In the last year, pivoting to digital was a means for survival. As in-person events were called off, virtual events rose in popularity. Today, these digital alternatives are driving unprecedented revenue growth at a time when everyone is looking for something new to do. Are you taking advantage of this trend?

Because some of the biggest names in publishing, including New York Magazine, The New York Times, Bloomberg, and Forbes, are. These media giants are using virtual events to find new audiences, revenue streams, and reader engagement methods.

In fact, some virtual events are actually outperforming their live counterparts and driving higher levels engagement than ever before according to Digiday.

2020’s New Yorker Festival, for example, beat its 2019 in-person ticket sales by about 30%. Beyond more attendees, however, the ability to offer session re-watches and post-event ticket sales to access the recordings is an entirely new business opportunity. And so far, it’s proving to be exponentially more profitable than a traditional entry fee.

But this is far from the only virtual event success story in publishing. Combined with personalized email, these technology-driven experiences can give you the opportunity to improve subscriber engagement.

Let’s take a look at how other publishers are already using this combo to create new competitive advantages.

A new event means new subscribers

When the New York Times started hosting virtual events, it was surprised to tap into an entirely new audience. Unlike conferences and trade shows of the past, the publication’s virtual events featured a variety of attendees who had never attended an in-person event (or even interacted with NYT) before.

“With the huge success we’ve had with virtual events — over a quarter of a million attendees have tuned in from over 110 countries — we’ve realized that a significant portion of our attendees were not current NYT subscribers,” said Jessica Flood, managing director of NYTLive. “We are working to engage that group over the long term in a variety of ways, including a new suite of subscriber-only virtual events.” 

By using its virtual events as a gateway for signing up new subscribers, then onboarding and engaging them with content and offers relevant to the event in which they had already participated, The New York Times is using these unique experiences to tap into an entirely new audience they might have otherwise overlooked. 

Don’t ignore the importance of email personalization

At New York Magazine, COVID-19 didn’t just shut down many of the in-person events the publication usually throws. It also made production of the magazine itself much more difficult.

In an effort to reverse this trend, the publication pivoted to virtual events like fireside chats as an avenue to explore the challenges faced by its industry during these extraordinarily challenging times. But before it could make these next-gen event experiences possible, the publication needed to find the appropriate audience.

virtual events from New York magazine

And email was where it went. By promoting a “series of unfiltered editorial events exclusive to subscribers”  and segmenting its email list by individual engagement levels, the publication found a revolutionary way to promote and recommend relevant content to every subscriber. No matter how strange the times get.

Bloomberg is another example of the value personalized email can add to a virtual event initiative. By offering exclusive event invites that recipients are likely to be interested in based on their past brand interactions, Bloomberg can capture valuable, first-party data about its readers while subscribers receive the engaging content, sessions, and experiences they crave.

virtual event series from Bloomberg

Make your guests feel welcome

At the end of the day, every good host wants to provide the best possible event experience for their guests. So, it’s critical you understand which topics and virtual content are most appealing to your audience.

Segmenting your audience based on individual engagement and actions in response to virtual event invitations is a great way to know which content they might be likely to interact with in the future. And it’s an even better way of driving your revenue growth.

After all, nobody wants to be bombarded with email invitations for irrelevant events for weeks on end. But missing out on a great virtual experience because the invitation never arrived is an even bigger bummer. Click here to download Sailthru’s Increasing Traffic from Email Guide and make sure your subscribers never miss another event again.