How Two Companies Brought Their Trade Shows to (Digital) Life

Like everything else in 2020, face-to-face conferences and trade shows are either postponed or outright canceled. But what should you do since the prep work is already done?

A few savvy companies made the pivot from physical trade shows to digital trade shows. It may sound like a huge undertaking, but it’s not as hard as you think. Let’s take a look at how two companies organized virtual trade shows and some tips on what you can do to run a stellar trade show of your own.

RevGrowth 2020 by Drift

In early 2020, Drift, a conversational marketing company that creates messaging software for businesses, postponed its annual HYPERGROWTH conference and watched as more events were canceled or postponed week after week.

The team at Drift quickly realized the endless string of canceled events was creating a pipeline gap like no other, but not just for them. It was happening to many of their business partners and customers too. Because of this, Drift decided to collaborate with a few business partners to reinvent events for 2020.

Enter RevGrowth 2020: two days of marketing and sales content with 8,500+ participants presented by 19 different companies.

It took Drift and its partners a month to set up the virtual event, and they share a breadth of information about how they did it in a great article here. We want to take a closer look at the details of the event and what they did to closely replicate a physical event.

Get our in-depth guide on planning and producing a virtual event when you click this link.

Speakers and Breakout Sessions

The two-day virtual conference offered participants two tracks of content to follow: marketing and sales. Like any good conference, RevGrowth 2020 had plenty of speakers and breakout sessions on both topics for attendees to tune in to. Let’s take a look at what was covered:

Marketing

The marketing track owned the first day of the RevGrowth conference. Things kicked off with a keynote address by Huib van Bockel, founder of TENZING Natural Energy and former CMO of Redbull Europe. He spoke about why being a social brand is more important than ever.

The marketing track ran from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and featured presentations on 12 topics from companies like RollWorks, Demandbase, Tray.io, Sendoso, and more. The schedule included two built-in breaks and a lunch exercise session. Participants could join two virtual workout classes: HIIT and yoga.

Sales

The second day of the conference was reserved for the sales track and began with a keynote address from Steven Bartlett, CEO of Social Chain. Steven spoke about The State of Social.

The sales track ran from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. and featured eight presentations by professionals from G2, Showpad, Gong.io, ON24, Drift, and more. The sales day also included built-in breaks and a lunchtime virtual workout.

Closing Events

The remainder of the second day featured RevGrowth closing ceremonies from 3:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. with a keynote address from Kubi Springer, an award-winning brand specialist and media personality.

This presentation was immediately followed by a happy hour and networking event for all attendees. They even included a live-streaming DJ with links to Zoom Dance Rooms so it feels like a party!

Knowing how important an always-on mentality is for virtual meetings, Drift made sure all of the presentations were available for on-demand viewing after the live presentation. You can check out all of the topics through the RevGrowth 2020 website.

THREADcast by D&H Distributing

Like Drift, D&H Distributing, a technology and consumer electronics distribution company, turned its annual D&H THREAD tech conference into a digital THREADcast event. In less than two weeks, the team at D&H Distributing created a virtual conference with three keynote speakers and more than 20 channels with 30 sessions of content related to technology.

Presentations

When planning the speakers and presentations for THREADcast, D&H wanted to be mindful of how busy their partners were in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, so they intentionally decided to keep most presentations short. They focused on keeping broadcasts between 5 to 10 minutes long so participants could easily view the content.

To help attendees too busy to watch the presentations live, D&H Distributing re-published THREADcast as an always-on event.  With an on-demand format in place, both live and on-demand viewers could return to the event site to access every session they were interested in.

Custom Virtual Experience

Physical events have many branding opportunities for the host and vendors, which is something D&H wanted to replicate in its virtual experience. So, similar to how a trade show would have booths for vendors and participants, D&H created “channels” for their vendors to engage with participants. Each channel was set up with a prominent “Contact Us” box where participants and interested prospective customers could connect with the vendor immediately.

In an effort to drive continued traffic to its on-demand recordings, D&H came up with the idea to raffle creative service credits and incentives for participants who attended a vendor channel within 30 days of the original THREADcast airing. This tactic drove continued engagement with the event and as a consequence, D&H doubled its predicted engagement.

