Virtual Event ROI

May 31, 2009

Virtual Edge 2009 Panel on Measurement & ROI

Virtual Edge 2009 Panel on Measurement & ROI

What’s a hot topic on the minds of virtual event marketers? I’ll give you a hint – it’s spelled R-O-I. At Virtual Edge 2009 in Santa Clara, CA, I participated in a panel discussion on the topic of virtual event ROI.  It’s pretty clear that virtual events are driving significant ROI today – signified by the interest in last week’s conference, the keen interest from marketers and the growth of the virtual event industry.  However, the audience questions from this panel discussion make it quite clear that ROI discussions and analysis need to advance to the next level.

Here were the 3 hot buttons raised by the audience:

  1. Tracking ROI via closed sales – yes, I know that virtual events will drive awareness, engagement and great overall statistics.  But at the end of the day, I need to know that my investment drove product sales.  And I’m just not sure I can quantify that today.
  2. Understanding user/activity profiles – my company wants to produce a virtual event for the C-level, but we just don’t know whether C-level employees will attend virtual events – and if they do, we certainly don’t know the typical activity profile of a C-level employee within a virtual event.  As such, we’re not sure we can recommend the investment to produce one.
  3. More meaningful engagement statistics – it’s great that I had 200 private chat sessions with attendees – but there’s a difference between a “I can’t find the auditorium” chat and a “can you provide me with pricing information” chat.  How do I make the distinction when analyzing my ROI?

Let’s address each of these hot buttons.

ROI via Closed Sales

Here’s where the platform provider needs to work hand in hand with the client.  First, the provider and client need to develop certain engagement patterns that are meaningful for the client.  One pattern may be as simple as, “attendee initiated a private chat with one of my booth reps”.  Another pattern might be, “attendee downloaded more than 5 documents from my booth and had more than 2 return visits”.  Once these patterns are defined, the following should occur:

  1. Platform provider – upon detection of a pattern match, insert (or update) a record in the client’s CRM system (e.g., Siebel, etc.).
  2. Client – have the processes and technologies in place for a timely response.  Then, have a secondary process to accurately track and measure the actions/outcome that result from the sales inquiry.

The job of the platform provider is to detect the engagement pattern and seamlessly update the client’s CRM system.  By handling the CRM import automatically, the platform provider is significantly accelerating the potential payoff (ROI) – since a marketer or sales rep is no longer required to manually import the sales opportunity from an Excel spreadsheet.

The client, then, needs a process to have the right person respond in a timely manner to the sales inquiry (e.g. Inside Sales, direct sales rep, etc.) and be able to track the eventual outcome.  The outcome then needs to be mapped back to the source (e.g. virtual event) – to complete the equation.  If these pieces work together, you’ll be able to track closed sales to your virtual event investment.

Activity Profiles

As noted during the Virtual Edge panel discussion, platform providers and clients will need to agree on the use of aggregate event data.  Today’s contracts specify that the client (event producer) owns all data on registrant profiles, activity data, etc.  To publish industry-wide data, it will be important for the lion’s share of clients and vendors to participate.

The data will not be as meaningful if large players (clients or vendors) are not part of the effort.  In addition, vendors and clients will need to agree on standard definitions – for instance, what is “C-level employee” defined as – and how do we map that definition back to registration fields?  A single vendor may have 10 clients – and 10 unique registration forms (with unique registration fields).

Unique registration fields make data aggregation challenging.  In addition, both clients and vendors will want to disclose (to virtual event attendees) that their activities will be utilized in reporting and analysis (at an aggregate level).  This discussion, in my mind, leads me to believe that an industry wide standards body is needed – an Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) for virtual events.

More meaningful engagement tracking

On the specific topic of deciphering chat content, technology is beginning to emerge to perform natural language recognition.  In child-based virtual worlds, I’ve read that technology can attempt to detect the presence of child predators within virtual world environments (where text chat is occuring).  I believe this technology can be applied to the business setting of a virtual event – whereby the sales worthiness of a chat session can be rated.

