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How Virtual Events Are Transforming Enterprise Communications

August 18, 2011

MarketingProfs and ON24 Study Shows Why Participants Prefer Virtual Events

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—August 18, 2011— ON24, the global leader in webcasting and virtual event solutions, today announced that it has published the results of the comprehensive research conducted earlier this year with MarketingProfs. The report, “The Practicalities of Virtual Events,” looks into the current state of virtual events from both producer and attendee perspectives and illustrates how virtual events are currently being used, funded and measured – as well as where they excel and fall short and how they are evolving.

“To our knowledge, this is the first in-depth study of virtual event attendee preferences and priorities,” explained ON24 CMO Denise Persson. Culled from interviews with both virtual event hosts and participants, the report provides an overview of key findings from the research and outlines best practices for the entire virtual event production cycle, from pre-event planning to post-event follow up.

In the challenging global economy, virtual events have proven to be definite cost-savers in terms of time, travel and logistics expenses. But as the survey data reveal, distinct and different benefits of virtual events are emerging, and they are becoming complementary to, rather than a replacement for, live events and trade shows. Some of the benefits include:

  • Attracting larger and more varied audiences: virtual events appeal to more people in more time zones
  • Attracting bigger keynote speakers: in-demand speakers can pre-record their presentations and don’t have to travel to show locations
  • Offering broader content and more niche content: the ability to have multiple content tracks that cannot be accommodated in a physical event, at little additional cost
  • Monitoring attendee engagement: enhanced ROI because of the ability to track audience activity, including downloads and time spent in each area, and being able to funnel that data into CRM systems for sales follow up

Additionally, virtual events provide a forum for more frequent communication with customers and prospects, suiting most audiences well.

Many respondents cited the convenience of virtual events – including factors such as being able to attend from home and accessing on-demand content for information gathering – supporting the idea of a hybrid approach wherein a virtual event complements a live event. Some 76% of respondents stated that the existence of virtual events won’t change their attendance patterns for live trade shows, ushering in an era of virtual events as far more than a “fallback option.”

ON24’s research report also explores further practical advantages of virtual events, ranging from highly engaged audiences (84% of attendees have taken action as a result of a virtual event) to lead generation (19% have proactively contacted a vendor), to extended brand exposure by viewing events on demand (49%) and forwarding virtual event links (34%) to colleagues. Other benefits noted include the opportunity for better educating customers and to build community, as well as to deliver higher overall client satisfaction through constructive online engagement.

“ON24 is excited about the results obtained in our research with MarketingProfs,” commented Persson. “We are seeing that virtual events have unique capabilities that drive customer engagement and marketing ROI in a way that complements a live event strategy. With this in mind, virtual events are standing on their own as useful tools in the marketer’s arsenal, and we expect continued growth in the marketplace.”

A key section of the document covers best practices for virtual events implementation, including support for “information gathering” by attendees, as a majority of 77% report downloading documents and product information throughout the virtual environment, while 48% spent time in the online resource library. Social networking, chat and other sharing features of virtual event platforms also ranked prominently, (45% of respondents said they use these features) and The Practicalities of Virtual Events provides useful guidance for engaging the audience as part of an overall playbook for pre- to post-event planning. Topics covered in the planning section include managing internal buy in and stakeholders, preparation of content, logistics, audience management, promotion and follow up.

Finally, the report explores the untapped future of virtual events, including their growing value as marketing tools – not only to serve tightly-scheduled and tightly-budgeted audiences around the world but as tools to deliver more content on more topics, in order to communicate with niche audiences and underserved customer populations. In addition, virtual events will also see growth as a vehicle for training and loyalty building initiatives, as well as for premium content, as some 61% of respondents stated that they would be willing to pay for “the right event.”

More about the Survey Data and “The Practicalities of Virtual Events”
In cooperation with ON24, MarketingProfs conducted the survey research between December of 2010 and March of 2011, surveying some 253 respondents representing the markets of corporate professionals (60%), independent or agency consultants (34%), and a smaller number of professors, administrators and non-profit executives (7%). More than 83% of those surveyed were in senior positions, and many industries were represented, including banking/financial, education, technology, media and professional services. The white paper can be downloaded at: http://communication.on24.com/marketingprofsreport-website

About MarketingProfs
MarketingProfs is a rich and trusted resource that offers actionable know-how on marketing applications of Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools along with coverage of traditional marketing topics like lead generation and email marketing. The MarketingProfs team is commit- ted to helping you market products and services smarter. Entrepreneurs, small business owners and marketers in the world’s largest corporations make up our 388,000 members. Our library of online seminars, our conferences, the discussion forum, our special reports and more than 3,000 articles deliver the tools, templates, and tactics you need to quickly turn even the toughest marketing challenge into your own marketing success story.

About ON24, Inc.
The recognized global market share leader, ON24 provides webcasting and virtual environments for corporate communications and demand generation. The ON24 platform is a complete Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud offering; no deployment resources or audience downloads are required. ON24 offers fully integrated, enterprise-wide solutions for applications ranging from partner expos, user conferences and trade shows to training and company town hall meetings. More than 750 organizations, including IBM, Cisco, CA Technologies, Merck, AstraZeneca, Fiserv, Credit Suisse, GE and Oracle, rely on ON24. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices throughout the world. For more information, visit www.ON24.com.

ON24