3 Key Lessons from a Study of 20,000 Online Events

We need to extract lessons from the marketplace to apply to what our churches are doing online. - @richbirch

3 Key Lessons from a Study of 20,000 Online Events

We need to extract lessons from the marketplace to apply to what our churches are doing online. - @richbirch

Via Carey Nieuwhof: This is a post written by Rich Birch who is a member of Carey Nieuwhof's Speaking Team. 

By Rich Birch

Recently, a report entitled The State of Virtual Events 2021 was released, which looked at the experiences of 100 leading brands that ran over 20,000 online events in the last year. This study explores these brands’ thinking around online events as they have made the “great pivot” to utilize this option more and more.


Like your church and mine, we are all trying to figure out how this new online world will impact our organizations moving forward. As I delved into the report, I found there were a number of lessons that we could pull out to apply to our own operations as welook to the future. The report examined 100 leading brands and the lessons they have learned from running online events of various kinds over the last year. The events included webinars, online summits, online conferences, and various virtual sales, marketing, and communication efforts.

The types of brands that were included are household names such as:

  • Nestlé: A producer of baby food, medical food, bottled water, breakfast cereals, coffee and tea, confectionery, dairy products, ice cream, frozen food, pet foods, and snacks. 29 of Nestlé’s brands have annual sales of over $1 billion, including Nespresso, Nescafé, Kit Kat, Smarties, Nesquik, Stouffer’s, Vittel, and Maggi. Nestlé has 447 factories, operates in 189 countries, and employs around 339,000 people.
  • Condé Nast: This company’s media brands attract more than 72 million consumers in print, 394 million in digital and 454 million across social platforms. Titles include Vogue, The New Yorker, GQ, Glamour, Architectural Digest, Vanity Fair, Pitchfork, Wired, and Bon Appetit among many others.
  • Volkswagen: Who for over 80 years have been putting more volks in wagens! Their brands include zippy cars like Golf, Jetta, Passat, Atlas, and Tiguan. The company is worth $141 billion and has a sprawling operation that includes a huge presence in its largest market: China. 

One of the things that jumped out at me in this report was that 51% of the respondents reported that they had attended their first virtual events in the last 12 months. This made me lean in, because so many churches across the country have made their pivot to church online for the very first time since the pandemic rolled out in March 2020. The entire world is figuring out how to work more online, and while some of us have been leading churches online for ten plus years, many churches are experiencing this new online reality for the first time.

58% of the people surveyed in this report believe that they will invest more in online events as they look to 2021 and beyond. That is probably due to the fact that 91% of respondents say that these experiences were successful. These two statistics together led me to conclude that we need to extract lessons from the marketplace to apply to what our churches are doing online.


  1. Doug Woods on 26 April 2021 at 9:33 AM

    While I admit that I like to participate in person with the people of my church—and that often means being in the building which many people call “my church”—I’m grateful that being online means we can reach out to WAY MORE people, people who would otherwise never get to see who we are and what we do and how important that is. Does that mean we’ll eventually give up “my church”? I don’t know. We do need a place to gather in person from time to time. Would that necessarily be “my church”? Hmmm.

    • Glenn Empey on 27 April 2021 at 1:28 PM

      Glad you read the article. I think the move will be toward a “hybrid church” — both online and in-person gatherings. The gatherings may be smaller groups and not just on Sunday mornings. (Study groups, social justice projects,,parader groups etc) I do think there would still be times for the whole parish to gather. You’re right, those connections are important!



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