Introducing the Virtual Events Maturity Model

What’s in a virtual event? Quite a bit!

To ensure your virtual experiences are up to today’s standards, we’ve partnered with Hoosh Marketing to lay out the virtual events maturity model in infographic form.

So, what does the maturity model cover?

Well, it dives into the high-level elements of a mature virtual event strategy, guiding you from an unbranded webcast to a branded virtual convention. It also shows you which platforms are suitable for which event, the outcomes you ought to pursue and the key indicators of success.

Take a look below or click on the image to download.

 

Jack’s Hacks: 7 Easy Steps for Publishing ON24 Simulive Webinars

Simulive webinars are great, especially when so many presenters are producing webinars outside of controlled office environments. They allow a lot of flexibility and even the ability to start over. So it is unsurprising that we get so many questions on how we run them. Let’s walk through it.

What is a simulive webinar?

A simulive webinar is prerecorded. But unlike an on-demand webinar, it runs at a set date and time. This allows you to recreate a live experience with group chats, Q&A, and other engagement tools. Since it is prerecorded, it also always for some editing and a bit more production value. It is also GREAT for replaying old webinars.

How ON24 Record Simulive

Like most things in life, there is a trick to pulling these webinars off — we record each simulive webinar as a mock live event before importing the media and slides into the simulive event. Luckily the process is very easy.

Step 1) Prep Your Event

Setup your simulive event for the date and time that your audience will be attending. Keep the presenter link handy, you will need it later.

Step 2)  Establish a Recording time

Set up a live video event for the time that your presenter(s) will be recording.

Step 3) Record

Record the event as if it is live.

Step 4) Process the Event

Give the recording a few hours to process.

Step 5) Prep for Import

Open up the presenter link for the simulive event, and navigate to the setup button at the bottom of the window.

Step 6) Find the Import Tab

Navigate to the “Import Media” tab, and find the event that you recorded in Step 3.

Step 7) Import Your Event

Click the checkbox next to the event you want to import and press the “Import Storyboard & Presenter Media” button.

Voila! You have successfully set up a simulive video webinar! Now it’s time to let your audience watch it 🙂

How Marketers Can Meet Today’s Revenue Marketing Needs

COVID-19 has opened a new era for marketers. We’ve always known the power of digital, and we’ve mastered the strategy, tactics, and technology to harness it. Now, other departments have had to embrace the digital transformation that businesses have been talking about for so long, and those colleagues are turning to us in Marketing to provide guidance.

Even if it is a brave new world for everyone else, for marketers it’s another day in the proverbial office.

This post originally appeared on MarketingProfs.com. Shared with the author’s permission.

Now, the digital evolution is resonating across organizations. The pandemic has shifted internal structures and changed relationships with customers, and as a result marketers have become more valuable than ever.

The Shift Inside Organizations: Marketers Become Indispensable in a Digital World

Marketing has often been known as the department that makes PowerPoints and polishes websites. That wasn’t ever close to the whole truth, of course, but past company structures—in which Marketing always played second fiddle to Sales—allowed that falsehood to persist.

The pandemic has transformed what the marketing team means to an organization: It’s given us agency. It’s upended the customer journey. It’s redefined how sales and marketing teams should interact. And it’s forced businesses to see the value that marketers provide in a digital world.

B2B companies say digital interactions are now 2-3 times more important than traditional sales interactions, according to McKinsey & Company. That stunning stat puts marketers at the forefront of generating revenue—because we’ve mastered the digital game.

Take the new sales trend “asynchronous selling,” wherein digital touchpoints and interactions happen at different times—usually whenever works best for the prospect. That sounds a lot like B2B marketing. Which is why more and more sales teams are relying on their marketing departments to navigate in this new reality, giving Marketing more control over more of the sales funnel.

As it is, marketers had been gradually taking over more of the funnel in recent years; the pandemic has accelerated that trend as many more businesses have had to more quickly shift online.

In short, now that buyers are more connected digitally, marketers are more connected to revenue.

Companies are also recognizing that shift: 56% of businesses have either increased or maintained their marketing budget since the COVID outbreak began.

