Before businesses were suddenly forced to find new ways to engage with customers, technology was already knocking at the door of the corporate event. But with the current restrictions placed on physical meetings, cyber experiences like virtual tradeshows and online webinars have flung the door wide open to become perhaps the biggest marketing tools in virtually every industry.
Add in the special circumstances of the past year and it’s impossible to nail down the precise number of events moving to an online platform, but it’s safe to say the transition is happening fast, with companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft leading the way.
Even unlikely corporations and gatherings like the Cannes Film Festival are jumping onboard, discovering benefits not realized before. The fact is, virtual experienceswill continue in the post-pandemic world as they are proving to be a valuable alternative and complement to most physical events that have grown to the point of becoming an industry of their own.
A major source of B2B revenue with profit numbers well into the billions
In the world of corporate events, the tradeshow is the 2nd biggest B2B revenue generator, producing much needed income for not only the host company but all businesses involved, including builders, sponsors, researchers, marketers and scholarship funds. With the addition of virtual events comes even more opportunity for revenue as well as other benefits.
Benefits of taking the (virtual) show on the road:
1. A new and exciting experience
One of the most profound elements of the virtual eventis the medium itself. It’s a new experience for customers, providing a fresh and interesting introduction to a brand and product.
2. Cost savings of going virtual
We’ve looked at the peripheral revenue opportunities, but when considering the actual cost of physical tradeshows and other corporate events (booth creation, rental space, manpower, etc.) the output can be extremely high. In many cases, we have found that a virtual event can have the same impact as a physical event, without the price tag.
3. Getting, and keeping things under control
In a virtual event setting, it’s possible to prepare a more tailored and controllable experience than in a physical space as the medium lends itself to focusing the attention of participants precisely where intended. It is an opportunity to create a unique journey and enhanced brand experience for both established customers and prospects.
4. Identical elements
With the launch of a virtual event, we can create the experience of a physical eventin which customers enjoy a one-on-one connection. For instance, an introductory welcome video brings them into the space for speakers and webinars in the same way as in-person events.
In similar fashion, personal interactions through real-time conversations and break-out sessions can have the same impact as a physical event—minus the reality of numerous people gathering in one space with a multitude of possible distractions.
5. Flexibility and accessibility
Whatever the date(s) of your tradeshow or corporate gathering of any kind, there are always those who will not be able to attend, won’t make it to a special presentation, or will miss a particular speaker. But timing is never a concern when going virtual, as the dates and length of your eventare flexible.
Many businesses have begun running their virtual event and brick and mortar counterpart simultaneously, often extending the virtual run beyond their physical show dates. When launched online, it’s even possible to make your event accessible several times.
Along with the choice to go live at any time is the ability to update or add to your virtual eventcontent. Scheduling live speakers, breakout sessions, embedded gamification and other incentives attract new attendees and work to retain current visitors, even encourage repeat visits.
6. Online keeps your marketing on target
The tracking of attendees at a physical event can be a challenge, whereas, in a virtual format attendee movement is tracked with a full analysis viewable via a CMS. Every log in automatically entered in the system can be acted upon individually or merged with CRM data for lead follow-up, greatly increasing sales opportunities.
Also, with the knowledge of who is logging in, there is the capacity to tailor content to particular types of attendees, applying permissions and restrictions as desired.
7. Increased data equals unequaled analytics
A major benefit of the virtual event is the precise gathering of data from a visitor’s journey that provides indicators as to how to best communicate with them. Improved data capture combined with strategic expertise makes all the difference in sending the right message to the right person at the right time to elicit the desired response. We have seen remarkable results from implementing a variety of targeted messaging channels that extend from print to email, video, web content, animated banners, text, social, POS and more.
What’s new is always coming—and here before we know it
The virtual event is perhaps the biggest marketing transition of the past year, with online tradeshows, meetings and webinars fast becoming a regular staple of the way we meet up, present, and do business. These cyber experiences may have had a recent nudge to center stage, but their results are proving them here to stay.
How do customers know about these experiences?
A key factor in the launch of any virtual event is promotion; customers need to be told when, where and how to find you. Getting the word out and getting your customers to log in, is the difference between getting your virtual event off the ground…and making it a soaring success.
Experience and expertise
For both implementation and promotion, it takes a seasoned company with a global reach and deep multichannel experience to create a smooth transition to the digital event space; to balance the blend of both online and offline events, creating a win-win across the board.