Tips for Your Virtual Events

Are you thinking about planning your own virtual trade show? We have a few tips and suggestions to help make your event a success:

Plan Breaks

Just like a physical trade show, plan breaks in your daily schedules. Your participants are probably sitting at a desk in front of a computer in a quiet office, which is not nearly as stimulating as sitting in a meeting room filled with a hundred other people.

Give attendees restroom breaks, time to refill their coffee, let the dog out, or simply stretch out kinks from sitting too long. We recommend at least one 15-minute break every one-and-a-half to two hours in both the morning and the afternoon. If your schedule can afford it, five minutes between sessions could also work. Also, give your participants at least one full hour for lunch.

Go above and beyond for your attendees. Provide them the opportunity to engage in physical activity midday by offering a virtual workout session like Drift did with RevGrowth. If you choose to do this, encourage participants to attend by giving them enough time for a quick shower and trip to the kitchen so they can eat lunch at their desks during the next session.

Encourage Networking

Anyone who has been to a trade show knows the evenings are filled with networking events: cocktail parties, dinners, concerts, shows — you name it.

Trade shows and conferences are huge networking opportunities for just about everyone, and many people think they lose that aspect in a virtual event. Well, they’re wrong! While virtual events may not have as many free drinks (more on that below), they have plenty of networking opportunities.

Fitbit setup a Virtual Booth Experience that gave HR professionals a two-hour window to enter and speak with Fitbit experts. Participants had the opportunity to enter the booth at a time that was convenient for them to learn about Fitbit’s Health Solutions, ask questions and set up meetings with the Fitbit sales team. This method was a huge success for Fitbit as it exceeded the marketing team’s goals and objectives of the event and still allowed them to fill their pipeline with qualified leads.

D&H set up different “channels” for vendors with “contact us” fields where potential customers could reach out and start a conversation. Drift ended RevGrowth with a virtual cocktail party featuring a streaming DJ and dance party.

Though these virtual cocktail parties and happy hours tend to be B.Y.O.B., we had the idea of partnering with an adult beverage company to provide coupons or discounts to participants. In their registration confirmation email, participants could receive a coupon or two ahead of time to provide supplies for the upcoming networking events: a few dollars off a beverage of their choice.

Don’t Forget the Swag

You didn’t think we’d forget about swag, did you? Love it or hate it, swag is a part of trade show tradition and it can go a long way in facilitating branding opportunities. But it can also be one of the more challenging aspects of a virtual event because how do you get swag to the participants?

One tactic is to use a vendor, like Sendoso, to mail swag to participants as soon as they complete the registration for an event. The risk here is that you wind up sending things to people who aren’t going to show up for your event. To mitigate this, we recommend waiting until the event is over and sending goodies to people who attended.

You could also have people opt into receiving swag when they attend a specified event of your choosing, like the closing speaker or something toward the end of the event. One other option is to have people fill out a form with their info when they chat with different vendors in their virtual booths. The advantage of this is you’re making sure you send things to people who attend and want freebies.

We realize many other things go into planning a virtual trade show and these are only a few things to consider. As more and more people participate in virtual events and see how well they can do for business, we think this is a trend that’s going to continue catching on.

Sales and Marketing: Fuel for the Revenue Funnel

As marketing organizations grapple with revenue-accountability and as organizations develop their growth and investment plans, alignment between marketing and sales partners becomes vital. Numerous studies have shown the positive impact of marketing and sales alignment — from higher customer retention rates to higher sales win rates, to closing bigger deals. Aberdeen has found companies with strong marketing and sales alignment achieve a 20% annual growth rate.

Alas, only 8% of companies attest to having strong alignment between their marketing and sales organizations — proving marketing and sales alignment is easier said than done.

This article originally appeared on heinzmarketing.com. Shared with permission.

Despite genuine efforts to align functions, tightly communicate and coordinate processes, sales and marketing teams often find themselves at loggerheads, sometimes as rivals but mostly as convenient scapegoats for missed targets.  Why is this?

The Broken Marketing and Sales Funnel

Marketing and sales alignment has to go beyond functional divisions, communications and process coordination.  Alignment efforts need to start at the core of how the business sells. This is often reflected by the organization’s marketing and sales funnel. Pipedrive has a simple definition of a sales funnel: a visual representation of the journey from your prospect’s first contact with you until a completed purchase. A marketing and sales funnel will typically define each stage by describing actions the prospect must take in order to progress to the next stage. It is essentially a road map for marketing and sales activities and it helps management forecast sales and plan for capacity.

