By Rieva Lesonsky
At traditional, in-person trade shows or conferences, attendees place a heavy emphasis on networking and collecting contact information or leads to follow up on. In virtual events, however, the picture is a little different, according to research by MarketingProfs and virtual events provider ON24, reported by eMarketer.
Their survey found that although nearly three-quarters (71%) of virtual event attendees did visit a virtual booth (just like at traditional events), a mere 20% exchanged contact information with an exhibitor. Only 17% traded contact information with other attendees at the virtual event. Fewer than half (45%) used online networking tools such as chat to network with others at the event.
So if virtual event attendees aren’t trading contacts or networking, what are they doing? Gathering information seems to be the top priority for virtual attendees. More than three-fourths (77 percent) downloaded materials such as ebooks or white papers, 74% watched live webcasts and 55% watched on-demand webcasts.
If you’re getting ready to exhibit at a virtual event, what can you learn from this? First, the study found, good-quality content is essential to getting attention. Sixty-one percent of attendees surveyed said they had never paid for a virtual event, but would be willing to do so if the content was compelling enough. Specifically, they were looking for content that aligns with the agenda and breakout sessions of the event. In contrast, attendees said networking opportunities were the least important factor that would convince them to pay to attend an event. So if you’re trying to get attendees to interact with you, develop content that’s closely tied to the event’s themes, and play that up in your online presence.
It’s a little disconcerting to find out that attendees aren’t networking. Without getting X number of leads or contacts from your virtual booth, the results of your exhibit are harder to measure. However, if you follow up with those who download or view your content, and keep in mind that you’ll need to nurture them more gently and work with them longer than people who come up and hand you their business cards at a real-life booth, you’ll have an edge in adapting to the new world of virtual events.
Image Courtesy: Karen Axelton