Rethinking Lead Qualification

Lead qualification can no longer be measured by content consumption alone. Visiting a website or downloading a piece of content says little about a prospect’s intent. They may not have meant to visit the website, or they could have been turned off by your whitepaper. In a digital world, understanding who is ready to buy means finding those who have already raised their hands to be contacted.

While marketers have capably shifted their priorities to take on an expanded role, we’ve lagged behind in changing how we measure our performance to reflect the shift. MQLs are no longer the end-all, be-all. New metrics have emerged that mirror the entire sales funnel, but also areas beyond it.

Marketers should now look at retention and customer lifetime value, engaging current customers for potential upselling and ensuring customers are fully harnessing all the benefits of your product or service. At the top of the funnel, they should measure engagement from digital marketing campaigns and look at how certain actions, such as downloading a resource, connect to a prospect’s buying intent.

Think beyond leads: What actions in the customer experience truly correlate with the bottom line? Those are the things you should invest in and measure.

In a more digital world, we no longer merely hand off leads to Sales, and so we need metrics that reflect our new role.

Predictive Becoming Possible

The term “predictive” has been thrown around a lot in recent years. For most companies, it’s an aspirational buzzword, and particularly for Sales and Marketing it hasn’t been reality. But that’s changing. One of the advantages of an all-digital world is that we can measure engagement, understand intent, and predict actions.

Think about what triggers and interactions indicate a qualified lead within the context of the digital age—and for your own organization. For ON24 and those who engage with our marketing, for example, that has usually meant prospects are not truly leads until they have done something meaningful—such as ask us a question, respond to a webinar poll, or spend over 50 minutes with us.

But when every interaction provides a data point, predictive becomes possible. In a digital environment, Sales and Marketing are able to track the entire buying journey without relying on the leaky faucet of real-world interactions—when people say one thing and mean another.

Being predictive is powerful: It helps marketers understand what actions certain behaviors signal and how each one will affect your bottom line. That, in turn, can dramatically change how you invest as a marketing organization—how you forecast and how you determine which markets to enter.

* * *

We all know that the best businesses are those with seamless collaboration between Sales and Marketing. Now, that level of alignment needs to go further: Sales and Marketing are no longer different departments; they are part of a larger revenue organization operating different digital channels. Marketing creates one-to-many interactions, such as LinkedIn ads, whereas Sales goes one-to-one—by sending direct messages, for example.

Succeeding in today’s world takes much more than digital transformation—it takes revenue transformation.

The most successful companies are those that recognize that their sales and marketing teams must change in the same way the world has. Home and office have merged into one, and Sales and Marketing are following. As marketers, the opportunity is now.

Introducing The Modern 4 Ps of Marketing

The 4 Ps of marketing is a simple, but effective, marketing theory that concentrates marketing activities around four pillars: product, place, price and promotion. With these four building blocks, marketers can create campaigns that effectively reach a target audience and across a range of promotional channels to promote a product.

But the 4 Ps were developed more than half a century ago in the 1960s, when technologies were limited to print and reach was limited to a geographic area. Successful campaigns based on the 4 Ps would depend on saturating the target market for long enough to get your message across. Because of these limitations, there was little in the way of measuring campaign effectiveness and confidently reporting on a marketer’s impact.

However, advances in technology have changed the game. The internet has not only made it possible to place messages anywhere in the world, but it also provides marketers with the ability to measure and assess the impact of its efforts. And because of these two elements – the abilities to place messages and accurately measure impact – marketers can more easily react to and address the needs of buyers (who, ultimately, have more power and control over the buying process than ever before).

But marketers — even in the era of digital marketing — still rely on the traditional 4 Ps as a guiding model today. Well, it’s time to re-think how we think about the 4 Ps. How? With the Modern 4 Ps of Marketing.

The First Modern 4 P: Promotion

Similar to the original 4 Ps, promotion is vital to digital marketing success, but it’s emphasis has shifted. Instead of directly promoting a product or solution, promotion – in the modern framework – involves activities that direct audiences towards experiences with your brand. With engaging, compelling digital experiences in place, you can then build brand trust through personalized interactions and a journey that provides a visitor with the content they want, when they want it. A good, modern digital promotion strategy, needs to juggle three essential elements: audience-centricity, balance across promotions and continuous testing.

