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Communication

Taking Back Control of Buyer’s Journey Through Personalization

By | Best Practices, Business Strategy, Communication, Marketing

Introduction

Online events have proven successful with many corporate B2B marketers and have become a key component of successful lead generating programs.

The present generation of online events (virtual events) allow producers to take attendees through some of the same experiences as attending a physical event. The virtual event platforms facilitate design of venues using two dimensional graphical reproductions of physical conference and trade show imagery. They use physical event terminology for web pages like conference centers, exhibit halls, and networking lounges. They also support booths and offer extensive line up of live and on demand programming, collateral, professional networking, social media feeds, gaming and many other engagement options.

In this blog post, we’ll review how personalization is key to furthering the nurturing process and engaging attendees with content aimed at their specific interests or issues and where personalization and next generation online events meet.

Time Commitment vs. Scope of Programming

There are several key differences between physical and online events.  One key difference is how attendees allocate time to each. An attendee will commit a day or more to physical events. This makes sense as people typically travel to attend a physical event, making a large financial and time investment. They are also there with an event related calendar that often includes free time to explore unknown elements via chance encounters and discoveries.

For online events, average attendees make shorter time commitments than the entirety of the full conference. Attendees are also more susceptible to interruptions while at work. Online attendees usually plan their time around attending specific talks. Once in the event, attending those talks are the highest priority. In between sessions, the attendees might browse through the rest of the programming, download resources, visit partners/sponsors, or mark items of interest to return to later. Now, it’s not to say that great and highly relevant content online can’t draw and keep an audience engaged for hours long as demonstrated by recurring online events that run for multiple days. However, the organizer must ensure the event delivers highest value not only to those who stay for the entirety of the conference, but also those who can commit a smaller window of time.

This difference in time allocation is one reason quick-bite webinars have enjoyed significant popularity as the online marketing tool of choice. By keeping a webinar duration to an hour or less, the programming fits within what an attendee is able to more easily commit during their busy workday. Thus, webinars are great hooks to bring an attendee in. Where webinars fall short is lack of breadth of programming and limited engagement options, which substantially limits their value as lead nurturing and lead qualification tool.


What’s Next: Personalized Online Events

The next generation of online events will combine the best of these two worlds, limited attendee time and broad programming, through personalization. Once in the event, the attendee will automatically be assigned a relevant account manager for inquiries, receive personalized recommendations on the most relevant not-to-be missed sessions, white papers and collateral, and when available, recommendations on key partners, partner resources and partner contacts for follow up. These recommendations will be machine generated, taking into account attendee profile, demographic and predictive models of what has worked best in the past for ‘alike’ attendees. The personalization will give attendees an immediate sense of relevance and will establish the event organizer as a trusted partner, aiming to educate and help attendees learn the most about their topics of interest as efficiently as possible. The better served the customer, the longer she’ll stay and engage, leading to further nurturing and improved qualification data.

Summary

Today marketers are starting to adopt personalization strategies in their various marketing programs using account-based marketing (ABM), artificial intelligence-based recommendation engines, predictive purchasing models and email drip campaigns. The next generation of online events will utilize variations of these personalization strategies inside an online event, substantially accelerating lead nurturing and guiding attendees through their buying journey, all in a fraction of time it would otherwise take outside the event.

At Engagez (www.engagez.com), we strive to offer the best capabilities for hosting the most effective live, simulive (simulated live) and on-demand online events. We are investing heavily in personalization and believe it is a crucial enabler for wider adoption of online events by marketers as the tool of choice for demand generation and guiding customers through their purchasing journey.

Simulive: Bringing Recorded Presentations to ‘Live’

By | Best Practices, Communication, Engagement, Marketing, Video, Virtual Events, Webcasts & Webinars

A simulated live webinar, “simulive”, is a scheduled webinar which streams a pre-recorded presentation while allowing organizers to engage with the audience in real time using interactive tools.  

