ON24 Engagement Hub is not only a great resource to host all of your content, but it can easily and efficiently create a rich digital event experience that is just as engaging as a physical event. Let’s dig into all the tools and features you can leverage to make Engagement Hub your next virtual event venue.
Host Upcoming and On-Demand Webinars with Full Interactivity
Along with various multimedia types such as PDFs and videos, ON24 Engagement Hub is directly integrated into ON24 Webcast Elite and can host both upcoming and on-demand webinars. By hosting these webinars in an Engagement Hub, attendees only need to go to one place, similar to one conference hall, to engage with your content and speakers. They can easily join all of your virtual event’s sessions and interact—all without the lengthy commute time or running from one ballroom to the next.
Simplify Registration with One-Click Registration
Digital attendees don’t want to fill out any more forms than they need to. With One-Click Registration, attendees need to only register once to view all content in the Hub and sign up for any upcoming or on-demand webinar. By removing extra forms, attendees are given one coherent experience, rather than sitting in a bunch of individual, disparate webinars.
Pro Tip: You can simplify registration evenmore by using the CTA engagement tool in ON24 Webcast Elite to auto-register your audience members to a webinar, seamlessly sending attendees to the next scheduled session. We highlighted this recently in Feature Friday: Humanizing Your Digital Experiences.
Customize Your Hub for an Immersive Brand Experience
Getting all the signage and decorations for a physical event is costly, time-consuming and stressful. By hosting your event in an Engagement Hub, easily customize layouts and branding to allow your digital experience to not only beautifully display your brand, but also create an immersive brand experience just like an in-person event. Use your brand’s colors, banners and custom thumbnails. Additionally, by organizing and categorizing your webinars and content to align with conference tracks or event dates, attendees can easily find relevant content.
Enable Breakout Sessions and Networking
Link your online meeting rooms, such as Slack or Join.me, to Engagement Hub so participants can easily network, discuss and ask questions. Attendees can even turn on mics and webcams to have a more visual experience. And, by creating a category or area focused on these meeting tools and conversation channels, you have your new smaller “conference room” location where individuals can have a deeper discussion.
What’s the best time to run a webinar? What about promoting it? And who, exactly, is so used to running video events? You have questions about running webinars and digital experiences. We have answers.
That’s because we’ve just recently released the ON24 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, which is chock-full of useful information, from the best day to send promotional emails to average attendee conversion rates. Download this report to learn what you can expect from your webinar program, what other ON24 users are doing with their webinars and discover useful tips that’ll make your digital experiences stand out.
Curious about what’s in the report? Here are a few takeaways:
When to Promote Your Webinars
According to our benchmarks report, Tuesday and Thursday are the best days to send promotional emails for your digital events. Though, keep in mind: any day during the mid-week is typically fine for promotions.
Make sure you start your promotions early, however. We recommend at least 15 days before your virtual event’s launch, as more than half of all registrants sign up for a webinar eight days before the event. In fact, more than a quarter of all registrants sign up more than 15 days in advance. So, calendar out your emails and webinars!
The Best Day and Time for Webinars
When should you hold your webinar? Well, according to our benchmarks, Thursday has overtaken Wednesday as the best day for webinar attendance, but, again, the difference is so narrow that nearly any day mid-week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) will serve your webinar well.
When it comes to the time of day, 11 a.m. Pacific (2 p.m. Eastern) continues to be the best time to hold your webinar. But what if you’re not running a coast-to-coast virtual event? No worries. The best time to run a webinar is really the time that fits in with your audience’s schedule. Typically, that time is an hour before or after lunchtime (12 p.m.). So, feel free to run your event at 11 a.m. Eastern if that’s suitable for the audience you’d like to reach.
Marketers today can no longer depend on a one-size-fits-all approach. Audiences want content personalized to their tastes, needs and, well, account. In fact, personalized marketing is so valuable today that, according to our Experiences Everywhere report, 78% of B2B marketers say they’ve found personalized approaches like account-based management to be more effective than traditional marketing approaches.