Modern promotion is audience-centric in that you need to take into consideration the multiple buying personas you’ve created for your different prospects and customers. It also needs to be balanced across distribution channels, like social media, email, ads and others. Lastly, modern promotion is continuously tested to see what works and what doesn’t so you can make sure your efforts are having the impact you want.

The Second Modern 4 P: Personalization

The second “P” to consider is personalization. The concept of a personalized marketing strategy is simply that you match your content — and your digital experience — to the audience you’re trying to engage. Personalization is less about creating new assets and materials for every prospect interaction and more about knowing what materials to customize and when to update them to best connect with your target audience.

Within personalization, there are three key areas you need to be mindful of: account, industry and persona. Similar to account-based marketing strategies, personalization targets an account and takes its preferences into consideration. With this information in hand, a marketing team can then create a marketing plan that resonates with the account and is more likely to drive the account further down the buying funnel.

But personalization doesn’t demand addressing visitors on a first-name basis. In fact, personalizing marketing experiences based on a visitor’s industry should suffice in many cases. For example, a tech start-up shouldn’t have the same assets, creatives or language as a financial or legal institution. A modern approach would instead provide each industry with its own digital experience based that would serve them with the most relevant content and product mix to suit their needs.

The third personalization area to consider is the prospect’s persona. Often the buying decision doesn’t rest with just one person, so there are multiple personas to consider. It may be a manager that leads the buying process, but it may be the chief financial officer that has the final say in acquiring your solution or product. That’s why it’s important to have the right materials on hand that resonate with the many different types of professionals involved in the process.

With information on the account, industry and persona you can design customized opportunities to interact with your prospect like polls and surveys which provides them with ways to signal the type of interaction they’re looking for from you.  Your goal with personalization is to create customized experiences that enhance a prospect’s interaction with your brand.

The Third Modern 4 P: Pipeline

The next P in our list of Modern Marketing Ps is pipeline. Pipeline is so much more than just creating leads. It’s also about the quality of the leads created and the ability to map those leads to revenue.

To have a steady pipeline of high-quality leads, there needs to be consistent coordination and collaboration between sales and marketing. They need to be aligned on goals, strategies and tactics. The department leaders need to set a strong example and facilitate the relationship between the two teams while also defining targets and evaluating goals and methods.

Additionally, a solid pipeline requires significant employee empowerment for both marketing and sales. Marketers need to be empowered with accurate buying personas and industry research. Sales needs to be empowered with quality leads and the prospect’s history of engagement and interaction with the organization. Overall, a quality pipeline requires both teams to be on the same page for objectives, strategies and goals.

It also requires that you have a fully integrated MarTech stack so you can accurately trace your leads back to revenue — especially for any marketing automation or customer relationship management software. By having these tools fully integrated, you’ll be able to quickly evaluate the data in real-time and track your impact on pipeline and revenue.

The Fourth Modern 4 P: Predictability

The final element of our Modern 4 Ps of Marketing is predictability. Predictability means having confidence in your plan, being able to replicate and scale your processes and procedures and having reliable estimations on the results you’ll generate.

To replicate and scale your marketing strategy, you need to have a few things already in place: history, goals and a plan. You need to know what parts of your marketing mix work — from webinar marketing and social media to display advertising and SERP — and what doesn’t. A historical record of past plans and how they succeeded or failed helps you know which tactics to use moving forward so you don’t waste time and money trying things that already didn’t work.

Predictability also means being able to estimate what your efforts will produce for your pipeline. Setting goals is necessary to understand whether your marketing mix is working the way you want it to. You should be able to estimate a reasonable number of conversions based on how many leads you add at the top.

Once you have a history of what does and doesn’t work for you and you’ve set goals for the number of conversions you want, you need to have a plan for how you’re going to make it happen. Having a plan to execute allows you to put together target programs and tactics that will help you achieve your goals.

