71% of marketers expect virtual events to continue beyond 2020, survey finds

Linda J. Dodson

Table of Contents

Dive Brief:

  • Seventy-one percent of media and marketing executives think virtual gatherings and conferences will be the only option for businesses through 2020, according to a new report The 614 Group shared exclusively with Marketing Dive.
  • The “Future of the ‘In-Person’ Business Economy” study, a second wave report, found that many industry professionals expect a virtual future for business meetings and events even after the pandemic subsides, with a 12% rise in that opinion between the earlier spring wave of the survey and the latest findings. The biggest challenge with virtual events is lead generation, a trend identified in the first wave of the report.
  • The 614 Group’s study also found most people expect virtual elements even when live events return. The second wave survey saw a 36% uptick in this belief compared to when the same question was asked in the spring.

Dive Insight:

The 614 Group’s second wave report gives the latest pulse on what business may look like in the marketing industry as the pandemic lingers on. The update from the first wave report is that virtual events are working, but lead generation and networking remain difficult to facilitate in virtual environments.

The findings suggest that in-person events could see a lasting impact as many of those surveyed think events will remain virtual this year and beyond. Additionally, people expect that when live events do return, they’ll likely offer a virtual component. This opinion is gaining ground as the portion of people who believe so grew by more than one-third in the past few months since the first survey.

Virtual meetings are considered productive when they’re centered around proposals, product demonstrations and follow-ups. While many people are happy to attend these virtual events, one of the biggest challenges they hold compared to in-person events is the lack of networking opportunities. Many marketers attend live events specifically to network and pinpoint potential clients, but find lead generation more difficult to do virtually.

In the second wave report, lead generation was ranked at the bottom of the business development steps that can be facilitated through online events. The finding could impact the marketing and advertising industry that relies on personal relationships and in-person contact to generate business. Suppliers who find ways for professionals to network virtually and meet with prospective clients could benefit in the long term, as virtual events are forecast to remain for some time.

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