Fortunately, today’s digital tools make it easy to create personalized and account-specific experiences, even for assets like webinars or targeted landing pages. All you have to do is get a little scrappy and organize your team and content for maximum effectiveness. Record a short intro video to play before a webinar that addresses the account you’re reaching out to. Or, incorporate a logo and special messages on a targeted landing page.
So what do you do after the event is over? Easy: make it available on demand. With always-on content, you can extend the reach of your virtual events to connect with registrants that may have missed the live event or interested audiences searching for your organization’s guidance.
In fact, 38% of all webinar attendees watch webinars on demand, spending up to 38 minutes engaging with your content and resources. But marketers can go even further, providing audiences with content hubs and targeted landing pages filled with relevant webinars, e-books, reports, videos and more. Used right, content hubs can provide audiences with all the on-demand resources they need to make a decision and provide your organization with the insights it needs to help bring a deal to close.
Today, we are all facing unprecedented circumstances, and we want you to know that we are doing all we can to ensure our platform is ready for unprecedented demand.
To date, the daily number of live webinar and virtual event experiences held on our global network has tripled. And, we are seeing attendee numbers skyrocket, with an average registration-attendee conversion of approximately 75%, and about the same 75% increase in the engagement per attendee with our tools.
While virtual event volume, attendance and engagement is at an all-time high, so is our commitment to ensuring the performance and reliability of the ON24 Platform. Our global product and support teams are working around the clock to monitor and maintain our platform scale and stability. Despite the record-breaking live attendance we’re seeing, there has not been a single performance issue.
We know that your webinars, virtual events, hybrid events and content experiences are more critical to your success than ever before, and we are taking proactive measures to increase our platform resiliency. Our team is rapidly scaling our network capacity so that you can continue to deliver engaging digital experiences that delight your audience and grow your business.
No matter what lies ahead, ON24 is here to support you. Thank you for continuing to trust in us as your partner.
Okay, so you’ve optimized your home space to record webinars from home. But if you’re working from home for a long time, you’re going to want gear that’ll provide the best experience as possible for your audience while being compact enough to store in your home or apartment.
Fortunately, we have a few recommendations. They run the gamut from webcams and microphones to stands and LED lights. We’ve also found some great suggestions from our webinerd community. You can find those below as well.
What We Recommend
All webinars run on audio, but your laptop’s built-in microphones simply aren’t suitable for a professional webcast. They pick up a lot of background noise and the audio they produce often sounds like it’s being delivered through a tunnel. That’s why we recommend investing in a dedicated microphone.
A good dedicated microphone will hook up to any computer, block out background noise, give your voice a rich, full tone and last for a long time.
Our pick: We recommend the Blue Yeti USBMicrophone for all your audio recording needs. Blue Yeti, with near professional-level quality, durability and ease-of-use, is a solid microphone that’s hard to beat.
Budget pick: Your headphones. A dedicated microphone may seem like overkill for a lot of presenters, but even using the microphone from a headset makes a noticeable improvement in your webinar’s audio.
Using video in your webinar is essential for driving engagement with audiences and providing a human touch to your events. In fact, according to our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, nearly 70% of ON24 customers use video in their events in some fashion.
While most laptops today feature a built-in webcam, we suggest investing in a dedicated camera for a few reasons. First, you won’t have to worry about any awkward angles (especially prominent when your laptop is sitting flat on your desk and not level with your eye). Second, dedicated webcams often provide higher-quality video than those on your laptop.
Our pick: We recommend Logitech’s C930E Business Webcam to record webinars at home. It provides high-quality video, is easy to set up and is compatible with nearly every computer out there.
Budget pick: Your laptop’s built-in webcam. If you don’t present often or don’t want to deal with the bulk of a webcam, then your laptop’s built-in webcam should do the trick. Just remember to elevate your laptop so it’s level with your eye. We recommend stacking books or paper stacks to adjust the height of your laptop.