Though the Modern 4 Ps of Marketing are quite different from the original four, there is one major similarity in that they both require constant work and monitoring. To ensure you have the right marketing mix, you’ll need consistent experimentation and analysis to determine what resonates and what doesn’t. As tools continue to evolve and more and more businesses realize the digital-first realm isn’t just a flashy trend, the Modern 4 Ps of Marketing will become even more important to the success of marketers everywhere.

Feature Friday: Conversational Marketing in your Audience Console

Digital experiences built on the ON24 Platform are created to ensure maximum engagement, so we always aim to incorporate more interaction opportunities wherever possible.

Recently, ON24 launched chatbot integration across ON24 Engagement Hub and ON24 Target pages to drive direct and personalized connection. With Drift as ON24’s first chatbot integration, marketers can utilize a multitude of ways to integrate this real-time communication, from webinar registration to a Target page.

You can also leverage the ON24 URL engagement tool to incorporate conversational marketing into your ON24 Webcast Elite audience consoles. To get started, grab and copy the shareable link from your conversational marketing or chatbot tool. If you’re using Drift, for example, first create your landing page playbook within Drift and copy the appropriate link (Drift calls it a “Driftlink”). As you create your webinar audience experience in ON24, add the URL tool to the console and put the shareable link into the URL field. For a consistent audience experience across devices, make selections for the chat to be open within the audience console on desktop, as well as in the console in full screen panel for mobile phones.

As audiences engage with your webinar and content, they can connect, converse and build a relationship with your brand and teams — all while not leaving your webinar.

If you’d like to learn more about how the ON24 Platform powers engagement and personalized experiences, please contact us. If you’re already engaging audiences with the ON24 Platform, learn more in the Knowledge Center or contact your CSM.

Achieving Predictable Pipeline: A Webinar Recap

Just over a week ago I had the pleasure of hosting an interactive workshop with Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing. We covered the elements of predictable pipeline and the foundational marketing elements you need in order to create and sustain it. The group conversation and participation were very lively and I wanted to share some of the key takeaways from the polling that we held during the webinar.

  • One-third of marketers are feeling prepared for 2021. Of course, these results may have been skewed by the audience that was eager to participate in a workshop that would be setting the stage for 2021, but when we polled the audience one third reported feeling prepared for next year. Considering we still have a full quarter of 2020 to go, this is a positive result. Marketers have managed some tectonic shifts this year but are learning from those experiences to prepare for the next year.
  • Marketers feel under-supported and understaffed. One point that came up in the questions and in the polling is that marketers don’t feel that they have adequate resources to support growth. Sixty-three percent of attendees reported that they didn’t have the number of team members, resources and budget to support the ongoing growth of their organization. While not all marketing teams have experienced budget cuts, there has been a move to do marketing in a different way, leading them to feel unprepared to strive for growth in a world that has changed so much.
  • Buying signals present an opportunity. With a digital-first marketing future, marketers need to have the sensors in place to capture buying signals and have the internal processes in order to act on them. 76.8% of respondents reported that they were neutral to not confident in their ability to easily and expediently act on buying signals. This needs to be a priority for marketers and one that we’ll explore more in future blog posts and webinars.
  • Q4 priorities are back to marketing fundamentals. To close out the session, we asked the audience what three areas they would be prioritizing to get prepared for 2021. The top three results were: buyer and customer journey mapping, campaign planning and content. So much has changed in 2020 from the buyer and seller perspective, so returning to the basis from which all content and campaigns are built is a strong indication that marketers will be set up for success in 2021.

The other thing that stood out to me during this session was the attendees’ eagerness to help each other with questions and find creative solutions to their challenges. I’m perpetually encouraged to see how marketers are willing to share their tips and best practices. With so much in flux this year, we’ve all had to go back to the drawing board when it comes to navigating internal and external situations.

If you’re interested in learning more about creating a predictable pipeline, watch the on-demand workshop. And to see where the future of marketing is heading, sign up for our FastFWD Summit, taking place Oct. 28. Click below to learn more.

