Realising Sponsorship Potential in Digital Events

11th Aug, 2023

With virtual and hybrid events in full swing and in-person events slowly returning, associations are taking a deeper look at sponsors’ expectations and how to format content and deliver value in these settings. Virtual event tech may be fun to explore but what if your sponsors are reluctant to go digital or aren’t willing to invest in it at all?
Line Jubert
(pictured on the right), DGA Interel association manager, discusses the benefits and opportunities of digital event sponsorship for associations.

The truth is: not all sponsors are sold on virtual meetings or know how to make the most of them. So, let’s take a look at what drives sponsorship decisions and how we can accelerate the shift to a more valuable paradigm for all.

Content rules and always will

We often consider sponsors solely as financial contributors, but there is much more to gain. Sponsors can be valuable content partners! Many are experts who are ready to add value to your event as thought leaders in their own right. Pre-recorded, on-demand videos and live streaming increases the shelf life of sponsored content in ways traditional in-person conferences never could. This is an area where sponsored content will shine even brighter in the presence of expertise and without a sales pitch.

Networking - who doesn’t miss it? Everyone loves networking, and the good news is that thousands of platforms offer innovative ways to connect: virtual exhibition spaces, video and text chats, meeting scheduling, and online interest groups, plus many more. From the humble Zoom meeting to sophisticated immersive platforms and networking tools driven by artificial intelligence, it pays to ensure your networking is designed with sponsors in mind and to use new technology creatively and to the fullest.

"The truth is: not all sponsors are sold on virtual meetings or know how to make the most of them."

Data matters and sells

Here it is! One of the first things sponsors will ask: “Is the participant list included in your sponsorship package?” Lead generation is a core marketing metric and a key decision factor for many. Analytics may be a simple participant log or detailed information on delegate profiles, interests, and event engagement patterns. We recommend that you check the sponsor expectations with your technology provider to make sure you get the most intelligence out of digital data.

Don’t forget privacy

Be aware that participants’ personal data is subject to privacy and data protection regulations, such as GDPR. This means that participants need to give explicit consent regarding the use of their personal data. If your privacy policy hasn’t been reviewed in a while, now may be the time to do it. Make sure your sponsorship brochure details exactly what sponsors receive (or not) to keep everyone’s expectations in check. “Participant lists” can mean different things to different people, and if your delegates don’t agree to share their personal contact details, you will not be able to disclose them to your sponsors.

"Sponsors can be valuable content partners! Many are experts who are ready to add value to your event as thought leaders in their own right."

Don’t make (too many) assumptions

Associations that run recurring events may take their sponsors for granted or have trouble reinventing their sponsorship offer. Ideally, no event should be designed before in-depth market research is conducted with prospect sponsors and participants. Use your conference committee as a sounding board once your market study is done, rather than as your single source of market insights. Companies would never launch a product without doing market research, why should associations?

In conclusion...

With new post-pandemic meeting solutions on the rise, sponsors are naturally looking more critically at return on investment. While we can no longer take their support for granted, attractive content and networking opportunities combined with a clear business case will go a long way to convince them to invest. In this challenge, there is also an opportunity.

DGA Interel – Association Management is are an expert-led, internationally accredited association management company (AMC) that helps membership organisations succeed in an increasingly complex international environment. As trusted partners to association boards and secretariats, we pride ourselves on providing informed insights, purpose-built non-profit strategies, candid advice, and results-oriented association management – all underpinned by a commitment to quality, shared values and the highest ethical standards. As part of Dentons Global Advisors, they offer their association clients access to a global network with local expertise, providing nuanced counsel on strategy, public relations, communications, and regulatory affairs. Our partnership with Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, means clients can draw upon integrated legal expertise and high-end advisory services when and where they need it.

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