Unfortunately, for most companies, the revenue funnel’s chief function is to stake out territory. The top part of the funnel is marketing’s territory and sales better keep out! While the bottom of the funnel is sales’ territory and marketing has no business there. As a result, Marketing works really hard at filling their MAP with leads in order to have a better chance of nurturing them into “qualified” leads which they then throw across the chasm to sales. Sales may not be there to catch these leads because they are either too busy developing their own leads or don’t agree with the quality level of marketing leads. This philosophy can run deep and become part of a company’s culture making change very challenging.

Aligning Marketing and Sales with the Revenue Funnel

Alignment of marketing and sales starts by dismantling the traditional funnel and instead adopting a more integrated funnel. The ideal sales and marketing funnel is really a revenue funnel in which both sales and marketing teams are accountable, in varying degrees, at each stage of the funnel.

Top-Funnel Approach

At the top of the funnel, sales and marketing jointly define the ideal customer profile and work together to refine their target list. They also work closely to understand the members of the buying committee and define the buyer’s journey. By building the buyer’s journey together, there is a common understanding of the foundational elements that drive purchase behavior.

Using the buyer’s journey as the revenue road map ensures that marketing and sales tactics are aligned. Here, marketing may take the lead at developing awareness for sales outreach with offers and messaging that build context for sales. This makes the transition to sales seamless for the buyer.

Mid-Funnel Approach

In the middle of the funnel, when buyers are beginning to understand their own needs and potential solutions, strategies should be closely choreographed between marketing and sales. Marketing may employ an educational nurture strategy while sales provides more hands-on ways to engage and learn more.

Bottom-Funnel Approach

At the bottom of the funnel, sales takes the lead with marketing support. For named accounts, this could mean providing highly customized content and individual references that confirm your solution is the right solution.

It’s natural for there to be a little conflict between marketing and sales. Each team comes to the table with different skill sets and they are both trying to solve the same problem. With sales and marketing using the same revenue funnel, the processes involved are so closely linked the two departments should operate in tandem. These departments directly impact the organization’s ability to thrive. Binding them as interdependent components of a single strategy is your blueprint for growth.

Are your sales and marketing teams struggling to work together? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How closely does your current marketing and sales process reflect the buyer’s journey?
  • Are your marketing and sales processes documented?
  • When was the last time you reviewed your process documentation with the other team?
  • Do your sales and marketing teams share an overarching strategy that aligns their respective goals?

If your answers suggest a systemic conflict between the two teams, then it’s high time to rethink your approach.

Feature Friday: Getting the most out of your ON24 Target Hero Layout

Back in April, we introduced a new hero layout for creating targeted content landing pages— designed to empower our users to deliver the right content at the right time to specific audiences or accounts — to ON24 Target.

This new layout offers an eye-popping “hero image” that is above the fold and drives audience attention toward your featured content. But today, we wanted to let you in on a few tips that allow you to customize your page even more.

Featured Content: To Show or to Hide?

The hero layout can serve several purposes: grab readers’ attention and set the overall tone for the rest of the page, as well as work to complement one piece of content. This provides an opportunity to highlight a really great piece of creativity, such as a personalized video for your target audience or an upcoming webinar that you’re driving registration for.

But perhaps your big piece of hero content isn’t designed to promote a video, upcoming webinar, or point to that brand-new whitepaper. If your design (or budget) calls for a more minimalist approach, then you can simply hide the featured content thumbnail and let your image live on its own. Not all pages have the same goal or KPI, so we wanted to maximize your level of customization.

Once you’ve selected the hero layout and added your featured content, click the left-most Edit Hero Section icon and you’ll see the Featured Content section (as seen in the screenshot below). From here, you can choose to show or hide your featured content in the top panel.

What will this do exactly? Selecting Show Featured Content will display a thumbnail of your featured content on the right side of the hero section. Choosing to Hide Featured Content will keep the right side of the hero section blank with no thumbnail visible.

Check out this screenshot below from our Summer Webinar Stories series. The featured content — a webinar about Webinar Horror Stories — is visible with a custom thumbnail (S’mores!) that reinforces the theme and sets the creative direction for the rest of the Target page.

Hero layout with featured content thumbnail shown.

Additional content that reinforces the theme of the page.

This is just one use of ON24 Target, however. If you want to keep your hero content clutter-free, you can choose to hide the thumbnail of your featured content. The result might look a little something like this:

Hero layout with featured content thumbnail hidden.

