Webinar Best Practices Series: 5 Trends to Look Forward to in 2018

Looking for 2018’s webinar predictions? You can catch the on-demand version of the event right here. Happy webinerding. 

Hi there, folks! I hope you had a wonderful and relaxing holiday season and are getting back into the swing of things at work (I know it’s taking me some time).

Since it’s the beginning of the new year, and since we just produced a webinar on the subject, I figured it’s a worthwhile endeavor to take a quick look at what I think 2018 will have in store for webinars (hint: a lot of great developments).

But, just before we begin, a few house-keeping items. First, if you want to get the full webinar experience, head on over to our on-demand section to watch the very event this post is based on.

Second — and a bit more fun — I wanted to let you know our annual conference, Webinar World, is right around the corner! We’re hosting our second conference from March 5-7 at the Westin Saint Francis in downtown San Francisco. It’ll be here sooner than you realize, so head on over to our landing page to learn about who’ll be speaking (including yours truly) and to book your tickets. Can’t wait to see you there!

So, without further ado, here’s what’s in store for webinars in 2018:

Webinar success will be judged on lead quality

The original lead process for webinars was simple: collect as many names as possible and reach out for more. Effective, but this method is burdensome on SDRs. In 2018, marketers are going to use the engagement metrics they have to identifying better leads for sales and — hopefully — conversions. When executed with evaluation models, personas and easily accessible conversion forms, marketers can easily identify the low-hanging fruits for targeting.

Emerging marketing technologies will enhance webinar success

There are a lot of MarTech solutions out there and few ways to get them to talk to one another. In fact, a lot of marketers think of MarTech as independent spheres; They’re kinda related, but don’t always work with each other in mind. Webinars change that equation. Webinars can unite a great deal of MarTech capabilities around the webinar. For example, marketers can use predictive analytics to drive additional attendees or inform you of which nurture stream an attendee should be guided towards while they’re actively participating in a webinar. Expect to see a boost in trying different technologies and methods to the content around webinars.

Webinars will go Netflix

One of the best things about Netflix is binging. One of the best things about webinars is enabling on-demand. There’s no reason why marketers can’t build their own binge-worthy webinar libraries. This customer-centric approach helps marketers share content with their audience on their audience’s terms. Better yet, just like Netflix, webinars and related content can easily be sorted by topic and skill level, letting viewers sit back, relax and enjoy the webinars they want to consume in one sitting without the need to constantly search for relevant broadcasts. Think “webinars and binge” in 2018.

Demo webinars will replace static demos

The experience we deliver at the bottom of the funnel needs to change. Canned, static demos where viewers sit passively will no longer be enough to get people over the finish line. Instead, static demos will be phased out in favor of dynamic webinars where broadcasters can show their product off. In fact, they can demonstrate how customers use it, respond to questions in real-time and show how their product responds to customer cases on the fly. It’s time for demos that show, don’t tell.

Webinars will drive ABM success

Everyone does ABM, but not everyone does it well. Often, ABM goes off the rails towards the end of the process, where campaigns need to deliver actual engagement. Landing pages don’t deliver like they used to, but webinars — oh boy. I think 2018 will be the year of account-specific webinars, where easy-to-scale and easy-to-adapt presentations are used in a highly-interactive and highly-targeted method for driving prospects to specific locations. It’s a great way to bring together the prospects and the content they’re interested in one place.

Now, of course, these are only predictions. We’re going to have to wait a whole year to see what’s right and what’s a little off-base. If you have any predictions, sound-out in the comments below or tweet at us at @ON24 on Twitter.

Don’t forget to tune into our next webinar, An SMB Marketer’s Confession: Why I Blew My Budget On Webinars (And How I’m Still Employed).

Life Before ON24 Marketing Integration: The Bad Old Days

This is a guest post from Amanda Duquette, Marketing Manager at athenahealth.

One sign of a good tool is how quickly it becomes a permanent part of your life. Whether it’s a subtle improvement in marketing technology or a completely new webinar platform, if you love it today you won’t be able to live without it tomorrow, and you’ll forget what life was like without it by the weekend. But sometimes the biggest changes aren’t in the tools themselves, but the way they fit together in your technology stack.

