Nurturing Leads With Webinars: Awareness is Just the Beginning

The buyer’s journey has changed due to the high-quality information now easily available to prospects. B2B technology buyers are using this information in the early stages of the buying process and aren’t engaging directly with salespeople until much later. However, as buyers change their habits, there is an opportunity for marketers to play a bigger role.

Marketers’ primary goal is straightforward: to identify new prospects and progress them from one stage of the buying process to the next, ultimately moving them to the purchase stage. But how do you guide a lead from the first inquiry to a lifetime of customer loyalty? At ON24, we know that webinars are key in moving leads from one stage of the sales funnel to the next. In fact, according to Forrester Research, webinars are the #1 marketing tactic at each stage of the sales funnel.

Many of you may be using webinars to spark general interest and increase awareness, but that’s only the beginning. If designed with the buying cycle in mind, webinars can be an extremely effective method for moving prospects from awareness to purchase.

The secret to nurturing leads with webinars is delivering the right content at the right time. For example, while demonstration webinars are appropriate for bottom-of-funnel stages, they do not work well for top-of-funnel lead generation programs.

Here are some examples to illustrate how you can successfully use a webinar solution in each stage of the sales funnel.

Awareness

Prospects in the awareness stage are researching information to learn about your company – and others – so they can begin to evaluate options. At this stage, your objective is to win the prospect over with your company’s unique approach and value proposition. An effective webinar at the top of the funnel should demonstrate your company’s thought leadership perspective and your expertise in the field. Get one of the leaders at your company on board to discuss your specific point of view and how your product is at the cutting edge of the industry.

Consideration

Your prospects in the consideration stage are looking for answers. It’s now your responsibility to provide information to help move the prospect closer to making a decision. At this stage, webinars work best when they provide general solution-based content that explores typical challenges and benefits without highlighting the specifics of your company’s solution. One way to bring this to life is by having an industry leader, not a company spokesperson, host your webinar to discuss potential solutions to prospects’ problems.

Evaluation

By this stage, your prospects know that your particular technology is a possible solution for them but might not be convinced that you’re the right vendor. Therefore, you must influence them with the specifics of what your company offers and the benefits you can provide. In order to convey this through your webinar, call on your best advocates, customers! A customer in the same industry can describe your solution in detail and demonstrate the return on investment during a webinar. Hearing from a current customer can convince prospects that your company has a solution that can satisfy their needs.

Purchase

At the purchase stage, your prospect is ready to make a decision, and you’ve made it to the list of the top two or three choices. Now’s the time to demonstrate the superior features of your solution and highlight your competitive differentiators. Try teaming up with your company’s product manager to host a webinar to demonstrate the key features – and their benefits – that will positively influence your prospect’s decision.

Once you master the ability to tailor your webinar content to each stage of the sales funnel, you’ll find webinars to be an extremely effective method for moving prospects from one stage to the next. The equally important webinar analytics measure attendee engagement, progression through the funnel and behaviors, allowing you to identify sales-ready leads in real time and follow up with the most qualified leads immediately.

And webinar analytics become even more valuable when integrated with your CRM and marketing automation platforms – like Act-On – and incorporated into your lead scoring and nurturing programs. So what are you waiting for? Optimize your marketing program with webinars to accelerate your prospects’ journey through the buying cycle – from the first inquiry to revenue.

Ready to learn more about lead nurturing? Access our Lead Nurturing Toolkit, and you’ll learn about the lead marketing lifecycle, lead nurturing segmentation, automated email programs, and lead scoring. We’ll give you a blueprint for implementing long-term lead nurturing programs that will deliver more leads and higher close ratios.

“Nurturing Leads With Webinars: Awareness is Just the Beginning,” as posted on the Act-On Software Blog, 4/7/15

5 Tips to Maximize Pre and Post Webinar Communication

For many marketers, online events are an important component of the marketing mix. Interactive webinar products, such as ON24, allow you to connect to customers and prospects all over the globe, without ever leaving your office.

Since you’re investing precious time and resources, you want to make the most of the event, and that means optimizing your webinar-related communications to help drive attendance and continue building the relationship post-event. Here are a few of our favorite tips for doing so:

Personalize your invite email subject line by recipient type.

Have they attended one of your webinars previously, and are they currently a client or prospect? In your emails, try different subject lines by segment. For example, if they previously attended a webinar and are a current client, use a subject line like “We’d Love to Have You Join Us for Another Webinar.” If they’re a prospect, try “Please Join Us for Another Webinar Session” and consider alerting your sales team to personally follow up.

For a client who hasn’t attended an event of yours before, you could use a welcoming “We’d Love to Show You How to *generalized but valuable takeaway* in Our Next Webinar.” If they haven’t attended and aren’t a client, try an engaging but non-pushy subject line like “We’d Love to Show You How Our Company Can Solve ‘xyz’ in Our Next Webinar.”

Be as descriptive as possible in your invitation.

Let them know exactly what they are going to get out of attending your webinar! Of course, you should include the main details, such as date, time, title and speakers, but also consider including details about the duration, what kind of Q&A will be taking place, what job function or level is appropriate for the content, and what materials they will be receiving after the session.

