The world of digital events looks nothing like it did two years ago.
From tired, one-dimensional webinars to deeply immersive VIP experiences — virtual events are the fixer-upper marketing success story of the decade.
But that doesn’t mean it’s time to rest on our event marketing laurels (as if we would).
Now that the event marketing community has more experience under our belts, we think it’s time to talk about ways to futureproof your digital events — starting with the latest trends everyone’s buzzing about.
We asked several event management experts for their no-holds-barred hot takes on what's really changing in the world of virtual events. And from shorter niche events to staving off Zoom bombers and embracing the rise of hybrid and virtual events — they had a lot to say.
The struggle: The average attendee’s attention span leaves a lot to be desired. For internal events expert Michael Alexis, that’s a big problem when it comes to digital events: “No one wants to just listen for 6 hours. So many virtual events are built in a ‘one to many’ format, with a keynote speaker addressing a muted audience.”
The solution: According to Michael, increasing opportunities for audience participation is the way to go: “Most successful virtual events of the future will embrace participation — a quick round of icebreaker questions, a 30-minute lecture, a breakout room with games or discussion.”
The future: Michael is a firm believer that “Participation makes your event experience memorable for participants while encouraging networking and other benefits. Event marketers that embrace this approach will see happy, engaged participants and repeat guests.”
💡 Top tip: Not sure how to push participation? Every audience is different, and it’s important to know their comfort level. One solution that usually works is to simply move from the traditional faceless Q&A to a dynamic video Q&A that brings audience members ‘on stage’ at your virtual event to ask their questions live.
The problem: Expert marketer Jonathan Saeidian says it's time to face facts, “No one wants to sit in front of a computer for hours on end.”
The solution: For Jonathan, when it comes to digital event formats, short and sweet is the way to go: “The key trend that we see is a move towards shorter, more focused virtual events, so event professionals need to make their events as engaging and concise as possible. Stick to one day or even half a day — your attendees will thank you, and they'll be more likely to come back next year.”
The future: Jonathan believes this switch to a shorter format “provides a great opportunity for event marketers to flex their muscles and show off their creativity.”
💡Top tip: If you’re hosting a longer event, try breaking your sessions up into shorter blocks and prioritize key content early on in your event agenda.
The struggle: Audience engagement is the biggest challenge with virtual events — yet, for 49% of marketers, it’s also the number one determining factor for a successful event. Which means this is one problem you’ve definitely gotta solve.
The solution: For Rank Secure founder Baruch Labunski, the solution to the perennial engagement problem is actually pretty simple: ”The number one trend within virtual events is interaction and gamification of the event.”
Evan Dunn, Director of Growth Marketing at Syncari, agrees, “Anyone who's run B2B virtual events in our post-COVID world knows most people just don't join live. But take HYPCCCYCL — they’re hosting live competitive events that attract a great deal of attention.”
From hiding prizes and other virtual “easter eggs” all the way to complex point scoring systems and digital leaderboards — digital event gamification is one trend that’s definitely here to stay.
The future: Event and field marketers love gamification as a way to organically get attendees motivated to interact, engage, and of course — stay inside the event. The right games also give attendees a shared sense of purpose and helps create a rich environment for networking.
The struggle: When restrictions were lifted, event organizers and attendees were ready and raring to get back to meeting in person. But for many, that excitement was short-lived. The reality is, for the vast majority of business professionals, virtual events have offered welcomed relief from a hectic in-person event schedule.
The solution: Tech marketer and PR pro Omri Hurwitz suggests hybrid events as a digital event format that has something for everyone. "Virtual events will be integrated into physical events. This will lead people to be able to choose how they want to attend."
The future: Today, some 86% of organizations see a positive event ROI from hybrid due to the fact they can broaden their attendee base, generate increased pipeline and even reduce their carbon footprint.
💡Top tip: Treat your hybrid event as two separate events, each offering its own unique experience. Look for ways to incorporate elements of both in-person and digital events to make your onsite attendees feel like VIPs without excluding your virtual audience.
The struggle: Digital marketing strategist Shiv Gupta is quick to highlight a virtual event challenge that causes every event planners many a sleepless night — glitchy tech. “No matter how fantastic your content is if the platform fails while the event is taking place, all of your efforts are for nothing.”
The solution: With platforms a plenty to choose from, Shiv believes the key is to “test out various virtual event platforms, solutions, or partners in order to avoid any undesirable circumstances.”
The future: Moving forward, providing a smooth and glitch-free virtual event will be key to positive brand recall.
💡Top tip: Don’t let the sea of virtual event platform options overwhelm you. Get to know exactly what you’re looking for and know that you don’t have to settle for less.
The struggle: In 2021, 55% of worldwide online visits came from mobile. But unfortunately, many event marketers still don’t have a mobile-friendly tech stack for their digital events.
The solution: For Adword Nerd CEO Daniel Barrett, the transition to mobile is simply inevitable: “Mobile is the future of virtual events. If your virtual event isn’t optimized for mobile, then expect low attendance, low engagement, and bad reviews from your target audience. Event marketers have to implement a mobile-first strategy.”
💡Top tip: To ensure your event looks its best on mobile. For example, don’t forget to add mobile-sized assets to your event’s branding tab. (Of course, it also helps to have a virtual event platform that is completely optimized for mobile. 😉)
The struggle: When we asked him what to look out for, security expert Volodymyr Shchegel was quick to remind us of the Zoom 2020 cyberattacks. “It was usually at a prankster level, but a derailed event presentation could cost you clients. Virtual events are going to encounter more security threats — they are a goldmine of personal and corporate data and are typically run without any real cybersecurity measures in place.”
The solution: In short? A secure and compliant event platform that has security as a company value. 💯
The future: Client relationships are all about trust. Unfortunately, even a single security misstep can damage that trust forever. So while security won’t drive instant ROI, it can definitely help protect your relationships (and revenue!) in the long run.
💡Top tip: Continue to prioritize, review and iterate your event security strategy on a quarterly, bi-annual, or ongoing basis.
The struggle: The virtual event revolution was born from a need to fill the in-person event void during a global pandemic. But as normality returns, the cracks in the event scene of old are starting to show — and for automation ace Grey Idol, “We just can't ignore the reality of rising travel costs and the convenience of virtual events.”
The solution: Continue to give attendees options. Here’s Grey: “The ability to mingle one-on-one, from the comfort of your office or home, will afford employees at every level the opportunity to share ideas and meet industry leaders and enthusiasts.”
The future: “This will inevitably supercharge industry growth and encourage equity, as previously unheard voices have the opportunity to be heard.” Grey believes that at some point, we may even see events entering the metaverse.
💡Top tip: Voxpopme’s Director of Content Strategy, Christoph Trappe, believes that some kind of 360 or virtual reality component can help attendees interact as they would in real life. “The experience would be closer and closer to reality.”
The struggle: Zoom-fatigue has become an all too familiar ailment for attendees across the globe. With a flurry of virtual event invitations hitting their inbox every day, it’s harder than ever to make your event stand out.
The solution: For CMO Hunter Mefford, the secret is to: “Look out for more features to start dropping as digital events scale.”
💡Top tip: Make sure all virtual event features can be easily integrated into your virtual event platform. No one wants to be worrying about clunky add-ons during the event!
Digital events have really made a name for themselves since they crashed onto the global scene in 2020. But nearly three years on, what was once revolutionary is now expected.
Virtual event attendees have increasingly great expectations. To keep up in the fast-paced world of event marketing — you have to be on the money when it comes to the digital event trends of the future.
At Goldcast, we know just how fast the world of digital events can move. We’re here to help event marketers stay firmly on the path to success no matter what comes next.