You’ll notice no additional text or imagery on the right side of the hero. While this layout doesn’t have a unifying theme like our Summer Stories series, it’s still extremely clean and allows the creative to showcase a CTA and set the tone for the rest of the page.

As you can see, you have options when it comes to the hero layout in ON24 Target. We’ve shown you this one particular configurable option that allows you to tweak and customize depending on your audience or the assets at your disposal. Regardless of which design you choose, this is a great layout for grabbing attention with an eye-popping piece of creative.

Existing customers can reach out to their CSM for more information on customization in ON24 Target. If you’re interested in learning more, register for the on-demand webinar.

Four Tips for Providing Great Webinars in 2020

Because so many of us are working remotely, and with social distance orders limiting physical activities, traditional marketing methods have had to change. We need to adapt and go to where customers and clients are now spending time: online. That’s why in mid-June, Mark Bornstein, Chief Webinerd here at ON24, sat down to discuss how marketers can easily go digital in 2020 and how you can still have a full pipeline without the traditional marketing efforts that are no longer available to us.

Below are the highlights of what Mark discussed in the webinar. To watch the entire presentation, click here.

A Host with the Most

At ON24, we spend a lot of time talking about webinar best practices and tips and tricks you can employ in your own webinars. But sometimes, reading about how to run a quality webinar just isn’t the same as seeing an example — and the best way to show something off is to have a killer host on your virtual event.

A recent APAC report on marketing strategies for webinars even found the presenter is the leading element in how attendees rate the webinar engagement. An enthusiastic presenter is so essential to attendees that it outranks content and platform features in terms of importance.

Webinar After Party

Sometimes there are so many attendees — and questions — in a webinar that hosts don’t really have enough time in an hour to respond and engage with everyone. So, to make time and to extract the most engagement you can from an event, it pays to get creative. For this edition of WBPS, Mark decided to run a webinar after-party!

“After the Webinar” was designed to be a live chat where Mark answered all the questions that came in during the webinar, but he and the ON24 team also imbued the event with some fun treats with swag contests and other goodies.

If you find your webinars have more questions than you have time to answer, find a way to follow up after your event so you can answer all the questions. Questions are a great indicator of interest and engagement so don’t let them fall through the cracks if you don’t have time to answer all during your presentation. Starting conversations with potential customers is huge for sales so don’t waste the opportunity to have a solid reason for reaching out.

Abolish the Resource Center

Resources Centers are stale and ubiquitous. Your customers don’t want to spend their valuable time sifting through dozens of on-demand webinars, case studies, white papers and ebooks trying to find something relevant to them.

Instead, replace resource centers with curated content experiences specific to your customer’s industries or interests. These content hubs do not have to be limited to webinars, but can include anything relevant to that customer or industry: case studies, video clips of specific information, blog posts, etc.

Think Evergreen

Old school marketing had content that was created for one purpose and used one time. Modern marketing finds a way to reuse content. You spend a lot of time and effort to create quality, relevant, engaging content so why limit it to one use? Get more out of your work by looking for ways to recycle what you produce.

Content can be reused and remixed in any way that works for you. Move past the idea that you need to keep content whole. Webinars in particular are great for breaking down into short topic-specific videos.

Shorter videos are easier for consumers to digest and by making them about a single topic, viewers are sure to get only the information that matters to them. It’s also a great way to entice some viewers to watch the longer webinar which helps your attendance and on-demand viewership.

Busting the On-Demand Myth

Get this: on-demand webinars can be just as interactive as a live event! Mind blown? You’re not alone. Many people think on-demand webinars don’t engage, which is why they don’t use them in their webinar strategy.

This is false and those who think this way are missing an opportunity to increase webinar attendance and engage customers. ON24’s Webinar Benchmarks Report found 38% of webinar viewers attend on-demand only. Modern marketing means having content experiences that are everywhere and at any time.

When you set up a webinar that ran live or simulive and is then available on-demand, all of the elements in the webinar console are still available to on-demand viewers. If a host pushes out a poll during a live webinar, on-demand viewers can still participate in that poll and those results are tracked in the host analytics. Participants can still ask questions and use all of the widgets that were available during the live or simulive presentation.

A good webinar host even has the questions submitted during on-demand viewing routed to someone who will follow up with an answer. On-demand webinars can be just as interactive and engaging as live and simulive webinars.

