We analyzed proprietary data from over 210 virtual events and 799 sessions that occurred between March and June 2020. Here’s what we learned.

In response to COVID-19, thousands of event organizers and brands have turned to virtual events to build communities and drive business goals. At Bizzabo alone, we have seen seen hundreds of virtual events launch every month through our Virtual Experience Solution

The thing is: You can find plenty of benchmarks on in-person events but it’s tough to find benchmarks for virtual events.

So we decided to do something about it.

We analyzed proprietary data from from over 210 virtual events and 799 sessions that occurred between March 15th and June 22, 2020 on our platform. The result is a comprehensive list of benchmarks regarding registrations, engagement, and content programming.

See for yourself below!

1. 80% of virtual event registrations are free

One of the main benefits of virtual events is the ability to expand a brand’s audience reach. The majority (80%) of virtual events registrations in 2020 have been free, which has removed barriers for registrants who would otherwise not attend a virtual event. 

Over the last four months, we’ve seen a small percentage of revenue-driving virtual events with 20% of paid virtual event registrations in the last four months. We expect this to grow as the quality of virtual events increases and attendees become more educated around the value of this channel.

Virtual Event Benchmarks - Majority are free registrations

2. The average price for a paid virtual event in June 2020 was $254 USD

The average ticket price for a virtual event in June was $254. This is down from $368 ticket price in May and a $511 ticket price in April. At first glance this is a little surprising. We’d expect the price to go up overtime. 

But the reality is that we are still in the early stage of virtual events. This downward trend of virtual event ticket pricing suggests that event marketers are working to break down barriers of entry to allow more registrants to attend and participate in their virtual events.

We will continue to follow the average virtual event ticket price month-over-month to see how it evolves over time.

Virtual Event Benchmarks - Steady decrease in ticket pricing

3.  Over half of virtual event registrants convert to virtual event attendees

While “virtual fatigue” may be a real phenomenon, it’s hard to tell by looking at the events industry. We’re seeing a very high average event conversion rate (54%) from registrant to virtual event attendee.

Why? While it’s hard to say, we believe that content programming that is highly relevant to a specific virtual audience along with ample opportunities for attendee engagement may take some of the credit.

4. The average attendee watches 68% of a virtual session

From our data we’re seeing that—for all virtual sessions that are 20 minutes or longer—the average attendee is tuning in for the majority (68%) of the session. That’s huge!

Similar to the above conversion rate stat, this suggests that many event marketers are doing something right when it comes to programming virtual content. Perhaps more importantly, this also suggests that remote audiences are currently eager to engage with virtual experiences.

We already know from the COVID-19 Event Outlook Report that engagement is a key metric for success with virtual experiences so it’s great to see that so many experiences are, well, keeping their audiences engaged.

5. The average number of sessions per virtual event is 12

To complement our high average watch time per attendees, we’re also seeing an average of 12 sessions per virtual event. In case you needed a reminder of how virtual events differ from webinars, here you go. Among other differences, webinars are typically comprised of single panels or sessions.

Virtual events provide a unique opportunity to provide a diverse array of sessions and event types—including keynotes, panel discussions, fireside chats, workshops, roundtables, happy hours, and entertainment—allowing event organizers to explore a variety of sessions during one virtual event.

6. 58% of virtual sessions are smaller and more interactive.

More than half (58%) of virtual sessions we’ve seen rely heavily on an interactive environment allowing attendees to go “on stage” and participate. These sessions tend to be smaller and more intimate, capping at 300 live attendees. 

Larger sessions that are broadcast in a keynote format make up a smaller percentage (14%) of event sessions. These broadcast level virtual sessions limit interaction between the stage and attendees to text-based activities like a live Q&A or polling, in favor of reaching larger audiences.

In addition to the intimate and webcasting trends above, we’re also seeing a small percentage (18%) of event marketers taking advantage of the variety of video players—like YouTube and Vimeo—and embedding them into the session home of their virtual event. This allows for more flexibility when determining which video player to use for live streaming or on-demand sessions. 

7. 62% of virtual events are a single-day event

Of the over 210 virtual events analyzed in our latest report, we saw that the majority (62%) of virtual events were single-day events. Considering that the average virtual event features 12 sessions, it appears many organizers are investing in single-day events with multiple or concurrent sessions.

We’re also seeing that three-day virtual events comprise the second largest percentage (10.5%) of virtual events followed by two-day events which comprise a slightly small percentage. 

It’s worth noting that while single-day to three-day events make up the majority of virtual events currently, we are also seeing some brands, like Social Media Week, experiment with events that last for a longer amount of time. 

Virtual Event Benchmarks - Single-day events are the most popular

Wrapping Up: Embracing Virtual Events

These virtual event stats illustrate the importance of connecting people, communities, and organizations through events. It’s clear that virtual events are breaking down the barriers of place by offering a digital venue for anyone to connect and attendees around the world are responding by engaging deeply in content. The challenge for event organizers is balancing the right registration experience, technology, event type, and sessions to bring people together in powerful and impactful ways.

As we continue to gather data on virtual events, we can expect to see increasing amounts of innovation from virtual event strategies, virtual event production, and virtual event tools that help event marketers create meaningful experiences.

Additionally, we expect to see hybrid events, which are a mixture of both in-person and virtual experiences, as well as in-person events launching in tandem with country by country health guidelines. 

Looking for more insights? Check out our Post-COVID Event Outlook Report to discover how other event organizers are responding to today’s most pressing health crisis.

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