Have a look at this very interesting article from The New York Times – Software That Guards Virtual Playgrounds.

On the disclosure side, I think we need to make attendees aware of the use of this technology – so that they understand that the private chat they engage in may be read by a computer.

These are all interesting topics for the industry to address – I believe that in doing so, we’ll advance the industry significantly – and generate even stronger growth than we’re already seeing.

Related Links

  1. Blog posting: Increase Your Virtual Event ROI
  2. Blog posting: Virtual Event Adoption by the C-Suite
  3. Blog posting: What CPL Should I Pay For VTS?

Increase Your Virtual Event ROI: 10 Tips and Tactics

March 22, 2009

Source: Flickr (Ewan McIntosh)

Source: Flickr (Ewan McIntosh)

If you recently exhibited at a lead generation virtual event, then I’ve got some tips for you.  While most exhibitors consider the program “complete” at the conclusion of the live virtual event, your work is just beginning.  Outhustle your competition and you’ll generate more ROI, beating them to the punch on shared sales leads.  There are two primary strategies for generating a higher return on your investment:

  1. Leverage your existing investment to generate net new sales leads
  2. Better convert your existing sales leads

Leverage Existing Investment

  1. Convince the virtual event host to light up the environment – most virtual events remain “on demand” for 3 months after the live show date.  During those 3 months, you’ll see intermittent activity – some attendees return to visit your booth – some new leads sprinkle in, 1 here and 2 more a few days later.  Your event organizer should be incented to produce another “live date”, in which past attendees are invited to return – and, new registrants are invited to participate.  After all, the event organizer has fixed costs as well – and lighting up the show again means more revenue.  The organizer will want brand new content to draw users in (e.g. compelling Live Webcasts, like they used in the original event) – and you’ll want to leverage the same amount of booth reps to interact with attendees.
  2. Convince the virtual event host to support portable booths – you spent a lot of time getting your booth just right – selecting the right logo and Flash movie, finding relevant White Papers and producing some case studies just for the event.  Your booth is a great marketing vehicle and should be leveraged elsewhere – how about placing your booth on its own microsite – or, embedding the booth on your corporate web site?  The eco-friendly practice of re-use applies here as well.
  3. Syndicate booth content – for the White Papers, podcasts, Case Studies, etc. that you placed in your booth, syndicate them with the event organizer and related web and blog sites.  This broadens the reach of your content – and allows you to generate more sales leads.
  4. Syndicate Webcast content – if you had a speaking slot at the virtual event, ask the show host for a copy of the Webcast – then, host it on your corporate web site and syndicate it with the event organizer and related web sites.  Any content generated for the event should be re-used – it can generate new sales leads with minimal overhead or cost.
  5. Syndicate the supplemental Webcast content (in different forms) – convert your Webcast into an MP3 audio podcast and make that available on your web site along with the Webcast.  Syndicate the podcast as well, in case your target audience prefers the convenience of a download over the viewing of a streaming presentation.  Take the Q&A of the Webcast and transcribe that into a PDF or HTML document – and place this on your web site as well.  You get the idea here – spread your wings, without thinning the pocketbook.