Use automation in the invite process to target based on behavior.

Creating an automated program around your webinar invitations and registration process allows you to send invitations, reminders and confirmations based on each invited guest’s behavior. Using different email tracks for registered and non-registered invitees, as well as date opted in, can yield a higher attendee rate and will allow you to see a detailed analysis of how your invitees respond to your messages. This becomes easy to do when you integrate your marketing automation system (such as Silverpop) with a webinar tool like ON24. As an added bonus, webinar activities can easily become scorable behaviors.

Work backward from your webinar date when scheduling invitations.

Try scheduling the initial send at least two to four weeks beforehand to all invitees in your selected contact list. Send a second three to five days before, and be sure to exclude those already registered!

Consider sending two reminders to registrants — one a few days before and one the day of the event. Be sure to change the subject line accordingly to catch your registrant’s attention.

Treat attendees and non-attendees with prompt attention post-webinar.

In most cases, you’ll want to send the deck and replay, as well as any other relevant resources you can share, to both audiences. Use the opportunity to invite them to your next webinar event or share resources you think they might be interested in. Consider personally contacting attendees who have demonstrated difficulties, such as trouble connecting or leaving unexpectedly.

Webinars are a powerful way to educate prospects and customers and build your relationship with them. By following the tips above, you’ll be well-positioned to drive more leads, position your company as a helpful resource and enhance the customer experience.


Guest blogger Jonathan Dew is Director of Creative Services, Silverpop, an IBM company.

Silverpop, an IBM Company, is a cloud-based digital marketing provider that offers email marketing and lead management solutions. Silverpop Engage uses customer data and individual behaviors, collected from a variety of sources, to inform and drive personalized interactions in real time. For more info, visit us at www.silverpop.com.

 

3 Ways Small Businesses Can Make Webinar Videos Work

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video may be worth a million.

No matter what business you’re in, it’s likely that your customers are increasingly tuning in to video content online. According to MarketingProfs, in the U.S., each person consumes an average of 19 hours of online video content each month. This trend is likely to increase – Cisco expects the number of people watching online videos to double to 1.5 billion by 2016.

Videos are a great way to get a lot of information across succinctly, and research shows that video can hold attention longer than audio or text alone. In fact, according to ON24’s customer benchmarks data, live video events are watched for 20 percent longer average duration than audio events.

Yes, video is more complicated than simply reading a script with only audio. Businesses of all sizes are still wrestling with how to use video effectively, and, especially for smaller companies with limited budgets, this can seem like an insurmountable task.

The barriers to more widespread adoption of video by SMBs can be broken down into three major categories:

Cost

SMBs are on a tight budget and often can’t afford to hire a professional third party to produce video content. SMBs are also tight on time and often are forced to focus efforts and budget on other high-impact priorities.

Resources

Videos require an articulate and comfortable spokesperson, for one thing. A small business is not always equipped with an eloquent spokesperson eager to jump in front of the camera. And while larger companies have evangelists who perform this task, oftentimes with an SMB this falls to a product manager or marketing VP who already has a laundry list of other priorities. In addition, while enterprises rely on IT teams to help support the content creation process, SMBs often lack a dedicated IT team that can aid in the technical aspects of video initiatives.

Technology

SMBs may lack the necessary technical equipment, including high-quality cameras, speakers and good lighting, needed to produce a professional video. Many SMBs also lack the marketing know-how to effectively broadcast and distribute that video content. And what is the point of content if it’s not distributed properly?

Fortunately for SMBs, integrating high-quality video content into marketing programs doesn’t have to be impossibly daunting. In addition to platforms that may immediately come to mind like YouTube, Vimeo and Vine, there are also other formats, like video webinars, that enable you to reach thousands of people in an interactive and professional way, without the need for IT expertise. With webinars, you can also track and rank leads to better measure your results.

SMBs can further maximize their investment in video content by chopping it into “digestible” segments and redistributing portions of it across social media, the company website and partner/customer newsletters, for example. The specific content of the video will determine the channels that are most appropriate.

Audience demand for video is fast-growing, and the business that is up to the challenge stands to gain. Those that don’t will be left behind. Text- and audio-only communications may well become as “quaint” as faxing documents!

How to Build a Studio and Other Webinar Tips

More and more of our customers are adding video to their webinars – making webinars more engaging and informative than ever before. In some cases, like large executive events, it may be necessary to have a professional studio and crew. But broadcast quality video can be costly – and for most webcast applications, it simply isn’t necessary. By properly using inexpensive and readily available equipment, you can build your own webcam studio and achieve outstanding results.

