MarketingProfs and Junta42|Content Marketing Institute have published a research report titled “B2B Content Marketing: 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends“. The research was the result of surveys with 1,100 North American marketers in May 2010, “the largest, most comprehensive content marketing study of its kind in the world”. We’d like to present a few key takeaways, as it relates to content marketing with face-to-face, virtual and hybrid events.
Content Marketing via Virtual Conferences
Takeaway: Education and ROI key tactics needed to drive virtual conference adoption
If you’re looking to produce virtual conferences and virtual events on behalf of exhibitors (advertisers), education is needed to explain the basics (e.g. “what is a virtual conference”), the benefits (e.g. cost savings, extended audience reach, detailed engagement tracking, etc.) and the logistics (e.g. how to build and staff a virtual booth).
One tactic we’ve found quite useful is the case study. Work to achieve that first success story, then work with client(s) to document and publicize the success. Provide as much detail as possible (e.g. leads generated, costs saved, etc.), so that the case study serves as a reference and endorsement for future business.
Finally, consider the power of pairing the virtual conference with the in-person event to create a hybrid event. If we’re correct in our predictions, “hybrid events” will see enough adoption in 2011 that the next content marketing survey will include them as their own category.
Basis for takeaway: As illustrated above, virtual conferences are used by 11% of marketers surveyed, far lower than Podcasts (16%), Webinars/Webcasts (42%), White Papers (43%) and In-Person Events (62%).
Content Marketing in the Healthcare Industry
Takeaway: Tailor solutions for certain vertical industries
As an event organizer, understand the preferences of certain vertical industries, such as healthcare. Given this result (above), the healthcare segment may be resistant to virtual events. If you do want to organize a virtual (or hybrid) event in the healthcare industry, understand why 83% of marketers prefer in-person events. Chances are that regulations and disclosures are a key concerns. Understand and document those concerns first, determine how they can be addressed in a virtual environment – and only then approach potential exhibitors about virtual event opportunities.
Basis for takeaway: “Respondents in the healthcare industry — who also operate in a highly regulated environment — favor in-person events above all other content products (83%).”
Takeaway: Hybrid events, here they come
We’ve always believed in the effectiveness of in-person events. And while it’s become a cliche that “you can never replace the handshake”, virtual event planners should study what makes in-person events effective – and where possible, incorporate those dynamics in the virtual environment. For instance, the use of video brings an added dimension, whether it’s 1:1 or 1:many video-based interactions.
In addition, event planners should consider combining the two top-rated vehicles (in-person events + webinars) to create hybrid events. We believe that in a few short years, every in-person event will have a virtual component. When that happens, it’s “hybrid events” that will surpass “in-person events” – the 72% effectiveness rating will approach 100%.
Basis for takeaway: As illustrated above, 72% of marketers found in-person events to be effective. In-person events are the highest rated content vehicle, handily surpassing the Webinars/Webcasts, at 56%.