Conferences and events have long been a mainstay of B2B marketing. But budget restrictions combined with the advent of new technology means that some operators are finding different ways to get their message out. In many cases, operators have been turning to virtual events.
New research from Unisfair, a provider in the virtual events industry, suggests that marketers see the benefits of meeting potential clients and existing customers in cyberspace. Operators hold in-person and virtual events for similar reasons. They need to train users (42%), engage customers (36%), generate new leads (29%) and build networks (8%).
Surveyed businesses have the following to say about virtual events:
- Will up spending on these events in 2011: 60%
- Would like to hold 10+ events this year: 67%
- Believe hybrid events will comprise about half of all events within 5 years: 87%
- Want to attend a virtual event from mobile devices: 62%
This survey also polled end users and found that over half of virtual event attendees like the flexibility the format affords. For example, they can multitask – perhaps catch up on email while they are listening to a presentation. In addition, attendees stay in control regarding when or whether they engage with others who are giving or attending the event. Attendees also noted their ability to check in with the event from any location as a definite plus.
Joerg Rathenberg, VP of Marketing, Unisfair, predicts that virtual events will be “the preferred way to meet, market, collaborate and educate for both hosts and attendees alike.” It’s not likely that face to face meetings will disappear completely, but more marketers may turn to online events to lower their costs and reach a wider audience.[Source: Virtual events now the norm. Hypergridbusiness.com. May 2011. 24 May 2011]