Did you know that the virtual events industry is expected to exceed $400 billion by 2027?
The latest data from Grand View Research shows exactly that. It’s a whopping growth from the $78 billion reported for 2019.
But this shouldn’t come as a surprise. With the coronavirus pandemic forcing people to stay at home for almost a year – and with new strains emerging, virtual events are here to stay.
And it’s not a bad thing. Both businesses and attendees are awaiting the return of in-person events, with many already resuming small-scale physical events (masks on, of course).
But virtual events, including virtual conferences, offer lots of opportunity not just for large businesses but for small ones too.
In this article, we’re going to focus on virtual event statistics for various parts of the online events scene.
Understanding virtual events
There are many types of virtual events. And yes, webinars are one of them. Though they are the most common, they’re not only option or opportunity out there.
Online events encompass virtual conferences, virtual trade shows, online product launches, virtual fireside chats, virtual job fairs, and lots more.
Then there are hybrid events, which have been gaining traction as more businesses look to make the most of the virtual opportunity, while giving attendees the chance to attend in-person.
Virtual events help businesses cut on the costs of logistics, ushers, and organizing as well as on time. They also help businesses attract international speakers as well as more and diverse attendees.
Why? Because physical barriers no longer exist. Attendees no longer have to worry about driving or travelling to the event.
Similar to in-person events, online events offer virtual booths for sponsors and exhibitors, online networking, and virtual meeting opportunities.
But let’s talk virtual event statistics a bit followed by some tips.
To understand how virtual events work, it’s important to look at others’ experiences and at forecasts.
Knowing and understanding these stats will help you avoid mistakes. They’ll also give you an idea about what to expect when launching your own virtual event – especially if it’s your first.
Virtual event statistics: Getting ready
Let’s start with the basics. To create and launch a virtual event, you first need to plan for it.
The following stats come from multiple sources and surveys.
- To organize a small virtual event, businesses need between 3 and 6 weeks to prepare and promote the event. (Markletic)
- For larger-sized virtual events, 65% of marketers said they needed over 6 weeks for marketing, promotion, and to “drive the desired amount of registrations.” (Markletic)
- Around 34% of event planners view increased attendance as “the most positive result of pivoting to virtual, followed by lower overhead costs (27%).” (EventMB)
- Marketers see the ‘ideal audience size’ for virtual round tables and small chats as a range of 8 to 10 people. (Markletic)
- Roughly 67% of virtual events feature or host external speakers (speakers that aren’t from the company hosting the event).
- The number of sessions per online event averaged 12 sessions. (Bizzabo, 2020)
- The “most popular” virtual event type is small gatherings, followed by networking events and round-table discussions. (Markletic)
- 63% of event marketers and respondents believe the ideal time for a virtual round table talk ranges from 60 to 90 minutes. (Markletic)
- The number of businesses and organizations considering a virtual event doubled in 2020 (Wild Apricot)
- More than half (62%) of virtual events launched in 2020 were single-day events (Bizzabo, 2020)
Statistics for online event challenges
Like a new form of business, especially with a forced shift, challenges are bound to arise.
To create a successful virtual conference or event, you need to have the basics in order.
These include a stable internet connection, a functioning microphone, and a working camera.
Here are some stats about challenges businesses struggle with in a virtual setting.
- 70% of event organizers said “good microphones are critical” to event success. They said microphones were more important than cameras. Although cameras came in second at 60% most important. (Markletic)
- Respondents (32%) who chose to cancel or postpone their virtual event in 2020 said their main concern was being unable to provide the same value of an in-person event in a virtual setting. (Wild Apricot)
- The top 3 challenges event organizers reported were: planning the event, deciding whether to cancel or postpone their physical events or shift to a virtual venue, and changing their contracts and terms with suppliers, sponsors, and exhibitors. These challenges were reported in April, right after the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. (Eventsforce)
- The top reason for the 27% of businesses who didn’t conduct an online event was “We don’t know how to get participants to attend a virtual event.” (Wild Apricot)
Audience engagement stats
One of the top challenges businesses struggle with when shifting to virtual events is audience engagement.
Here’s what the data has found.
- Audience engagement in a virtual event was the top concern for B2B event marketers; the second was interaction. (Markletic)
- 49% of event marketers view audience engagement as the biggest success factor of a virtual event. (Markletic)
- 89% of virtual event planners use social media as an engagement tool before the event. (EventMB, 2018)
- Q&A sessions and talks were among the top engagement techniques among organizations and businesses who conducted virtual events. “The most successful technique, however, was hosting a live hangout before or after the event, followed by conducting a survey or poll.” (Wild Apricot)
- Roughly 67.7% of event marketers struggle with engaging attendees during virtual event sessions. (Bizzabo, 2020)
- Over 60% of survey respondents expect tools that engage attendees in a virtual setting will play a major role in 2021 event strategies. (Bizzabo, 2020)
- Nearly 90% of online event planners use surveys to measure attendee satisfaction. (Markletic)
- Companies and organizations who didn’t attempt to engage or couldn’t engage attendees in their virtual event were 150% more likely to be unsuccessful. (Wild Apricot)
- 90% of event marketers believe personalization is important for attendees. (Bizzabo, 2019)
- Around 70% of event planners put attendee satisfaction and engagement among their success factors and KPIs. (Bizzabo, 2019)
- Polling ranked highest (with 71%) as the top way to engage attendees followed by video at over 60%. (Markletic)
- As to why people participate in virtual events, the top 2 reasons were education and networking, respectively.
