May 9, 2022

Refresh Your B2B Tech Event Strategy for the Hybrid Era

7 tips to meet the challenges and opportunities of the new hybrid enterprise events landscape

May 9, 2022

Refresh Your B2B Tech Event Strategy for the Hybrid Era

7 tips to meet the challenges and opportunities of the new hybrid enterprise events landscape

Cover image Cover image
  • Events that work best in a hybrid format
  • Tips to design compelling events—virtual and IRL
  • Creative ways to make meaningful connections with attendees

The list of events returning in person again in 2022 is growing—and many company’s B2B events will take the hybrid approach this year and beyond. Major B2B conferences delivering hybrid experiences in 2022 include Cisco Live!, Dreamforce (Salesforce) and INBOUND (HubSpot).

“Virtual and hybrid events are no longer a substitution for anything else. Nor are they a temporary pivot. Instead, they represent a new reality that unlocks exciting possibilities for many more organizations than ever before to successfully leverage the power of business events,” Rebecca Harmer, Head of Events, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, EMEA & LATAM, told The Drum in a story on post-pandemic events.

An ON24 survey of B2B marketers found that 88% believed hybrid events will contribute significantly to their pipeline; 79% said hybrid events provide more data than physical events. A Forrester survey found that 58% of marketing leaders agreed that “all flagship B2B marketing events will be hybrid.”

Beyond the business benefits, hybrid events are also more inclusive for those who can’t attend in person due to physical limitations or those who fall ill leading up to or during the event.

What does this mean for your tech company? It’s time to calibrate your events strategy with this new normal so you can engage as many buyers as possible—those that are opting to stay virtual and those who are excited to be back in person. Follow these seven tips to get the hybrid balancing act right.

1. Take a hybrid approach with some events—not all.

There are many pieces to the hybrid event puzzle; some events work just as well fully in person or fully virtual, so make sure the event warrants the extra effort.

Here are event types where a hybrid approach can expand your audience reach and ROI:

Large-scale conferences and tradeshows
Whether you are organizing the conference, sponsoring or purchasing a booth, it’s helpful to create virtual offerings for potential buyers who are not able to attend.

Launch and demo events for products and solutions
Not everyone will be able to attend your product launch or demo sessions in person. Ensure your buyers are exposed to your products with rollouts that mix live and virtual sessions.

Events where a prominent speaker can’t show in person
When a preferred speaker is unable or unwilling to travel for an event, they may be able to present virtually to a live audience. (Think Oscar winner accepting an award via satellite.)

Hybrid lunches and happy hours
These allow virtual audiences to participate in networking and knowledge-building opportunities that once depended heavily on in-person attendance.

2. Ensure a positive, engaging experience for digital attendees.

There’s a danger of virtual attendees feeling “out of sight, out of mind,” especially if you simply point the camera at speakers and live stream. Why are we only calling out digital attendees here? Because focusing on in-person attendees tends to come naturally when you know you’re going to be face to face. As much as possible, the event experience for at-home attendees should be more than pointing the camera at speakers and live streaming. A few quick strategies to create positive experiences for virtual attendees include:

  • Create an event app and encourage remote attendees to use it for event surveys and to submit questions for panel discussions.
  • Communicate directly with hybrid attendees through push notification and a live host on the virtual event platform.
  • Create a virtual booth equivalent to your in-person booth.
  • Schedule virtual breakout sessions and coffee hours, especially during longer events.

3. Establish your budget, teams, marketing calendar, scopes and KPIs—early!

Not all hybrid events are the same—and not every event will require all of your bells and whistles. The planning, team size and external vendors required for a global tech conference are different from a regional roadshow or product demonstration. Key performance indicators (KPIs) can vary, too. You might focus on registration, event check-in, sales leads generated, session engagement, app usage and/or social media mentions. Starting early ensures your event strategy matches the event, including the decision to go virtual, hybrid or fully in person.

4. Choose your swag wisely.

People love swag—and the possibilities are near endless. Choose creative merchandise that has a longer shelf life and can be branded in a prominent manner. Branded water bottles, tech gear, umbrellas or gift boxes are just a few examples. With the right swag for your audience, event attendees will remember your brand beyond the event. Just make sure to mail swag to the stay-at-home crowd, too.

5. Design your digital and physical event elements.

The physical elements

The physical elements of a hybrid event include booths, signage, relevant sales collateral, name tags and postcards that draw attention to the solutions and products you’re marketing. For events with speakers, you’ll want to offer seating for comfort and tables so attendees can take notes; refreshments are also always appreciated. Each element should accurately (and positively) reflect your brand.

Digital Elements

Digital elements will include your virtual event platform and could include apps, surveys, instant polls, on-demand videos and personalized interactive content.

Make sure your physical and digital elements are inclusive. Use live interpreters to translate talks and panel discussions. Package event materials for later viewing with multi-language captioning options. Make sure your in-person booth is accessible to people with mobility challenges and that you provide accessible seating.

6. Use a calendar tool to book meetings during the event and after.

Encourage in-person and virtual attendees to use a calendar tool, such as Calendly or Doodle. This way you don’t double book yourself for follow-up meetings or product demos scheduled for a later date.

7. Track your results and apply what you learn at your next hybrid event.

Schedule a post-event debrief with your team soon after the event so what worked—and what didn’t—is still top of mind. Use the combination of event data and team observations to guide the design of your next hybrid event. If people didn’t engage during the Q&A portion of a product demo, for example, you can expand the demo instead of taking questions. If a specific channel garnered the most registrations, use a larger percentage of your marketing budget in that channel next time.

Elevate your B2B hybrid event strategy with support from Lauchlan.

Connect with Lauchlan to see how we can help you make your next hybrid event a success.


Sondra Wolfer

Writer and Editor

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