Convert Existing Leads

  1. Find those Top 10 leads – whether you have an automated system or need to do this manually, comb through the wealth of engagement data that a virtual event provides and find those Top 10 leads.  These are the folks who Sales must call now.  Perhaps they downloaded 10 of your White Papers – or, perhaps they did a text chat with a booth rep and requested that a sales rep call.  Either way, they need immediate attention.  If you know the sales reps who should handle these leads, don’t be shy about personally walking the leads over to them and providing the details as to why the leads as so hot.
  2. Get the basics right in your follow-ups – if Inside Sales is following up by phone with some leads, make sure the reps have a script that covers the correct name of the virtual event – and arm them with some important details of the event (e.g. date, topics, speakers, etc.).  For email follow-up, be sure to include the virtual event title in the Subject line.  Always be sure to reference the context of the event in all of your touchpoints.
  3. Build customized follow-up paths based on prospect activity – again, whether it’s automated or manual, factor in the prospect’s specific activities within the live event and tailor the follow-up touchpoints based on that activity.  Study the 5 White Papers they downloaded and recommend a 6th that brings it all home.  Study the chat transcript with your booth rep and send an email follow-up that ties up any loose ends.  Believe me, the prospects will appreciate the personal attention and the value you deliver to them.
  4. Use the virtual event platform to faciliate your follow-up – your show host is keeping the environment open for 3 months – so it would be a shame not to leverage it for all its worth.  When you do secure a follow-up appointment – consider complementing your phone call by meeting your prospect back in the virtual event.  There, you can do text or webcam chat in an environment s/he is familiar with.  And perhaps you place some additional content in the booth for your prospect to review.
  5. Send small prizes to highly engaged prospects – not everyone could win a prize during the live event – so, find those top 10 leads – or, top 10 most engaged users (in your booth) and send them a memory stick or webcam.  As discussed, reference the context of the event in your communications.  Perhaps the memory stick contains additional White Papers that may be of interest.  Just make sure the touchpoint is personalized – and don’t send the prize just for the sake of sending something.

So there you have it.  Don’t forget that your campaign doesn’t end at the conclusion of the live virtual event.  That signals the starting point of the important phase – the one in which you’re head to head with the competition.  So make sure you score a higher ROI than they do.

Home Depot’s EXPO Design Centers Should Go Virtual

January 29, 2009

In a press release issued this week, Home Depot announced that it’s shuttering its doors on all 34 EXPO Design Center stores:

The EXPO business has not performed well financially and is not expected to anytime soon. Even during the recent housing boom, it was not a strong business. It has weakened significantly as the demand for big ticket design and decor projects has declined in the current economic environment. Continuing this business would divert focus and resources from the Company’s core “orange box” stores. Therefore, over the next two months, the Company will be closing 34 EXPO Design Center stores, five YardBIRDS stores, two Design Center stores and a bath remodeling business known as HD Bath, with seven locations.

But wait!  Let’s not be too quick to liquidate all the inventory and tear down the walls.  Images and footage can be captured from the existing design centers — and placed online.  With a Virtual EXPO Design Center, Home Depot can:

  1. Generate leads/business to their core orange box stores
  2. Facilitate e-commerce transactions directly within the virtual design center
  3. Bring the design center to the entire world (and not just those in the vicinity of the 34 physical stores)
  4. Differentiate from the competition

And, they can do all of this for fairly low cost – much lower than their costs for maintaining the original 34 physical design centers.  The concept here is a mashup between and Amazon.  With, prospective home buyers search for homes, view photos and take 360 degree tours.

With Amazon, shoppers of goods peruse, search and eventually purchase (online).  With a virtual design center, you facilitate both activities – prospects search for particular appliances and take 360 degree tours of model kitchens and baths.  By clicking on a particular item, the user can be provided with its full specifications (dimensions, weight, etc.) and  be taken to to purchase it immediately.

So visit the showrooms that are still standing and capture photos, videos and 360 tours.  There are many affordable solutions for capturing and rendering 360 views, such as IPIX and 360iSight.  Next, go interview some of the 5,000 employees you were planning to lay off and find the ones who are most personable and most “online savvy”.

Offer selected employees positions to remain with the company – as virtual showroom staff.  In their new role, their job is to be an embassador (online), answer questions in online chat and discussion forums (within the virtual design center) and help facilitate e-commerce or real-world sales.  To mix in some fun, outfit their avatars with the Home Depot orange apron (and yes, I know, that’s from the orange box stores – but, we’re having fun – and, it might help reinforce the brand).

To provide value to your ecosystem of partners and vendors, allow selected vendors (e.g. GE, Maytag, Kohler) to have booths within the virtual design center, which would provide a centralized collection of the vendor’s products.  Feel free to charge these vendors for their booth, so that you recoup some of your costs for building this environment.