Upgrades: Boom Arm and USB Lights
Having your microphone to the side or directly in front of you isn’t ideal. If you want to take your at-home webinar studio to the next level, use a boom arm that clamps to the side of your desk. This will lift your microphone, save precious desk space and make recording a bit more comfortable.
For this, we recommend the Blue Compass boom arm, which is easy to put together and consolidates wires in a small package.
Recording video is all about getting the light right. But few homes have an ideal lighting situation for recording webinars. That’s why we recommend these Neewer LED Dimmable Lights, which are inexpensive, compact and feature built-in dimmers that don’t project harsh light.
#Webinerd pick: Your favorite headsetor the Logitech H390 USB. For recording audio, the #webinerd community recommends using your favorite headphones. The reasoning is simple: it’s better than a laptop’s built-in microphone and it makes you feel comfortable. The community also recommends the Logitech H390 USB headset, which is affordable and comfortable to wear.
#Webinerd pick: the Logitech C922 or C930e webcam. Using a dedicated webcam is an easy way to step up your webinar game — and our webinerd community agrees. Suggested webcams include Logitech’s C922 and our previously recommended C930e webcam. Both webcams are easy to use, connect to virtually any computer and deliver high-quality video.
#Webinerd pick:Two monitors. A lot of commenters recommended using two monitors to webinar. The reason being is that you can use one monitor to log into ON24 to manage the event and the second monitor to see what the audience is seeing.
#Webinerd pick:A sign. Commenters also suggested that anyone recording a webinar hang a sign on the front door of their home. The reason? To ward off unwanted doorbell rings or loud noises that could be picked up during a recording.
Sometimes things just don’t work out as planned and an in-person event needs to be canceled and transitioned into a digital experience. While there are a lot of factors at play during this process, there’s one critical element that you cannot skip out on: communicating with your audience.
If you decide to transition your in-person event into a digital experience, you’ll need to explain the shift to your attendees and set expectations. Communication here can be sensitive and difficult, but we have a few tips — and examples — you can use to keep your audience engaged and prep them for a digital experience.
Let’s take a look:
First, Explain the Situation
If you choose to move your in-person event online, you’ll need to explain why you made this decision. For example, in the wake of the 2019/2020 novel coronavirus, Salesforce’s CEO, Marc Benioff, sent an email to all customers stating the company would postpone all of its in-person events and shift some events to digital experiences.
This is a great example of explaining the situation, setting expectations and announcing a transition to digital experiences.
Just remember: there are essential elements you need to include in your communications. You’ll need to explain what is going on, why it’s happening and where attendees can go to for additional information.
Second, Invite Audience to Join the Digital Experience
Once you explain what is happening and why, send a message inviting attendees to join your virtual event. Keep in mind not everyone may have seen your initial message, so adding in some context around the situation at the beginning of your email can be helpful.
Finally, it’s time to launch your digital experience. For this, we recommend sending a morning-of email detailing what attendees can expect and how they can access the event. If you’re running a live event, make sure you signal at what time or times the event is taking place.
For example, Salesforce’s World Tour expo used its digital experience landing page to show attendees when its event is officially running, recommend sessions to watch next and highlight events relevant to an attendees role:
During the event, you’ll want to explain how attendees can interact with the digital experience. Saleforce’s World Tour event also provided attendees with simple, clear instructions on how to engage with representatives in a product demo:
And that’s it! When you’re transitioning an in-person event to digital remember to explain the situation, invite your audience to the digital experience, keep your audience in the loop and bring your event to life. Good luck!
One of the many benefits of webinars is that you can record them wherever you are, whether that be in the office or studio. While we recommend having a dedicated professional space for webinar recording, we recognize that there are circumstances where recording from home is a must. Offices can get loud and crowded, studios can be expensive, and you, as the presenter, may simply choose to record from home.
No worries. Setting up a home webinar studio is simply a matter of assessing the space you have available to you and making a plan. Here’s what you can do:
Finding and Establishing Your Recording Location
The first step to recording professional-looking webinars at home is finding the ideal location to record. Finding a suitable spot for your webinar studio will probably be one of the more difficult steps, as there are several factors you’ll need to consider, including lighting, background, WiFi signal and general background traffic.
