Three Things Your Audience Wants from Your Webinar

We all know what we want from our webinars: more leads, more exposure for our company’s thought leaders, and more chances to share our message. But what about the people who attend those webinars? Ultimately, our webinars are only successful when everyone gets what they need — and giving your audience what they really want means understanding why your audience is attending, and ensuring that you cater to their content needs.    

How do you do that? Easy! Just follow these three tips for giving your audience what they really, really want:

Create an engaging experience

Sure, you could just let your audience stare at slides for an hour. But where’s the fun in that? Instead, you should think about every webinar as an opportunity to craft an immersive, engaging multimedia experience. Put your presenter on camera and add video clips or screen sharing to your presentation. Build in time for interactive tools like polls and surveys.

Every time you can get a response from your audience — whether it’s a click to download more content or a simple smile — you’ve succeeded at engineering a valuable fan experience.

Give your audience a chance to be heard

The number one mistake people make with webinars is assuming that the presenter is the only one talking. False! Everyone who signed up for your webinar is there for a reason: they want to know more about how your products will make their life easier, they need answers they haven’t been able to find anywhere else, they want to catch up on the latest trends in your space, etc. But unless you listen to them, you’ll never know what those exact reasons are and they won’t come back for more.

Q&A is the easiest way to give your webinar audience a voice (and most of us do that already), but it’s hardly the only option you have. Integrate social media tools into your webinar environment so that attendees can ask questions and share their experiences with a broader audience, but without leaving your event.

You may even want to include idea storming or group chat tools so that the audience can share their excitement, questions, and expertise with one another. Attendees will walk away from your webinars feeling like someone was really listening. And that’s always a great feeling!

Bonus points if you pass on these questions and conversations to the rest of your marketing team so they can pinpoint common themes around which you can develop related content. Pass this information to your sales team too so that they can send related content to qualified leads.

Make sure they feel like they’ve learned something new

These days, it seems like everyone is constantly juggling a million items on their to-do lists. So when someone carves out an hour from their busy schedule to attend your webinar, they expect to get something truly valuable from it. Keep that in mind as you’re planning your presentation: are you covering the same old ground, or are you exploring new trends, revealing unexpected results, and sharing new tips to make them smarter and faster at their job. 

Everyone who comes to your webinar should walk away knowing something they didn’t know when they signed up. Don’t solely use your webinars as a platform for pitching your products. Instead, focus on best practices and actionable advice that your audience can put into practice right away. Doing so establishes you as a trusted expert, leaving your audience with nothing but positive feelings about you and your webinar.

Of course, this is just the beginning!

Are You Using The Right Webinar Technology For The Job?

When it comes to choosing technology, marketers are really weird. I have seen companies spend over a year exploring marketing automation platforms or email software, watching demos, reading case studies, meeting with sales reps, and finally making a decision only to then change their minds and start all over again. It’s a process. A long, deliberate process.

Yet with some foundational marketing technologies like webinars, companies often have a less serious approach. We constantly hear from marketers that are using basic meeting tools to deliver their demand generation webinars — not because they like the technologies (in fact, they never even vetted them), but because the IT department was already paying for it, and were told they could use it too. Think about that. Webinars are the single most important tool for generating leads and many marketers are not even evaluating the platform they use. That’s crazy! What does it look like when you use a tool that’s not built for your needs?

This explains a certain look we see on marketers faces when we tell them that there’s a better way. With a perplexed gaze, they ask questions like “My attendees don’t have to download software to view the webinar? Really?” or “What do you mean I can have instant access to registration data? I didn’t think that was possible.” It is when you’re using the right tool for the job. They seem shocked that they didn’t know this but how could they if there was never any marketing technology search? No product evaluations. No feature comparisons. They simply said “OK” when asked if they wanted to leverage existing small meeting tools for much larger webinar programs, too.

There is nothing wrong with meeting tools; we use them all the time… for meetings. But webinars are far too important to not use the right tool for the job. It’s the heart of the ON24 value proposition: our platform is purpose-built to help marketers generate and qualify sales-ready leads. How? With a rich suite of interactive tools, detailed real-time analytics on attendee behavior, and editing tools that turn a single webinar into multiple video assets. It’s the difference between a meeting tool and a webinar marketing platform. So, are you using the right tool for the job?


