Discover how gamification can help you drive engagement at your next event.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post and does not necessarily reflect the views of Bizzabo.

Virtual events aren’t new – but they are new to many event planners. A live poll during EventMB’s recent Pivot to Virtual event showed that over 60% of planners had never previously planned a virtual event. Despite this gap in experience, the events industry shifted completely online in just a few short months. According to a recent Bizzabo survey, 93% of event marketers plan to invest in virtual events. It’s clear this new digital landscape is here to stay. 

Grand View Research projects that virtual events will increase ten-fold over the next decade, reaching nearly $774 billion. The most innovative event planners are already adapting and working to perfect this medium. Their goal, of course, is to ensure attendees are engaged and satisfied – even from home. In order to not only meet but exceed audience expectations, organizers can incorporate unexpected solutions like gamification to help them overcome the obstacles of virtual events.

The Challenges of Going Virtual

Audience engagement is the biggest challenge when it comes to online events. And virtual experiences risk having ‘ghost attendees’ – folks who register for the event but hardly engage (or don’t show up at all). Face-to-face experiences promote interaction and deeper communication but because of its online nature, people will often try to multitask while attending a virtual event. It can certainly take a toll on session engagement when attendees are responding to emails, answering messages, and taking calls throughout the day.

These challenges directly compete with every event planner’s goal: to create a high level of engagement and satisfaction amongst attendees. It’s important to clarify that all engagement is not good engagement. An attendee sitting idly on the event page or reaching out about a technical issue does not do much for a planner’s event ROI. The engagement must impact key event metrics. Gamification is a great way to motivate specific actions that will have a direct impact on your event KPIs. By focusing on the activities that define success, you can leverage the power of incentives to elicit positive engagement. 

Gamify Your Virtual Event by Awarding Points for Desired Actions

Gamification using digital rewards is a clever solution for promoting engagement. Gamifying events is not new either, but the problem is it often translates to a leaderboard of attendees. And there may be a select few who try to cheat the system and focus their entire time at the event towards winning the top prize. Many times only the ‘top slots’ get prizes, leaving most of your attendees to feel like they’re playing the lottery. And when’s the last time you won the lottery? 

Instead, consider adding a points-to-rewards strategy to your event to capture the attention of the masses. How does this work? Attendees earn points for taking desired actions. Once they reach a certain threshold, they can redeem these points for desirable digital rewards. The rules are relatively simple, take certain actions to receive points, and redeem X points for Y rewards. This stands to provide a more entertaining way to ensure higher audience engagement as well as satisfaction. It’s also a great opportunity to motivate attendees to take the specific actions that will directly correlate with your event metrics. 

When everyone feels like they can win, you’ll see more engagement. Research done for MarketWeek found that people are more likely to enter a competition or drawing if they feel they have a good chance of winning. Rather than offering a grand prize to #1 on the leaderboard, points-to-rewards motivates all attendees to try and earn the prize. Their effort will be equivalent to their reward, with nothing left to chance. That’s how you keep attendees motivated to engage throughout your entire event.

Points-to-Rewards Event Strategies

Incorporate these strategies to get the most out of your event’s points-to-rewards program.

  1. Award points to those who register early.

Why you should do this: Having tons of early registrations reduces risk and builds momentum around the event. Plus, it enables you to advertise registrations and leverage that number in conversations with potential sponsors.

  1. Award points for attending a keynote, session breakout, exhibitor booth, etc.

Why you should do this: This is the heart of your event. It will encourage attendees to fully engage with the content you’ve curated for them and ensure your speakers are getting great attendance. You can even take advantage of this opportunity in your sponsorship agreements. Assign more points to high-value sponsors and exhibitors, which will lead to more visitors and ultimately, more qualified leads.

  1. Award points for visiting and engaging with sponsors and exhibitor booths.

Why you should do this: This encourages more conversations and therefore, more leads. Sponsors and exhibitors are looking to get as many qualified leads as possible. Their continued event participation depends largely on their ability to realize a high ROI on your event. And that starts with having meaningful conversations with the attendees. Incentivize participants to make the first move and learn what your exhibitors have to offer by offering points for having these conversations.

  1. Award points to the first 100 attendees.

Why you should do this: This strategy makes people inclined to jump right into the event and creates anticipation. Awarding points right away also builds goodwill and excitement with attendees – so they are eager to go earn more!

  1. Tie your points notifications to an email that goes directly to your attendees.

Why you should do this: It builds excitement around the points that attendees have already earned, and encourages them to earn even more so they can redeem a reward. Points notifications can be a great way to keep your event top of mind for your attendees without overwhelming them.

  1. Award points for entering a chat session with another attendee or attending a social networking event.

Why you should do this: Let’s face it – it isn’t as easy to encourage networking when it’s all happening over video. Help break the ice by offering a reason for attendees to start chatting. By incentivizing networking, you motivate your guests to get the most possible out of your event.

  1. Offer digital rewards that are relevant to the current times and enable sponsorship of larger rewards.

Why you should do this: Don’t forget – the rewards are what the attendees are excited about! The redemption process should be seamless and the rewards compelling. Make sure that your rewards make sense for the current times. If your attendees are worried about social distancing, a movie theatre gift card likely won’t entice them – but maybe a DoorDash reward would. Enable sponsorship of larger rewards to maximize marketing opportunities and get the most out of your sponsor partnerships.

Takeaways:

  • Gamifying events is an innovative way to foster attendee engagement in the virtual landscape
  • Adding a points-to-reward program allows you to generate excitement and provide even more value to your attendees
  • Use gamification and rewards to encourage your audience to take the specific actions that impact your KPI’s
  • Elevate your sponsor and exhibitor partnerships by generating more value and higher ROI through event gamification

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