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When it Comes to Generating Sales Leads, Do Virtual Events Make Sense for B-to-B Marketers?

Virtual Events for B2B MarketingThink of a conference or tradeshow conducted online with presenters, exhibitors and attendees exchanging information and networking from the convenience of their computers.

These “virtual events” can benefit all parties. Attendees don’t have to travel, or even leave their offices. Neither do the speakers and exhibitors. This saves everyone time and money.

And the convenience of attending via their computer can boost the number of attendees significantly.

I think virtual events are great. Why? Because few of the conferences or tradeshows I want to attend happen in little ol’ Rhode Island. So if I want to attend I have to waste way too much time at the airport and on the plane, then again in the rental car or taxi line, trying to get there. Or I have to spend three or four hours taking an Amtrak train to New York City. Or I waste an hour and a half or more, both ways, driving to attend the event if it happens to come to the Boston area.

Compare this to what is involved in attending a virtual event: I block the time on my calendar. Then at the appointed hour I click on a link and attend the event via my computer.

The same goes for when I’m speaking or presenting at one of these virtual events.

Yes, it is sometimes good to get out of the office and network with clients and suppliers at in-person conferences, tradeshows or seminars. But often that means losing the day or more just getting there and back, not to mention the time away from my family. This makes me pretty selective about which in-person events I will attend.

I’m less selective about signing up to attend virtual events. Why? Because if I determine that the virtual event isn’t a good investment of my time, or the presenter is putting me to sleep, I simply close my browser and use that time for other things instead.

If you are thinking about doing a virtual conference or tradeshow, you might want to read Best Practices in Virtual Events, a white paper created by The FactPoint Group, a Silicon Valley-based research, and consulting firm, for Unisfair, a provider of virtual trade shows, expos, conferences and marketing events.

A number of the best practices covered in the white paper relate do generating sales leads and driving sales. For example:

  • Create an event strategy and clear goals.
  • Proactively interact live with attendees.
  • Promote the event as being available “on-demand” after the live event.
  • Qualify and prioritize the leads that result.
  • Conduct an ROI analysis.

The white paper is full of useful information, including statistics you can use to benchmark your own virtual events (i.e. 52 percent of registrants attend the live event) and tips on how best to promote your virtual events, maximize attendance and keep attendees engaged.

Request your free copy of Best Practices in Virtual Events by sending an email to

For additional strategies, tactics and tips related to using B-to-B marketing events to generate qualified leads and drive sales, check out the articles under the heading B-to-B events & trade shows at my website’s Learning Center for Marketers.

Comments

We (ReachForce) were a sponsor at the Marketing Profs B2B 2.0 Virtual Expo earlier this month. It was by far the easiest sponsorship I have ever done. I built my booth online, all my collateral was online and there was less stress for me and the attendees. At most trade shows people are scared to walk to close to a booth for fear of being bombarded by a sales guy. At a virtual show, an attendee can read all of my collateral and white papers without any pressure and ask questions via chat on their own schedule. This helped us to walk away with more leads than we get at most live events. Can’t wait to measure the ROI of this event as these leads move through the funnel.

 

Amy – that’s really useful to know. We’re a top sponsor of an in-person event for Sacramento, Calif. tech companies next week and there are major logistics around just getting exposure there. Online-only is sounding appealing.

Mac – in your experience what is the best place to serve up the event on demand later? The files are so large that our smaller clients can’t host and serve them under their web hosting plans; and in my experience the companies that are great for live webinars have kinks to work out with serving up the slides synched with audio later. Any preferred vendor whom you’ve found is affordable and great at both?

 

p.s. that photo above is really funny! Eeek!

 

Rebekah,

That’a a great question. And I don’t have a good answer for you. Does anyone else have a recomemdation about hosting recorded webcasts?

 

[…] Mac McIntosh’s “When it Comes to Generating Sales Leads, Do Virtual Events Make Sense for B-to-B Marketers?” […]

 

Hi Mac, thanks for pointing me to the Best Practices Document (plan to post something on my personal blog soon). When reviewing the document, it struck me that many of the recommendations are what my company already counsels our customers for their webcast programs. The main difference is how to drive people from a webcast (e.g. keynote/panel) to an exhibitor booth.

Rebekah and Mac, regarding the webcasting – I would like to suggest my company as a place to start. I’m curious to learn more about the live being synced but the on-demand not. I haven’t heard this being an issue with our customers. ON24’s model is SaaS – so no worries about hosting it yourself.

If you’re interested in learning more Rebekah, feel free to email me at cece [dot] lee [at] on24 [dot] com.

 

Rebekah, regarding your question about on-demand webcasts, I second Cece’s comment above. I’ve been a customer of ON24 for about five years, with probably close to 150 events under my belt. They do an excellent job in both the live and on-demand scenarios. We’ve even gone to them with oddball and custom requests, and they always seem to come up with a solution. Best, Michael

 

[…] Marzo 31, 2008 Da Sales Lead Insights […]

 

Interesting.
I’d like to read more about the subject.
Keep me updated.
Thanks,
Amit.

 

Hi there

I have been to this site couple of times and have commentated but have noticed that my comments are not showing, I was wondering if I had been moderated.

Nice article once again and its easy reading

 

Sue,

You asked about some of your other comments: Yes, they have been moderated.

It appeared that your comments were more to get links for SEO reasons than to actually join in the conversation. And the volume of your comments across posts on this blog seemed to indicate the same.

Sue, in the future if you share substantive, relevant and useful comments, they will generally appear. If not, they generally won’t.

Thanks for understanding!

-Mac

 

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