Hybrid events: A new way to run events, and how to make them work for your brand

Feb 17, 2021 | Email Marketing, Event invitation emails and RSVP

One area of business that has been completely transformed by the COVID pandemic is the hosting and attending of events. In 2020, we saw companies scramble to adopt tools and technologies that would facilitate virtual events.

Donna Warnett

And now that we’ve all seen how successful virtual events can be, they’re here to stay. But as restrictions ease and things open up in some parts of the world, we’re seeing a new trend: hybrid events. These live events have 2 types of attendees – an in-person audience and a virtual audience. Both audiences are equally important and can engage fully with the programme, wherever they are.

Organisations have discovered the massive upside of being able to reach audiences that are not confined to a geographical area. People in or near the physical location may wish to attend in person, but many companies that have previously sent representatives will no longer see the need, or have the budget, to fly team members halfway across the world. Hybrid events enable organisers to reach a new audience – those who would not have been motivated enough to attend in person. And because the virtual component of the event isn’t constrained by capacity limits, it’s easier and more cost-effective to scale.

At Cantaloupe, we specialise in email marketing and RSVP backends for virtual and hybrid events. Having the right email tools and systems is a must, so here’s what you need to make hybrid events work for your brand.

Event invitations and RSVPs

Email marketing is the best way to invite people to your event. We’ve run email invitation campaigns that produced conversion rates of more than 50%, meaning more than half of email invitees attended the event. Find out how we helped the Bud Group fill their Zoom “Budcasts”.  

You need accurate data for your invitation campaigns to be a successFor best results, you want to segment your database so you can send targeted campaigns that are highly relevant to your audience. We’ve also found that sending SMS reminders shortly before the event starts increases attendance. Platforms like Blazon have this functionality built in, which makes the campaign easy to manage. If your platform doesn’t have SMS functionality included, you can use an SMS platform such as Bulk SMS, but this does mean you’ll need to export your list of invitees from your ESP (email sending platform) to the SMS platform 

Your email invitation should link to an RSVP response page. We make use of several platforms for this, including Survey Monkey, Wufoo (most online form builders could work), and Blazon. Blazon is a great solution as it handles the email invitations and allows us to custom-build RSVP microsites. It’s a good fit for organisations that want complete control over all elements of the event campaign, making sure the email invitation, registration page, thank you page, and even the post-event survey are perfectly on-brand.  

At the enterprise-level, Cvent is a powerful tool. It’s an all-in-one solution that can be used for sending email invitations, registrations for paid or free bookings, event management, and more. It can also be integrated with Salesforce or other services to feed back to your CRM.  

Choose your virtual event platform

Which platform should you choose for live streaming and engagement? Popular options include ZoomEasyWebinar, and WebinarJamMake sure you use the options available to brand and style your event. Agencies like Cantaloupe can assist with the virtual setup and branding, providing imagery and other assets you might need.  

Always keep engagement in mind – after all, you don’t want the virtual component of your event to be equivalent to watching a YouTube recording. PollsQ&As and activity feeds will help you keep virtual attendees glued to their screensAnd if one-on-one networking is important for your events, be sure to facilitate that too. When choosing a platform, virtual meeting rooms and breakout sessions are features to look out for. You can also encourage engagement and networking by creating social media groups for event attendees.  

The most sophisticated all-in-one solutions, such as Cvent, have built-in live streaming features. Some of our clients use Cvent for all aspects of their virtual / hybrid events, including the event invitations and RSVPs, as well as live streaming and engagement. Others use Cvent for their invitation campaigns and RSVPs, but prefer Zoom for live streaming as it’s a platform their attendees are most familiar with.  

The Cantaloupe team is now Cvent certifiedWe’d love to help you promote and set up your virtual or hybrid events, so please get in touch to find out more about Cvent, or other email and RSVP services 

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