The Ideal Space
The ideal recording space doesn’t require a lot: a spare room, if you have one, or the corner of a larger common room if, say, you live in an apartment. Since you’ll be recording from home, you’ll want to find a location that doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic from family or partners (more on this is in a bit) and where you can easily set up or break down any equipment you may have.
If you’re recording a webinar from home, then you’ll need to consider the quality of your internet connection from the space you’re recording. A great studio space in a home basement is entirely negated if the internet connection is low-quality or non-existent.
Ideally, for webinar recording, you’ll use a hardwire with your ethernet port to connect to the internet directly. But wired connections can also limit the physical space where you can record. If you’re using an office with a nearby modem, then this shouldn’t be an issue. But if you rely primarily on a wireless connection, then you’ll need to map out where the signal is strongest and weakest in your home and plan your studio space accordingly.
Setting Up Your Studio
Pick out a few potential spaces based on the above factors and then consider the lighting situation. Are there overhead lights? Lamps? Natural light from windows? If you have windows, then the natural light there will dominate all others and you’ll need to incorporate that fact into your set up.
In general, overhead fluorescent lights are pretty harsh and not ideal for webcasting. In a more professional space, you could make use of softbox lighting to soften the light and produce high-quality videos. But recording from home means you’ll likely need to hack together a better lighting studio. To do this, you’ll need to consider some lighting 101.
For a basic lighting setup, we’re going to have to turn to three-point lighting. You’ll need three points of light: a key light, which shine directly on you (e.g., the sun or a specialized lamp); a fill light, which serves to add shading and lessen the effect of the key light; and a backlight, which serves to add some contrast between you and the background.
Your key light is, in all likelihood, going to be the sun. So, make sure you set your recording desk up accordingly. Next, grab a small shaded lamp to act as your fill light and set it to the side. It should be outside of the shot of your webcam, and it shouldn’t outshine your key light. If you need, grab a stand or small file cabinet where you can place the lamp at a distance. Last but not least, use a standing lamp or television to serve as the backlight.
Experiment with your lighting set up and find something that works for you. We suggest keeping your webcam open so you can reference how it looks and feel as you set up. If you’re using the sun as a key light, write down what time of day your ideal light is at so you can plan ahead for actual recordings.
If you want to go all-in on lighting, then you can purchase a basic lighting kit online. These kits are quite easy to set up and lighting tips, such as the proper use of reflectors and how to light your backdrop, are aplenty online.
Decorating Your Space
With your main set up established, it’s time to think about your background and what your viewers will see. Subtle decorations, such as potted plants, side tables and bookcases, can liven up your background. Just be aware that you don’t want a distracting background; anything that moves in the background ought to go.
Securing your Space
Recording webinars from home can be a challenge for a variety of factors, not the least of which include managing anyone you live with. If you’re in a crowded space with family, partners or housemates, make sure you sit down and talk to them about why you’re setting this webinar studio and the rules that’ll be in place while it’s in use. As adorable as it was, you don’t want the same situation as Robert E. Kelly, whose daughter marched in on him during an interview with the BBC.
To prevent this possibility, print off (or write) a sign to make sure no one walks in unannounced. Place these notes at every entrance to your recording space, whether that’s a hallway or on your door.
Get Your Gear Into Place
Okay. It’s time to get your gear into place. In all likelihood, you’ll record your webinar from your work-issued laptop. But simply opening your laptop and starting a webinar session isn’t ideal, as the webcam will be at an angle and the quality of the camera may not be the best. There are, however, a few ways to mitigate this.
First, your webcam should be at eye-level. Grab any books, boxes or stacks of paper at hand to raise up the level of your laptop so its built-in camera is eye-level with you. Alternatively, if you have external monitors or want a higher-quality recording, you can purchase a USB webcam that delivers High-Definition quality video.
