In the age of COVID-19, how does a smart pharma brand handle a conference exhibit? Intouch recently completed a survey of all clients and brands to gain insight into virtual conferences, virtual booths, healthcare provider (HCP) behavior, and the resulting best strategies going forward. Read on for our seven tips for success at virtual conferences in 2021!

Based on HCP feedback, virtual conferences are here to stay. Most HCP virtual behavior has proven to be roughly similar to real-world booth behavior, with similar visitor counts, “decent” visit times (two minutes on average), and successful content engagement (particularly with videos and downloads, as well as games).

Virtual conferences are no different from any other digital campaign. You must define what success means in order to measure it! We recommend, in increasing impact: page visits/content read, interaction with content, watching a video for longer than 30 seconds, downloading materials, actively chatting with a rep in the booth, and scheduling a call with a rep or medical science liaison (MSL).

Conferences are no longer a single moment in time. They should now be considered more like a channel or campaign. With on-demand viewing of recorded-live events, and extended timelines for review of digital presentations, conferences have evolved into multi-month platforms and opportunities. Keep your booth site live after the conference, and update relevant information, making it inexpensive to use and reuse.

Support through social media is no longer optional. It’s imperative for your brand to communicate with attendees. At the recent American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting, we saw a five-fold increase in ASH mentions on Twitter compared with the previous year.

Own your experience and the ecosystem. The conference platform is an important piece in the puzzle driving HCPs to your content, but don’t expect it to be the biggest piece.

Evoke booths; don’t copy them. Your virtual booth experience needs to be evocative of the booth motif, or at least refer to the conference; otherwise, HCPs skip them, assuming they’re just HCP websites. But you don’t need 3D to virtually replicate your booth; this can be needlessly difficult to navigate. The industry appears to be moving toward microsites, but make sure they’re obviously built for the conference. Simplify navigation, and continue to push for in-person conversations.

Give them what they want, easily. Downloads and videos are favorites (the average time on video is about one minute), so be sure to have them, and be sure they’re easy to find. Booth tours and simple navigation have been successful, but requesting a rep should be, too. Keep as much of your content on the same site without opening new windows or directing HCPs to new locations to avoid confusion.

Give them something more. While HCPs aren’t looking to linger, and are disinclined to chat unless they know the MSL, they still will take quizzes or play games, so, if you’re looking to be memorable, these remain good ways to engage.

To get our complete report on December 2020’s ASH meeting, including an overview of the exhibit platform and insights into exhibitor behavior, reach out at brendon.thomas@intouchsol.com

Brendon Thomas is director of innovation at Intouch Solutions.