Freshen Your Webinars With Tweaked Formats

How awesome are your webinars? That shouldn’t be a hard question, but for too many of us, too much of the time, it makes us stop and wonder if people are snoozing through them. Do you feel like you’re producing fantastic, useful content, but for some unknown reason it’s not connecting with your audience?

If you keep delivering the same webinar over and over without shaking up your format, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you’re leaving your audiences yawning instead of fist pumping. Fortunately, with a few easy tweaks, you can deliver a webinar that’ll make your fans sit up and take notice. Let’s consider seating arrangements. Sometimes all you have to do is shake up your webinar format to create a more engaging, interactive experience — and here are five ways to do just that:

The Chat Show

When you have a really great presenter, they don’t have to be an expert on everything. Instead, put them in the anchor chair and bring in subject-matter experts as guests. Your high-energy host can set the tone and keep things moving along at the proper pace, putting even camera-shy guest experts at ease. Meanwhile, the subject matter experts can share critical information and field audience questions in real time. It’s the perfect blend of education and entertainment. Imagine a Jimmy Fallon-type presenter hosting a webinar… your audience will for sure tune in and be engaged with this format.

The Panel Discussion

If you want to bring in several different expert perspectives, you may want to trade in the chat show for a panel discussion. In this format, the presenter becomes the moderator, leading a panel of subject-area experts in a lively conversation about the subject of the webinar. The moderator should come prepared with discussion topics, but the audience can contribute significantly, either by submitting their own questions or responding to in-event polls. This style can create a lively debate if you bring in presenters with differing views, making for a potentially very exciting group chat box. 

The Coffee Talk

When it comes to casual and engaging webinar formats, you can’t beat a coffee talk. All you have to do is bring together three or four well-informed experts, give them a topic, and the webinar content creates itself. Coffee talks have a natural, conversational flow that feels fun and authentic. Your audience will want to get in on the conversation, so make you sure you provide plenty of opportunities for them to engage, such as Q&A, polls, surveys, or group chat boxes. The best part about this format is you likely won’t have to create any supporting slides.

The Interview

Standard, lecture-style presentations are a time-honored strategy for delivering information to an audience. But why not mix it up a little? The question-and-answer interview format makes the audience feel like they’re getting the inside scoop. By moving your expert from the presenter’s podium to the interviewee’s chair, you may get a fresh perspective on the content. The interview format is a natural fit for guest speakers like customers, partners, analysts, or industry experts.

Live Case Study

There’s nothing like a case study. It gives prospects a chance to see how other companies are using your products and services and hear, first-hand, what they can expect from you. So why not turn your best case study into a webinar? Invite a satisfied customer to share their experience with your webinar audience. The presenter can guide the conversation, while video and screen share can be integrated into the webinar to help the customer share their story in a more visual-forward manner than you would normally be able to present a case study.

As long as you keep your webinars fresh and engaging, they will continue to be your best tool for engaging customers and prospects at any stage of the funnel. By simply moving around the seats and experimenting with alternative webinar formats, you may find that your webinars are easier to follow and your audience learns more and retains it longer — not to mention the fact that you get more effective branding for your company and both internal and external experts. 


One Big Webinar Marketing Mistake and Three Ways to Fix It

Last week I went to an awesome event with one of my friends and met someone very special. He was the host, ever charismatic and engaging. He talked, I listened. I talked (in the Q&A portion), he listened. There was a genuine conversation. I demonstrated interest by asking questions and even did a little Google search before going. Heck, I even sent a few live tweets with the event hashtag because it was *that* cool. So imagine my surprise when after the event, I heard… nothing. Well, it’s only been a week so I’m still waiting. He’ll follow up, right? I mean, he has my email address and phone number. He knows how to contact me…

Imagine the above situation within the context of a webinar. Your attendees are demonstrating their interest in your company and products, but are you following up with them afterward? In relationship marketing, first dates are good but recurring dates are more important — because your end goal is to convert prospects into customers, developing a long-term relationship with them. Likewise, driving one-off registrations to an event is great, but you want to keep them coming back for more (content, webinars, white papers, demos, and eventually a sales call). Below I’ve outlined three ways to follow up with your attendees after that critical first date/webinar to make sure that you’re not leaving a hot lead, cold.

