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The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is the global body for professional accountants, with more than 162,000 members and 428,000 students in 173 countries and a network of over 89 offices and centers across the world.
Bringing worldwide members together via virtual technology
With offices and members around the world, it was impractical for ACCA to hold a physical annual conference in all these markets. In 2011, the organization took the ACCA conference completely virtual on the ON24 virtual environment platform. In 2012 the organizers decided to change the format with a renewed focus on increasing the conversion of registrations to attendees.
The team focused on the event’s objectives and intended outcomes, the audience, their needs and the desire to showcase ACCA research. As a result:
- The annual ACCA conference was expanded to five days
- Each day was assigned a specific theme
- Events were scheduled at predetermined time slots throughout the day
In expanding the conference, ACCA was confident of the ON24 virtual environment platform’s ability to handle increased registrations, deliver five days’ worth of live and pre-recorded content and support an expanded resource library.
Turning the virtual event on its head, backed by ON24 technology
ACCA took the lessons learned from prior online events to maximize the return on the 2013 conference:
- Created a more intuitive and attractive environment design. The ON24 design team created a slick 3D environment with a purposeful lobby design that helped visitors to easily navigate through the conference and find desired content.
- Defrayed costs through the platform’s virtual exhibition hall. ACCA sold sponsorships to several industry-leading companies. These vendors and partners were able to promote their products and services in virtual booths and interact live with attendees.
- Capitalized on ON24’s scalable platform. ACCA was expecting tens of thousands of concurrent viewers for this online conference.
Events delivered on the ON24 virtual environment platform were offered as:
- Pre-recorded video panel debates: An industry expert showcased ACCA research at a higher level
- Live audio panel debates: Interactive Q&A made these sessions some of the most popular of the five days
- Pre-recorded workshops: A single presenter with slides, these practical sessions met the CPD needs for attending members
The ON24 virtual environment platform’s functionality, from automated registration to data capture on each participant, was key to helping ACCA focus on marketing activities and improving conversion rates, including re-targeting participants to attend specific sessions.
Success measured by attendance, participation and ROI
This thematic format gave each day more clarity and relevance and more closely mirrored the structure of a physical event, where attendees could pick the day(s) and topics most relevant to them. The strategy for the ACCA “Accounting for the Future 2013 Conference” delivered more than:
- 17,500 registrations
- 16,500 live session views
- 45,000 hours of user engagement
- 200 minutes average viewer duration
ACCA credits the conference’s success to the virtual environment, quality of speakers and theme-based content, all flawlessly executed on the ON24 virtual environment platform. Selling sponsorships to the virtual exhibition hall helped to further reduce the cost of the event from £5.30 per delegate in 2012 to £2.20 per delegate.
Brand reach was another measure of success for ACCA. Attendees were given brief questionnaires at the end of every session and asked to rate the event on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being completely satisfied. Nine out of 10 respondents rated the sessions 4 or 5, indicating they would recommend the event to colleagues.
Such word-of-mouth marketing efforts, combined with ON24 globalization and localization capabilities, will allow ACCA to further market and deliver events to member audiences around the world.