Vendors could provide their own employees to staff the booth.  And once a week, allow a selected vendor to provide a live presentation (webinar or videocast) in the design center’s Auditorium.  Instead of driving clicks to the vendor’s web sites, allow users to click into to purchase the vendor’s products there.

Now, if you have leftover budget or time, mix in more fun into the environment – provide interactive areas where users can interact with kitchen or bath appliances.  Allow a user to turn on/off a stove; set an oven timer; open/close cabinets; fill up a jacuzzi tub with water.  Features like this increase the stickiness of the site and may keep users coming back.  I’m sure there’s much more than can be done – so whether it’s Home Depot or another retailer, I’m expecting to see this concept (virtual design center) become a reality in 2009.

Viking range?  $1,099.99.  LG refrigerator?  $799.99.  Online leads, interactivity and e-commerce?  Priceless.

Adobe’s Real World Launch Is Suppplemented With Virtual Launch

January 25, 2009

PRWeb / Adobe

Source: PRWeb / Adobe

When launching a product suite with “eLearning” in the title, what better a place to hold launch activities than the virtual world?  Last week, Adobe launched two new product suites, Adobe eLearning Suite and Adobe Technical Communication Suite 2.  This coming week, Adobe will be holding virtual launch activities of eLearning Suite in the virtual world of Second Life.  The virtual launch is the work of Moderne Interactive, a digital advertising agency whose practices include “custom and private virtual worlds”.  Details of the launch activities planned in Second Life:

Adobe Product Evangelist RJ Jacquez will lead an interactive demonstration from Second Life at Noon Pacific Time (12 p.m. SLT) both days. Jacquez will showcase the powerful features that the new Captivate 4 and eLearning Suite products can offer to education, government, and other communities. In addition to live product demonstrations by Jacquez, Adobe and Moderne representatives will be on hand to distribute free trials of the innovative software, to answer questions, and to direct users to further resources.

At 7 p.m. on Monday and at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the Adobe eLearning Island will also hold a celebration of Second Life community that will feature resident Second Life musicians and artists who will share their talents with the gathered crowds.

A virtual world is a great place to demonstrate a product – vendors provide a rich, 3D representation of the product (or, in the case of software, a 2D representation of the actual software) and prospects can see the product in action.  Prospects may also be able to interact with the product directly.  Moderne Interactive and Adobe were wise to provide parallels to a physical launch – such as the free trial giveaways (of the software) and the obligatory musical entertainment.

What’s another neat feature of the virtual world?  The ongoing presence.  With a physical launch event, you tear down the event once the day is over.  Your booth comes down, you bring your product collateral and launch material back to your office and all participants go home.  With a virtual launch, you keep your launch material online, making it available 24×7 to anyone across the globe.  And that’s precisely what Adobe is doing:

During and after the launch events, Adobe will keep its eLearning Island open to the public to highlight its eLearning Suite and Captivate 4 products via, which launched early this week. The island features several interactive elements meant to educate and entertain audiences about Adobe’s eLearning products. Adobe’s eLearning Island can be reached in Second Life at the following location:

“Educate and entertain” – a great approach not only in leveraging the virtual world, but a best practice for launching a product in general.  If you’re a product evangelist (like RJ Jacquez at Adobe), a product marketer or a product manager, I suggest that you learn the logistics and customs of virtual worlds.  Pretty soon, your VP Products or CMO may have you supplementing your trade show and physical launches with appearances in the virtual world!

Here’s hoping that Moderne Interactive and Adobe provide some archived footage from their Second Life events for those of us who aren’t able to attend live.  After all, when RJ is providing a demo of Adobe Captivate 4, I’m sure someone else can be using that same software (in the real world) to record a screencast for us!  Best of luck on a great SL event.

