Following my post (Sustainability Then) about the recent Sustainability Now online event, I have just received an email from Nathan Easom, one of the CMP marketing team, with a note about the marketing (“will try not to leave 6 weeks notice this time!”) and an update on the statistics.
He tells me that of 3711 people who registered, 1567 (or 42%) actually attended the event. The 17 exhibitors at the event received an average of 231 unique visitors to their virtual stands during the event.
I am sure the averages conceal some wide variations. I would be interested to know what the most-frequently-visited stand was, and – perhaps more importantly – why. From a marketing perspective, all sorts of questions spring to mind about attracting and engaging with virtual visitors – for instance:
- Was having a well-known brand-name important?
- Did stand design make a difference?
- Linked to both the above, how many visitors were genuinely interested in the company and its offerings, or simply curious about what the company actually did (or just picked a stand at random to test the virtual event technology!)?
- What promotion (if any, online or offline) did companies do before the event?
- What types of stand content were most popular – and what was less popular? (I viewed a document on one stand that was initially almost illegible, but the Flash viewer blew things up a bit too big. PDFs, on the other hand, worked OK, as did website links – but these opened in a new window posing a risk of visitors drifting away from the event.)
- How easy was it to communicate with a real person? (As I wrote, my online dialogue with Archetype was completed relatively promptly – not the experience of isite‘s Martin Brown on another stand – but I’m not sure the email-type channel was most appropriate; I much preferred the real-time immediacy of the chatroom tool.)
- What follow-up activities were undertaken after the event?
- And, of course, for those exhibitors selling products and services, how good was a virtual event for generating sales leads, and how many were converted?
From a web 2.0 perspective, Martin Brown used Twitter to contact another attendee who was online at the event but in a different zone; perhaps Sustainability Now could be more integrated with other social networking tools? One opportunity was missed: the Building discussion forums. Several attendees were registered forum users, but we still had to create our event profiles and maybe add an avatar image; why not give users the option of reusing their details and images from the Building site? (This would save time when registering; the forums might also be a source of potential registrations for future events.) Going further, why not give users the option of reusing profiles from a range of social networking tools: Twitter, Facebook, etc? CMP might also use create a Facebook event for such events – just as the recent OpenTech event did – getting an online buzz far greater than would be achieved solely through a conventional website or blog.