B2B vendors have traditionally relied heavily on trade shows, user conferences, and other face-to-face interactions to showcase products and services, generate leads, and cultivate relationships with loyal customers.
According to the 2020 Demand Gen Report survey, B2B event marketing ranked third in sales effectiveness initiatives and first in conversions between sales and marketing channel initiatives.
But COVID-19 eliminated almost all face-to-face events from the calendar, which is why B2B marketers are struggling – sometimes successfully, sometimes less successfully – to develop and refine virtual event experiences that may still involve them.
In short, B2B sellers now need to replicate the impact of face-to-face events, but virtually.
Interviews with several B2B marketing managers and my colleagues in the past few months have found several levers that help promote the most successful virtual event experiences.
The following 12 approaches, derived from these discussions, cover key variables in three main categories for engaging B2B buyers and cultivating relationships:
- Draw attention to the virtual environment
- Increase demand and registration for virtual events
Create unique audience experiences on a global scale
Compare the following tactics and statistics with those of your virtual events, including statistics, to see if there is room for improvement.
Draw attention in virtual settings
- Offer multimedia content in real-time and on-demand
Our Accenture data shows that more than 40% of subscribers participate in events that are broadcast live as they happen. The need to make offers available on-demand is clear: it will probably be as if most visitors are looking at them.
- Maintain the purpose of the presentations and guide participants to the content of the next step
Whether a virtual event lasts 60, 90, or 180 minutes, most live participants vote for only about 50% of an event. Most delivery points take place within half an hour when viewers go to meetings.
This means that virtual events should convey their main points in the first half. Virtual listings should also clearly – long before you think about them – pave the way for the next steps that potential customers can take. Do not save the last five minutes or he will never hear from you.
- Provides an on-demand summary of videos and replay
Only a third of viewers watch virtual events on full screen (and even viewers only do so in the first ten minutes). Let’s assume that a large part of your audience is multitasking. It provides summary reproductions and markings to make it easier for participants to rethink and process the information when needed.
- Avoid changing meeting dates
Changing the date of an announced virtual event reduces attendees – attendees who register before a date change will be 50% less likely to attend after rescheduling. Avoid rescheduling as much as possible.
Request and register for virtual event guides
- Encourage participants to share the event’s content on their social networks
Recent data shows that paid media increases the perception of the event – but not the accreditation or growth of the public – during the event itself. On the other hand, sharing visitor content on social media generates a conversion rate 2x higher than the segmentation by position and position in the middle of the event.
Create management around a newsroom that generates quotes, infographics, and other shareable media for the participants and their networks to distribute during the event.
- Measure content effectiveness and use paid media to generate repetitive content
Determine the effectiveness of the content in your event measurement strategy. Identify the content that works best at the event and expand it with paid media to similar audiences on LinkedIn and other social channels that your audience is using. If your event is part of a series or learning journey, use quality content to spark new interest.
- Cross-market events with other product or business groups
Increasing the participation of marketers who work with large B2B buyers is a relatively inexpensive strategy for joining efforts between business groups. Cross-marketing has been shown to double (and, in our experience, even triple) traffic to the sign-up page.
For platform companies with a variety of products, cross-marketing opportunities can increase interest in multiple products and solutions, rather than individual products.
- Offer one-click registration with pre-filled forms
One-click virtual event registration email changes are immediately successful in the form of 50% more registrations than other forms. Although the participation rate of these registrations is on average about 8% lower than normal due to the lower bet for the registration of a click, the net increase is still significant.
Be part of your ongoing one-click effort to optimize the customer’s login experience and be sure to take a conscious approach to collect incremental data, instead of using long, tedious forms.
- Encourage early registration
Since the transition to virtual events began in March, an average of 75% of B2B webinar attendees signed up for a week of the event. This is a significant increase from the 2019 levels when only 43% did so. Provide early registration incentives so that participants can schedule in advance and more accurately.
Create distinctive experiences to expand audience reach
- Create modular event tracks that can be reused and reused
Instead of simply moving events face-to-face to virtual formats, think of individual event sessions as elements that can be combined to achieve specific goals. Modular opportunities paths – such as training, round tables, and vertical topics – can be reused and reconfigured for use at events by different groups of buyers.
To take full advantage of this modularization, access the virtual engagement tactics and add events to the customer’s travel and sales cycles, applying the most appropriate techniques for each purpose.
- Create a pre-event video and combine it with live questions and answers
Question and answer functionality is increasingly common, which means that more and more is expected of it. The digital experience platform ON24 informs that questions and answers will be included in 90% of webinars this year, against 80% in 2019.
Pre-recorded video with real-time questions and answers provides high-quality video performance and allows speakers to save energy for interaction. High energy and the ability to create real connections and interactions with the public are essential for the success of virtual events.
- Organize virtual events with tangible experiences
Many B2B suppliers are sending conference packages to participants full of gifts, snacks, cocktails, and other goodies. By incorporating tangible touchpoints, it helps attendees to connect more to the event, and reaching a visitor at your home can open up new opportunities for B2B brand creativity.
These efforts are more common at small, high-contact events, but even modest direct mail recipes can be made on a large scale.
Income and result
Determining an effective overall revenue model for virtual events is a largely unresolved challenge. Currently, about 70% of B2B virtual events are offered free of charge or with a discount on the virtual participation fee. Some are asking for more to participate in the networking part of the event.
One possible solution is to think of sponsorships as rich media ads – think of branded overlays, pre-ads, and integrated paid sponsorships. Another option may be to allow participants to earn badges that encourage virtual exploration and participation, so that event organizers can credit their partners based on the participants’ involvement.