Unlock the Power of Engagement: Virtual Events That Generate Opportunities
Event type:   Conference
Event format:   Virtual
Event Format Virtual
# of attendees
BlackLine provides cloud-based solutions to manage and automate financial close, accounts receivable, and inter-company accounting processes, helping over 3,200 large enterprises and midsize companies across all industries do accounting work better, faster, and with more control. BlackLine is a global company with operations in over 10 major business centers around the world including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco Bay area, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Singapore, and Sydney.
A Company That Helps Digitalize Accounting for 50% of the Fortune 500, Turns to EventHub to Digitalize its Own Event Marketing
Could you briefly tell us about the background and goals of this event?
At BlackLine we believe that accounting departments have substantial potential for change through digitalization. In order to build awareness about the benefits that can be achieved through accounting digitalization and how BlackLine can be leveraged, we look to create opportunities for both accounting team leadership and staff alike to learn about BlackLine’s services.
For instance, we hold an international conference every year at several locations around the world. Last year, we held our annual InTheBlack event in Tokyo under the theme “Breakaway from Manual Financial Close”. In 2020 the coronavirus outbreak ocurred and prevented us from hosting our global conference in the traditional “on-premise” format.
So you decided to hold the conference online?
Yes, as a company that provides solutions to promote digital transformation and a shift in work style, we thought, “there is no way that we can miss the opportunity to promote digitalization and decided to hold the conference online.” At the same time, we were also developing a company-wide initiative to offer solutions for remote financial close. Ultimately, we wanted to ensure that the trend toward digitalization became a source of corporate competitiveness for our customers. With this mindset, we were committed to holding the conference online.
This year, following last year’s InTheBlack conference, we changed the event title to BeyondTheBlack. Under the theme of “Corporate Transformation Beginning with Remote Financial Close”, we decided to hold the conference as a two-day online event with case studies from customers, sessions from partners, and special lectures from experts in the field.
A New Style of Interaction Between Speakers and Attendees
Did you have any concerns about holding the event online for the first time?
At first, we were very concerned about attracting attendees to an online event. We had experience with on-premise conferences, but we never had experience with them online. We needed to consider various factors, such as content delivery methods, streaming quality, and interactions during the event to keep the attendees engaged.
Moreover, we were concerned about whether participants would stay engaged during the two-day event, which featured more than 20 speakers, and whether they would watch the entire event without tuning out. We were hopeful that EventHub’s features would make the event feel more engaging and reduce the number of attendees that drop out mid-conference.
I understand that you considered various video streaming platforms for holding the online event. What was the number one reason you decided to use EventHub?
The most attractive feature of EventHub was its ability to promote interactions between the speakers and attendees. We were impressed by the many features that allow speakers and visitors to interact virtually, such as the ability to exchange contact information, schedule web meetings, hold Q&A sessions, and take polls, among many other things.
After actually using EventHub to hold the event, how did you feel about the engagement of the virtual event?
By leveraging functions such as polling and live Q&A, we felt that the interaction between the speakers and visitors was quite animated. Participants were highly satisfied with the event, and it created a lively atmosphere that could not have been achieved through a recorded broadcast. Particularly, there were moments when we thought that the Q&A sessions were far more active than at the large-scale conferences we held in-person in the past. We believe this was due in part to the fact that attendees could ask questions anonymously and in real time during online sessions.
In fact, this year’s online event attracted more questions than those at our past in-person events. I felt that the ability to easily interact with the speakers without concern about the audience around them was an appealing feature of an online event.
We were also able to address our concerns regarding attendee engagement by making full use of the polling and survey functions to ensure that the content of the lectures was in line with the interests of the audience. This further promoted the interaction between the attendees and speakers, which is only possible when the event is live.
Proactive Follow-up to Attendees During a Virtual Event
Are there any other features of EventHub that you found particularly useful?
The ability to obtain activity logs of each registrant in a timely manner had been a compelling feature for us since we first learned about EventHub. When we actually held the event, we found it useful to be able to see at a glance who was logging in and who was viewing the content in real-time. For example, sales representatives could chat in real-time with important attendees, even if it was to simply exchange a few friendly words with them.
Being able to perform the natural human interaction of saying hello to visitors in a virtual space, was an important capability enabled by EventHub’s platform.
Capturing the Hearts and Minds of Attendees to Facilitate New Business
Were there any advantages of holding the conference online?
This time, more than half of the attendees were new customers, and we were very pleased with the high rate of lead conversion after the online event. We have been able to create new business opportunities with leads who became interested in BlackLine as a result of attending this conference.
As an additional data point, after the conference, we sent a newsletter to participants once every two weeks, and the open rates for those newsletters exceeded, an astonishing, 50%. We are very happy to see that people are engaging with our communication with more interest in BlackLine because they attended our online conference.
How were the attendee’s responses?
Many attendees gave feedback they were able to watch the content without being bored, especially with the polling function, which was designed to incorporate the attendees’ opinions on content preferences. Not only did we achieve our goal for the number of attendees, but we also believe that we were able to provide an event that was in line with the interests of our audience, as evidenced by the high conversion rate to business opportunities and the high open rate of our emails following the conference.
We will continue to build strong relationships with our customers by meeting with them both in real life and by actively leveraging online events going forward.