Engagement Strategy for a Hybrid World

2020 Was a Year Like No Other

  • Face-to-face conventions, meetings, patient visits were suddenly not possible
  • All the industries had to spin quickly and adapt to the new virtual setting
  • Telemedicine saw a massive increment in use and technology investments
  • Marketers have settled in for the first half of 2021 to feature virtual events and digital experiences as the keystones for their marketing strategies
  • People are optimistically hoping for a return to some in-person experiences later in the year:
    • Of course, any in-person event will be subject to local guidelines regarding health and safety protocols and audiences’ appetite for attending such experiences.
    • There will be significant regional disparities in how this will be rolled out and potentially rolled back at times. Having the agility to calibrate based on regional conditions, scale-up digital components, or enhance physical interactions will be critical for all marketers
    • This will require a new form of collaboration between digital marketers and event marketers and planners, including field marketing
  • Whereas 2020 was focused on ripping out physical events and replacing them with virtual events, especially in the first half of the year, now hybrid events will have more runway and contingency plans.

What is Hybrid?


Hybrid conferences offer a variety of ways for people to attend based on their specific needs while not sacrificing learning through interaction and engagement with the content and other attendees.

  • A hybrid conference can…
    • offer both in person and virtual attendance
    • send in person materials/tools to virtual attendees to enhance their engagement
    • boost attendance by offering multiple ways to attend
    • utilize new VR/AR technologies to bridge the gap between in person and at home attendees
    • create virtual experiences that can live long after the event date

Best Practices & Considerations

  • Engage Both Audiences:
    • For both in-person and virtual attendees to feel present, the presenter(s) should be able to make eye contact with the audiences, looking at the in-person attendees and the camera for virtual
    • Having dedicated emcees for both audiences will help keep both audiences feel present and will also help with organization and structure and allow for any and all questions to be asked
    • Additional content and context will help with engagement. Keep slides, videos and presentations playing both in person and virtually along with the fun games online and in person events afterwards for all attendees
  • Include breaks. Whether you are in person or virtual a bio break to get away from your seat/screen is beneficial for optimal engagement and retention within the conference
  • Communicating the process beforehand. Making sure you have a process for screening in-person attendees and communicating the process beforehand will alleviate any stress, anxiety or confusion prior to the event. It will also plan for a correct start time for everyone, virtually and in person
    • CrowdPass is an example of an app dedicated for event organizers, office managers, sports organizations and more to pre-clear attendees who have shown a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccine
  • Record the session. We are now accustomed to be able to access anything needed online. Whether it is a paid event and users need to pay to access the recording afterwards, or can only attend half of the session virtually, attendees no longer have the fear of missing out

Leveraging Third-Party Offerings Surrounding Live Events

Third-party partners like Medscape offer special conference coverage and see their traffic spike during these times.

  • Sponsored placements around conference coverage areas can reach HCPs who are coming to get caught up
  • Short-form videos that help synthesize conference takeaways can help non-attendees learn about key data that matters to your brand
  • Virtual booths within the third-party platforms themselves may offer interest to HCPs who are coming to see conference news.

Leveraging Holograms to Combine Multiple Locations 

Companies like ARHT Media and Americhip’s hypervision are implementing  products that allow speakers and products to be virtually streamed as a hologram into symposiums, OOH displays, events and online meetings. 

  • This functionality allows multiple speakers to be in different places but have a cohesive conversation.
  • These are the perfect solution to deliver a premium full global engagement (no Boring Talking Heads) for online meetings, events, conferences, and presentations.  
  • See examples here:

Leveraging third-party Offerings surrounding live events - Tactile Marketing Automation

  • Direct mail is the #1 most effective channel for audience engagement and companies with strong account-based marketing ROI are planning to invest more heavily in direct mail than any other channel.1,2
  • Deliver a Booth in a Box:
    • A box delivered by mail to connect with highly targeted contacts who show interest in your events
    • The Booth in a Box kit can include anything you would have had at a physical booth: collateral, small pieces of swag, and little treats. Even better is that you can include a personalized notecard that speaks directly to your contact’s interests and frustrations
  • See other examples of tactile marketing here:

Integrating the Virtual "Metaverse"

A "metaverse" is a collective virtual shared space that can be experienced in virtual reality, augmented reality, or in a browser.

Think Second Life, Animal Crossing, or meetings in Microsoft Mesh – they all take place in a "metaverse".