At athenahealth, webinar marketing is a big part of how we connect with clients. We offer a range of products to help healthcare organizations manage patient communication, electronic health records (EHR), medical billing and other aspects of healthcare. It’s a substantial investment for the client, and it requires the right marketing technology to nurture those leads — sometimes over years.

The ON24 webinar platform has always been a great source of data for us, but marketing integration is what let us really harness its full potential. Before we hooked our technology stack together, we’d have to feed data manually through the pipeline, which really limited what we could do. For example, before automation, just making sure registrants didn’t get a second email invitation was complicated and time-consuming. We’d have to manually go into the webinar platform, pull the names of registrants, send them to our email platform, and exclude them from follow up invitations.

If you wanted to do something more complicated like, say, excluding recipients who had already seen a webinar from emails about the on-demand version, you might have to manually dig through lists from months ago. It was enough to make you think very hard about whether a rule was too much time and effort — and in an industry where lead time might be two years, that lack of granular control could have real consequences for your lead maturation strategy.

With marketing integration, all that extra work is gone. Want to avoid pestering leads with webinars they’re not interested in? Make a rule that unopened emails get no follow-ups. Need to make sure you don’t send on-demand requests when the recipient saw the first viewing? You can make the rule once and never worry about it again. With an integrated marketing stack, we can choose rules based on whether they make sense for our marketing strategy — not whether they’re worth the hours of pushing data around.

Integrating the ON24 webinar platform helped even more with post-webinar follow-up. Before marketing integration, the day after the webinar was set aside for bonding with Excel. It was not a healthy relationship. Each time, I’d waste a couple hours making spreadsheets on attendance for marketing — a couple hours I could have spent doing, well, anything but making spreadsheets. And spreadsheets wasted time for the marketing ops team, the sales reps — everyone. By the time there was any follow-up, it was 24 hours later, and the lead had noticeably cooled. And we’d have to stagger out lower-priority leads after that to avoid swamping our sales team with data.

Integrated marketing technology eliminates that busy work and lets me spend time doing something that matters: getting value from those leads. I have all the analytics in my automation tool as soon as the webinar ends, automatically sorted by the ON24 analytics I need. Users who requested a demo go right to sales, along with high-engagement users. Lower engagement users become marketing leads. No shows get nurtured. And our integrated marketing stack lets us get as granular as we want, throughout their sales journey. We can look at who raised their hand, who took a meeting, who asked questions and use all that data to make meaningful sales and marketing decisions.

Integrated webinar marketing makes life easier for sales too. Instead of massive spreadsheets, they have neatly-sorted data in their automation tool. Instead of 2,000+ attendees to follow up on, they have a stream of data, automatically scored and prioritized. And with lower delays and less chance of leads falling through the crack, you can bet that leads to ROI!

Marketing is about connecting with people, not pushing data around. With ON24 marketing integration, you can use your data for actionable insights, not Excel spreadsheets.

Where is your ROI?

How can you get more engagement from your webinars? Learn the tips, tricks and tactics that make webinars work at Webinar World 2019.

B2B marketing has come a long, long way. Once there were only a few tried and true methods to generate leads and drive revenue. Today, there are so many tools available that it’s hard to know what technologies to use and when. And for most companies, the answer is “a little bit of everything.” Old methods such as email marketing, seminars, and trade shows stand alongside social, ABM, and predictive strategies. Marketing budgets continue to rise and often include bloated line items for expensive videos, sponsorships, parties, swag, random SEM buys, and anything else that seems like it will help. The idea being that if we do enough of everything, we will somehow hit our numbers.

That may have been fine in the past, but this is the age of the self-educated buyer, which means we will get fewer marketing touches with our target prospects, they will be harder to come by, and each interaction with them becomes more critical. So what are the best tools to use in this environment? Do we just keep trying the everything approach to marketing? The best way to solve that problem is to ask yourself, “Where is my ROI?”

Think about your various prospect interactions: when someone watches your expensive video, attends your fun party, downloads your awesome white paper, or takes some swag at a trade show in exchange for badge scan, you may have acquired a name — but what are you learning about your prospect? Does each interaction help you get them further down the buying cycle?