 

How Digital Experiences Fuel Revenue Marketing

Marketing gets a bad rap. It’s typically seen as a cost-center, taking more than it contributes to the business. But why? The department single-handedly develops and implements campaigns, and promotes the brand and its vision to partners and prospects — and there is value in that.

Part of the reason may be that marketers are still pushing the 4 Ps (product, price, place and promotion) — a concept developed in the 1950s.  But thinking of marketing as a cost-center is as outdated as the 4 Ps themselves. Today’s modern marketer is empowered by technologies that help track, analyze and target specific audiences and verticals on a global scale. Strategies and processes have, as a result, matured as well.

It’s time for marketing to become a source of revenue growth. No concept encompasses and embraces these changes and developments as well as revenue marketing.

What Revenue Marketing Is

Revenue marketing is a marketing strategy designed to track and attribute revenue generated by marketing through predictable, scalable and repeatable tactics and processes. Dr. Debbie Qaqish defined revenue marketing in her 2013 book, “Rise of the Revenue Marketer.” The concept is based on one principle that marketers, like sales, are responsible for not only generating revenue but forecasting its impact on the bottom line and proving marketing ROI.

Executing a revenue marketing vision, however, requires a great deal of foresight, coordination and documentation. It also requires the right martech stack — one that is fully integrated with marketing automation and customer relationship management platforms.

A mature marketing revenue approach carries with it a few characteristics. First, it provides a holistic touch to the buyer’s journey, following customers from prospect to advocate. This requires mature inbound marketing, lead generation, demand generation and customer marketing programs. Second, it’s data-heavy, meaning digital interactions with a brand are tracked and analyzed in real-time to qualify possible leads, pass those leads on to sales and establish a predictable pipeline. Third, it’s scalable, meaning campaigns, content development and the wider marketing apparatus can repeatedly reuse and repurpose the revenue marketing process for any vertical, account or region.

Putting these elements together may sound intimidating, but, fortunately for the modern marketer, there is already a model that incorporates all of these elements: comprehensive digital experiences.

How Digital Experiences Drive Revenue Marketing

A digital experience is a collection of interactive, engaging digital touchpoints that follow prospects throughout their buying journey. These experiences can start with an inbound marketing tactic, like an email or display ad, nurture through interactive experiences like webinars and targeted landing pages, and provide visitors with the most relevant resources when and where they need them. Though often delivered as a one-off touchpoint or event, the events and content used to comprise a digital experience can be repurposed and reworked to deliver leads and engage audiences well beyond the live date.

Crucially, digital experiences are also data-rich, allowing marketers to seamlessly pass the hottest leads on to sales. And, crucially for sales, those leads are passed on with the necessary context — from a prospect’s questions asked during a webinar and resources downloaded to overall engagement with a brand. Armed with this context, salespeople can seamlessly continue the conversation, cater messaging as appropriate and accelerate the buying journey.

Digital experiences are a natural fit for a revenue marketing strategy because the processes needed for a successful digital experience are baked in from the outset. For example, a good digital experience has a unified marketing technology stack that updates the team of a prospect’s journey and informs the next action. Typically, these integrations flow from front-end experiences, like webinars, to backend solutions, like marketing automation and CRM platforms.

Often, sales and marketing teams, too, have met, negotiated and aligned on how leads will be scored, what qualifies as an MQL and more. In this scenario, inbound marketing, lead and demand generation are also humming in sync, funneling visitors from anonymous names to known names to interested prospects through tactics like content and webinar marketing.

What Does A Digital Experience Look Like with Revenue Marketing In Mind?

 

Modern B2B buyers do not easily map to buying stages. While it’s important to map out personas for the top, mid and bottom of the marketing funnel, the truth is that today’s buyers can — and do — start their buying journey at any stage from virtually any touchpoint.

A mature digital experience program means a marketing team has crafted experiences — from webinars and downloadable content to personalized landing pages and dynamic content hubs — for every stage of the buyer’s journey, anticipating and responding to the prospect’s needs, questions and preferences. To break it down here’s a high-level look at what a comprehensive digital experience — with a revenue marketing strategy in mind — would look like:

Top of Funnel

The very top of the funnel is where revenue marketing gets its start. The process begins with inbound and content marketing working together to produce digital touchpoints — like social media, display ads, thought leadership articles, infographics and more — that help fuel brand awareness and hook would-be prospects.