Related links

  1. SLentrepreneur Magazine: Adobe in Second Life: Moderne Interactive Builds Immersive Learning Center for Adobe

Virtual Event Best Practices

January 23, 2009

With a number of virtual events on tap for 2009 (see the calendar of events here), marketers and exhibitors are busy preparing – assembling content for their booth, rounding up colleagues for “booth duty” and preparing the sales team for a burst of hot sales leads.  I’ve assembled past blog posts into a collection of virtual event best practices.  Without further ado:

  1. Bring the right people, have the right content (in your booth), perform the right actions and provide the right prizes (
  2. Utilize surveys to provide a deeper understanding of your customer prospects and generate insights back to your product management team (
  3. Leverage Twitter – show-hosts can look to Twitter to expand the reach of the event’s audience and exhibitors can leverage Twitter to invite their followers to visit their booth at  the event (
  4. It’s not always about “net new sales leads” – get closer to your existing customers (
  5. Use treasure hunts to increase engagement (
  6. Have a process in place to handle the hot sales leads (
  7. Utilize multiple metrics to judge success – Cost Per Lead (CPL) is the key metric for most marketers, but also consider other success metrics [e.g. quality of leads, conversion of inquiry to sales engagement, etc.] (

What best practices do you utilize at virtual events?  I welcome your input – feel free to drop a comment below.

Economic Downturn To Spur Virtual Job Fairs

January 10, 2009

On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the nation’s unemployment rate hit a 16-year high of 7.2%, with 11.1 million Americans out of work.  Many of the unemployed are turning to sites like Yahoo HotJobs,, and Linkedin.  With such a wide pool of available talent, companies looking to fill positions will receive no shortage of attention (and job submissions). While this is a good thing for the hiring companies, they’ll be challenged to efficiently filter through the submissions and find the right candidates for the jobs.

Let’s consider today’s dynamic for hiring companies:

  1. Large potential applicant base (11.1 million unemployed)
  2. Applicants are cash-strapped
  3. Hundreds (or thousands) of submissions generated for a given job posting

What’s a good solution to address this combination of factors?  The virtual job fair.  With the unemployed less likely to incur expense to attend a physical job fair, placing the event online means that you’ll attract a larger (and potentially global) audience.  And while you won’t be face-to-face with potential hires, there are plenty of advantages of flooring such an event virtually.

First, let’s consider your job at the job fair. While your ultimate goal is to source attractive candidates, it’s just as important to sell your company (amd the benefits of working there) to these candidates. Some possibilities to consider for the virtual job fair:

  1. Place detailed information about the job (and your company) in your virtual booth – supplement with external links (back to your corporate site)
  2. Invite senior executives to the event (not just the hiring manager, but the hiring manager’s manager) – including your CEO!  Your CEO’s participation is quite possible with a virtual event, but may not be practical at a physical event
  3. Invite employees who hold the same (or similar) position – and have them network with candidates
  4. Host presentations about your company (e.g. webinars)
  5. Include on-demand video in your booth – so that candidates can hear (and see) from your company representatives
  6. Host sesssions in the event that show candidates how your company operates.  For instance, if you’re supplementing your software development team, stage a developer meeting for folks to observe. Virtual worlds like Second Life or web.alive can facilitate such a session. 

As for filtering through the candidates, you’ll want to review the chat transcripts that they had with your company representatives and review activity reports (e.g. booth visits, documents downloaded) to gauge their interest level in your company.  Additionally, work with your platform provider on applications you might leverage, such as surveys or quizzes to differentiate candidates.

On the attendee side, I recommend the following:

  1. Carefully select your avatar, since it’s a representation of you in the virtual world.  You’re sending a signal to your potential employer. Picking an unsuitable avatar is equivalent to attending a physical job fair unshowered and in your pajamas
  2. Take care in all your touchpoints.  Potential employers will be able to pick up on your writing abilities within text chat, for instance. Does your resume claim, “excellent written communication skills”?  Well, be sure to demonstrate them!
  3. Bring useful and relevant resources to supplement your candidacy – e.g. writing samples, code excerpts, etc. Additionally, look up potential employers online (e.g. on Linkedin) for additional context.

TMP Worldwide (parent company of hosted a number of virtual job fairs in Second Life during 2007.  EMC, Accenture, GE and U.S. Cellular exhibited, among other companies.  You can still visit the Network in World site here.

