By Matt Alderton
Virtual events continue to grow in popularity among marketers, according to virtual events provider ON24, which cites a May 2013 study by Forrester Research showing that nearly half (47 percent) of B-to-B marketers rely on virtual trade shows and events to research which technologies and services to buy.
The growth is clear, and what’s driving it is multifaceted, argues the company, which published a list of five trends that it credits with driving virtual event adoption:
1. The creation of persistent marketing environments: “Virtual events … can become lasting, ‘always-on’ resources,” ON24 says, citing examples such as client briefing centers, product launch events and partner centers. “Persistent virtual marketing environments, accessible for an indefinite period of time, increase reach and extend content life, delivering more opportunities to leverage virtual marketing solutions.”
2. The socialization of virtual events and environments: “Virtual events are becoming highly interactive networking events, integrating a wide array of interactive tools and enabling the sharing of event-related content across social networks,” ON24 says. “In addition, gamification techniques are being used to increase engagement and informal networking. What all of this means is that marketers can achieve a higher level of engagement with customers and prospects.”
3. The rise of the migratory virtual event attendee: “Virtual attendees are migrating from the office to … everywhere, increasing virtual event reach as well as end-user convenience,” ON24 observes. “In addition, audience behavior is changing as more people access virtual events via mobile devices from any location; this trend has led to increased on-demand viewing of content and repeat viewing. The end result of these changing viewing habits is increased exposure to content.”
4. Virtual events as multi-touch marketing environments: “Nurturing a prospect through the sales cycle from lead to revenue takes numerous ‘marketing touches,’” ON24 remarks. “Virtual events have become a vehicle to integrate multiple content types and marketing touches into a single virtual experience. The benefits include increased content exposure; the ability to deliver focused content or solution tracks; and demand generation program acceleration.”
5. Behavioral lead scoring: “Virtual events provide detailed metrics on attendee behavior, offering data-driven insights into areas of interest. This leads to routing prospects onto appropriate product and solution tracks,” ON24 says. “The game-changing level of insight more effectively feeds marketing automation and CRM systems and leverages behavioral data to drive customers through the buying cycle.”
Concludes ON24 Chief Marketing Officer Denise Persson, “Today’s virtual events are far more than just online trade shows, and these five trends underscore just how effective online events can be. They have become multifaceted demand generation tools that any company can use, enhancing the value and ROI of marketing programs while providing an unprecedented level of accessibility and convenience to end users around the world.”
Matt Alderton (pictured) is a Chicago-based freelance writer, editor and journalist who specializes in feature writing, editing and branded content for print and digital media.