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11 virtual events done right

Zuddl takes a look at 11 virtual events that stood out in the past 12 months because they took a new approach and engaged audiences in a new way.

For the first time ever, CES was all-digital and made history as the largest digital tech event. Close to 2,000 companies launched products, the world’s largest tech companies exhibited, and industry leaders from Verizon, GM, Microsoft, and more led keynotes.

The event featured more than 100 hours of programming. Attendees from more than 150-plus countries were able to attend sessions, receive personalized experiences and recommendations, and connect and network with others from around the world

Salesforce World Tour Sydney was transformed into Live: Australia and New Zealand for 2021. It featured keynotes, interviews with industry leaders, panels with innovators, partner product launches, and workshops designed to inspire action. Held over more than a month, the event focused on segments for key verticals and audiences.

Zoomtopia is Zoom’s annual user conference and in 2020 it went completely virtual. With world-renowned speakers, deep-dive technical sessions, product announcements, demos, networking, and Grammy-award-winning music performances, the event was open to all and focused on both entertaining and educating.

Microsoft pivoted its annual event and changed its week-long in-person conference into a global, 48-hour digital gathering. With customized language localization, digital local community meetups that included instructor-led technical learning, skill-building, certifications, keynotes, product updates, and more, the company ensured that their virtual event was impactful and unique.

Hubspot took its annual user conference, Inbound, online for a two-day immersive digital experience. They held fireside chats that each had a pre-recorded and live component, and had educational sessions with live Q&A, debates, AMA’s, case studies, 1:1 meetups, audio-only sessions, and virtual networking. With surprise guests, office hours with speakers, and live entertainment, each attendee was able to stay engaged and enjoy a personalized experience.

NASSCOM is the premier trade body for the tech industry in India with more than 2,900 member companies, including the world’s leading technology companies. In February they held their annual Technology and Leadership Forum virtually. No longer limited by geographical or scheduling constraints, more than 1,600 attendees from 30 countries joined sessions with 94 speakers from the world’s leading companies. Additionally, they decided to hold the rest of their events virtually. This included a total of eight virtual conferences with more than 1,000 speakers and 80,000 attendees.

A fully immersive digital festival with eight stages featuring the best artists in the dance music industry. With 60 artists performing, the event included chat rooms, games, interactive meetings, and workshops – more than one million people attended. The event was converted from in-person live festivals to one worldwide digital event in just 2.5 months.

Okta took its industry conference, Oktane2, virtual with keynotes, exhibitors, networking, breakout sessions, certifications, and more. Attended by thousands of industry leaders, IT executives, security professionals, developers, product leaders, and more – the conference prioritized small group and 1:1 networking.

10. SXSW

South by Southwest celebrates the convergence of interactive, film, music and tech industries and in 2021 it moved online. Attendees had the opportunity to join via an online platform, television, digital devices or an XR platform streamed daily on five channels. With keynotes and sessions, film screenings, music showcases, exhibitions and professional development opportunities including mentor sessions, roundtables, networking, and more, SXSW connected attendees in new and meaningful ways.

11. NRF

Retail’s Big Show, NRF, went virtual in 2021. With 330-plus speakers across 130 sessions, a virtual expo with 300 solution providers, AI-powered matchmaking, lunch and lounges, interactive discussion rooms, musical entertainment, cooking with a celebrity chef, and a startup zone – they elevated the attendee experience and made diversity and inclusion a central focus.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 67% of B2B marketers utilized virtual events in 2020, and the use of live streaming increased 19% to 29%. Those same marketers said virtual produced the best overall content marketing results for their organization in the last 12 months.

As virtual events continue to grow and see increased demand, the key focus for event planners must be on creating high-value, engaging, unique, and memorable experiences for attendees.

This content is sponsored by Zuddl.


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