As Mark said: “Content needs to be always-on. People need to be able to always find the exact content at the right time at the right moment.”

Don’t miss the opportunity to engage more than a third of potential viewers by not offering an always-on viewing option.

For more webinar tips and tricks check out other episodes of our WBPS featuring Mark here.

How to Create an Onboarding Webinar for SaaS

For any SaaS company, onboarding new users is one of the most critical parts of the customer acquisition process. All the work done to attract and convert visitors into users may end up wasted if the onboarding doesn’t properly activate them.

A successful onboarding process will reduce your churn rate and increase your customer lifetime value.

From the many options available, one of the most effective ways to onboard new users is through the use of webinars. Webinars educate new users and help them reach the famous “aha moment;” the moment your users realize the value of your software.

In this article, you will learn how to create a successful onboarding webinar for your SaaS business. But before we get to it, let’s see how your webinar fits into your overall onboarding process.

How to Use Webinar Software in Your Onboarding Process

Webinars are one of the most popular content marketing tactics SaaS companies use to nurture and activate users. But unlike webinars that focus on closing leads, the development of your onboarding webinar will depend greatly on the role it plays on your onboarding process.

First, you must understand who you are onboarding. If the person you are presenting the webinar to is the same one who signed up for your product, your webinar will be relatively simple.

But if the stakeholders that sign a contract aren’t the ones who use the product itself, then your webinar’s job will be to “sell” the product. Unlike traditional sales where you want to close a person, your webinar’s goal is to get the user to reach the “aha moment;” the moment when your users perceive the value of your offering.

Once a user reaches this “aha moment,” they are more likely to engage with your tool. This, in turn, will increase the chances they become activated.

Source

Ruairí Galavan, Senior Manager of Product Education at Intercom, found that those customers who attended webinars were six times more likely to activate than those who didn’t.

What’s more, those who attended their webinars were more likely to activate than those who didn’t attend. For Intercom, it’s not a matter of signing up for a webinar, but attending and participating in it.

The first question you must ask yourself is not how you can educate your users with a webinar, but what’s their “aha moment” and the triggers that lead to their activation.

Research your activated users and find what actions they take regularly. Also, look for common characteristics that may explain their behavior. If possible, you could look at the actions your users took before they became activated — this may show the critical triggers that caused their activation.

Alternatively, you can also research your churned users, those who became users but didn’t activate and left. They will also show you the issues they run into and which led them to their exit.

The insights you uncover in research will guide your webinar development.

Based on this user-first approach, your webinar won’t be focused on specific features or how your users should use your product.

Your onboarding webinar will be focused on getting your user to reach their “aha moment.” This will lead to higher user engagement and lower churn rates, as Intercom found.

3 Ways to Carry Out a Successful Onboarding Webinar

Align Your Product with Your User’s Goals

The first way you can position your onboarding webinars is as a product tour. This is one of the most common approaches to webinars because guiding new users to your product will ensure a higher activation rate and shorter time-to-value ratio (TTV).

This approach is especially useful if your research found that there is a misalignment between the stakeholders and the users — which is a probable case if your sales cycle is long and complex with multiple stakeholders involved.

The webinar should make it clear how your product can help the user achieve their top goal by:

  • Walking them through key workflows
  • Highlight the features with the highest use and value perception

The ultimate goal of this product tour should be to align with the goals that your user has. It’s not a matter of explaining to them every feature and detail secondary to the user’s needs. Instead, your tour must show the way towards the core value; this will make it easier for the user to reach their “aha moment.”

Let’s use the hypothetical example of Grammarly, a writing assistant for writers and editors. The product has many features, including a plagiarism checker and a grammar corrector.

The host — that is, the marketer who runs the webinar — should not use this webinar to show all these features at once. Instead, they should align their entire presentation to the user’s primary goal, which is to find and fix grammar issues.

No matter how many bells and whistles the tool may have, all the user wants is to improve their writing. By the end of the product tour, the viewer should find themselves knowing how the tool helps them with this specific goal.

One way the host could present this onboarding webinar is by using  Grammarly in real-time while editing an incorrect document. All the other features should be ignored.

This user-focused approach will ensure the viewer will have an easier time reaching their “aha moment” thanks to their alignment with the tool’s value.

Incentivize the Right Triggers

A second way to approach onboarding webinars is by highlighting the triggers that correlate with higher activation rates.

