Virtual Events: The Modern Marketer’s Secret Weapon?


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There is no question that marketing has undergone a fundamental makeover – long gone are the days when companies poured millions of dollars into advertising to drive awareness and trial. The new marketing mantra seems to be all about content – blogs, inforgraphics, videos, webinars, and virtual events and conferences. Did you know that nine in 10 B2B marketers now report marketing with content, and 60% are increasing their content budgets this year and next? It is both fascinating and empowering when your partners and peers bring you new insights, and thanks to our new partnership with ON24, we can now appreciate the growing importance of virtual events for marketers. So I thought I would share some of what we have learned:

According to Market Research Media, in the three years since their inception, virtual events have demonstrated robust growth, with the market doubling from 2008 to 2009 and forecasted to continue at a compound annual growth rate of 56% through 2015. New York Times’ Growth in Virtual Gatherings Offers Marketing Opportunities from 2010 points out that virtual events are yet to replace the staple conferences and trade shows, but they are increasing in popularity. The article quotes large companies like Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Hilton Worldwide and I.B.M. increasingly using virtual events as global marketing and sales tools, with I.B.M.’s hosting 80 virtual get-togethers that year alone.

You may wonder what the growing excitement is all about. Consider these two reasons:
Virtual event deliver highly engaged audiences — a MarketingProfs, Trendline and ON24 survey from last year determined that 84% of virtual event attendees take some action as a direct result of attending a virtual event, with 61% taking two+ actions. The most common activities include visiting a vendor’s site and using a search engine to gather more information about a vendor featured at the event.

Virtual events are lead generation and customer engagement machines — The same survey found that attendees often discover new vendors and then check them out online during their participation in a virtual event. But that is not all, folks – 19% of attendees proactively contact a vendor for more information, making it important for companies to monitor both the show environment and their websites while the event is taking place.

Whether you are virtual events pro or I just convinced you to become one, consider that to make the most out of your virtual events investment, you need at least two things:

On-demand access to your content. Do that or you’ll miss half of your attendees who reenter the show environment to view content again and 34% who forward the on-demand links to their colleagues. Producers who have tested various time spans for maintaining on-demand access find that, on average, people continue to visit the virtual environment for about 45 days.
Smart integration with your SFA or CRM – Make sure that your virtual event solution is tied with your CRM or SFA solution. Because you can’t manage demand and engagement if you don’t know your customer journey – how many times they touch your content, visit your website, or ask for a demo. As I pointed out in recent blog post quoting a recent article by Jeff Bertolicci of InformationWeek, your sales people are searching upwards of 15 data sources for information on prospects. Sales people are spending so much time fetching data from different places that they spend close to 25% of their time doing research. Well, I didn’t have to tell you then, and don’t have to tell you again, but I will – pulling all the key data together can save companies millions.

If you are planning to be at Dreamforce, and want to connect, share thoughts or chat the growing role of data integration in accelerating business results, connect with me or Scribe via Twitter.

See you at the show,
Lou Guercia

Lou Guercia
As President and CEO for Scribe Software, Lou is responsible for Scribe's direction, continued growth as a leader in mid-market and enterprise integration as well as the company's entry into the cloud through integration-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings. He is a member of the SIIA Software Board of Directors and the MassTLC Cloud cluster.


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