Catastrophe… or Opportunity? How to Deal with the Unexpected

It’s funny, one of the biggest fears I hear from people that deliver webinars is their concern that something will go wrong, especially during live webinars. I feel completely the opposite. I love live webinars because of that “anything can happen” reality. It makes them exciting and fun.

Now before you call me crazy, hear me out. First, if you do enough webinars — and I give literally hundreds every year — something will eventually happen. My list of unexpected webinar moments is long. I remember presenting once and the phone trunk in the entire building went down, effectively eliminating my ability to present… for five minutes. I have had laptops die, power go out, guest speakers drop off, and in one case, I almost lost my voice in the middle of a presentation.

Things will happen, it’s how you deal with them that matters. Here are some of my tips for avoiding danger and preparing for anything:

Build in as much redundancy as possible

Never present on a cell phone, but have yours close by in case your landline goes down. Make sure you have a power cord for your laptop. Have another computer close by, so if yours goes down, you can do a quick switch and continue presenting. Have a printed copy of your slides so, in case your computer freezes, you can continue the conversation.

Practice Your webinar

I can’t tell you how many times I have built a webinar deck only to find out live that the animations, order, or transitions I built didn’t work right. I learned my lessons the hard way. Once you have built your deck, go through the entire thing in show mode and confirm that everything works as it should. A few hours later, do it again. I guarantee that you will find at least one other mistake.

Don’t wait till the last minute

There are a lot of little things that can go wrong if you don’t allow yourself the time to discover and fix them. Make sure that every presenter is on the webinar thirty minutes in advance. Check sound levels and quality. If someone’s phone or video line isn’t working well, you will have time to change.

Don’t panic!

Even with all of the preparation in the world, the unexpected will happen. I actually love those moments. Yes, they will often vault your heart into your throat, but how you deal with them is what matters most. My advice? Grace and humor. Don’t freak out, don’t panic. Be honest with your audience about what is happening; people love human moments. Have fun with it. If you handle that moment with grace, your audience will like you even more. They will relate and it will make you, or your speaker, more relatable.

It’s just real life, and people like real a lot better than canned. So, do what you can to avoid the tiny mistakes, but when something happens, just roll with it. Your audience will stick with you and you may find that a potential disaster turns into your best webinar ever.

The Art of Crafting the Perfect Promo Email Subject Line

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

There are a lot of critical moments in the life of your webinar, but none more important than the very first time your target audience sees your email in their inbox. And, in fact, all they really see is the subject line. One small line of copy that can result in hundreds of happy webinar attendees, or your presenters talking to a whole lot of nobody.

One of the biggest mistakes that marketers make is not taking that single line of copy more seriously. There is a real art to creating a subject line compelling enough to get someone to click on an email and read on. Simply putting the title of your webinar (no matter how good) is not enough.

So what makes a great subject line? Well, the key is writing something that will create a strong enough emotional response that the reader will want to click to read more. There are several methods to accomplish this response.

Address a specific pain-point of need

Your audience has concerns that keep them up at night. If your webinar is going to address one of those issues, you can highlight that concern in your subject line. Subject lines that capture the essence of a major concern will elicit an almost Pavlovian click on that email.

Example: “Do your webinars put your audience to sleep?”

Disrupt

Another great strategy for creating an effective subject line is threatening the status quo. If you can write a line of copy that will make your audience feel uncomfortable or disrupt their current way of thinking, you will probably get a lot of clicks.

Example: “You are writing subject lines all wrong”

Promise change

People naturally are looking for anything that will make their lives better. This approach is similar to the first method of addressing a pain-point or need, except that instead of focusing on the pain, you are going to promise the gain. The secret here is to make the change feel transformative enough for them to absolutely HAVE to click.

Example: “This webinar will double your pipeline”

The Tease

Some crafty content writers have had great success by creating subject lines that titillate the audience into wanted to click, just to see what this is all about. You can make a funny reference or tease them with some fun wordplay.

Example: “Then your boss said…”

It’s all about getting that emotional response. Can you capture their imagination? Hit them where it hurts? Get them excited about a better way? You are not asking much, just a simple mouse click. But sometimes that can be the hardest part.