The role of social media in virtual events
When it comes to marketing and promoting your virtual event, there’s data to guide you along with ideas for upcoming events.
Marketing your virtual event doesn’t start on the day of the event. It starts before that – that is months before the event takes place.
- Nearly half (49%) of event planners use social media for attendee engagement during the event, while 13% use social to interact with speakers. (EventMB, 2018)
- As much as 76% of online event organizers view email marketing “as the single most effective way to drive registrations.” (Markletic)
- Over a third (38%) of planners use social media to get feedback on their virtual event (EventMB, 2018)
- 60% of online event planners use social media for event registration. (Markletic)
- Survey respondents say chatbots are “an effective way” to increase registrations. (Markletic)
- The average time needed to promote a virtual event is 3.5 weeks. This period nearly doubles (6 weeks) in the case of C-level events. (Markletic)
- 52% of event organizers used Facebook to market their virtual events. (EventMB, 2018)
- 52% of businesses who ran virtual events witnessed “the same or more attendance” than what they expected to see at a physical event. (Wild Apricot)
Virtual event statistics: The money
Planning a virtual event will cost money, albeit it’s likely to cost a lot less than a physical event.
Here are some statistics related to virtual event finances.
- Many companies allocate around 10% to 20% of their marketing budget to online events. (Markletic)
- Most of the virtual event budget is taken up by the virtual event platform, followed by costs for speakers and moderators. (Markletic)
- Nearly 66% of event organizers offer their virtual events on-demand after the event is over. (Markletic)
- As much as 84% of businesses who conducted a virtual event in 2020 said they spent less than they did when running in-person events. (Wild Apricot)
To help business create virtual events easily, more efficiently, and without over-the-top costs, Eventtus revamped the way it charges for its online events.
Now all virtual event features are included and businesses can pay per attendee. Plus, the bigger the event, the lower the cost per attendee.
Picking a virtual event platform
A virtual event platform is where you host your virtual event. Many businesses that run simple webinars use Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Meetings.
However, larger online events such as conferences and tradeshows need a bigger platform.
Not to mention, virtual event platforms, like Eventtus, offer different dashboards for the event organizer, their speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees.
In addition, event platforms offer analytics and tracking, which is one of the top benefits of virtual events and which aren’t found in physical ones.
Along with the event platform, many businesses are now looking at the opportunity to have a mobile app for the online platform.
Here’s what the research has found:
- A third (30%) of businesses use an event app (on mobile phones) for their online event. (Markletic)
- Nearly 63% of survey respondents view having a mobile app for a virtual event as a tool to boost engagement. (Bizzabo, 2019)
- Marketers reported the top reasons for using an event app were session registration and reviewing the agenda. (Markletic)
- Over three quarters (78%) of organizations said using an event app resulted in “positive event ROI.” (Markletic)
Did you know that the Eventtus mobile app is available for all event organizers and is free to use?
Check out 6 Creative Virtual Networking Ideas for Your Online Event (including tips from experts)
Statistics for hybrid events
We’ve briefly touched up hybrid events earlier. These are events that offer a mix between in-person and virtual events.
Here are some statistics from Markletic about hybrid events:
- As much as 89% of organizers use attendee satisfaction as a measurement of hybrid event success.
- 23% of organizers used the Net Promoter Score to measure the success of their hybrid event.
- 1% of event planners said their biggest challenge was connecting the in-person audience with the virtual audience.
- 35% of event organizers struggled to find “the right venue” for a hybrid event
- Almost half (46%) of organizers said event speakers “had difficulties engaging a virtual and in-person audience simultaneously.”
- A third (34%) of organizers said they expect to invest in hybrid events in the coming years.
- Over half (57%) of respondents prefer the in-person side of the hybrid event over the virtual one.
- For hybrid events run by small-and-medium businesses (SMBs), attendees for the in-person side of the event averaged 56%, while the average for the virtual side of the event averaged 44%.
Understanding these virtual event statistics
We’ve compiled the most important virtual event statistics out there.
There are definitely more but these are the numbers you need to have in mind when considering your own virtual event.
You’re probably thinking ‘Is a virtual event worth the hassle?’
The answer is, it’s worth a shot. As a virtual event platform, we’ve seen many non-believers in the power of virtual event and what they can do for a business.
Here’s what Mohamed Akmal, the co-founder of Career 180 and Freelance Yard had to say about his virtual event experience.
Akmal was a 100% on-ground events kind of guy. Both his businesses are about hiring and job fairs. So switching to a virtual setting was a major move for him and his business.
After using Eventtus, he said:
“I can definitely say that online events are more efficient than offline events in many things, such as reports and acceptability. Also, it’s much easier for speakers from different places around the world to join, less investment of money, and less operations.” – Mohamed Akmal, co-founder of Career180 and Freelance Yard.
It’s important for business owners and event planners and organizers to understand that everything comes with challenges, new experiences, and a bit of experimentation.
The virtual events industry is growing at a rapid pace. That’s not to say it’s the end of in-person events. It’s far from it. But as a business, you’ll want to experiment and see what works for you.
By looking at the above statistics, you can also determine how you want to run your virtual event, what to avoid and uncover the latest trends and tips in all that relates to your virtual event.
So what’s your next step?
To launch a virtual or hybrid event, you first need to decide on the ‘why’ behind the need for an event and then begin planning your agenda and speakers.
Don’t forget to check out this list of virtual event success tips!
To help you get started, Eventtus is offering you $250 in credit for your first virtual event.