B2B Articles - January 24, 2022
By Ross Lancaster, Content Specialist
Think back to where you were two years ago at your B2B company. Chances are you were working at least some of the time in a “traditional” office space or building. Zoom or Teams calls probably weren’t the default mode of internal team communication, and you probably had a healthy budget devoted to in-person events. If digital events were on your radar at all, they may not have been a priority for selling to buyers.
March 2020 hit, and in-person events came to a complete halt. Two weeks turned into two months and the rest of 2020. Parts of 2021 provided a reprieve for many in-person B2B events, but COVID-19 waves and variants prevented a long-anticipated return to a 2019 level of in-person events.
As 2022 begins with the omicron variant in full force in North America and Europe, it’s clear that in-person B2B events won’t have be ubiquitous again for the foreseeable future. As more companies commit to remote work as a default way of doing business and communicating, digital events will no longer be thought of as a virus-necessitated novelty.
Organizations who took advantage of the all-digital event opportunities of 2020 are now reaping the benefits, and those who assumed hordes of people would be packing into convention centers and exhibit halls again in mid-2020 have been playing an 18-month game of catch-up with fewer prospects available.
But beyond their popularity, do digital events help B2B companies make sales? The evidence points to a resounding yes. A 2021 McKinsey survey of 3,600 B2B buyers found the following:
Digital events are a gold mine for leads - but leads on their own don’t produce sales and revenue. After an event provides a team with a list of emails and engagement metrics, organizations can help qualify SQLs and enable sales by producing emails that speak to buyers’ pain points and offer highly relevant content.
Account-based marketing (ABM) takes a nurture strategy to the next level, with marketing and sales teams identifying specific accounts and audiences to target and developing campaigns to educate them. One benefit of using ABM as it relates to digital events is that target accounts can be identified before the event and invited to take part.
Webinars can put a brand in front of its ideal customers, give them the opportunity to speak about important topics, and allow thought leaders and subject matter experts to represent the brand. In addition to building trust and authority, these (often free) digital events also let companies demonstrate their products and services in relevant use cases and scenarios.
That potential to show off products and services means that if your B2B organization is on the cutting edge of technology, it can get buyers on board during a simple 45-minute video call — instead of waiting for an in-person trade show that could be at the whims of the virus or weather events. And evidence shows that webinars are a boon for sales: an ON24 report from mid-2021 found that 66% of sales teams prioritize leads from webinars and that webinars are the top digital channel for sales qualified leads among 89% of surveyed respondents.
However, B2B events shouldn’t be thought of in binary terms going forward. There will still be a healthy demand for traditional events and trade shows among those who prefer face-to-face interactions and in-person networking. And while more and more people have become used to conducting regular business through a screen and camera, “Zoom fatigue” is a real phenomenon for even the digitally savvy.
As the events market matures to a hybrid format that includes online and offline touchpoints, B2B companies who combine digital practices with in-person events will be best positioned to reach buyers — and be prepared for any abrupt market shakeups.
Business Wire/ON24, Global Report Shows Use of Webinars Triples, Driving Digital-First Engagement Across Industries, June 2, 2021.
Demand Gen Report, B2B Buying Has Changed Forever: Sales Needs To Catch Up, Oct. 29, 2021.
Demand Gen Report, How Virtual Events Inspired A Hybrid Future, Sept. 10, 2021.
ExpoPlatform, Buying and selling has shifted online since the pandemic – here’s what it means for events, May 18, 2021.
Forbes, Why In-Person Events Beat Virtual Events—And What It Will Take For Them To Make A Comeback, Nov. 3, 2020.
MarketingProfs, Reimagining B2B Customer Experience: A Post-Pandemic Path Forward, Sept. 15, 2021.
McKinsey & Company, Omnichannel in B2B sales: The new normal in a year that has been anything but, March 15, 2021.
McKinsey & Company, These eight charts show how COVID-19 has changed B2B sales forever, Oct. 14, 2020.
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