Unisfair Helps Enterprises Increase Lead Generation Activities

Version 9.0 of the Unisfair Virtual Engagement Platform Lets Customers Self-Select Their Interests on Their Time Schedules

March 10, 2010

With the Unisfair Virtual Engagement Platform, companies can create always-on, multi-venue, virtual environments that mimic the feel and navigation of trade shows. Customers attend sessions, download collateral, and can chat with company reps, partners, and other attendees in the environment. Because customers’ online activities are tracked, you can see what sessions the customers choose to attend, who they spoke to, and, in general, where their interests lie. With the new Smart Reporting and Engagement Index features in the newly-released Version 9.0, your sales and marketing team will get more and better leads based on what your customers really want to know.

Why is this important for customers? Customers don’t have the time or budgets to travel to trade shows, user groups, or product launches. Yet they still want the experience of getting up to speed on important topics and networking with others facing the same challenges. They also want to be fully briefed on their providers’ product plans and road maps for the future. But they want to be able to get that information and interact with their suppliers at their convenience.

The Unisfair Virtual Engagement Platform allows customers to get information from an always-on virtual environment that provides the feel and navigation of a traditional conference or trade show.

Why is this important for companies? The Unisfair focus is primarily enterprise marketing and lead generation, which makes a lot of sense in these competitive times. The virtual environment is most useful for large companies that want to make sure customers have access to their various product lines and business units. Because all customers visiting the virtual environment are identified, and their activities are tracked, the Smart Reporting capabilities new in Unisfair 9.0 can validate leads and pinpoint their areas of interest. The new Engagement Index analyzes reports to score and rank leads, leading to more effective, on-target sales and marketing opportunities.


Scenario: I Want to Get the Information I Need without the Bother, Time, and Expense of Travel

I don’t travel nearly as much as I used to. Oh, I still fly to see clients and to run customer co-design workshops, but I no longer attend conferences or user groups—I just don’t have the time or the travel budget (like everyone else, the economy has tightened our purse strings).

Further, people don’t travel nearly as much to come see me. Where I used to have two to three in-person briefings on new products and services every week, now I would estimate that I have one in-person briefing every few months—the rest are done via Web conferencing. Everyone is comfortable in his or her own office, and the briefings are just as interesting.

However, what is missing in these office-to-office briefings is the conference environment, where you can attend multiple sessions, see demonstrations of dozens of new offerings, hang out in a lounge with others who are interested in the same things you are. Also missing is the element of serendipity—the happy accident—when you, on impulse, check out a presentation or booth that captures your interest as you amble by.

There is also the issue of scheduling, especially for the vendors and presenters, who must individually arrange every customer (and analyst) briefing. Or else they can schedule Webinars, and hope that the time is convenient for the people they want to attend. (Playback is fine, but you can’t ask questions unless you attend the live event.) Finally, vendors aren’t able to gather leads as conveniently as when people drop by a booth and ask for information.

Unisfair, about which we first wrote in 2007, is addressing these issues as well as the modified scenario of: I want to “attend” a conference and get up to speed on a topic by talking to experts and other practitioners without the bother, time, and expense of getting there.


Founded in 2000, Unisfair is headquartered in Menlo Park, California, with R&D in Tel-Aviv, Israel. The company began with the mission of trying to make it easier for (primarily) B2B businesses to put on large-scale events, with multiple educational sessions and tracks, trade-show floor booths, networking opportunities, and other sponsored activities. Taking advantage of advances in virtual environments and online collaboration technologies, combined with the willingness—nay, eagerness—of business people to interact via online professional networking, Unisfair offers a multimedia environment for hosting, participating in, and attending virtual events, applying the benefits of collaboration, social networking, and virtual environments to business gatherings (think Webex + LinkedIn + Secondlife).

Repositioning to New Customer Focus

In recent years, Unisfair has repositioned its offering away from virtual media-sponsored conferences and has set its sights, and product capabilities, on enterprise marketing. Calling its program Virtual Engagement Marketing, the company is focused on helping enterprises increase lead generation activities as well as improve the value of the leads that are generated via the virtual engagement.

Unisfair has moved from providing the online venue for episodic events to an “always on” model, where customers and prospects can come to their vendor’s virtual environment when they want to.

The company points out that your organization can generate qualified leads more cost effectively by creating persistent virtual events where attendees can control their entire learning experience: viewing keynote presentations, chatting with product experts, and downloading key information, for example.

Corporate clients can still use the conference/trade show model for specific events, such as a product launch, but Unisfair points out that, with the always-on capability, potential customers can interact with the company following the event, creating more interested prospects and more validated leads.

SECONDARY FOCUSES. Leveraging all the virtual event capabilities built into the system from day one, Unisfair sells into the same corporate environments as for engagement marketing, but also into other corporate departments and functions. Primarily, these are the human resources departments who sponsor virtual job fairs and the training departments who use the online venues for corporate training.

Unisfair has partnered with CareerBuilder.com for delivering virtual job fairs and professional development events.

Support for Worldwide Business

Unisfair has done a good job in internationalization. When you are arranging a real-time event, such as a live presentation of a new product version, the environment recognizes the time zone where each customer is, so the start time for the event is set for an appropriate time—in other words, audiences in Australia won’t have to get up in the middle of the night to virtually attend the product launch set for Eastern Standard Time.

Of course, if you want each session to be live, you have to have someone do the presentation at the different times. But this puts the burden on the company, not the customer. It also provides the opportunity for presentations to be offered in the native languages of the audience for that time zone.

NATIVE LANGUAGE SITE NAVIGATION. Further, the product supports 16 languages for all prompts, messages, and navigation. A customer sets her preferred language in her profile, and all onsite system-generated communication is in that language.

Content translation is not handled by the system, so you still have to provide multiple language versions of sessions, documents, etc.

IMMEDIATELY TRANSLATED CHAT. In what may be my favorite capability of Unisfair, live chat is immediately translated into the customer’s language of choice. This includes chats with company representatives as well as social networking chats with other customers online in any chat room in the venue (companies can add a chat room to each venue location it builds). And the immediate translation feature goes beyond the 16 supported system languages to support 50 worldwide languages. This is a really cool feature for global events, and it really differentiates Unisfair.


Beginning with this new version, Unisfair now offers a three-tier organizational model for the virtual environment:

  • The top tier is a new Virtual Business Center (see below) where multiple venues/events can be managed.
  • The second tier contains the multiple venues—any number of different locations, such as conference centers, lounges, booths, even picnic areas if you want. The venues are always on and available to attendees.
  • The Venues contain the events; each event can remain available as long as you want—for example, you can have a live event at a set time, and then decide to keep the saved presentation available for, say, two weeks. Of course, these events can remain available for as long as the venue is operational.

The three-tier model is very useful for setting up and managing your environment, but its underlying value is that the tiers are actually a data model that is used to generate reports on attendee activity and interests (see “Smart Reporting” below).


Feels Like Being There

The visual environment makes Unisfair easy to use by everyone from Baby Boomers (who are most comfortable with the traditional event formats) to Gen-Yers (who want information available at all times, instantly). There are no downloads required. Customers just ...


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