It has not been too long since virtual events came into the spotlight – bringing a new wave of innovation into the event industry. But as events continue to evolve and technology keeps disrupting this space, there’s one more thing that everyone has their eyes on — the metaverse.
Formerly a concept mostly restricted to the world of gaming and science-fiction literature, the metaverse has now paved its way through the events industry as an exciting approach to enhancing the event experience.
With event planners constantly looking for ways to keep their audience engaged, the metaverse offers a promising way to do this – given the availability of relevant resources like VR headsets, a reliable platform to host the metaverse event and high-performance devices to name a few.
That said, there’s more to the role of the metaverse in the events industry than to elevate the audience’s experience. From event marketing to sponsorships, the metaverse is likely to set the future of events.
To know about this, we invited Michelle Nicole McNabb, Founder & Director of Emenee Marketing N Events, on the third episode of Event Exchange, to shed light on the impact of metaverse on event marketing and sponsorships.
The episode also addresses the question of whether event marketers need to be wary of the metaverse and the risks involved while planning events in this new environment.
But first, let’s understand why the metaverse matters to event marketers.
Why does the metaverse matter to event marketers?
One of the main objectives of event marketers is to connect with their target audience. While the metaverse opens doors to new ways of engaging with people, event marketers need to consider how beneficial it would be for their audience.
When it comes to the metaverse, event marketers first need to get a grasp of how they can use this new environment for their audience. In the metaverse, audiences can explore multiple events through their 3D avatars. So event marketers need to know how they can leverage this environment such that their event stakeholders can benefit from this experience.
Every event has a unique objective. Event marketers also need to evaluate how the metaverse environment can be used to achieve that objective. Depending on the type of experience that needs to be created, event marketers would need to adapt to the metaverse environment.
Clearly, the metaverse will allow event planners and marketers to develop newer and more immersive ways for event stakeholders to explore an event.
So how can the metaverse be integrated into a marketing strategy? The answer to this lies in the way event marketers engage with their community.
Integrating the metaverse into event marketing strategy
A continuous engagement in the community allows event marketers to remain connected with their audience. A common way to foster communities is to use social media channels like LinkedIn or Facebook groups. The metaverse can help take this engagement beyond these commonly used platforms.
Instead of abruptly offering the metaverse experience to your audience at the main event, engaging with the community by giving them access to the metaverse environment beforehand can be a useful marketing strategy.
Talking about how metaverse can be used in event marketing, Michelle Nicole McNabb says, “Event marketers are looking for ways to form communities and the metaverse can allow for that to happen and also give a place for the audience to connect beyond the main events.”
Hosting a metaverse event isn’t easy. And when the announcement for such events are made, it’s likely to grab attention in a very short time.
Also, it’s no secret that when it comes to such events, the expectations of event stakeholders are sky-high.
So what can event planners do to meet these expectations?
The key to this is to understand what your event stakeholders are looking at these events.
How to manage your event stakeholders’ expectations?
Metaverse events are still new and it’s possible for attendees at these events to be overwhelmed when exploring these events. This raises apprehensions on the part of exhibitors and sponsors, who are looking for the attendee’s attention, about the outcome of their participation in these events.
That’s why, it’s important for event planners to know what their stakeholders are expecting when it comes to metaverse events – as it will allow both parties to be ready for what’s in store for them at such events.
No events are perfect and when it comes to metaverse events, it’s no different. Being a novel concept, the risks associated with hosting metaverse events are inescapable.
Does that mean metaverse events are not worth the risk? To find this out, event planners need to assess if these events are suitable for their niche and audience.
Is the metaverse worth the risk?
When it comes to B2B events, the effectiveness of face-to-face interactions is beyond doubt. That said, virtual events have taken the step forward to replicate these experiences.
With the metaverse, it’s an entirely new environment. Event organisers have to take into account if their stakeholders, especially exhibitors and sponsors, are open to exploring the metaverse as an opportunity to meet their business goals and open to the challenges involved in this new environment.
Event planners have to be careful of the risks involved when promising to meet their stakeholders’ expectations at metaverse events. With audiences still being new to this immersive event experience, there can be chances that such environments can cause a disconnect in truly understanding the buyer’s journey.
So how can one tackle this problem?
Tackling the risks of disconnection from the audience
Event planners have to strategise on how they can help exhibitors and sponsors meet their business objectives at events. They also need to recognise and dig deep to understand the audience that exhibitors and sponsors aim to engage with.
Understanding the buyer journey of the exhibitors and sponsors, to make the metaverse events results-driven is a prerequisite for tackling the problem of disconnection.
The main aim of events is to accelerate the client acquisition process. By adding new layers or environments to this process, such as the metaverse, event planners have to be careful not to extend the buyer’s journey.
Reflecting on tackling these risks Michelle says, “One of the main jobs of exhibitors or sponsors is business development or demand generation. Keeping that in mind, as event organisers, we need to think about how we can help them achieve their goals. And understanding what their buyer decision process is or if we are overcomplicating this process through avatars is worth looking at.”
How to measure the effectiveness of brand participation?
With events shifting to virtual and gradually towards the metaverse, it has become easier to gather data and track analytics.
So how can these data be used to measure the effectiveness of brand participation?
For brands, it’s important to use the data to segment their audience. For instance, some attendees may attend sessions, visit booths and also download resources made available to them. Alternatively, there will be audiences who simply attend sessions but may not stop by the booth.
Within metaverse events, audiences can be encouraged to explore the various booths and get to know the brands better before any session starts. Being an immersive environment, brands can leverage the metaverse to connect with attendees at a deeper level and then gauge how long these engagements lasted.
Using such audience data, brands can plan how they wish to follow up with different sets of audiences.
It’s also critical to know which key performance indicators are worth focusing on to measure the event ROI. For event planners, it’s important to note the engagement rate at the sessions and how attendees interact with each other.
Stepping into the future of events with the metaverse
The metaverse continues to be an untapped environment for many event planners. As a result, event planners may not have a clear idea about the various challenges they may face when hosting these events.
Being virtual in nature, metaverse events can be susceptible to security threats. Event planners, thus, have to take steps to make these events secure.
Some of the barriers to events faced today can also be addressed through the metaverse events. Technology can help make metaverse events overcome their language barriers and make them more global in scope.
With the advent of metaverse events, it’s expected that virtual events would take the leap forward to create improved experiences and foster valuable connections among event stakeholders.
Watch the full episode below to know more about the impact of the metaverse on event marketing and sponsorships.