They key to getting the most of out of each prospect interaction is engagement, and no other tool allows more engagement than webinars. The war horse of marketing tactics, webinars are unique in their ability to help you get in front of your prospects for an hour, present rich multi-media content, and most important, interact directly with them and learn about their interests and needs. Modern webinars are interactive, social events that offer multiple content types and integrated call-to-action. The magic of these webinars is that all of the interactions that you have with your audience can be measured to provide you with behavioral data (such as time viewed, content downloaded, responses to polls and questions submitted). And, in the hands of marketers, that data is power.

But all webinars are not created equal. ON24 is the only webinar platform built specifically for marketers to generate leads and drive pipeline. We enable companies to create engagement-driven webinars that deliver deep insights into your prospects to help you find your best leads. ON24 webinars deliver higher ROI through:

  • Customized webinars that offer multiple ways to engage and interact with your prospects
  • Integrated social media applications to extend the reach of your content
  • Multiple calls to action to help accelerate prospects on their buyers’ journey
  • Webinars that are optimized for each stage of the buying cycle
  • Analytics on prospect behavior to help you find your best leads
  • Prospect data across multiple webinars that can be integrated with your MAP and CRM systems

It’s no longer about more leads. The mantra today needs to be about better leads. So maybe it’s time to rethink your marketing spend. After fully analyzing their marketing tech stack and programs, the Microsoft Azure marketing team did. They completely re-created their marketing strategy and put ON24 webinars at the front of their program. They now deliver thousands of webinars, across the buying cycle and convert 7.2% of all webinars into customers. Now that’s ROI.

So how do you increase your marketing ROI? Well, maybe it’s time to rethink that expensive sponsorship or the animated cartoon that you were producing. Double down on your webinar programs. Run more webinars, create them for every stage of the buying cycle, make them engagement-driven experiences and measure that engagement to help find your best leads and nurture them towards a sale. That’s great marketing and great ROI.

Where is your ROI? Visit the ON24 ROI microsite to watch the on-demand webinar, download white papers, and more.

3 Unconventional Webinars That Close Business

How can you get more engagement from your webinars? Learn the tips, tricks and tactics that make webinars work at Webinar World 2019.

We all know that webinars are great. I mean, what else lets us combine images and video, gives us a platform for all our most important talking points, and virtually guarantees that people will hang around and listen for up to an hour? With such a great communication tool at our fingertips, it’s a real shame that so many of us think that webinars are just for thought leadership. All we have to do is open our minds, and we can deliver webinars that really close business. Here are three ideas to get you started:

The Deminar

Live demos can be really effective at converting customers. They give prospects an opportunity to see what you have to offer with their own eyes and put aside any lingering doubts about the obvious awesomeness of your products. But delivering 1:1 demonstrations — or even live demos to small groups — can eat up man hours for you and your company. Instead, consider delivering those demos as a regular demonstration webinar (or “deminar”).

Deminars can be live, simulive (that is, pre-recorded but with live Q&A), or on-demand. You can combine video elements like an on-camera presenter and live or pre-recorded screenshare to show off the highlights of almost any product or service. By packing your resources section with additional downloadable assets like product guides and data sheets, you turn that single point of contact into multiple late-stage marketing touches. And, if you like, you can link off to other great product resources, such as videos or product forums.

The Case Study

Case studies are always powerful lower-funnel content because they give prospects a chance to see how other customers have benefitted from your products or services. But who says that a case study has to be a boring old PDF? No one! Breathe some life into your case studies by bringing in real-life customers for an engaging, interactive case study.

An interview format always makes for compelling viewing. Focus the conversation on benefits and ROI. Ask your guest speaker for video clips of their deployment, so the audience can see it for themselves. Build up a large library of on-demand case study webinars. And remember that there’s no rule that says webinars always have to be 60 minutes. For a case study, 15 minutes or half an hour may be all that you need.

The Live Q&A

Sometimes the only thing holding someone back from making a purchase is one last, little, nagging question. If you have to rely on an individual sales call, you may not be able to get the right technical person in front of that prospect to answer their questions. And that’s not a good enough reason to miss out on a sale!