Tell Them You Liked Spending Time with Them

While you have an engaged, captive audience in a webinar, you should tell them about your next one. Take the opportunity to let them know where and how to engage with you next — is it on social media, through a white paper download, at a physical event, or other webinars? Make sure they feel invited and special by personalizing it!

Say Thank You

Did you have a great time hosting that awesome webinar? Follow up with your attendees by sending a thank you email with a link to the on-demand replay. They may have missed out on some key moments or want to share it with their colleagues. Another option is to send them a link to something related to what you talked about during the webinar. For example, as a follow-up to How to Build the Perfect Webinar Presentation, we created and sent a related infographic on the same topic entitled How to Build a Killer Webinar. Just like you’d send someone a link to that funny YouTube video you talked about during your date, you should keep your prospect engaged and entertained with relevant content.

Pick Up the Phone

Webinars provide a wealth of analytics for modern marketers, enabling us to know what attendees engaged with the most, how many polls they answered, whether or not they asked any questions in the Q&A portion, etc. The engagement score that they get can be integrated into your marketing automation and CRM systems, enable your sales team to know when the prospect is ready for a sales call. Poll responses and questions posed in the Q&A will help your sales team know exactly what to talk about during the call.

Following up on leads after a webinar is essential to your sales and marketing team success. Don’t let your webinar attendees feel the same way as the above (slightly pathetic) situation that I illustrated. Ask them out, make them feel remembered and special and they’ll want to see you again and again!

Give Webinar Marketing a Personal Touch

When it comes to large-scale communications with a personal touch, you can’t beat webinar marketing. Unlike white papers — or even massive in-person events — webinars really give you a chance to get personal and get real with your customers and prospects.

In last week’s live webinar, “How Personalization Can Drive Webinar Success,” Mark Bornstein walked us through some simple steps to make a real connection with webinars. In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights:

Send a thoughtful invitation

People are much more likely to respond to an email when it feels like you went the extra mile for them. So make your webinar invites more meaningful! It only takes a little effort to make a huge impact.

  • Write like a person. It’s all too easy for marketers to fall into bad habits and churn out emails that sound like a corporate jargon generator. Yuck. Remember that you’re writing an email for a real person with real concerns. Use “you” a lot and focus on what they’ll get from the event.
  • Segment your database. Not all customer needs were created equal. If your email service allows it, try sending a different, customized message to your most important segments.
  • Personalize the subject line. Nothing grabs someone’s attention like their own name. Try adding a variable field for first name or company to your email’s subject line: “Hey Jon! You’re invited to a webinar”

Be a considerate host

Whether you’re throwing a party or delivering a webinar, it’s no fun for anyone else if you make it all about you. Instead, look for ways to turn your presentation into a conversation, and get the audience engaged.

  • Don’t be too formal. The old slides-and-presenter webinar format can be a lot of fun, especially if you have a great presenter. But why shake things up a bit? Try different presenter formats, such as interviews, expert panels, or coffee talks.
  • Give them what they want. After really great webinar, the audience walks away full of ideas about what to do next. Pack your webinar with valuable info and actionable tips.
  • Listen. There’s nothing people love more than sharing their own experiences. Include polls, surveys, and Q&A to give your audience a chance to talk about themselves.

Let them know they matter

Show your audience how much they mean to you by inviting them to engage with your company again.

  • Stay in touch. Most leads start to go cold pretty quickly, so reach out within 24 hours with a follow-up call or personalized email.
  • Show them you were listening. But don’t just make a generic follow-up call! Ask them if they had any questions about the webinar they just watched. If the lead asked questions or responded to a poll, use that as a starting point for your next conversation.
  • Offer a fresh experience. It’s a good idea to offer them another piece of content, but make sure it isn’t more of the same. The next step should take them deeper into the buyer’s journey, whether it’s a white paper, a data sheet, a live demo, or an invitation to another webinar on a different topic of interest.

By making your webinars into genuinely personal experiences, you’ll increase attendance, engagement, and interest in your brand. For more great tips like these, watch “How Personalization Can Drive Webinar Success” on demand.

A Webinar Marketing Tale as Old as Time

It’s a webinar marketing tale as old as time: people buy from those that they like. Who would you rather spend a year-long (with potential for renewal!) contractual relationship with: someone who is flexible, dependable, and you admire; or someone who is rigid, prone to breakdowns, likely to flake when you need them the most. Thanks to the rise of social media, companies big and small are being humanized as they interact with customers and fans on a 1:1, personalized basis. As such, marketing and sales have moved from being more transactional to more relationship-driven.

