event, your experience is immediately (and indefinitely) tainted.
On the flip side, when you make the event experience better for attendees with unique needs and abilities — you make it better for everyone.
As an event marketer, it’s your job to be intentional about creating an accessible and inclusive event where everyone feels equally valued, is free to be their true self, and has a stellar experience.
What does that look like? Well, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Glitchy wifi, echoing mics, failed green screen moments. It’s just…awkward. 😳
Not to mention a bad experience for your attendees. And getting it right is actually pretty simple.
To make sure your digital events run smoothly, follow these five steps:
✅ Cover all bases in your next tech check with our free guide to goof-proofing your virtual events.
As event marketers, we know the most engaged attendees are going to have the highest impact on the business. But first you have to define what “most engaged” actually means.
Within our own event marketing team at Goldcast, we define engagement as an experience where every interaction is a brand moment.
From there, we assign a weighting to each of our top five engagement metrics:
No matter which engagement metrics you choose to track, the point is to make sure every question asked, poll answered, or GIF shared works together to create a lasting memory of your brand.
Because anybody can throw together a slide deck or ask attendees to sit back and watch a pre-recorded video. For an experience to truly stand out, it has to be interactive.
Here are some of the other attendee engagement areas you definitely don’t want to overlook:
Remember, your event is about them — not you. None of the above engagement features will mean a thing if you don’t set the right tone and expectations to help maximize their impact.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our report, it’s that digital events are no longer an afterthought.
To optimize this channel for maximum impact and revenue moving forward, the attendee must be at the heart of every event you produce. While it’s clear we still have a long way to go to deliver on attendee expectations — the right tools and focus can help us get there.
And there’s no time like the present to make it a priority.