Put your best product managers on a webinar, and let the audience drive the conversation through Q&A and polls. Video adds a great personal touch for these events, even (and maybe especially) if it’s a casual video format like a webcam.

Looking for other great tips on bottom-of-the-funnel webinars? Check out our on-demand event, “How to Use Webinars to Close Business.”

The Bottom-of-the-Funnel Challenge

As marketers, we spend so much time trying to generate new leads that we barely have time to worry about how many of them actually turn into revenue. For those truly sophisticated marketers, there has been a lot of effort put into improving the way we target prospects (such as ABM and predictive), hopefully increasing the pipeline derived from our leads. But all of that is far removed from the core issue that determines the bottom line: how do we close more deals?

The ever-ignored bottom-of-the-funnel challenge remains a bit of mystery to most marketers and is often left for sales teams to figure out on their own. Sure, we create some collateral and a few demo tools but the rest is up to sales. Unfortunately, as buyers are self-educating, almost right up to the point of sale, that strategy no longer works. Marketing must take a more active role in accelerating the buyer’s journey and getting them to sign on the dotted line.

The most obvious way that we can affect the buyer’s journey is with content. However, there is a huge difference between an active and passive content experience. Simply getting a prospect to read a case study or white paper as they are considering a purchase is not a strong enough impression and also does not provide us with any data on their sales readiness. That’s why webinars are the perfect tool to help you close business.

Wait, I thought webinars were the best tool for generating new leads? Yes, but it doesn’t end there. When we have a prospect that is considering a purchase but doesn’t want to engage with a salesperson, we have to get the most out of every marketing touch that we can. I have seen a lot of savvy companies build bottom-of-the-funnel webinars where they are demonstrating their products or services, presenting multiple content types (videos, downloadable case studies, guides, etc.), and interacting directly with their audience members to answer any questions they have. All of this interactivity helps the prospect and also helps us further gauge their interest. There are also links to free trials and other demos, and sometimes options to request a sales consultation. I have heard the term “deminars” used and I love it. It’s webinar marketing at it’s very best.

Nurturing prospects towards a purchase with a few pieces of written content or a video or two, simply won’t get the job done. Webinars enable us to present multiple types of content, for up to an hour at a time and interact directly with our audiences in real-time. No other marketing tool can do that. As we work so hard to keep pouring leads into the top-of-the-funnel, it’s time to start figuring out how to get more of them to close. Webinars might be the right tool for the job.

To learn more, register now for How to Use Webinars to Close Business.

True Life: I Had an Epic Webinar Fail

How can you get more engagement from your webinars? Learn the tips, tricks and tactics that make webinars work at Webinar World 2019.

True life: I’ve had an epic webinar fail — and I want to tell you about it so you don’t have the same! I was at a previous employer, fresh out of school and was tasked to jump-start a webinar program to announce our new product release to our partners, customers and prospects. I’m pretty sure we made our software purchasing decision based on the fact we used their other product for one-off meetings, it was cheap, and partially because it had the word “webinar” in it. That means it’s supposed to work for webinars, right? Wrong.

We were a small startup and I was co-hosting the webinar with my CEO. No pressure at all. After hours spent creating content, practicing the product demo, and promoting and driving hundreds of registrations, I felt confident I was going to knock it out of the park. What could go wrong? Well… apparently a lot.

It started okay, I suppose. I had just gotten over the initial presenter jitters when about 5 minutes in, the sound completely cut out. My chat message box was inundated with ‘I can’t hear you’ and ‘No sound!’ and then I saw about half of my attendees drop off. I didn’t know what to do! After about another 5 minutes, I couldn’t figure out how to fix the technical issue and I didn’t have a support number to call. We ultimately had to cancel the webinar and reschedule. It still makes me cringe when I think about the time wasted, especially my CEO’s time, and the poor experience delivered for our attendees.

So where did I go wrong? I didn’t have a backup plan for technical issues, and I assumed that the software would just work. A lot of products out there are disguised as webinar platform solutions when they’re really just a glorified meeting tool. After having an epic webinar fail, I realized that I probably shouldn’t use the same product for my weekly team meetings that I use for my lead generation webinars. With a basic meeting tool, it’s hard to receive the reliability and support, engagement statistics, customization features, lead prioritization, and handoff to sales like you would receive with a webinar platform.