In case you have not looked into simulive before, there are key advantages that are worth your consideration:

1. Ease of Coordinating Schedules

Your webinar presenters are all busy professionals, located in different offices, different cities and countries.  Finding the one time slot convenient for all which fits your marketing schedule can be a daunting task. With simulive, you coordinate the timing of the recording at the presenters’ convenience, and then broadcast the recording as live at a time convenient for your target audience.

2. Reducing “Live” Production Risks

Should we even elaborate more?!  We all have scars on our backs with production issues that happen from time to time during a live webinar.  Whether it’s presenter delays, networking and audio problems, or incorrect downloaded presentations, these degrade the attendee experience and leave a bad mark on our brands.  With simulive, you can avoid many of these problems, by pre-recording highest quality presentation, and then broadcasting it live from the cloud.

3. Addressing Globally Dispersed Customers and Prospects

Agreeing on the best time to schedule a live webinar to address the east, central and west coast US time zones is already a challenge.  What about the rest of the world? Simulive is a perfect solution that enables you to schedule the same presentation multiple times, using a recording of the original, each optimally timed for a specific region of the world.

4. Increasing Rate of Return on Marketing Spend

Simulive allows you to leverage a presentation recording multiple times, hence increasing your utilization of an asset you have already committed time and money to.  Meanwhile, the “live” nature of simulive increases the attendance, and substantially improves viewership, compared to on-demand utilization of the same video.

5. Engagement of Attendees

Perhaps even more important than increased viewership, simulive sessions give you the opportunity to engage with the attendees in real time, through online chat with staff, Q&A with experts, surveys and polls.  Engagement data is crucial in your follow up strategies, and simulive is a powerful way of collecting more.

Now, you might be thinking “hey, I see the advantages for the organizer!  But how about the attendees? How would they react if they knew the “live” session they are attending is pre-recorded?”.  

Based on our experience, the attendees don’t care as long as the following expectations are met: (i) the presentation delivers fresh and high quality content on the advertised topic, and (ii) they can ask presenters questions and expect timely answers.   When these expectations are met, simulive is a win for all!

At engagez.com, we take pride in our simulive offering. Our customers use Engagez not only for simulive but also to host live, and on-demand events.   We view simulive not as an alternative to live webinar but as a lower-cost means of offering more frequent live programming. Our calendaring mechanism further allows an organizer to mix and match live, simulive and on-demand sessions and create comprehensive and engaging events.  These events expand the concept of a traditional webinar, offering attendees more content and higher educational value, while increasing their engagement opportunities.

Best Practices for Hosting Video on Demand

By | Best Practices, Communication, Engagement, Marketing, Video, Virtual Events

We have come a long way from the days when hosting a video was simply putting a file on a shared drive and letting people download it. First with desktop players, we were able to play the video directly from a shared drive. This was a step forward but still painful since the initial players had to download the entire file before starting to play, hence costly and slow. The next generation of players were embedded within your HTML pages and were able to cache and start the video with some delay without having to wait for the full download. This somewhat improved the video experience but was not as helpful if you wanted to consume the content by jumping around the video. The shortcomings of these approaches were only magnified as the popularity of mobile devices exploded, leading to further challenges in maintaining a steady internet connectivity speed.

Today, the best practices of serving high quality VOD have substantially evolved. You experience these best practices when consuming videos on the largest of service providers like YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, etc. What is not obvious to the consumer is the amount of computational work and process flow that goes on behind the scenes in preparing an uploaded video file for that smooth viewing experience. These providers are addressing the consumers insatiable desire for flawless playback experience and ease of navigating/jumping within videos, on any device, and in most connectivity situations. As the cost of adopting these best practices become more affordable, more and more service providers will adopt them over time, yet many are not there yet.

As you evaluate the best solutions for your VOD needs, consider the following best practices and whether they are adopted by your service provider:

1. Transcoding

Having a single high quality video file does not translate into best consumption experience: depending on the situation, it could translate into wasted bandwidth for those on desktop/notebooks with high internet connectivity and poor to unusable experience for mobile users and those with slower internet speeds. The best practice is to transcode the original file, generating multiple versions of it, each with its own optimized streaming segmentations, bitrates, bit depths, and framing policies, targeting differing internet connectivity situations. This process is usually performed as part of the video upload process, prior to making the VOD available for viewing.