Getting a separate camera can help you deliver video that is better than that of a laptop’s webcam. Even with a cheap model, a camera can be set at a level that means you’re not hunched over and looking down at a screen, which might be the case if you’re relying on a laptop.
Getting Audio Right
Scratchy, garbled and otherwise poor-quality audio can really degrade the quality of your webinar. To avoid any audio issues, you’ll need to take a few proactive steps. First, turn off your PC speakers to avoid noise and feedback and then consider adding carpet, furniture and other fabrics to your space to muffle sound and cancel echoes.
If you have any handy, use an external microphone that connects to your PC via USB or mini-plug — they’re remarkably inexpensive and highly effective for cutting noise and increasing clarity. Lacking an external microphone, try using a headset with a built-in microphone. While not ideal, headsets with built-in microphones tend to offer high-quality audio. Just be mindful where the microphone is; if it’s on a wire and brushing against your shirt, avoid shifting or consider pinning it to avoid any rubbing noise.
Finally, consider purchasing a dedicated microphone if you lack one. As mentioned earlier, these microphones can be relatively inexpensive, provide studio-quality recording and can plug directly into your computer. Lavalier mics that you can wear, to boom mics that are either standalone or attached to a camera, all can help improve the sound quality and lead to a more engaging session.
Practice, Practice, Practice
At this point, the fundamentals of your in-home webinar studio are in place and you should be ready to go. There’s just one critical element left: practice.
Set up your studio as you’d like it, start recording and run through your presentation once or twice. Practicing early gives you an opportunity to get a feel for what it’s like to record at home, identify any potential problems (e.g., noisy background, audio issues, etc.). Practice also gets you into a comfortable space where you can give a professional touch to your presentation.
And that’s it! With your in-home studio set up, you should be ready to record a professional webinar at any time. Just remember: look into the camera, relax, get scrappy and have fun.
Marketers are constantly evaluating the right mix of content and tactics to power amazing experiences for buyers. And now that it’s impossible to engage your buyer through physical experiences due to the ongoing global health situation, we are seeing a swift and massive disruption in the day-to-day activities for B2B marketers. Across the globe, marketers are trying to find effective strategies to engage audiences even when they can’t meet in-person. After all, marketers still have pipeline to generate and they need to get creative… quickly.
I’ve had the privilege of covering the physical and digital events space for the past five years and have seen companies use effective strategies to bridge the divide. Often, effective physical-to-digital programs were born out of the need to connect with target accounts. These marketers realized they needed virtualized, digital experiences for buying group members who weren’t able to attend an in-person event.
Communicate. People want to understand what your organization is doing so they can plan ahead. Even if you don’t have the complete answer or solution, letting attendees know that you’re monitoring a situation and when they can know a decision by will go a long way.
It’s all about the Data. While you may be scrambling to pull off the execution of an in-person event turned virtual, don’t lose sight of thinking about what to do after the event is over. Make sure attendance and engagement data is captured and funneled to the appropriate systems. Assemble a task force to ensure that follow-up to attendees is swift and informed.
Learn from the Experience. Future-proofing your marketing strategy will be a hot topic once marketers get past the current chaos of reworking plans. No doubt there will be opportunities for organizations to rethink people, process and technology. I urge all marketing leaders to make setting up marketing channel contingency plans as we enter Q3.
And for the digital experiences themselves:
Turn on the Camera. Yes, you heard me (and I’m someone who rocks the athleisure better than no other when I’m not presenting). Not only does having video enabled for webinars and virtual events boost engagement, it should be required if you’re hosting a digital experience in lieu of an in-person one.
Make it Interactive. Mimicking the experience of an in-person event is challenging if you resort to dated digital behaviors. Leverage polling and Q&A features heavily. If you’re struggling to see where your content can have these opportunities, consider inserting polling questions after a data point or at the end of a section. You can also check out some more tips here.
At ON24, our top priority is our customers and employees. And, we want you to know that at this difficult time, we thank you for relying on us as your partner.
Our mission at ON24 is to empower you to create human connections with your audience across the globe, even when meeting in-person is not possible. And, as COVID-19 continues to restrict our travel and workplace environments, we are here to help you build a successful digital experience strategy, now and always.