Once those prospects are hooked, lead generation — again, working with content marketing — swings into action to provide content that is timely and relevant to a prospect. Useful tactics here include gated e-books, high-level thought leadership webinars, dynamic content hubs, newsletters and reports on the latest trends within an industry. With the right offer, that unknown prospect can quickly become a hot lead eager to move further down the funnel.

Middle of Funnel

Your prospect is a known name and is aware your organization provides a potential solution to a problem. Here, digital experiences like on-demand demos, deep-dive webinars and customer case studies provide an opportunity for a prospect to learn how your solution directly applies their needs.

This is also a critical stage where your experiences will determine what happens next for the prospect. For example, if a visitor attends a webinar specific to an industry or vertical, then it’s likely they’ll need to be served more content relevant to that industry. Additionally, if they continue to click through to more content — like through a webinar’s CTA tool — it could signal that they have a high interest in what you have to offer.

With these signals, both your sales team and your team can package a bespoke experience. For example, a salesperson can take the above indicators, quickly set up a targeted landing page and send an email to the prospect to encourage them to explore more. And, once they’re on the landing page, they can be encouraged to attend a live demo built for them, chat with a sales representative or book a meeting with sales.

Bottom of Funnel

A meeting is booked with sales and all that remains is to push the prospect across the finish line. Except, when you’re selling to an account, you’re not dealing with just one person, but several busy professionals. In fact, according to Gartner, the typical buying committee can consist of six to 10 people.

To provide everyone with what they need, sales and marketing can work together to set up targeted landing pages for an account. This landing page — or even content hub — can include everything the buying committee needs to make an informed decision — from technical deep-dives and case studies to live, interactive demos. Here, committee members should have the opportunity to interact with your content and product and be free to ask any questions they’d like before purchasing your services.

Cross and Upsell

Revenue marketing doesn’t end at purchase. In fact, once a prospect becomes a customer, it’s time to nurture them into advocates and provide opportunities to take the relationship further. Customer advocacy programs, exclusive content and customer communities are all excellent ways to both cross and upsell additional services.

Consider creating content for your customer community that features the breadth of your services. Virtual trade shows, conferences and summits are also excellent opportunities to provide value to current customers while also highlighting the next step.

Digital Experiences Create Data You Can Act On

Each touchpoint throughout your digital journey provides your team with an opportunity to better understand your audience, refine your messaging and drive real revenue impact.

Low-intent signals — like visiting your site or reading a blog — provide you with an opportunity to re-target the visitor. For example, you can use a chatbot to say “Welcome back!” should the visitor return to your site (you can even customize the interaction based on past cookies, IP address or UTM code) and point them to additional content that’ll lead them further down the marketing funnel.

High-intent signals, like engagement within a webinar or enough visits to high-intent pages, can help your sales team prioritize leads and accelerate their journey.

Finally, you can use the data generated from your digital experiences to inform your marketing team’s next actions. For example, your data can indicate how different types of content perform and what channel they perform best on. Historical data can show you when your revenue marketing efforts first influenced a deal and how that customer’s digital journey led to revenue generation. This data can then be used to forecast revenue and estimate marketing’s impact on the bottom line. You can even use the data generated in your experiences to identify the key decision-makers who have interacted with your brand and the influencers that surround them.

Ultimately, every marketer today is a revenue marketer. The massive shift to digital and virtual interactions, spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic requires that every element of the business somehow contributes to revenue growth. For marketers, digital experiences provide a unified environment that can clarify interactions, inform decisions and fuel a predictable pipeline for growth.

How Do I Plan My Marketing Budget for 2021?

Last week I had the pleasure of joining a webinar with Allocadia about how to think about budgeting for 2021. It seems like 2020 has flown by and taken forever at the same time, Fall is upon us (yay football!), and planning and budgeting season is in full swing.

