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Account-Based… Webinars?

This is a guest post from Nani Jansen, Director of Marketing Operations at Demandbase.

In B2B, marketing and sales need to work together. It’s not enough to just throw content into the pipeline and expect it to turn into revenue — you need to target high-value sales leads, and shepherd them through a long buyer’s journey. In our last article, we talked about how Account-Based Marketing (ABM) can unite your sales and marketing team. Here’s how you can apply ABM methods to your content strategy, and your webinar strategy in particular.

Account-Based Marketing at Demandbase

Demandbase  is a leading Account-Based Marketing platform. We’re used to getting results from ABM, but the ROI on our webinar strategy has been nothing short of spectacular. Since 2015, our webinar program has achieved a 231% increase in year-over-year pipeline generation. We’ve achieved that growth without filling that pipeline with low-quality sales leads — in fact, our lead targeting has improved in step with pipeline generation. In August 2016, 19% of webinar audience members came from our target accounts list. By February 2017, we had increased that to 35%.

How did we drive such a big pipeline increase? Not by upping our cadence and throwing money at promotion — that would have diluted our leads, and made our efforts less valuable for the sales team. Instead, we actually cut our webinar cadence in half, and focused on making sure we had the right content, with the right promotion, and a finely-tuned follow-up strategy. Here’s how you can do the same:

Unite webinar marketing goals and sales goals

Put aside broad goals around registration numbers or total attendance — your sales team doesn’t care. In Account-Based Marketing, driving the sales pipeline is more important than filling seats. Have a meeting between marketing and sales to hammer out goals and metrics. For our webinar strategy, we focused on generating marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), sales-accepted leads (SALs), and pipeline opportunities. Your metrics may be different, but it’s important to choose measurements both teams can get behind.

Not only will that help create opportunities and bring in key clients, it will also bring both teams together. Sales will see that marketing is there to support them, take more interest in your webinar program, and be more reliable at following up on leads. And marketing will be able to demonstrate their value by tying webinars more directly to ROI.

These metrics will also help you refine your content strategy — particularly if you’re meticulous about tracking content engagement among high-value targets. What emails were opened by targeted accounts? What webinars (or blogs, white papers, etc.) did a new client consume during their buyer’s journey? You won’t be able to say “this webinar closed the deal,” but you will be able to see what helped turn a lead into a client, and tune your content and outreach accordingly.

Hone your sales enablement strategy

Use your webinar platform to track attendees and registrants, prioritizing high-value sales leads. Use poll responses, Q&A, and other data to pin down exactly what targeted attendee are looking for. Turn that data into suggested talking points for those clients to help them make the most of the opportunity.

You should also help sales prioritize all their leads, from targeted accounts all the way down to non-target registrants who didn’t attend. What attendees should they call up right away? What no-show registrants should get marketing emails with slides or on-demand webinar links? How can you segment your attendants to drive the priorities of the sales pipeline, without neglecting marketing pipeline concerns like lead nurturing?

Make sure sales are engaging webinar leads

Account-Based Marketing shows your sales department that you value their time, and are working to give them the best opportunities you can. That relationship needs to go both ways. Make sure that your sales team understands your webinar strategy, and is following up on your marketing leads. The goal isn’t just to get them to send out emails or make calls — it’s to ensure marketing and sales work together as a team.

That’s an ongoing process that depends on your follow-through. Shoot off an extra email, telling them about an upcoming opportunity. Welcome their feedback, and invite them to suggest their own webinar topics. Once both sides understand how much more sales and marketing can accomplish together, your ABM strategy will be unstoppable!