On January 14, 2009, P&G is hosting a U.S. Diversity Virtual Career Fair (full disclosure: my employer [InXpo] is powering this event).  I expect to see several more virtual job fairs in 2009, especially as job openings begin to pick up again from hiring companies.  If you have plans to attend or exhibit at a virtual job fair this year, leave a comment below with some details!

How to Handle Those Hot Virtual Tradeshow Sales Leads

December 31, 2008

It’s the holy grail of online lead generation – you generate sales leads that pursue you and your company (rather than the other way around).  This holy grail scenario often plays out in B-to-B Virtual Tradeshows.  Some attendees come to the virtual event with approved budget, purchasing authority and a specific need.  As such, they’re shopping around with the various exhibitors to see who offers the solution that best fits their requirements.

These attendees will ask you (or your colleagues) very specific questions, covering technical specifications, product features and pricing.  At the conclusion of their visit, they may ask to be connected to a sales representative from your company.  How better can it get for you as an online marketer?  For this opportunity that fell into your lap – be sure to close the loop (with sales) on this lead or else the happy ending may be told by your competitor.

Here’s a sample chat that’s representative of what I’ve seen in virtual events:

Attendee: Thanks for the information about your products.
Exhibitor: You’re welcome!
Attendee: I’d like to set up a meeting to price out a configuration and discuss a few requirements that the product needs to meet
Exhibitor: Where are you based?
Attendee: New York City
Exhibitor: (a few minutes later) OK, the area sales manager for NYC is Bob Johnson.  His email address is and his phone number is 212-555-1212.
Attendee: Thanks, I’ll contact him.

Not good enough!  The exhibitor missed out on a golden opportunity here.  Additional steps that I’d recommend:

  1. Copy/paste the transcript of the chat and immediately email it to Bob Johnson
  2. Connect with Bob via email, IM, etc. – letting him know about the hot lead
  3. Update your CRM system (e.g., SalesLogix, etc.) with the transcript of the chat and a summary of the sales inquiry
  4. Urge Bob to follow up immediately with the attendee — let the attendee know (during the chat session) that “Bob is ready to take your call right now” – or, “Bob will call you first thing in the morning”
  5. Get Bob to login to the virtual event right now – you already know that there’s one hot lead from his territory – a sales opportunity waiting for Bob to close
  6. Provide your own contact info to the attendee, letting her know that you can be contacted if Bob cannot be reached

Remember, leads in a virtual tradeshow can be very hot.  Handle with care and don’t treat them like hot potatoes.  If you do, then your competitors may be eating your lunch.

What Cost Per Lead (CPL) Should I Pay for Virtual Tradeshow Sponsorships?

December 28, 2008


Flickr (TheTruthAbout)

Source: Flickr ("TheTruthAbout")

For online marketers responsible for lead generation, the name of the game is Cost Per Lead (CPL).  While it’s not the be-all, end-all, CPL is certainly top-of-mind for marketers – and in this economic environment, CPL is receiving heightened attention from the online marketer, her CMO and her CFO (and possibly even the CEO).

So let’s get the numbers out of the way first.  For B-to-B virtual tradeshows (VTS), I’ve seen CPL’s in a range of $15-$50 for worldwide leads.  The low end reflects events where the organizer has over-delivered on leads or priced the sponsorships reasonably (or both). The high end reflects a more focused event or an event that has slightly underdelivered.  I’ve seen a few events fall outside this range, with CPL’s as low as $10 (or even lower) and as high as $70.

