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) allows producers to take attendees through some of the same experiences as attending a physical event. The virtual event platforms facilitate the 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 an extensive lineup 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 is 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 the highest value not only to those who stay for the entirety of the conference but also to 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 can more easily commit to during their busy workday. Thus, webinars are great hooks to bring an attendee in. Where webinars fall short is a lack of breadth of programming and limited engagement options, which substantially limits their value as lead nurturing and lead qualification tools.
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 profiles, 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.
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 the time it would otherwise take outside the event.
At Engagez (engagez.com), we strive to offer the best capabilities for hosting the most effective live, simu-live (simulated live), and on-demand online events. We are investing heavily in personalization and believe it is a crucial enabler for the wider adoption of online events by marketers as the tool of choice for demand generation and guiding customers through their purchasing journey.