What is driving the growth of virtual events?
Sharan: Webcasts and webinars have become very important marketing tactics that enterprise technology-oriented companies cannot live without. No other medium allows you to target qualified audiences, generate an average of 200 to 300 people who are watching, listening and interacting, who spend 45 minutes on average with your webinar and who, then, with lead scoring technology, are added to your CRM and become very important leads. Also, doing virtual events gives you a directness, an immediacy, an intimacy with your audience at a much lower cost. We are in a recession or slow growth time, and people want to reduce travel, reduce costs, go green. All of those are key things that virtual events and webcasts provide.
How does going green play into this?
Sharan: We will do 25,000 webcasts this year. If you take 25,000 webcasts with an average of 250 to 300 people, you are saving a lot of people traveling by plane and car. [Also, there are] less carbon emissions and less printing of paper. Webcasting and virtual event technology is ideal.
What is the biggest benefit of virtual events?
Sharan: Lead generation, then brand awareness and education. If you are a b-to-b company and you want to generate sales leads, you use your own database, partner with a publisher or do some other list work [to] drive a targeted audience to come to this webcast. You may have an analyst talk about the product, you may educate people on the product and you [may] take questions. Based on how you have interacted, you would qualify the leads and add to your database of potential customers. So people got educated, they asked questions and now you have an opportunity to sell to them. That is the biggest advantage. Lead generation is the wheel that drives everything.
What is the future of virtual events?
Sharan: We are seeing more demand for a suite of products: webcasts, podcasts, “bannercasts,” virtual shows. All of these are registration products. You have to have strong reporting because you have to show ROI to the customer. Enterprise customers and publishers are looking for one vendor who can be integrated into their systems. M