So you’d want your sponsorship to be within this range.  But, I think that for VTS, “What is my CPL” is not the right question!  The following questions are more applicable:

  1. What’s the quality of the audience and does it match my target profile (e.g. geography, purchasing authority, has budget, etc.)
  2. What level of interactions did I have with the attendees
  3. What was my cost per sales engagement and how does that compare to my other marketing activities
  4. What was my cost per customer acquisition and how does that compare to my other marketing activities

So as an example, I’d be fine with paying a CPL of $60, if the resulting cost per sales engagement was lower than my other marketing programs. Remember a key point about these leads, though – they are shared with the other exhibitors at the event.  As such, it’s important to:

  • Distinguish your company at the event – attract visitors to your booth and generate interactions with sales prospects.  If you put in the hard work here, you can short-circuit the lead nurturing and lead follow-up stages – as you can find prospects who are in the later stages of their purchasing decisions and very receptive to hearing more from you.
  • Distinguish your company after the event – follow up with prospects intelligently and promptly.  Don’t forget that if you do your job at the event, then the after-event steps become much easier.

Like with most purchasing decisions, shop wisely – and rememer that there’s much more to the equation than just the CPL price tag.

Eloqua’s Digital Body Language

December 24, 2008

An article in ClickZ titled “TriNet Uses Digital Body Language to Arm Sales Reps” describes how TriNet (an HR services company) leveraged Eloqua’s Program Builder to augment their process of online lead qualification.  When I attended an Eloqua sales presentation on Digital Body Language, I immediately agreed with their approach – and found their digital body language analogy to be quite apt.  Prospects who are interacting with you (e.g. via a visit to your web site) leave tremendously valuable fingerprints.  Web site publishers ought to leverage this valuable data to smarten their lead qualification and follow-up.

 I think that a perfect complement to this digital body language concept can be found in virtual events.  Here, prospects are providing rather explicit cues regarding their interest in your products and services – they’re downloading your White Papers, returning to visit your booth, chatting with your booth reps, etc.  Your nurturing and qualification cycle become condensed down into a single event (e.g. the virtual event!).

If you’re an online marketer who’s using Eloqua’s system, a great complementary program for 2009 might be a virtual event sponsorship.  I think you’ll find valuable body language (from prospects).  Some might even ask you out on a date (to meet with one of your sales reps, that is!).

Utilize Surveys in Virtual Events

December 19, 2008

Online marketers often speak of hard ROI (explicit return) and soft ROI.  In this economic climate, soft ROI is being cut and marketers are focusing (with rare exception) on hard ROI.  But what if you could generate hard ROI and soft ROI simultaneously?  Would your CMO or CFO like that?  I’d bet that the CMO would, at minimum.

So consider the use of surveys within your virtual events.  Let’s say you generated 200 visitors to your booth.  And let’s say 70% of those visitors completed an online survey that was available right there in your booth (equalling 140 survey completes).  You might think I’m crazy to suggest that 70% of visitors would actually fill out a survey.  But what if you provided a prize?  And, you qualified visitors into the prize drawing via completion of the survey?  I’ve seen it with my own two eyes – one particular event had 70% of booths visitors completing the exhibitors’ in-booth survey (i.e. for those who chose to utilize a survey).

140 survey completes results in a statistically significant sample size.  And you’re likely not going to generate such a high response rate if you message to these visitors post-event.  Here are my Top 3 reasons for doing a survey in a virtual event:

  1. Plan your marketing content – let your target audience tell you what they’re interested in, what media formats they like to consume, what content they want (from you)  as they evaluate your products and services.  Leverage this valuable information to plan your White Papers, webinars and follow-on virtual events.
  2. Generate insights for your Product Manager – partner with your company’s product managers and ask them what info they’d like from customers and prospective customers.  You’d be a hero to Product Management and the success will certainly bubble up to the CMO or VP of Products.  And, by the way, this may help your company design better products.
  3. Intelligent lead follow-up –  survey questions are very similar to the qualifying questions that online marketers use on lead gen registration forms.   Don’t be afraid to review individual survey responses to better plan your lead follow-up with selected leads.

Now, what’s the cost of doing the survey?  Well, the prize will set you back a few hundred dollars (e.g. for a GPS, Nintendo Wii, iPod, etc.).  When evaluated against the soft ROI you can  generate,  I think the investment is worth it.  As Richard Dawson may ask, “Survey says?” – YES.

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