B2B Virtual Events Marketing: Take established tradeshow best practices and adapt them for an online audience with virtual events
“Many trade shows have experienced a decline in attendance and exhibitors in recent years. In addition to companies cutting back on their tradeshow attendance due to financial reasons, many attendees are also scaling back their tradeshow participation, due to travel costs and time away from the office. Virtual events eliminate some of these issues.”
Here is the snippet of a virtual interview with Chris Chariton, Vice President of Supplier Marketing & Marketing Services at Global Spec – the engineering search engine.
Let’s start with the obvious question – what are online virtual events and how are they different from a webinar?
Chris Chariton: Online virtual events go beyond a webinar or webcast, as they include elements of both an educational conference and a tradeshow. A typical webinar lasts between 30 and 60 minutes and is usually focused on a single topic.
On the other hand, virtual tradeshows or virtual events encompass a “conference” portion featuring many different educational sessions with a variety of speakers, as well as a “tradeshow” component including exhibitor booths, live chat, networking & virtual events marketing.
The online virtual events platform is much more comprehensive, the interactive capabilities are greater, and they offer additional multimedia opportunities, including video.
In what situations should marketers use a traditional event? When should they choose virtual events?
CC: Two reasons why marketers use in-person events are the opportunity to be face-to-face with an existing or potential customer, and the opportunity for someone to see your products “in action.” Virtual events also provide this interactive ability for one-on-one discussions.
Additionally, the economic, time and resource benefits of virtual tradeshows and online virtual events are too big not to experience. They can serve as a compliment, a supplement or a replacement to in-person events, as they offer lead generation, branding, networking &virtual events marketing opportunities – much more conveniently, and without travel, hotel and entertainment costs.
However, you will want to evaluate each individual event for itself, determining the quality of the audience, the “fit” with your company, its products and services, and other factors.
How should we approach virtual events differently than we would approach a traditional event?
CC: We recommend that you approach the virtual events in a similar manner that you would approach a traditional event. Having a successful presence requires effort, so you want to be sure that you have a solid virtual event marketing project plan in place.
You also want to create a content [virtual events marketing] strategy that ensures that you are outfitting your virtual booth with the content that is most relevant and valuable to attendees, and that positions you as a thought leader.
Much like a traditional tradeshow, you want to interact with all of your virtual booth visitors as well. Know who the subject matter experts are, in case you need to pass the person off for a technical discussion. And understand the content of the collateral that you have on hand, so you can offer them the appropriate materials.
Maximizing results is key. After exhibiting at online virtual events, you want to follow up on opportunities – like you would for a traditional tradeshow, or any other virtual events marketing initiatives for that matter.
And while there are many similarities between virtual events and traditional events, there are some differences – without travel costs and time away from the office being a factor, you can implement a cross-departmental team to staff your virtual booth and participate online chats, especially during high traffic times. So in addition to the traditional sales and marketing folks who typically staff your in-person booths, you can also invite engineers and other subject matter experts to attend.
How do you incorporate social media into virtual events?
CC: We use a variety of social media channels – including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – to promote our events, both prior to the event to encourage registration, and during the event to attract and engage attendees. For each event, we have a dedicated social media [virtual events marketing] strategy designed to drive interest and registrations, as well as attendance.
How do you determine the value of participating in online virtual events?
CC: To maximize your online virtual events investment, select one that will help you effectively achieve your virtual events marketing goals. Before participating in a virtual event, there are a number of important criteria to consider.
First, understand the audience for the event – both the quantity and the quality to expect, including the titles and industries of the attendees.
Next, ask yourself if the topic is relevant to your target market, and a good fit for your business. Inquire how these online virtual events are being promoted, both pre-and post-event. And understand the support you will receive as an exhibitor. Will you have a dedicated client services manager or a virtual events marketing specialist assisting you? Is the virtual events technology platform secure? All of these will help you ensure you are making the right decision.
Like an in-person tradeshow, virtual events can position your company as a thought leader, and deliver branding, exposure and qualified sales leads.
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Reference: The article contents are originally written at and sourced from https://marketingexperiments.com/lead-generation/virtual-events. We don’t express/any claim to the ownership. If you have any concerns, please contact our editorial team.