The Best Laid Plans are Long-Term Plans

Why virtual events are here to stay

Nowhere else is the saying “time is money” truer than when you are dealing with sales teams.  With sales, time is literally used to gain money for your company, as they close deals and grow the revenue of a business. That’s why nowadays, with workforces increasingly moving away from centralized offices and into the home or on the road, sales kickoffs are luckily moving into the digital realm.

Don’t get us wrong, the networking and socializing part of in-person sales kickoffs are great. But unfortunately, those two don’t mix well with learning, and we’ll bet that open bar doesn’t help with knowledge retention either!

By going virtual, the experience enhances the kick-off, with a lot less overhead and money spent to get it done. Virtual SKOs allow for new information, speakers, and important updates to be shown live, and stored for later visits.

So, whether you’re replacing in-person meetings or adding to your educational lineup, virtual is the way to go. By paring your SKO down to the virtual environment, you can expand your reach, lower your expenses and your employees have no excuse not to sell with the best information available.

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Virtual Sales Kickoffs: The New Way to Connect and Inspire Your Sales Team

There is no doubt that sales can be considered one of the main lifelines of any business- it’s mostly thanks to the sales team that revenue comes in to keep a business profitable. Which is why sales kickoffs (SKOs) are so important. Nowadays, companies use them to give their sales reps the tools and motivation they need to divide and conquer for the upcoming year. Although unfortunately, sales kickoffs can sometimes be inefficient for businesses when they’re done in-person.

That’s mainly because many organizations still fly their entire sales team to locations across the nation or the world to teach them about new tools, programs, and to have trainings together every year. From guest speakers, entertainment, travel expenses, and accommodations, these conferences can become very expensive; and sometimes not very effective. Research shows that salespeople lose 80-90% of what they learn after just one month, diminishing the long-term value of an expensive event down to… virtually nothing. This can lead to the question, ‘where did my money go?’

But don’t panic, we have good news: the new strategy for sales enablement is here… and it’s virtual! By going virtual and having your SKO in a digital platform, you can save money while simultaneously improving what the purpose of the SKO really is – to train, to learn, and to sell more.

Want to learn how to get 4X the value and 4X the reach by taking your sales kickoff online? Complete the form below to get the full eBook.

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The New Solution for Open Enrollment

Open enrollment can be a confusing time for employees and employers alike, especially with today’s remote working environments and complex health care programs. The open enrollment period usually begins around November 1 and lasts for several weeks. During this time, employers are allowed to change the health, vision, dental, and disability insurance plans they offer as well as other benefits like 401(k)s and flex spending accounts, and employees must elect insurance coverage through their employer or a government-funded program.

What Is a Virtual Benefits Fair?

Many organizations still fly their HR representatives to locations across the nation or the world to train employees on new benefits programs every year. Applicable information often varies from state to state and country to country, and reps must effectively (and repeatedly) communicate relevant options to each region they serve. Not only is this approach old fashioned and repetitive, but it can also be very costly and time consuming.

Using a virtual benefits fair to facilitate open enrollment can help you build employee loyalty, satisfaction, and appreciation as well as streamline the process to enhance productivity and reduce costs in your organization.

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There’s more to choosing than comparing price

With a half dozen virtual event and environment software platforms on the market, how do you know which platform is the right one to go with? In the absence of third-party virtual event platform reviews, this article will help you do your own homework and choose a provider wisely—considering more than just price and what’s in their brochure.

Imagine choosing a hotel as a venue for hosting an on-site tradeshow or conference. You wouldn’t think of selecting a hotel without a site visit to observe firsthand how easy it is for attendees to get to the hotel, the quality of the hotel infrastructure, the level of staffing dedicated to helping you and your guests, amenities, and more. The same—if not greater—attention to detail is required when selecting a virtual event platform provider.

There are around a half dozen virtual event and environment vendors on the market. The vast majority are new, small start-ups with very limited investment in technology and staff. Since the service is fully hosted by the vendors, provided as “software as a service” (SaaS), the following criteria will help you dig into the behind-the-scenes details that can make a big impact on functionality and user experience. It’s easy to compare price, but you really want to make sure that the business is viable and reputable, the technology is reliable, flexible, and easy to use, and there is sufficient staff available to help you after the sale and ensure there are no technical issues when your event goes live.

