New Research: 80% Of Successful Virtual Events Are Free, But Engagement Remains A Challenge

Published: January 26, 2021

As virtual events continue to fill the holes canceled physical events left behind, many event marketers have found success with free registration offers. New research from event platform Bizzabo revealed that 80% of organizers allowed free registration for their virtual events, which improved attendance rates and generated more revenue. To increase engagement from the free attendees, 60% of virtual sessions included interactive elements.

The 2021 Virtual Event Benchmarks report highlights the impact of virtual events on the B2B industry, how marketers are keeping their virtual attendees engaged and the challenges of attending and hosting virtual events. The report also explores which virtual event formats are the most successful and how marketers are revamping their event registration process to drive greater attendance rates.

According to responses from 400 event marketers, 68% believe the greatest challenge for virtual event marketers is keeping their attendees engaged. To combat this, 58% made their virtual event more interactive, kept the events smaller and allowed attendees to network with peers outside of presentations.


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Other key takeaways from the report include:

  • 80% of organizers enabled on-demand access for attendees;
  • 69% said the lack of networking opportunities during and after the event diminishes the virtual event;
  • Virtual conferences are the most popular event format, comprising 43% of the digital events reported on;
  • 50% of people who register for virtual events actually attend; and
  • Attendees reported being engaged 53% of the time during virtual events in 2020.

“Virtual events have been incredibly helpful to organizers during the pandemic and will continue to be an important channel for engaging audiences further down the line,” said Alon Alroy, Co-Founder, CMO & CCO of Bizzabo, in a statement. “However, there are inherent limitations around meeting virtually. While virtual networking experiences will be meaningfully innovated in 2021, we have heard from organizers and attendees alike that in-person is irreplaceable. This is why we believe hybrid events, which combine the best of virtual and in-person events, are how organizers can best future-proof their event programs.”

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