Technology has consistently been transforming the business landscape and the rise of virtual reality has especially ushered in revolutionary prospects. In recent years, the frequency of virtual events has continued to multiply as businesses wake up to their amazing potential for marketing their products and services. This, of course, has to do with the fact that the virtual space has unlocked countless opportunities for marketers which previously were either strictly limited or well, unthinkable. Virtual Trade Shows, in particular, has been unanimously welcomed by marketers as a modern, powerful and viable tool for effective lead generation. What is a Virtual Trade Show?Virtual Trade Shows are a fairly new phenomenon, so if you’re still not adequately informed about how the format works, you’re not alone. But given that marketing is well on its way to becoming primarily a digital affair and that virtual events will increasingly be embraced by industries as a cost-friendlier and more efficient alternative to physical marketing activities, you might want to brush up on your knowledge about them. Here’s a quick overview of what virtual trade shows entail and the value they hold for marketers. Virtual Trade Shows are the online counterparts of physical trade shows, where exhibitors can connect with attendees in a virtual space and showcase their products through a virtual trade show software or a virtual trade show platform. High-resolution 3D visuals are employed to replicate the environment and format of a physical trade show and ensure a realistic and immersive experience. Customized exhibition booths are placed across space, and visitors can freely explore the surroundings, stopping by any booth of their choosing and browsing its products. The scale and format of the show can range from basic to elaborate, depending on the exhibitor’s requirements. A range of interactive and informative tools can be employed to allow real-time communication and information sharing that delivers value to the visitors and encourages conversions. For example, visitors can view product demos, videos, chat with booth reps, flip through brochures, etc. Virtual Trade Shows thus provide a rich and engaging platform for real-time marketing and lead generation activities without the hassle that comes with physical events- wading through crowded auditoriums, confronting steep event expenditures, putting up with logistical bottlenecks etc. Not only are they a cost-friendlier option in comparison to physical trade shows, but they also eliminate the geographical, time and spatial constraints of physical events. With Virtual Trade Shows, exhibitors can reach a global audience with utmost ease and convenience and keep the event running for days on end. To learn more, read our article on the best way to score a home-run with a virtual trade show.Lead GenerationFor B2B marketers, lead generation is the topmost priority. After all, attracting prospects and stimulating their interest in your products is arguably the most crucial phase in the customer’s journey. While marketers have a range of lead generation channels available to them, from good old cold calls, to the numerous new opportunities that social media now provides, Virtual Trade Shows stand as a class apart. On account of the minimal physical input they require, and the ease of information they ensure, companies are fast recognizing the immense potential that virtual trade shows hold for prospect engagement and ultimate conversion. Virtual Trade Shows are therefore nothing short of a dream for B2B marketers. This is because when it comes to generating leads, B2B marketers understand that the prime objective is to inject lasting value into the customer’s journey, presenting them with tangible solutions for the pressing pain points they face. With Virtual Trade Shows, B2B marketers are offered an exhilarating platform, rich with features like live webinars, branded and interactive booths, live chat, downloadable content and networking lounges. Such a space presents itself as an ideal lead-nurturing environment. It’s essentially a vast playground for the B2B marketer that brings together a wide array of unique and innovative methods to connect with prospects and close the deal. To learn more about generating leads with a virtual event, you might want to check out our article on the Top 5 ways to generate B2B leads. Let’s discuss in more detail some of the features of virtual trade shows that make it such a fantastic lead generation tool. Reaching Prospects Globally Virtual trade shows aren’t subject to geographical limitations. They can be viewed by anyone, anywhere on any device. This basically means that a virtual trade show can allow exhibitors to engage a much larger audience and directly boosting their lead generation prospects without having to throw away money on venue rentals, and accommodation and transportation arrangements for guests. Pre-Qualified Leads With virtual trade shows, you can secure registrations prior to the event with customized and striking landing pages. Not only will this attract more audience, but the registered participants will automatically acquire lead status. After all, if they’ve registered for your event, they’re probably interested to some degree in what you have to say or what you’re selling. With their contact details at your disposal, you can leverage the opportunity to network and build a professional association with them. Secondly, even if these registered attendees aren’t able to attend the event, you can always reach out later to re-engage them instead of treating them as leads gone cold. Perhaps you could send them via email any brochures or e-books that were on display during the show or recordings of webinars that you hosted- anything that could help nurture these leads and ultimately convert them. Information Sharing Virtual trade shows are highly content and value-driven and provide vast opportunities for attendees to learn about the products and services on display. This material can easily be shared with the attendees, thereby facilitating them during the consideration phase of the sales funnel and encouraging lead conversion. Potential buyers can learn about products & services via marketing collateral like: · Product Photos and Videos · Product Demos · Brochures, E-books, and Infographics · Discount coupons The ‘Wow Factor’ of Webinars Moreover, you can pair your virtual event with webinars to deliver more insight and value to your audience. Webinars allow companies to posture themselves as a thought leader or expert, generate leads, connect with prospects and collect