We learned a lot about resiliency in the past nine months as marketers, having to switch to all digital marketing mixes, throw out months and months of field and industry trade show plans that moved online or were canceled. So this is the first time we’re attempting to be in the driver’s seat with so much uncertainty ahead for 2021.

I shared some benchmarking about spending on physical and digital events as a percentage of marketing programs budget and asked the audience how this compared to what they saw in their organizations. 40.8% of poll respondents reported that they are spending less. This is not surprising because of the shifts that have happened within marketing organizations over the past year. Encouragingly, 30.8%of respondents saw this as very similar to their current budgeting mix.

One of the core components of this is understanding several scenarios that could happen so that your budgeting is done with a level of flexibility. A great tip that my co-presenter, Caitlin Ridge, Director of Corporate Marketing at Allocadia, brought up is that you should always plan for four scenarios. Stopping at three tends to make people always gravitate towards the middle or compromise option.

If this is of interest to you, make sure you download Allocadia’s new report on budgeting State of Spend and check out the on-demand version of our webinar too!

 

How Top Marketers Drive Better Experiences and Engagement

Today’s B2B marketers face more challenges than ever before and finding ways to effectively navigate those challenges is key to any success. Those able to break through the noise and provide quality interactions with customers have found a way to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.

So, how’d they do it?

We wanted to understand more about how top-performing marketers became “top performers,” so we joined forces with Heinz Marketing and Market2Marketers to research the behaviors and strategies of leading marketers that result in better customer experiences everywhere.

Together, we created the Experiences Everywhere Report, which surveyed over 130 B2B marketers from a variety of organizations in differing industries. Top-performing marketers were classified based on how they rated the success of their marketing program on a seven-point scale. Marketers who scored themselves high were deemed “top-performing” while the rest were referred to as “mainstream” marketers. (More details on the research method can be found here.)

Experiences and Engagement

One of the pivotal areas top-performing marketers excel in is customer experiences and driving engagement. When asked to rate their company’s performance in several areas, top-performing marketers are more likely to rate their company very positively.

Fifty-eight percent of top performers said their company’s customer experience was excellent compared to 27% of mainstream marketers. Similarly, 45% of top performers said their efforts in driving engagement were excellent whereas only 21% of mainstream marketers said the same. Other areas of interest include personalization (47% vs. 16%), account-based content (55% vs. 19%) and interactivity of content (43% vs. 17%).

Top-performing marketers also recognize that potential customers can be anywhere both in a physical location and online. Buyers typically research several sites and sources to gather information to make their buying decision, so it’s important to make sure marketing efforts are reaching them where they are. Top performers are almost twice as likely (74%) as mainstream marketers (40%) to agree that their marketing is everywhere their customers are.

Many B2B marketers focus their efforts on attracting new customers and then turning those leads over to their colleagues in sales. Eighty-nine percent of top-performing marketers and 73% of mainstream marketers go beyond this and routinely create specific marketing materials that support the entire customer journey, not just the acquisition phase.

Creating the right content for the right stage of the customer’s journey and marketing it in the right places is only part of the challenge. Marketers also need to make sure they stand out from their competitors and to do this, the content needs to be timely, relevant and as personalized as possible. When asked to rate their confidence level on whether their content is relevant, timely, and personalized to their target audience, 68% of top performers and 22% of mainstream performers stated they are very confident.

The Content and Channel Top Performers Use

Top-performing marketers are also more likely to use more content on more channels. The report investigated nine types of content and top performers outranked mainstream performers in seven of the nine categories: videos (78% vs. 75%), case studies (58% vs. 54%), interactive tools like quizzes and surveys (65% vs. 41%), webinars (53% vs. 51%), interactive webpages (54% vs. 48%), content hubs (46% vs. 29%) and virtual events (41% vs. 27%).

When asked to think about their marketing plan for the next year, top-performing marketers are likely to hold the status quo over mainstream marketers. Of 14 possible marketing channels, on average top performers plan to incorporate 8.5 channels into their upcoming strategy while the mainstream plans to use 7.3 channels.