2. Adaptive Bitrate Streaming

Once you have adaptive bitrate versions of the video, your player and the server need to communicate with each other to leverage the most suitable content. Over the last few years, the best practice communication protocols between the client players and the host servers have evolved into streaming models that work over HTTP across wide distributed networks. These protocols are designed specifically to take advantage of “adaptive bitrate” optimized server content, hence referred to as “adaptive bitrate streaming”.

Adaptive bitrate streaming protocols are superior to delivering a static video file at a single bitrate.  As depicted in the image above, the video stream can be switched midstream to be as good or bad as the client’s available network speed.  It continuously adapts to any changes to the client’s network and CPU situations. To see the advantage of this approach, compare this to the buffering or interruption in playback that would happen when client’s network either did not support the quality of the native video, or the network load kept on changing based on changes to the mobile signal strength or others’ activities on the same network.

There are several implementations of adaptive bitrate streaming. If compatibility across diverse devices are important to you, then MPEG-DASH and Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) are the two most widely adopted implementations available across most devices and OSs.

3. Timeline Thumbnails

The ability to locate with ease the portions of interest within a lengthy video is a high value need by video consumers, especially in the B2B space. One feature that is very helpful in this regard is the ability to move the mouse along the video timeline and seeing the frame thumbnail images of that spot in the video. The smoothness of the frame updates as you traverse the mouse over the timeline are critical in making this capability useful and attractive to users.

4. Use of Content Delivery Network (CDN)

If you have a large and global audience, using CDN for video delivery will go a long way in removing latency and delivering a smooth experience for all users, regardless of physical location.

At engagez.com, we take pride in our implementation of these video best-practices. Our customers use Engagez to host live, simulive (simulated live) and on-demand events. Most live events also transition to on-demand after its completion and stay open for a period of time for further audience engagement. During setup, when you upload videos, whether for on-demand or simulive, we apply these best practices and ensure smoothest possible user experience for your attendees.

virtual conference platform

Virtual Conference Platforms Can Work in Tandem With Physical Conferences: Here’s How

By | Best Practices, Business Strategy, Communication, Marketing, Virtual Events | No Comments

Conferences are an important tool for modern professionals, allowing hundreds in a field to come together and work on issues ranging from professional standards to the latest technological or scientific developments.

But now, the conference industry is undergoing a major revolution. New virtual conference platforms and online event software are offering conference organizers new ways to innovate and address existing problems. In fact, the industry is slated to grow from $14 billion to $18 billion in value by 2023.

In this guide, we will look at how virtual conference platforms can help supplement physical conferences to create the best events possible.

    1. Expand your reach
      One of the best ways to use virtual conference software is to expand your reach. While professional conferences might draw in thousands of visitors, for every attendee, there is someone at home who either could not afford the trip or could not get time off of work. By digitizing elements of your conference on a virtual conference platform, you are able to provide information and opportunity to those not physically able to attend.

 

    1. Digitize the Conference Experience
      With a virtual trade show, you can digitize the traditional conference or trade show experience in a variety of ways. First, a virtual conference platform can provide lucrative new sponsorship opportunities, which can help fund your efforts. Second, the best event software makes networking and lead capture far simpler for everyone involved, enhancing one of the most important aspects of these events. Finally, rather than making announcements over a loudspeaker, you can use notifications to update attendees at any time, whether they’re visiting in person or online.

 

  1. Feature Bonus Material
    It can be hard to make your conference schedule work for everyone all the time. The better rooms and better time slots will have to go to the most popular lectures and talks. But with virtual conferences, you are never at a loss for space, nor are you bound by the constraints of your speakers’ schedules. Using your virtual conference platform to show supplemental material that you didn’t have time and space for will allow your attendees to get more information before, during, and after the event.

Organizing and growing a successful conference can be difficult. One way that you can cost-effectively expand the education and engagement of your attendees is by taking advantage of online event platforms. This tool allows you to create a virtual component to your event and make your life easier at the same time.

Graphic reference https://www.marketresearchmedia.com/?p=421.