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BizReport : Blogs & Content : October 10, 2011

Why virtual events need more than content

Business budgets continue to tighten, but thanks to virtual events many businesses find they are able to stay abreast of trends without traveling to conference locations. Attendance at these events is booming, as is lead generation and product sales. One expert offers his advice on these events.

by Kristina Knight

Eric Vidal, Director of Product Marketing with InterCall: These 'always on' virtual business environments facilitate a continuous conversation between an audience and a brand. [They] allow marketing teams to collect unprecedented marketing intelligence, while reach much wider audiences, and helps mature leads without the constant barrage of email and phones calls.

Kristina: What are you hearing from attendees at these events?

Eric: Customers appreciate that they have a platform to freely engage with a brand on their own terms, without being bothered by pesky sales reps. The reality is that customers would much rather have a conversation [about products] with another customer, peer or product expert. Virtual environments are the perfect answer.

Kristina: What is the key to a virtual event - the speaker, the content?

Eric: You can have the best speaker and content, but you also need to have a good plan in place, promote the environment properly, practice and leverage the analytics in order to improve your environment for long term success. [We use] Six Steps: Strategy, Building the Experience, Promotion, Launch Preparation, Launch, Post Launch - activities and analysis.

Kristina: What can brands do in a virtual setting to engage on a deeper level?

Eric: [Brands can] leverage advertising panels, logo banners, environment-wide announcements and green-screen videos of virtual hosts. Ariba, Inc. had its CMO as the virtual host welcoming attendees, University of Lethbridge in Alberta had two virtual hosts in its booth at a college fair speaking to the benefits of its curriculum. Swap out the standard booth rep images for those of actual staff. Launch real-time announcements through the day (scheduled webcasts), engage ('last chance' announcements) or drive attendees to different location - like networking lounges.

Tags: branded events, Intercall, online advertising, online conferences, virtual events

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