It’s critical that your user research finds these specific triggers, so your webinar focuses on the right one. One popular example comes from Twitter, which found that those users who followed at least 30 users had higher chances of activation.

Similarly, you could focus your webinar on the specific triggers that you know will end up in faster time-to-value (TTV) and activation.

Let’s use another hypothetical example, this time from the project management tool Basecamp. The core value this company brings its users is increased productivity through efficient team collaboration.

The only way for their users to see this value is by inviting teammates. Without teammates, a user couldn’t collaborate, thus ignoring the real value of the tool. Conversely, by inviting a certain number of teammates, the user would be able to reach their “aha moment” and become activated.

We can assume that if this was the case, their onboarding webinar should emphasize the importance of inviting teammates to the product.

For instance, both at the start and the end of the webinar, the marketer could ask every viewer to invite at least three members while on the call (or whatever number they found). Their email marketing automation could also continue to push for this action to happen as long as the user continues to ignore it.

Clarify the Misunderstandings

A final way you can use your onboarding webinars is by clarifying any misunderstandings your users may have in the way your software works. To find these misunderstandings, you first need to know the frictions that arise early in a user’s life.

Once again, this problem may arise if the end-user is not aware of how your product works because they weren’t involved in the sales process. Alternatively, this problem may be caused by a poor performance from your sales and marketing teams who don’t do a good job of explaining the value of your product.

In either case, your onboarding webinar should immediately clarify your software’s capabilities.

Let’s imagine Atlassian’s issue tracking product Jira was creating an onboarding webinar. The user may not be aware that the only way they can extract the value from the tool is by having them create a project and then an issue within it.

Their onboarding webinar should highlight this key workflow, so by the end of the presentation, Jira’s value can indeed surface and activation rates improve.

Conclusion

Onboarding webinars are an incredibly effective way to decrease churn rates and increase activation rates at the same time. Once you understand the role they play in your onboarding process, you can truly make the most of them.

Any of these three suggestions will help you fulfill their real value as long as you leverage your user research. The insights you take from them will show you the problems you have on your onboarding process and the best option to use.

By focusing on your onboarding process first, your webinars will maximize your efforts and increase your activation rates — which it’s what your onboarding process is all about.

Author Bio: Ivan Kreimer is a freelance content writer for hire who creates educational content for SaaS businesses like Leadfeeder and Campaign Monitor. In his pastime, he likes to help people become freelance writers. Besides writing for smart people who read sites like ON24, Ivan has also written in sites like Entrepreneur, MarketingProfs, TheNextWeb, and many other influential websites.

How Australian Marketers Use Webinars to Raise the Bar

Do you remember the first webinar you ever participated in? It was probably a narrated slide deck with buffering issues that ended with a pretty hard sales pitch.

Thankfully, today’s webinars are far more sophisticated. Webinars are still being used to drive sales for businesses, but marketers see their value for a variety of other purposes including educational components, geographical reach and cost-effective participant engagement.

Because of webinars’ growing popularity, we wanted to share our State of Webinar Marketing Report so you can see how your program compares to industry standards.  We teamed up with managed webinar provider, Redback Connect, to help marketers raise the bar and make sure webinars remain interesting and effective for all involved.

The State of Webinar Marketing Report is filled with useful information about who uses webinars and how they use them along with information about how to increase engagement and measure success. You should definitely check out the entire webinar, but we want to highlight a few important areas for you now.

Webinar Use in Australia

Like popular podcasts, newsletters, and other branded content, high-quality, consistent webinar programs attract and grow an engaged audience over time. Overall, marketers in Australia are seeing results with webinars as 9 in 10 identify webinars as a “key part” of their marketing and communications strategy. We’ve also seen trends shift away from one-off webinars.

More than three-fourths of respondents (81%) now run six or more webinars in a year and 38% are heavy users, running more than 20 in a year.

Of the more than 20 business sectors represented in the survey, there are two main industries that commonly use webinars as part of their marketing strategy. Financial services are the heaviest user of webinars, representing 16% of all webinars, a four-point increase over the prior year. The education sector has gone up in cadence as well and now accounts for 12% of webinars. Other popular industries include software and healthcare.

The Ideal Webinar Presenter

Nothing is more important for a webinar presenter than passion and enthusiasm. For the past three years, the Redback Report on webinar audiences found the lack of engagement as the top reason attendees leave a webinar early.