As you move your physical events into the online world, we are prepared to support you and offer our decades of expertise running virtual events. The ON24 Platform is built to meet increases in network demand, and we have robust contingency plans in place to ensure the continued reliability you have come to expect from us. Please do let us know your digital event needs as soon as they arise so that we can help you deliver the best outcome possible.
In addition to keeping business as usual for you, we have taken several precautions to maintain our own business continuity, including:
Workplace safety and operations policies that adhere to CDC guidance
Remote workforce with back-up resources
Voluntary work from home policy
Restricted domestic travel and no international travel policy
14-day quarantine policy for any potential risks
We’re actively monitoring the situation and remain ready to help you cross the physical-digital event divide. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.
Scott Ray, Chief Customer Success Officer, ON24 Chris Dishman, Vice President of Customer Success, ON24
Is nature accelerating a trend that been a long time coming?
The usual rush of spring events in B2B sales and marketing has almost entirely been eliminated in just the past couple days, in an appropriate abundance of caution. Countless hours of work by organizers, presenters, sponsors and even attendees – gone.
Or are they? Many of these companies are now planning virtual summits, a series of webinars and other online formats to maintain a version of what had been intended in person.
What’s really been lost? Sunk costs all around for sure.
From a value perspective, the primary variable that has really been eliminated is the venue. If it weren’t for the fear of spreading this dangerous virus unnecessarily further, these shows would still go on – and would likely be deemed successes by all parties involved.
So that tells me there’s still clearly value there. How much of it is tied in the actual channel (i.e. attending general sessions and just watching the big screen anyway, having another booth to staff, sponsoring another after-hours party) vs what can be enumerated and replaced elsewhere?
Too often we get caught in a cycle of incremental thinking, making certain assumptions about what we have to do. Since we’re going to that trade show anyway, how do we make our booth more attractive? How do we make our chochkies more desirable? How do we stand out from everyone else sponsoring, presenting, shouting at the crowd? That’s incremental thinking.
Exponential thinking, for example, means eliminating trade shows entirely. It’s no surprise or secret that many marketers loathe the trade show circuit but have considered it a necessary evil. It’s historically been too scary of a thought to not show up, to not be there when “everybody else” will.
So now that those shows are literally gone, now that a virus has leveled the playing field, what will you do?
There’s still significant value and need here:
Organizers still desire a platform to share their story, gather their customers and build greater market share, sales pipeline and more.
Sponsors still desire a targeted channel to meet new prospective customers and fill their own sales pipelines
Attendees will still seek an opportunity to learn, to network with their peers, to benefit from parallel thinking in other organizations
These needs exist independent of the channel, independent of the venue.
Most companies that have produced and/or sponsored events this spring will either wait things out on the sidelines or attempt to replace those in-person shows with webinars. And unfortunately, most of those efforts will fall flat, fail to generate value, or at minimum just look like what everyone else is doing.
This is not an opportunity to take advantage of a dangerous and scary situation, let me be clear.
This is an opportunity to rethink our go-to-market strategies, to practice some exponential thinking, to reinvent how we create, deliver and build on the value that’s very much needed, especially in the absence of traditional means.
Could some of those trade show resources be better deployed in digital prospect experiences?
Could you convert mass-scale event participation into local in-market events that may be smaller but have a bigger impact on target accounts?
How about organizing your customers and industry community into local user groups to replicate part of the community-building at large events that has been lost?
Perhaps these include live events eventually, but could start with an online community, Slack channel or other format – either organized by your company or orchestrated/supported with a local customer/evangelist leader
Can you convert the usual badge scan “was she qualified” guessing into an investment in greater intelligence and intent data on behalf of the broader account and buying committee, not just who happened to stop by the booth?
Get your team together (in a group video call if you’re working remotely) and explore/brainstorm something that just a couple weeks ago may have felt less reasonable.
Sometimes companies and leaders are bold enough to make exponential leaps in value and innovation.