Building Your Webinar Dream Team

It sounds like a setup to a punchline: “How many marketers does it take…?” But building your webinar team is no joke. Without the right team, delivering a webinar can be a serious headache. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to put together your very own webinar dream team. In fact, it all starts with just three people:

1. The Presenter

What makes a good presenter? In a word, energy. Since the presenter is the face of your webinar, it’s their job to keep your audience excited and engaged. A good presenter is also prepared, polished, and good at thinking on their feet — after all, you never know exactly what will pop up in a live Q&A!

The presenter’s primary job is to deliver the webinar, but that’s not their only job. In fact, the biggest responsibility for the presenter may be building and preparing the presentation itself. But that doesn’t mean that they have to be the ultimate subject matter expert. A good presenter combines their own knowledge with deep expertise from all around the company to craft killer webinar content and wow the audience.

2. The Promoter

When it comes to delivering a successful webinar, people consistently list driving registration and attendance as the #1 challenge they face. That’s why it’s so important to assign someone the specific job of promoting your webinar. The promoter makes sure that the landing page looks good and works correctly, that the emails go out on time, and that everyone else on the webinar team is constantly up-to-date on where the registration numbers stand.

A good promoter is organized and detail-oriented. After all, webinar promotions have a lot of moving pieces: at least two or three promotional emails, event confirmations and calendaring tools, on-demand archiving of the webinar, and post-event follow-up, just to name a few.

3. The Producer

Every webinar needs someone behind the scenes to make sure everything looks and sounds great. That person is the producer, who is responsible for the webinar’s technical infrastructure. They will set up the console before the event to make sure that it matches the presenter’s plan. On the day of the webinar, the producer (along with the presenter) checks in at least 30 minutes early to test the equipment and troubleshoot any technical issues that may have come up.

During the webinar, the producer may lend a hand with managing live Q&A, pushing polls, or anything else where the presenter needs a little extra assistance.

With the right team in your corner, you’re in the perfect place to execute a great webinar. Stick around the ON24 blog for more great webinar tips!

Webcams: From Weird to Approachable Webinars

Nothing spices up a webinar more than adding video. Not that audio-only webinars are bad (I do lots of them), but there is something especially engaging about seeing the face of the person who is speaking to you. Now, most of the time when we think of video in webinars, we imaging nice stage sets, with professional-quality video production. But it’s time to reconsider the webcam. When webcams first arrived, nobody like using them. I hated them; it was awkward and weird. Where was I supposed to look? Why was I speaking into my laptop? It just didn’t feel comfortable. And so I, and most of you, just stopped using them.

And then something happened. Skype and FaceTime had us talking into our laptops, phones, and tablets non-stop. It was no longer weird; in fact, now, it’s quite normal. Not only are we used to talking into our devices, we are also used to seeing each other in this format too. Staring at someone talking into a webcam now feels personal and approachable.

Video webinars using webcams are great because they are cheap and easy to produce. Webcams provide you a few advantages that even studio video doesn’t, as they enable you to be agile and put together webinars very quickly to react to news, market conditions, or current events. Being the first to comment on what’s going on in your marketplace is a great way to establish your company as the thought leader and trusted advisor.

I also love webcams because they give you an easy way to brand your key presenters and help them connect to your target audience. Webcams have an intimacy that even studio video doesn’t, and they are a great way to create a bond between your presenters and your audience. What’s more, since you can webcam from just about anywhere, it’s easy to bring in presenters, no matter where they are in the world. This greatly expands your presenter pool.

Here are some helpful tips for webcam presenters:

  1. Never webcast from your desk — always go to a quiet room.
  2. Think carefully about your background. A glass conference room can look nice.
  3. Rehearse your presentation well, so you don’t have to keep staring down at your slides.
  4. Set your computer or laptop at eye level so you are not looking down at the camera.
  5. If you need a reminder of where to look, tape something above the camera. And remember, you are talking to a person.

Webcams can help you increase your number of webinars, and increase the level of engagement that you have with your audience. It’s fast, easy… and, yes, fun. So, open up that laptop and say hello to your audience.

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.