Audience engagement is closely tied to the presenters’ enthusiasm, so much so that attendees rate the presenter as being more important than the content and the platform features.  This means the ideal webinar presenter is both knowledgeable about the topic and comfortable presenting online. In fact, 34% of respondents say that enthusiastic and knowledgeable presenters drive the most engagement in webinars — ranking higher in importance than the content itself (25%).

Knowing all of this, it is not surprising that 54% of respondents say they have at least two presenters in their webinars, and another 52% of respondents say they source their presenters internally.

How else can an organization source presenters? Looking outside an organization helps, with 13% of respondents saying they use their personal network to source presenters and another 2% say they lean on customers. All in all, one in three organizations use a combination of internal, personal and customer to source webinar presenters.

Increasing Engagement In Australia Webinars

Along with an enthusiastic presenter, the content and supporting materials of a webinar, such as slides and video content, are vital to retaining audience attention.  The more you can do to engage your audience, the better the webinar.

So it should be no surprise that video has finally overtaken audio as the most popular webinar format, with 31% of respondents saying they prefer video to audio. However, this doesn’t mean audio-only webinars are old news — in fact, 27% of organizations say they use slides and audio-only format in their webinars. Other popular webinar formats include screen sharing demonstrations (11%), one-on-one Q&A interviews with video (10%), and panel discussions (9%) or other Q&A sessions without slides (6%).

This shows a gap and an opportunity to differentiate your webinars from the masses by employing other formats that are more likely to increase engagement.  Webinars with interviews, panel discussions, debates and other live conversations are underutilized given their propensity for stronger audience interaction.

To learn more about how webinars perform in Australia, check out our on-demand webinar here.

 

Feature Friday: Simplify Webinar Design with ON24 Console Builder

Research proves that visuals are powerful drivers of engagement and conversions, with 80% of audiences remembering what they see, compared to only 20% remembering what they read. That’s why ON24 is a huge proponent of webinar customization opportunities that let you create immersive brand experiences that leave a lasting impression on your audience.

Though, for some, designing can be daunting. With ON24 Webcast Elite’s Console Builder, you can simplify your webinar consoles design without the need for any web design experience or HTML skills. Anyone on your team, no matter what skill level, can easily create beautiful and engaging webinar consoles!

Getting Started with Webinar Console Design

The Console Builder allows you to easily customize everything from backgrounds and layout to custom fonts and colors. Choose what engagement tools you want to leverage to engage audiences. Navigate to the Engagement Tools Manager and place it anywhere you want. To resize, you just need to pull and adjust the windows.

For backgrounds, you can choose a single color, utilize gradients or upload your own image. No need to worry about any coding.

Fine Tune Console Design with Easy-to-Use Tools

You can adjust and fine-tune your console design even further using the Console Customization settings. Using simple sliders, you can adjust:

  • Window Shadows: The shadow around the border of each engagement tool window.
  • Window Corner Radius: How rounded each window corner should be or you can just keep square corners.
  • Button Corner Radius: How rounded each button should be or you can utilize square corners.

Within the Console Customization settings, you can also change your button colors and adjust engagement tool labels, such as having a white, gray, black or transparent header. All of these customization selections are possible with just a few clicks.

To experience the audience’s view as you build your console, just click the preview button. This is the default view the attendees see upon joining your webinar. Aspect ratios can be locked to what you set or you can allow audience members to resize and move each window based on their own preferences.

Whether you’re new to webinars or have been creating webinars for years, you can create engaging and on-brand webinars consoles in a few simple steps. The Console Builder is easy to use so that what you create and see is what your audience members get.

Three NYT-Approved Tips for Running Educational Webinars

Teachers and students are adjusting to a new life of digital classrooms and distance learning with most schools around the country closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. For those who have never done it before, teaching and learning remotely can be a drastic change.

Traditional lesson plans that incorporate group activities are gone and teachers are trying to quickly replace their usual instructional styles and tactics with new methods that fit distance learning. If you’re struggling to adapt as quickly as you hoped, you’re not alone!

The Learning Network, an educational segment of The New York Times, is here to help with plenty of topics, suggestions and activities to help you connect with your students and maintain a rich, engaging learning environment through your digital classroom.

