5 Advantages of Sponsoring Virtual Events Compared to Traditional
Sponsorships were integral to the funding of many traditional in-person conferences and events. With the dramatic shift to virtual they still play a major funding role with 65% of event organisers accepting event sponsorship and this jumps up to 91% for larger 1,000+ person conferences (Markletic, 2021), and a report from Event Manager Blog states that sponsorships are the primary source of virtual event revenue for 23% of planners. It is important to understand that sponsoring in the virtual space functions much differently than traditional marketing and presents advantages and new opportunities to engage with potential leads, customers and to grow your brand. Here are five advantages there are to sponsoring virtual events when compared to traditional.
Less Time Investment
With traditional events there is a lot of time invested by sponsors – to begin with for the preparation there is time spent printing banners, flyers, brochures, and business cards, procuring physical merchandise like promotional pens and clothing, and then more time to arrange accommodation and travel. Then for the lead up to the event there is time spent travelling and when at the event even more time is spent collecting badges and then setting up the booth or carrying merchandise and samples. You can tell in comparison a lot of this time is already reduced when sponsoring an event online.
With our conference management system, Vircon, we cut down even more time. During the preparation stage our dedicated sponsor portal makes it quick and easy to submit logos, images, videos, and other digital promotional materials, as well as create sponsor pages and communicate with the organiser all within the platform – no need for sending multiple emails, uploading files to different site links or other common issues that take time and can cause frustration.
During the live event we also make it quick and easy for representatives to simply login and then to engage with any prospective leads or participate within networking discussions room not too dissimilar to an actual conference. All of this allows your sales representatives to instead focus on selling more, and when not in a virtual one-on-one chat with a potential lead they can instead be answering questions in chat, following up these leads or even perform tasks unrelated to the event.
Showing Why Your Brand Matters
Sponsors can have more flexibility and opportunities to display their brand with virtual events than at traditional conferences. Traditionally for most sponsors they would have limitations to how their brand is represented as they usually need to conform to elements like booth sizes which makes them feel too similar and fails to truly show how special your brand is. With working in a virtual space there can be a lot more flexibility depending on the event platform you use.
With Vircon’s conference management platform we offer sponsors creative ways to highlight their brand that focuses more of a sales page or experience, much in the same way landing pages are used in digital advertising, than a stereotypical booth (although you can still make it look like a booth if you like). After uploading your files in the sponsor portal, it is easy to create a sponsor page that reflects your brand.
Using our platform special sponsors, such as platinum or gold level, may be offered by the organiser to run promotional videos during spaces the live events or before that important keynote speaker, alternatively they may be offered a dedicated branded networking discussion room as well as their logos and banners featured in key traffic areas during the virtual event.
Quicker Response to Hot Leads
For traditional in-person events your sales rep needs to schedule time to follow up on prospective leads. This could involve leaving the event early, focusing on their mobile, tablet or iPad to awkwardly write emails and neglecting potential new leads in front of them or doing work outside of scheduled hours or waiting until the next day to follow up – or even worse when they are back at their work computer which could be days if it’s a multiday conference they have travelled to. All of these are undesirable and may turn that hot lead into a cold one quickly.
Instead with virtual events your sales team are already at their workstation, either in an office or at home, where they can better handle following up with hot leads. There are many more opportunities when there is a break to send emails and important files, and if your sales rep has direct online access to other team members, i.e., marketing, they can gather information to pass onto them or vice versa.
Alternatively, some of this process could already be automated such as potential customers being placed into email funnels – and while this can be done with in person events, we know many potential leads are lost because they do not have time to input their details right then and there or the sales rep has the tablet and is too busy speaking with another lead or any other factors. With online forms this isn’t an issue and people can fill it out at their convenience.
With Vircon we also offer sponsors the ability to upload files including marketing collateral – and comparing this again to physical events there is no need to print physical brochures, booklets, and other materials which reduces cost, waste, and unnecessary printing, but still enables your potential leads to have that critical marketing material at their fingertips.
Easier to Measure Sponsorship ROI
When it comes to physical events and measuring brand awareness and exposure there are very rough estimates based on total number of tickets sold or counting heads, which we know is highly inaccurate as the numbers increase, or just general guestimates of how many passed your booth.
The key component of virtual conferences is the digital aspect, and much like when using Google Analytics, the Facebook pixel or other tracking tools, they should be capable of tracking very granular and specific data which can be used for business decisions or by your marketing and sales team. However surprisingly, nearly 25% of other providers do not offer any form of analytics that sponsors can measure their ROI with (EventMB, 2020).
With the Vircon conference management system, we understand the importance of analytics for sponsors (as well as organisers) and we provide those key metrics and finer details so they can better measure their ROI. With our conference sponsor portal, they can even compare results from event to event to view trends or to access their return on investment.
Ultimately having these detailed analytics can remove the uncertainty sponsors may have with sponsoring virtual events and when they see the potential value, they should consider sponsoring more events or allocating more funds towards higher sponsorship packages to produce even better ROI.
Virtual Event Sponsorships are Usually Cheaper Than In-Person
Speaking of ROI, we tend to see virtual event sponsorships cost less with the average sponsorship package for virtual events costing $8,456 USD (Markletic, 2021) compared to Marketingcharts reported $20,000 USD average in 2018 when most events were conducted in-person.
Let’s be honest – the engagements between sponsor representatives and potential leads will typically be much better in-person than online. That is true for almost all human-to-human experiences. As such we tend to see virtual event sponsorship reflected with reduced costs associated with them – although already discussed they can still be highly valuable and important for your business.
Usually, the whole online event experience costs less for corporations or associations as there is no need to hire an expo hall, book accommodation, arrange catering and all the other costs associated with an in-person event. However, what we are seeing is online events, webinars and conferences happening more frequently – instead of the single large conference each year they may host more but smaller events throughout.
For some sponsors this added frequency can be a huge boon as it allows for multiple touch points with prospective leads or to tell a compelling story over multiple events. We are also seeing a trend that since virtual events have less operational costs, they tend to require fewer sponsors, which means the sponsors have a larger relative presence which can help with their awareness and generate more leads and sales.
These are just five advantages there are for sponsoring virtual events. If you need a conference management platform that delivers even better results for sponsors, please request a demo with Vircon today.