How well we work with others is key to long-term success – both as professionals and in our personal lives. In our Q1 storybook, Beauty and the Beastly Webinar, we’ve illustrated this concept to show you what happens when you take the lessons learned from a popular children’s story and apply it to relationship marketing. Communication platforms, specifically webinars that work, are an integral part of a modern marketer’s tech stack. Kick back with this workplace story to see why – we dare you not to sing along at the end!

Is your webinar platform a prince or a Gustave? Take the test to find out if your webinar platform love will stand the test of time!


5 Ways to Boost Webinar Attendance

I have a confession to make: last week I forgot to take out the trash, ordered takeout more times than I’d like to admit, and sent my laundry out to be cleaned because I didn’t have time to do it myself. I was just too busy to do it all. Likewise, your fans — people just like you and me — are busier than ever. We’re constantly being pulled in a dozen different directions, bombarded with industry news and marketing messages, when all we really want is something that will help us get our jobs done faster and smarter. In such a busy and noisy marketing world, how can you make sure people take the time to come to your webinars? The answer is deceptively simple: your webinars need to be relevant, informative, and most of all, convenient. Here are a few easy tips to get you started:

  1. Make The Title Pop

Think about the last webinar you attended. With all the invites that pour into your inbox, why did you not only register for but also attend that particular one? Chances are, you signed up because the title spoke to you. If the title of a webinar promises to deliver information you need or actionable advice, you are much more likely to register and attend.

Keep that in mind when you’re naming your own webinars. Craft a title that directly addresses a common pain point and lets people know that they’ll walk away with tips they can immediately put into action. Webinar titles like “10 Secrets for Creating Great Webinar Content” or “5 Signs Your Webinars are Falling Short” tell people exactly what they can expect. And that translates into more people attending your event.

  1. Get More From Your Registration Page

Too often, marketers think of the webinar registration page as nothing more than an abstract and a form fill. But if you don’t take your reg page seriously, why should your fans?

Make sure you have calendar links on your registration page so it’s easy for people to add the webinar to their calendars. This gives them an easy and fast way for them to block out the time in their work calendars so no one books a meeting at the same time as your webinar. You wouldn’t agree to a professional development meeting and not add it to your calendar — treat your webinars the same. Adding buttons that automatically drop the webinar on someone’s Outlook or Google calendar is a quick and easy way to help ensure they attend.

  1. Don’t Be Antisocial

If you’re not promoting your webinars on social channels, you’re missing out on a huge potential audience. Just remember that social audiences have a different set of expectations, so you might have to nuance your message a little bit. Use different copywriting based on the platform (more light-hearted on Facebook, short-form with a point of view on Twitter, and a more skills-focused approach for LinkedIn).

Be sure to establish a hashtag for your webinar or larger webinar series (and check that hashtag to make sure that no one else is using it or that it’s not currently being used in a different, inappropriate context!). Then get creative about how you promote the event: tease key tips that will show up in the webinar presentation, ask provocative questions about the pain points the webinar will address, create a teaser video, or throw out intriguing stats or quotes that are related to the subject of your event. And, finally, try posting at different times to appeal to your audience. A well-crafted tweet a few days before the webinar may help drive registration, while timely day-of messages counting down to the start of your event will probably encourage more spur of the moment attendance (like how Periscope works by promoting the “I’m doing this now. Tune in now” mentality).

  1. Send a Reminder Email

This is such a simple one, but it is so shocking how many people forget to send a reminder email! Sometimes I get so busy that I forget to little but important things like buy groceries or take out the trash, so imagine how easy it is for people to forget about your webinar. No matter how excited someone was when they signed up, you need to take the opportunity to remind them.

Segment your database and email sends so that the day of your webinar anyone who has not registered yet receives a “last chance” email. And all the people who have registered should get a friendly reminder with a link to the event a couple of hours before you start delivering your webinar. This keeps your webinar top of mind as they’re starting out their day, helps fans prioritize their work for the day, and makes the event link easily accessible.

  1. Get Sales Involved

You want more people to come to your webinars. Sales want a good excuse to reach out to prospects. This is a textbook win-win situation and is key to any good some good sales and marketing alignment strategy.

