At Kaltura we often say that every company is a media company. Video is (1) becoming easier and cheaper to produce, while (2) allowing brands to drive better customer attention and engagement.

These two drivers become evident when considering producing a virtual conference. Five years ago, producing 8-15 video talks (TED style) would have been a costly endeavor that only large companies could afford. This has changed. Today, every production aspect, from video equipment through specialized manpower, is much more accessible. While video production still requires a high level of expertise, there are many professionals out there that can do much more with less.

At the same time, consumer attention is much more limited than five years ago. Today, marketers deal with a cluttered digital space that offers great content for free. Furthermore, gone are the days when prospects and customers were willing to travel significant distances to attend a conference. With a video conference they don’t need to.

Last December, Kaltura ran its first Virtual Summit, dedicated to online video in education, learning, and training. The results exceeded our expectations. We are now putting the final touches on two additional Virtual Summits, which will take place in June, and thought we’d share our experiences here. Watch the promo here:

Here are five reasons why a virtual conference is the ultimate video marketing tool.

1. Accelerate pipeline deals

We found that the Virtual Summit significantly accelerated the speed at which deals in our new business pipeline were signed. Those institutions that were already evaluating Kaltura said that the accessibility of the virtual conference made it a very easy way for them to learn more about our offerings and to connect with our existing clients, resulting in a faster decision.

2. Reach more prospects and clients

The volume of people registering for the event was much higher than for a traditional vendor conference because travel was taken out of the equation. We had over 2,600 people worldwide registering for the event and over 1,300 actual attendees. We also took over 900 new leads from the event.

3. Gain more insight

You can get a much better understanding of what attendees are most interested in because you can see which presentations they opted to attend, which virtual exhibitor ‘booths’ they decided to visit, and who they requested to speak with during the event. This allows you to tailor your follow-up more effectively.

4. Highly targeted networking

With a virtual conference, a genuinely interactive dimension can be added so that attendees can easily identify other attendees to whom they would like to chat (by institution name/job title/etc.). In contrast, at a traditional conference people have to scour the room looking at name badges, which is a much less efficient process.

5. Easy booth visitor capture

With a virtual booth at a virtual conference, exhibitors don’t need to worry about accurately recording the details of their visitors or scanning their badges because anyone who clicks to enter the booth is automatically recorded and added to a database for follow up after the event. Exhibitors can also search attendees by job title/company name/country, and invite relevant attendees to chat or to visit the virtual booth, making it much easier to target and meet potential partners and customers.

6. Capture Great Content

A virtual conference is a fantastic excuse to execute all those videos you always wanted to create and never had the time or budget. Other than filming the presentations, we also used this opportunity to interview our clients and edit short thought-provoking videos about how to choose the right video platform and how to create a great social enterprise experience. These 5-minute interviews, with real insight and statistics can be later presented as part of case studies and improve SEO on platforms like YouTube and DailyMotion.

7. Earn Valuable Experience

You may be reading this and thinking to yourself that no matter how video technology has evolved, the personal-physical experience is hard to match. That is true to a certain extent. But if you have ever produced a physical conference you also know how many resources it requires. For organizations with little event production experience, a virtual conference could be a good way to gain valuable experience in coordinating speakers and structuring an effective marketing plan. By doing that, they would significantly minimize the risk associated with a large physical event.

As marketers, we constantly work hard to generate leads, while staying within our budget constraints. It’s all about our ability to track the ROI of our marketing activities and understand what’s working and what’s not. Despite some scepticism from a few team members, the virtual event definitely paid off, and everyone was in favour of conducting another one this year, and on a bigger scale too.

To get a taste of what is possible with virtual conferences, why not register for the Kaltura Video Summit 2013 here.

Iddo Shai

Iddo Shai

Columnist


Iddo Shai is Director, Product Marketing, News & Entertainment at Kaltura.