The digital ecosystem provides companies with many opportunities to reach and engage audiences. Once considered rare, virtual events have now become an essential piece of any marketing strategy, especially for B2B businesses. Advancements in technology coupled with the wider adoption of online event broadcasting, opened the door to far better digital events.
Industry experts forecast that the virtual events market will double in the next few years. This means that brands need to show flexibility so they can successfully pivot to this new way of interacting with customers. What is more, they have to design better strategies to leverage technology and provide good client experiences, while building important business relationships between enthusiasts, professionals and industry leaders.
For B2B companies, virtual events provide a strategic platform to grow audience engagement and nurture innovation in their marketing approach.
According to a survey by the 614 Group, the most important benefits of live meetings include:
- The opportunity to get more information about the latest developments in the industry
- The chance to generate leads and meet new business prospects
- The ability to spend quality time with clients and peers
This can help industry professionals expand the reach of their event beyond their region or country. It can support communities of experts and specialists from all over the globe. It can also facilitate business networking so companies can connect with prospects.
In this article, we’ll explore why your B2B business should leverage virtual events. We’ll discuss the main benefits that interactive online communication can have for your brand. And we’ll share some crucial aspects of organizing digital events that need your devoted attention.
1. A Wide Audience Reach
The great thing about virtual events is that you can reach a wider and more targeted audience. When it comes to physical events everything has to be planned in advance and carefully calculated be it seating capacity, venue availability, building accessibility, photographs and so on. While in the digital world all your attendees need to do is sign up, save a spot and ensure they have good internet connection.
Digital events are incredibly useful for businesses as they help increase the brand awareness and create space for learning, growing and networking. Virtual meetings, in particular, allow every one of these positive experiences to happen at a much larger scale. Executed right, you should be able to foster better interactions, provide your audience with unique experiences and build brand trust.
2. Time and Cost Efficiency
In the virtual world , people are just a few clicks away from accessing all the perks of the event without having to lose valuable time and resources. The number of virtual attendees tends to be higher because they don’t have to deal with the hassle of traffic or parking.
Digital events also offer great flexibility. They are less expensive to organize , which means that more people can afford them. Furthermore, the support team for online events is smaller as they don’t necessarily require a large venue in order to be hosted.
The advantages for speakers are also significant. They can adapt and deliver their content from their home studio, which gives them greater flexibility to plan and produce unique experiences with less stress.
3. Keep the Audience Engaged
Virtual events can transform how we think about events. They offer the possibility of creating ongoing networks, forums and episodic content that can keep the momentum going.
Prior to the online meeting, organizers can collect a lot of useful data about their attendees’ interests, which can help them tailor their content with greater precision.
During the event, businesses can use social media to create live on-going interactions and discussions across platforms.
After it has finished, the coordinators can continue the engagement in a number of ways. They can offer sessions on demand so attendees can reference back to them at any point. They can have recap videos and posts for users to share and more.
For B2B companies, live and on-demand streaming of their virtual events provide a valuable information source for potential clients. They allow your prospects to get a ‘feel’ of how your business operates, where your expertise lies, and what are the specific products/services you offer.
4. Keep the Engagement Alive
Events with large audiences take a lot of time to be organized and scheduled. They require the delivery of high quality content in large volumes which can be repurposed after the fact and for the sake of keeping the engagement alive for longer.
Тhe content produced as a result of your event can be repurposed into multiple small chunks across your channels so your participants can interact with it and refer to it whenever they want.
Some practical tips to repurpose your content include:
- Create blog posts on the various topics discussed, social media quotes, slide shows, promotional videos, rcap/summary content, audiograms, podcasts and so on.
- Encourage attendees to share event content on their social networks using a specific hashtag
- Measure content effectiveness, and use your own social media to drive replays of that content.
- Cross-market events with other product or business groups.
- Offer one-click registration with pre-populated forms.
- Encourage early registration.
Keep in mind that we live in a world where on-demand is very popular and where statistics are more accurate than ever. So, as a digital business owner it’s really important you don’t miss out on any opportunity to prolong the life and value of your virtual event even after it has ended.
5. Generate Better Feedback
Virtual events give a lot of opportunities to track attendee behaviour. These insights can help you create better events in the future and build trustful and loyal relationships with your audience.
When attending an online event, viewers will be on their screen. If you use an appropriate event management software you will have meaningful knowledge at your disposal. You will be able to send engagement surveys during the event and collect feedback immediately after. You can also easily identify which speakers got the most engagement from the audience as well as how many people attended certain online sessions and so forth.