Draft a simple email template for your sales team and encourage them to reach out and personally invite their most promising prospects to your webinar. Sales will appreciate having a reason to continue the conversation with a strong lead, you will enjoy an engaged addition to your webinar audience, and the prospect gets all your tips and webinar content. If the webinar helps move the prospect down the funnel and encourages them to buy, then your webinar can be directly attributed to revenue generation. How great is that?!

People are busy. Make it fun and easy for them to attend your super relevant and informative online events and they’ll be sure to keep coming back for more! If you’re looking for more tips to drive webinar registration, check out 7 Ways to Enhance Your Webinar Promotions.

Trimming the Fat: Lean Marketing Tips

Did you spend a little too much during the holiday season? Want to cut down on your caloric intake of programmatic spending? While I have been bombarded with messages lately on ways to trim the fat, be healthier, and move more, I can’t help but think about how much we as marketers are often called to practice lean approaches in the start of a new year. How are you supposed to do more (run more miles faster or create more shareable content) with less (calories, money, time, team members)? Fear not, marketing friends, I have compiled a list of tips to help you have your most successful lean marketing year yet! Use these three marketing tips to jumpstart your marketing diet today:

Compound Content

Why do four different exercises for four different body parts, when you can do one that works all four? A compound exercise is a workout that works multiple muscle groups and body parts at the same time. It effectively helps you get in and out of the gym faster, making you more efficient with your time. Likewise, when you approach content creation this year, consider different ways that you can make or do more with the one program that you have.

For example, at ON24, we always host one webinar a month. Instead of creating extra unrelated content, we create an entire content ecosystem out of that one webinar’s topic, giving our audience a theme that is easy to follow along with and also easily understandable by the end of our monthly push. Out of the one webinar, we create a promotional blog post, a post-event blog post, and a slew of other potential creative content formats such as white papers, supporting infographics, multiple social media posts, SlideShare upload, etc. This enables our small but mighty marketing team to create content that has a ripple effect. We are also able to learn what resonated best with our audience during the webinar itself via interactive tools (Q&A, polls, and social chatter) which help inform the post-event content that we create.

Friends in The Right Places

Kickstart your weight loss goals by working out with a friend! Working out with friends provides accountability, encouragement, and enables you to pull your resources together to find exciting and innovative ways to achieve success together. Likewise, working with partner companies to co-sponsor events (both online and in-person) enables you to do more with less. Who needs one set of social profiles and databases to promote a co-sponsored event when you can combine your clout and reach more people together. By doing this, you can get more leads, share them, and cut down any potential costs associated with your event. Sharing is caring!

Proving Your Success

Just like a scale and how well you fit into your jeans are ways to judge the success of your weight loss program, setting up strong program metrics ahead of time provides a way for you to be more accountable with your marketing campaigns. Success doesn’t come to those who say that they generically want to lose weight “sometime” over the course of the next 366 (leap year!) days. You need mini-goals to keep you motivated along the way, solid numbers to track, and (your own) sentiment analysis.

Likewise, when practicing lean marketing, you need to set up strong KPIs before executing a program. Doing so will help you determine ahead of time if you have created the right content to help you get there (i.e., maybe you really like hosting local networking sessions, but the KPIs for your program would better be achieved by attracting a more global audience via an on-demand webinar that you already have in your arsenal). Setting up these metrics will help you save money and be more nimble along the way.

‘Twas The Fire Drill Before Christmas

‘Tis the season to be jolly… and stay up late launching your holiday campaigns and solidifying next year’s plans! We’ve all been there — those late nights at the office, long after others have left and are snugly tucked into bed, eagerly awaiting the arrival of fresh leads from your newest campaign that is so hot it practically melts the ice off of the Grinch’s heart! But sometimes problems happen, 404 errors occur, the UTM codes don’t work properly, and we marketers need a little help. What do you do when this happens? Luckily, for our marketing friend Mary Christmas, there is holiday magic in the air and the man in the big red suit is here to lend a helpful marketing hand.

Pour yourself a cup of holiday cheer and enjoy our brand new storybook, ‘Twas the Fire Drill Before Christmas.

Still looking for a little bit of marketing inspiration? Check out our list of the best webinars of the year in our latest edition of Webinars that Rocked. Happy Holidays from your friends at ON24!