feedback from them. For attendees, on the other hand, webinars are a cost-efficient and convenient alternative to physical conferences that offer the same benefit of learning and idea-sharing. The attendees can also join Q&A sessions and participate in polls once the webinar broadcasting is over. The biggest plus point is that registrants who are unable to attend the event can be provided with webinar recordings after the event is over. Live webinars enhance the value that attendees can derive from a virtual event. They enable rich learning experiences, encourage a meaningful exchange of ideas and reveal useful content metrics. Read this article on Why You Need to Complement a Webinar with a Virtual Event to learn more about how Webinars can add value to your Virtual Trade Show. On-Demand Content The best thing about virtual events is that the content is available ‘on-demand’. This gives attendees the freedom to consume whatever they want, whenever they want and at their own convenience. This ends up being a more liberating and pleasant experience than the regiment of strict seminar schedules, thus boosting content utility and absorption. Chat Rooms Live Chat rooms allow the exhibitor to meaningfully engage with exhibitors either in a group setting or through a one-on-one session. Through real-time conversations, exhibitors can furnish details about their products, answer questions, gain feedback and understand the attendee’s viewpoint. This personal connection ultimately serves as a valuable opportunity for exhibitors to convince prospects of their offerings and close the deal. In other cases, they’re able to identify the audience’s response to their products and work on making improvements if the response is lukewarm. Personalization Personalization strikes a chord with your visitors in a way that few other methods can achieve. By tailoring your demos and presentations specifically to meet the requirements of the people visiting your booth, you can make your pitch more relevant and thus hold your visitors’ attention more successfully. Gamification Incorporating gamification elements into your booth can increase and amplify your lead-capture ability. For example, exhibitors can employ a game strategy, introducing giveaways and prizes for people who download or access their product information. Shorter Sales Cycle Virtual Trade Shows have the distinct advantage of compressing and accelerating your sales cycle. Visitors can view your product, watch a demonstration and swiftly move on to the negotiation phase, there and then. The virtual format thus offers a quick and seamless transition from one stage in the cycle to another, without unnecessary interruptions or time lags. Online Purchases You can also integrate e-commerce flows into your virtual tradeshow and allow prospects to make online payments by setting up an easy path to purchase. Additionally, you can keep passive buyers in the loop by including a “wish cart”. Customers who don’t intend to make an immediate purchase can have the option of storing products in this cart for purchase in the future. By catering to passive buyers, among other more active leads, you can spread your net wide and ensure a lead-nurturing environment.Post Event Strategy: Lead Tracking and Follow UpThis stage is most crucial, but unfortunately, also the most overlooked. Most exhibitors simply forget to follow up with the leads they accumulated during the event, abandoning them halfway through the sales cycle. To ensure conversions, once the event is over, you can send your prospects an email, asking for their feedback about the event, answering any questions they might have had, or simply thanking them for their attendance. You could also send them surveys regarding their experience with the event or your booth performance to understand the viewpoint of the visitors. This will help you identify the aspects of your participation that were a clear hit with the attendees which ones missed the mark. Moreover, once the Virtual Trade Show is over, detailed event reports on the ROI can be generated. Not only will the insights uncovered help you enhance your performance next time, but they will also reveal a great deal about the leads you managed to generate. Here are some analytics you’ll be able to access:Number of visitorsNumber of chat room interactionsNumber of transactions performedContent MetricsPro Tips for Participating in a Virtual Trade ShowBy now, we’ve adequately proven that virtual trade shows can be extremely conducive to B2B lead generation. However, you’ll attain the desired results only if you make sure you center your trade show plan around some tried and tested strategies. Here are some pro-tips you must include in your plan to ensure you stage a winning trade show performance.Invest in promoting your event via various digital channels- email, social media, etc.Make sure that the virtual trade show software provider can cater to your needs and requirements.Capture registrations prior to the event.Come up with a visually compelling trade show booth design.Include Marketing Collateral like product images and product videos.Host a live Webinar to engage visitors.Develop high-value CTAs and content for high-value prospects.Share tutorials for attendees to assist with navigation.Include Live Chat.Prepare downloadable content.Follow up with attendees post-event.Track and analyze important metrics like event ROI.Make the content available on-demand once the event is over.ConclusionVirtual Trade Shows come with a number of advantages. Their format, set up and features make it not only an easy and user-friendly alternative to physical trade shows, but one that holds valuable prospects for lead generation. As more and more workflows and marketing strategies shift to the digital realm, physical marketing events might soon lose their sheen. For your marketing efforts to serve their purpose, after all, it’s vital that you go where your customer is, and with the digital population rapidly mushrooming, the virtual events space should certainly be a key priority for marketers. Given the vast reach, flexibility, and fantastic marketing collateral offered by virtual events, they’re clearly a superior choice. ABOUT VFAIRSAt vFairs.com, we strive to build a top-class online event platform that will help event organizers make memorable connections with their target audience. We’re obsessed with taking out the hassle normally associated with physical events and leaving organizers and exhibitors to focus on what’s most important: engagement with the audience. Get in touch with an expert to learn more about vFairs here.