The ease of getting real-time feedback makes virtual events very attractive to sponsors. Because these types of audience insights are much more specific and streamed to a targeted audience, there’s more room for targeted content to be delivered more efficiently.
Key Aspects of Hosting a Virtual Event
The different types of virtual events – webinars, online courses, live streams, conferences, summits and so on, require great planning and organizational capabilities. They should be scheduled very precisely from before the start of the event until after it has finished.
The most important aspects that you should lock down every time you want to host an event include:
- Determine your event’s goals – Do you want to generate more leads, provide networking opportunities, unveil new products/services or industry practices.
- Set a budget – Research and analyze what resources you will need to create an outstanding experience. Think about which platform you’ll use, how many people do you want to accommodate, can you record the event, how you’ll market it, who will your speakers be, how much time it will take you to organize everything and so on.
- Pick an appropriate ‘virtual venue’ – There are plenty of virtual event platforms out there and choosing the right one will determine if your goals are met or not. Features you might want to take advantage of include availability for multiple presentations, a virtual trade show, roundtable discussions, breakout rooms, etc.
- Create awareness and prepare your participants – Create suspense about your event before you start sending out invitations and selling tickets. You can post on social media, post reminders, create blog posts and so on.
- Use appropriate tech – For a high-class experience it’s wise to invest in reliable internet connection and technology that can support all technical aspects of the events – sounds, visuals, registration, live-stream, event planning and so on.
- Create video keynotes ahead of events and combine them with live Q&As – Q&A sessions are great for creating real-time connections and interactions with viewers and ensuring that high energy levels are maintained.
- Add tangible experiences – You can send your audience and speakers merch before the event
- Be available after the event – Have a networking session, answer questions you didn’t have time for and address any doubts. Reach out to participants. Ask them to complete a feedback form, encourage them to share their impressions on social media, initiate a discussion.
As you can tell, there are quite a lot of things to consider when hosting a virtual event. But don’t be daunted because the benefits for your business are definitely worth the effort. So, let’s look at a few examples of some of the most successful online events over the past year.
Good Examples of B2B Virtual Events
Salesforce World Tour Sydney Reimagined
On 4 March 2020, Salesforce hosted their World Tour Sydney event online for the first time ever. It was a huge success reaching 80,000 livestream views and 1.2 million social media video views across channels. Salesfores transformed the space at Sydney’s International Convention Centre (the original event venue) into branded studios that live streamed and recorded more than 100 sessions. The event included many interactive experiences, which greatly contributed to its success.
One of such experiences was the AppExchange Demo Jam, where participants had three minutes to show their apps via real-time demo and the audience members voted to choose the best one as a winner.
SBC Digital Summit
The SBC Digital Summit Event held from 27 April to 1 May 2020 was a groundbreaking experience and highly interactive experience for the betting and gaming industry. It included a very comprehensive agenda with 140 leading industry executives as speakers.
SBC used a highly advanced digital platform, to provide access to full-on virtual event spaces. It included a virtual venue with a Lobby Area and various rooms like an Exhibition Hall where attendees could meet with exhibitors, visit booths and view products, a Conference Auditorium, where speak panels and presentations were led, and a Networking Lounge, where attendees could interact with one another privately or in group conversations.
Cvent CONNECT Virtual
On August 25-26 2020 Cvents held its annual conference online also for the first time. The event was super successful not only because it drew over 42,000 registrants, making it the largest gathering of event and hospitality professionals, but because it was hosted on their newly-released product the Virtual Attendee Hub.
The platform was created to power all kinds of events, offering a single solution to companies and their events program. Needless to say that the fact that potential clients were using it in real time was a double win for Cvent.
IBM THINK 2020
May 5th to 7th 2020, IBM turned their annual THINK event into an interactive and virtual digital experience. The event, which was free of charge, allowed its attendees to learn more about the latest advancements in hybrid cloud and AI as well as witness how expert innovators are using technology to transform our lives.
The live streamed content was combined with interactive sessions, locally hosted events and certification opportunities. What is more, all sessions were recorded and are now available on demand (also for free).
The internet has become the place where most of us interact daily, so hosting corporate and company events there seems like a natural transition. Virtual events offer vast opportunities to provide high quality content to large audiences from all over the globe.
For B2B businesses, the benefits of this go beyond customer engagement. It fosters better partnerships, networking sessions and ultimately builds brand trust and credibility.
We hope our article has inspired and motivated you to create your own virtual event. We would love to hear your thoughts and have you share your experience with virtual events. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.