By Joerg Rathenberg, Senior Director of Marketing, Unisfair
The sales process is all about control – on both sides. Sales and marketing people want to control the conversation and often overload their target audience with sales pitches and marketing messages. This frequently causes people to run in the opposite direction. Similarly, prospects want to have control over their purchase decisions and the information they receive. Fortunately, virtual engagement, where vendors host conferences, road shows, roundtables and company meetings on the Internet, can provide a way out of this dilemma, by offering control to both the seller and the sell-ee.
Virtual engagement offers sellers the ability to track what interests their attendees who, in turn, can come and go as they please – learning, networking and collaborating at a pace that works for them. The end result is a stack of better-qualified and intrinsically higher-value “sales-ready” leads.
But in order to effectively leverage virtual events to track and drive leads through the customer lifecycle, it is important to consider some best practices. Tips from our expert “Virtual Marketing Playbook” can help ensure success.
- Focus on the big picture. Leverage a virtual engagement platform during every stage of the customer lifecycle — from awareness to retention. This gives the customer an opportunity to not only learn more about your offerings, but also to discuss their experiences with each other and build a community, which in turn fosters customer loyalty.
- Track, track, track. Virtual environments have a number of advantages over other marketing channels, because attendees are in a controlled environment, where all of their actions, conversations and information can be measured and evaluated. Virtual event reporting allows organizers to track each registrant, their demographic profile, interest level and activities. This is achieved by measuring how much time they spend in which location, what questions they ask, whom they connect with and how many chats they participated in. It is critical that virtual event hosts take advantage of each piece of information, as it leads to more qualified leads.
- Engage with attendees in a creative way. For example, hold surveys, polls, group chats and networking sessions to allow the exchange of ideas among attendees. This provides the ability to better assess their interest level in specific products, ideas or themes. Some organizers will send their attendees kits with t-shirts, coffee mugs and other trade show giveaways to recreate the feeling of a physical event. Think of having breakfast catered for the networking Café.
- Follow Up. The beauty of a good virtual event is that your registrants can visit it any time they like. Still, a number of registrants will forget that fact and may never log on to see the on-demand version. Use email and social networking tools to follow up with non-attendees, share some of the excitement and encourage them to join the on-demand environment.
- Measure Success. There are many different ways to measure the success of your event, which is ultimately determined by your goals. In July 2008, Brian Haven at Forrester Research established a framework of four metrics that include: involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence to measure the level of customer engagement. Be sure that you chose a virtual platform that allows you to report on customer engagement and other key metrics. Doing so can serve as a highly effective lead ranking mechanism for prospecting events and allows your sales team to directly assess the level of interest of its prospects.
Following these five basic steps will enable your sales team to more effectively listen to, and connect with their customers. And most importantly, it will deliver high-quality leads more cost-effectively, all while enabling everyone to have control over the process.
Joerg Rathenberg is heading up marketing at Virtual Events leader Unisfair. With more than 12 years of high tech marketing experience, Joerg has focused on positioning and commercializing emerging technologies worldwide. Prior to joining Unisfair, he held senior management positions at Salesforce.com, KXEN, Brio, SQRIBE, APC and IBM. His background in cloud computing, business intelligence and advanced analytics has helped companies to successfully grow revenues and capture market share.