Here’s are some video webcasting tips to get you started:

  • Find a dedicated location: Not much space is required, and a spare office or conference room should provide plenty of area to set up lights and video gear. Ideally, you will find a location where you can leave everything set up and undisturbed when you’re not using it.
  • Get a good-quality HD webcam: The built-in webcam and microphone on your PC isn’t going to provide the highest quality. Instead, look for a USB camera that delivers HD quality and includes a good built-in microphone. There are many great choices that come with support for Windows and Mac computers, and you can even spend a bit more for a true digital video camera with a better lens.
  • Set up some studio lighting: Overhead and mixed office lighting creates bad shadows and colors. Turning off the fluorescent office lights and sourcing a compact studio lighting kit (usually around $200) can easily fix this. A basic lighting kit is quite easy to set up, and lighting tips, such as the proper use of reflectors and how to light your backdrop, can be easily found with a little online research.
  • Improve your audio: Scratchy, garbled and otherwise poor-quality audio can really degrade the quality of your webinar. First, turn off your PC speakers to avoid noise and feedback. Then, 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. In addition, use carpet, furniture and other fabrics in your studio space to muffle sound and cancel echoes. Finally, if possible, connect your PC to a wired Internet connection to reduce the chance of video and audio delays and choppiness due to packet loss and compression issues.

Once you’ve implemented these tips and your studio is set up, it is nearly time to go live.

However, it is always a good idea to remember that presenters might need to be prepared or even coached before going on camera. Key reminders should include asking them to wear muted colors without busy patterns and having them look at the camera and speak to it as if it were a person, maintaining eye contact. And, while it should go without saying, you should remind presenters that rehearsing is KEY!

Finally, consider that in addition to creating and using a webcam studio and coaching presenters, you can improve your webinars by incorporating other video elements, including:

  • Playing a pre-recorded video clip
  • Showing an on-screen demonstration
  • Playing a pre-recorded on-screen demo
  • Using simple slide animations to increase interest

Many of these video elements may already exist in your organization. You just have to do some digging and creative thinking around the issue. We’ll address this in an upcoming blog post, so stay tuned.

If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail

It’s the end of the year (again!), and for many, this can only mean one thing… planning for next year.

The prospect of being in a perpetual circular motion of never-ending Excel sheets and strategy documents fills most of us with dread. It can cause additional pressures that weigh us down, a bit like what James Bond experienced in the centrifuge chamber in “Moonraker.” But the idea is not to stay in circular motion but to use the momentum to propel yourself out of one orbit and into the next. Okay, the 007/space analogy only has so much scope, so let’s move on.

What remains is that planning is necessary and important – otherwise, where would we be? Not where we are today.

If you’re a marketer, year-end means you’ll have been planning your budgets, your content calendar, your campaigns, events, new initiatives, your headcount and, ultimately, how you can support and enable your organization to become better and grow faster than the competition.

If you’re in sales you’ll be planning sales targets and comp plans, growth projections, account assignments, and sector focus. You’ll be analyzing this year’s performance and how you can sell more in 2014.

Some people love planning. In fact, it tends to be all they do. Plan. It becomes a habit and procrastination exercise. But without execution, planning is like a journey without a destination. And we all know that even Captain Kirk and his Starship Enterprise tried to find a way home, despite being lost in space (another space analogy!).

With this in mind, my Christmas gift to you is this piece of advice: plan, align and execute. If you delete any of these from the equation, add them back in. You may also want to consider experimentation to foster innovation.

Plan

It is very tempting to try and react to internal or external changes and follow the latest trend. Ask Germans whether their success is built on that approach. As someone who was born, raised and schooled in Germany, I can tell you it’s not. Diligent and efficient planning is important to save yourself work and headaches later down the line – and ultimately to achieve success.

I recently hosted a webinar with ON24’s Vice President of Demand Generation Lars Christensen. Lars spoke about the 10 steps for planning a successful webinar and outlined an effective strategy for planning each step towards webinar success. If anyone knows, it’s Lars. And we can see this success replicated by clients who follow this process. Part of this process is alignment with stakeholders prior to execution. So let’s look at these aspects as well. (Note: the webinar is part of other useful content available in the Webinar Academy.)

Align

Planning in isolation is going to get you into trouble. You won’t be delivering whatever it is you are planning by yourself, so why not involve stakeholders from the very start? Your plan’s success relies on others, so get their views – it may actually be helpful. Taking Lars’ advice for webcasting onboard, it means aligning with speakers, promoters and, not least of all, the audience’s areas of interest.

Execute

The magic doesn’t happen by itself. A plan needs execution and vice versa – just like Penn and Teller need each other. Often it can feel like the planning stage is the hard work, and to a degree that is true. A good plan helps to make execution easier, but the latter still needs your full attention. It is a fine balance between trusting in your plan and having the confidence to tweak it on the fly when needed. But you can’t get around the leap of faith and actually deliver. Nelson Mandela once said, “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Mandela knew that success comes from trying and trying again. If you don’t try, you’ll never succeed – having a plan from the start will increase your chances of succeeding.

I applied some of the items I discussed above to a blog post about a digital marketing strategy roll-out, and Lars applied it to webcasting, as you saw earlier. What are you going to apply it to in 2014? I know that I will use it even before 2013 ends – with my Christmas shopping list. I can tell you that without a plan, Christmas shopping on London’s Oxford Street is not much fun.

Have a wonderful end to the year and all the best for 2014.