As the Customer Marketing Manager at ON24, I’m fortunate enough to chat with all of our amazing customers daily, and I often hear stories similar to mine, though usually not as cringeworthy! Many of our customers have experienced what’s it’s like to try to squeeze a robust webinar out of a weak meeting tool. If you too are tired of epic webinar fails, check out what’s it’s like to break free from bad webinars.

 

Webinar Registration Page Do’s and Don’ts

What if you threw a party, but forgot to invite people? Would anyone show up? Unlikely. Now think of this in the context of your webinar promotions — are your registration pages up to par for the awesome online event that you are about to throw? A good registration page can make or break your webinar registration numbers. That’s why I’ve created a list of do’s and don’ts to consider when creating your next registration page:

DO:

  • Keep it simple: Stick to the facts – what, where, and when. Make it as easy as possible for clients and prospects to understand what the topic is and how to register. Make sure the date and time are clearly stated, possibly in multiple locations on the page, and double check that is it correct!
  • Direct users to a strong call-to-action: While the registration page is a good location for a synopsis of the webinar, the point of the page is really to register clients and prospects. Embed the registration form near the top of the page, not hidden below paragraphs of text. Use a visibility attractive form in order to direct attention to it.
  • Use images or videos: People make decisions with their eyes as well, so be sure to create a visually stimulating page. Use an image specific to the webinar you are promoting, not a generic image without information overlaid. Consider creating a teaser video for the webinar. Not only are videos more interactive and engaging, but incorporating them into your registration pages can help increase your actual registration numbers. We saw a double-digit increase when we started doing this!

DON’T:

  • Write a novel: To the point above, keep it simple! A long registration page with lots of copy can distract users from your actual call-to-action (register!)
  • Add too many fields to your form: Form abandonment is real! Long forms can cause users to drop off and may lower registration numbers. Find out what fields are necessary for your data model and CRM tools – try to stick to six or less.
  • Include incorrect or broken links: Might sound like a no-brainer, but this is the most important item on this list! If your links are broken or incorrect there is no way for users to register for your webinar. Take time to double check links before launching the page. On the same note, make sure your calendar reminders included in the confirmation page are correct, otherwise, people will try to log in to your event at the wrong time or date.

Want more webinar registration tips and tricks? Watch as we unlock the secrets to driving webinar registration.

5 Elements of Great Webinar Promotion Emails

When it comes to promoting your webinars, you just can’t beat email. We recently asked the live audience of “Unlocking the Secrets to Driving Webinar Registration” how many pre-event promotional emails they send, and over 57% said they sent at least three. But, are they getting the most from those emails? On average, you have less than eight seconds to convince the reader that your message is worth spending time reading through all the way. How do you make those eight seconds work for you? These are the five elements of great event promotion emails:

Enticing Subject Line

Without a killer subject line, people may not even open your email. There is definitely an art and a science to crafting that killer subject line. The art lies in crafting a line that sounds cool enough to make people want to engage and read more. It should promise a change or offer a solution to a pain point or need specific to your audience. The line should be clear, exciting, and above all, short.

And what about the science part? That calls for A/B testing. Want to know whether questions or statements make better subject lines? Test it! Suspect that different audience segments might respond to different messages? Segment them out and test it! Thinking of experimenting with personalization in the subject line? Test it! The more test you run, the more you will learn about your audience — and the higher your next email open rate will be.

Clickable Banner

The top of your HTML emails should serve as an ad for your webinar. In fact, it could actually be a variation on the creative you used in your banner ads or paid social promotions. The banner should include the name of the webinar, time and date, an eye-catching image that supports the theme of your webinar, and a great big “Register Now” button (which, ideally, they then click on and register for).