For the participants who use webinars, top performers more often include tools to increase interactivity and improve the audience experience. The top two areas were video (70% vs. 48%) and personalized content (50% vs. 26%).  With 38% of webinar registrants watching on-demand only content, half of top performers (50%) are capitalizing on this trend and offering simulive webinars compared to only a third of mainstream marketers (33%).

Lastly, top performers set themselves apart from the mainstream in the areas of experience and engagement by recognizing that there are multiple facets to the customer experience. When asked about the most important factor in creating customer experiences, 25% of all respondents selected “increase customer engagement” with mainstream marketers (27%) more likely to select this than top performers (23%). This shows that top performers are more likely to consider additional elements such as customer loyalty (23% vs. 16%) and likelihood to convert (20% vs. 16%), which allows them to move beyond the obvious and focus on underrated areas that may be more important to the customer.

Why Experience Feeds into Engagement

The better the experience a prospect has, the more likely they are to engage with you and your brand.  To ensure your clients and prospects have quality experiences, make sure your platform is easy to navigate and contains information that is useful to them.

Engagement Hub Experience 

One of the primary ways organizations can help customers and prospects engage is through quality Engagement Hub experiences. Engagement Hubs that are user-friendly, easily searchable and filled with relevant content attract customers and prospects to engage with your brand more regularly.

To help users find the content they want, build engagement hubs that are curated to customer’s interests and industries. Clients can click on industries or topics that interest them and find relevant content that is connected to their topic of choice. This prevents them from having to sift through content that isn’t of interest to them.

Target Page Experiences 

If you need to include more detailed information on your Engagement Hub, consider building specialized Target pages. Target pages open from the Engagement Hub and include additional information or links that aren’t the right fit for the look, feel or format of the main Engagement Hub pages.

Target pages can include anything you want but are typically focused around additional information about speakers and their other on-demand content for an event Engagement Hub, or articles, case studies and other topic-relevant information related to a video on a content library-style Engagement Hub. You can see an example of an Engagement Hub with Target pages in our MINDSHIFT event.

How to Drive Engagement

Webinars

Webinars are a great tool for engaging with current and potential customers, not just because they can hold an attendee’s attention for 30-60 minutes, but also because they offer audiences the opportunity to talk and interact with the hosts. Webinar widgets like polls, surveys and Q&A give customers the opportunity to do more than just listen during the presentation and they give marketers the opportunity to gauge interest and generate more data on participants’ content consumption habits.

Every ON24 webinar generates more than 40 data points per participant. These data points, combined with others over the course of a client or prospect relationship, give marketers a much clearer picture of who is on the other side of the screen.

All of this allows marketers to better understand their clients and how to best engage with them as they navigate the buyer’s journey. The more marketers know about their clients, the more personalized, relevant and timely the content can be allowing them to break through the noise of unwanted content and competitors.

Engagement Tools

The ON24 Webinar Platform has several built-in engagement tools to help you connect and interact with webinar participants. When setting up your webinar console, you can offer widgets like social media and Q&A tools for your participants to explore on their own. You can also send out quizzes, surveys, and polls to participants at designated points throughout your webinar.

Not only do these tools help keep participants interested and establish two-way interaction during the webinar, but they also capture every action a participant takes on your webinar console.  This provides you with better data because you have a better picture of wh

at your prospect is interested in and an engagement score that tells you how this participant compares to others in your system.

Audience Interactivity

One way to drive engagement is through audience interactivity with your brand, whether it be through social media posts or webinars. As already discussed, webinars have built-in tools that allow your participants to engage with you during your presentation, but the interactions shouldn’t start and end with the webinar.

When planning a webinar, don’t forget to plan how you’re going to interact with potential participants before and after the presentation. These opportunities are often overlooked because webinar hosts are focused on creating the main event, but failing to plan the promotional and follow-up phases are wasted opportunities to connect with current and potential customers.

Very few people enjoy “hard” or “forced” sales pitches that leave both sides of the conversation cringing at the approach method. To avoid these types of interactions, take advantage of opportunities to start conversations with prospects and customers in a way that feels comfortable to them like informing them of upcoming events or following up by gauging their opinion of a past event.