We’ll delve into how to investigate eight specific categories when choosing a virtual event platform:

  • Service
  • Device and Browser Compatibility
  • Innovation
  • Configurability and Branding
  • Security and Privacy
  • Performance, Scale, and Reliability
  • Reporting and Analytics
  • Webinar and Content Agnosticism

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Introduction

Over the past few years virtual events have emerged as a new channel for companies to connect with prospects, customers, partners or employees, regardless of time and location. Virtual events have become an integral component of the corporate marketing mix, helping innovative companies to extend their brands, energize their communities, and generate a steady stream of qualified leads. Marketers are eagerly tapping into this new tool.

Virtual events take place within a highly interactive, online environment with rich content, multiple locations, live chat rooms, and webcast sessions, all accessible to an audience once they have provided basic registration information. Often the look and feel of these spaces borrow from physical events, setting the stage for intuitive and smooth navigation. Layered on top of the design are a variety of actions, ranging from 1:1 or pubic chat to social channel interaction to content consumption to direct calls-to-action.

Because they can track every click by a potential prospect to highlight specific interests, virtual events can generate highly qualified leads for the organizers, allowing them new avenues to reach a broader audience. The audience wins by quick and easy access to company content, product experts and a peer community, from the comfort of anywhere, on any device.

You can define your event type by its scope, size, and objectives. Common categories
include: product launch, job fair, user conference, earnings calls, town hall meetings, pharmaceutical dinner meetings, etc. But a product launch in one company may look different in another, and event variables such as speakers, sessions and content will ultimately define your event.

If you’re thinking about “going virtual” for the first time you’re probably also wondering where to start. This virtual event playbook is designed to help guide you towards success with suggestions and tips across all types of virtual events, regardless of industry or use case.

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A COMMON-SENSE APPROACH TO THIS NEW RECRUITING TOOL

THE LYNCHPIN OF SUCCESS

For a virtual job fair, it is the quality and the currency of the participants; job listings and resumes that make the virtual job fair a success. For a virtual job fair, its success also depends on the time taken to nurture it as a brand. It depends on the patience in changing the habits of job candidates as well as that of hiring organizations.

virtual event job fair

SOME COMMON CHARACTERISTICS

Those who do well-designed and successful virtual job fairs have a few things in common:

  • The event organizer understands the Internet-habits of the targeted audience
  • The virtual job fair serves as a pre-screening tool that enhances traditional hiring activities
  • A need to beat information overload. The event organizer and the job candidates find existing Internet-based job boards to be frustrating because they are sometimes overloaded with outdated job listings and resumes.
  • They may be in such a niche market that the job boards do not adequately capture their industry’s skilled labor pool.
  • Their Applicant Tracking System distorts the formats of uploaded resumes, making it difficult for a recruiter to decipher a resume, prompting the need for an extra exchange of messages asking the job candidate to resend a resume in MS Word® format.
  • A need to attract job candidates from far and wide
  • The best job candidates are already working elsewhere and need a convenient way to research and reach recruiters with current open positions to fill.
  • They take a long term approach to changing their user’s habits.
  • They are mindful of the limitations of the Internet, and therefore manage the expectations of both the employers and the job candidates appropriately.
  • They are patient and nurture the virtual job fair, repeating them till they gain momentum.

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WHAT IS THE GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation is an EU law that comes into force on May 25, 2018. It is designed to protect the privacy rights of individuals in the European Union and give them greater control over the use and storage of their personal information. As a result, a greater burden rests on data collectors to ensure that their collection, storage, and use of personal information is transparent and designed for privacy protection. Any organization that collects or uses the personal information of individuals located within the EU is subject to this law, regardless of where that organization is located in the world. While this article contains information about the GDPR and how it might affect your business, it is not intended as and should not be used in place of legal advice. Consult an attorney for guidance specific to your business.

WHAT DOES THIS NEW LAW MEAN FOR THE MARKETING INDUSTRY?

The short answer is that it will force us to be better at protecting the personal information we collect. What the GDPR mandates is actually a set of best practices that it benefits marketers to follow. At a basic level, it requires that you

  • Collect, store, and use personal information only insofar as it is compatible with your purpose for collecting it
  • Obtain active permission from recipients before you send marketing materials, and
  • Disclose and/or delete an individual’s personal information at their request.