Awesome Opening Line

They opened your email, saw a gorgeous clickable banner, and now… you have to wow them with an awesome opening line with the last few remaining seconds that you have their attention for. Your opening line is like the first few minutes of a great TV show. It needs to further pull the audience in so that they’re interested enough to keep watching — or in our case, reading. So have fun with it! Ask a thought-provoking question. Share an interesting statistic or fun fact to pique their interest. Pose a compelling hypothetical scenario. Show your readers that you understand their situation and their pain points, and they’ll want to know how you’re going to resolve them. Which brings us to…

Scannable Bullets

In three to five bullets, let the reader know exactly what they’ll get from attending your webinar. Address solutions to the paint points you raised in the opening line, or expand on the promise implied in your webinar title. Focus on actionable takeaways such as tips, how-to’s, and data points. Keep your bullets short, so the reader doesn’t have to do a lot of work. It should come together to look like this:

Closing Call to Action

You caught their attention, you showed them what you have to offer; now it’s time to bring it home! Close your email with a clear statement of the benefits of coming to the webinar. This could be a light-hearted play on your webinar title, a natural conclusion to your opening line, or even a straightforward value prop. Then give the reader an obvious clickable button or hyperlinked copy so that they can register right away.

Looking for more great tips on bringing in bigger webinar audiences? Check out Unlocking the Secrets to Driving Webinar Registration.

How Does Your Webinar Stack Up?

OK, I admit it. Here at ON24, we may be just the tiniest bit obsessed with webinars. We think about webinars. We write about webinars. We dream about webinars. And, of course, we deliver webinars. Then, once a year, we step back to do something completely different: we measure all of the thousands upon thousands of webinars.

Our annual Webinar Benchmarks Report lets us take a detailed look at the wide world of webcasting to identify key trends and actionable best practices. The insights we get are so interesting that we can hardly wait to share them with you in a special edition ON24 Best Practices Webinar. This year, webinar marketing maestro Mark Bornstein dove into the benchmarks data and brought us four data-driven webinar tips that you can start using today:

Don’t Shortchange Your Promotion Cycle

Over and over again, we hear that the single biggest webinar challenge for marketers is driving registration. So why are so many people only sending out one or two emails to promote their events? Our benchmark data shows that a full 23% of webinar registrations come in more than two weeks before the event. WOW.

If you’re only promoting your webinar for a week or two and only sending out a couple of emails, you are missing out on an enormous potential audience. Instead, plan on a promotional cycle that lasts around three weeks, and send at least three emails (at ON24, we usually send a mix of formatted HTML and plain text emails to appeal to a wider audience). And don’t forget the day of the webinar itself! More than a quarter of all webinar registrations come it at the last minute!

Don’t Fear the One-Hour Webinar

Think all your content needs to be snackable? Think again! Since we started tracking webinar benchmarks, we’ve seen the average viewing time go up every year, reaching an all-time high of 57 minutes in 2016, up from 38 minutes in 2010. As much as people love infographics and listicles, there’s also a huge appetite out there for long-form, in-depth content — and the 2016 data shows that nothing satisfies an appetite like an engaging and interactive hour-long webinar.

Get Interactive

When it comes to webinar interactivity, Q&A still leads the pack. In our study, we discovered that 81% of webinars include a Q&A portion. But there are so many more options available! Social tools are on the rise this year, with nearly 1 in 3 webinars integrating social media. And polling and surveys are still strong performers, each making an appearance in nearly a quarter of all webinars.

If you aren’t using these tools in your events, you could be missing out on a chance to engage with your audience in a fun and meaningful way. And if your event attendance is falling short of the average 57-minute mark, adding moments of interactivity may draw people in and keep them around for longer.

Have an On-Demand Strategy

Believe it or not, 1 in 3 people who watch a webinar miss the live date entirely, as they would rather watch it on-demand. Let’s face it: we’re all getting used to an on-demand world of binge-watching and streaming services that put the viewer in control of the media experience. So, why would webinars be any different? As marketers that means that we need to think beyond the launch date alone. When planning your webinar promotion strategy, you need to have a plan for promoting the on-demand version of the webinar as well so that you don’t miss out on a much larger potential audience. 

There are a lot of ways to promote on-demand webinars, from banner ads to emails. Personally, I’d recommend a nice blog post — after all, you’re reading this one!

For more great tips and a ton of webinar data, catch up on our latest edition of the ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report.