When you consider the best ways to connect with and engage your target audience, it becomes clear that these practices are not only ways to protect the people in your database; they are also important ways to enhance the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. However, marketers who have relied on tactics like buying or scraping email lists and sending out spam emails will need to make dramatic shifts in their practices. The fact that protecting privacy and being clear and transparent about how and why you use personal information is good business is one reason marketers should embrace the changes that the GDPR requires. The other reason is that failing to do so can result in heavy penalties. Depending on the violation, a company can be fined up to the greater of €20 million (approximately $24.5 million) or 4% of the preceding year’s worldwide revenue. So, if your company collects data on individuals located in the EU, adopting procedures to ensure GDPR compliance isn’t an option; it’s a necessity.

WHAT DOES THE GDPR MEAN FOR THE VIRTUAL EVENT INDUSTRY?

Due to the wide range of personal information that may be collected in relation to a virtual event, organizers must be especially mindful of GDPR requirements. Consider all of the information you might obtain from attendees, such as names, employers, locations, job titles, and even notes about accommodations for disabilities. Virtual event organizers must ensure that all of this information is collected, used, and stored in compliance with the GDPR. To do this, it’s necessary to ensure that the platform you use is designed to:

  • Protect privacy
  • Use personal information only as necessary for a specific purpose, and
  • Require active consent before using personal information for the transmission of marketing materials (such as email marketing).

Because of the GDPR’s “Data protection by design and default” provision, it’s critical that any virtual event following the law’s effective date that involves the collection of data on persons located in the EU be hosted on a virtual event platform that has been built to comply with these requirements.

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HOW SHOULD I PREPARE?

Preparing to comply with the GDPR first requires a review of your current practices for collecting, storing, sharing, accessing, and deleting personal information. You will also need to create a detailed disclosure of the nature and purpose of your data collection practices and provide the opportunity for individuals to decline to have their information shared.4 Below are some of the specific steps you should take before you become subject to the new law.

DATA COLLECTION

You must be able to articulate a legitimate reason for each piece of personal data you collect. As a result, you should review your data collection practices to ensure you’re not collecting more information than you need for your explicit purposes. If you find that you’ve been collecting personal data that has no current purpose, then it should be deleted.

EMAIL OPT-IN

Under the GDPR, you must obtain affirmative permission before emailing marketing materials. That means that if you currently have a system that automatically subscribes users to email lists when they take certain actions (such as downloading an ebook) or if your system requires users to check a box in order to opt out of emails, this will need to be updated. If you’ve collected emails under old, non-GDPR-compliant systems, then you must obtain consent from everyone on your current list who is covered by the law before you send out future marketing emails. Likewise, in the event that someone withdraws consent to receive emails, you must ensure that no more emails will reach them (even if they were prepared and scheduled prior to the withdrawal of consent). If email subscriptions are linked to another activity, then rather than an opt-out box, you should require users to check an opt-in box to receive emails. If you obtain a lead’s email address through a referral, then you may send that lead a notification of the referral, but they must provide active consent before you send them marketing materials. Obtaining email contacts by purchasing or copying lists will be prohibited.

DATA RETRIEVAL & DELETION

The GDPR requires data collectors to provide information collected to the subject of that data6 and, in some circumstances, to delete it at their request (commonly referred to as the “right to be forgotten.”)7You must ensure that you are able to do this efficiently and effectively. The law also requires that data be deleted when it is no longer needed for its intended use. To do this, you will have to have a way of sorting personal information by purpose and deleting data for which you no longer have an explicit need.

DATA PROTECTION OFFICERS

Organizations that process or store large amounts of personal data will be required to designate a data protection officer (DPO) to oversee data protection and ensure GDPR compliance. If your organization may fall into this category, speak with an attorney to determine whether you must hire a DPO.

PARTNER COMPLIANCE

If you work with one or more outside organizations to collect, store, or use the personal information of people within the EU, then make sure that each of those organizations is fully prepared for GDPR compliance. You don’t want to find out after the law goes into effect that a system that you’re working with makes it difficult or impossible to fully comply with aspects of the law.

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Harness the power of virtual events to connect with a global audience