Members of The Learning Network recently hosted a webinar about their Lesson of the Day. During the hour-long presentation, Rachel, Ross and Nicole taught participants about The Learning Network, the types of resources they offer, how they can be used in digital classrooms, and example lesson plans.

The trio also imparted a few tips educators can use when producing their own virtual lessons. Here’s what they had to offer:

Set Clear Expectations

Distance learning and teaching is a new experience for most people, so to help everyone, set clear expectations for your students and yourself. Let them know exactly what you want from them in terms of participation, preparation, and assignments.

Also let them know what they can expect from you in terms of classroom structure, rules and regulations, your availability and timeframes for communication and feedback. And if things change as you get into remote teaching, that’s ok — just let everyone know so you’re all on the same page.

Give timely feedback

Without the ability to converse face-to-face or stop by office hours to ask a question, it’s important for teachers to provide timely feedback on assignments. With distance learning, if a student has made a mistake or missed the mark on an assignment, they can’t just pop in for some quick feedback and clarification before the next assignment is due.

Without timely feedback on their work, students will continue to make the same mistake and be subsequently punished through their grades on other assignments. Help your students by making sure they get feedback on an assignment before the next one is due.

Use Resources to Help You

There are many online resources to help educators successfully teach online. The Learning Network provides over 1,000 resources every school year including their Lesson of the Day and other activities like picture prompts, geography quizzes, teenagers in The Times and more.

Not only are there online lesson plans and outlined curricula like what’s available through The Learning Network, but there are also online classroom management tools like Google Classroom, Blackboard or Canvas that can help you organize your materials and provide a “home base” for your online classroom.

Here is a quick overview of these tools:

Google Classroom is designed to help teachers and students effectively collaborate remotely, manage and organize assignments and tasks and foster communication for instruction, feedback and Q&As. It functions on the same cloud principles as all other programs in the Google Suite ecosystem, and can be accessed anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

Blackboard is a virtual learning environment tool that allows instructors to set up online classrooms with access to materials and lectures, areas for assignment submissions and assessments like quizzes and tests, communication tools like discussion boards and a gradebook. It integrates with plagiarism software like TurnItIn and SafeAssign and allows the instructor to open and close access to items like curriculum units, assignments, assessments, and course materials as needed.

Canvas is a newer learning management system that is touted as being more user-friendly than competitor programs because it provides a simpler interface through a dashboard layout that quickly summarizes assignments, announcements and other important information across multiple course pages. Canvas includes the ability to manage enrollments, share documents, submit assignments and assign grades plus it can be personalized to an individual’s preferences.

Three Law Firm-Inspired Webinars You Can Use Now

It’s no secret that law firms around the world are stepping up thought leadership to guide clients through the global COVID-19 pandemic. At ON24, we’ve seen a significant increase in webinar programming over the past few months as more and more firms seek to help clients navigate the rapidly evolving business climate of today’s uncertain times.

Think this article can only be applied to law? Objection! Read through and discover three new formats you can apply to your marketing program. (Disclaimer: This article was originally published on JDsupra.com. Shared with the author’s permission.)

And we’ve seen three types of programs that stand out as particularly effective. These are the webinars your lawyers should start producing today:

1. Programs that Bring in Experts

Inviting experts to present in webinars is a good way to deliver insightful perspectives on the top-of-mind issues that affect your clients. That’s what Norton Rose Fulbright does in its webinar Global pandemic, 9/11 and US businesses: Legal and political risks of doing the ‘right’ things wrong during an emergency. In this case, the expert happens to be a Norton Rose lawyer, but there’s no denying that George Pataki, the former governor of New York who was in the office on 9/11, brings valuable context to the discussion of what to do – and not do – during a crisis.

…your audience will appreciate the expert’s perspective, and you’ll enhance your reputation as a firm…

Centered around a discussion of how companies can benefit from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – the CARES Act – Governor Pataki offers practical direction on anticipating the effects and alleviating the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly when seeking relief from the federal government.

Consider bringing in a local, state, federal, or foreign government official or an industry insider to add insight to your legal and strategic analysis. Your audience will appreciate the expert’s perspective, and you’ll enhance your reputation as a firm that can deliver relevant guidance from expert sources.

2. Programs that Help Your Audience Meet a Specific Need

Getting continuing education credit – CLE for lawyers, CPE for accountants, CEUs and PDCs for HR professionals, and more – can be challenging under the best of circumstances, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic. That’s why it’s imperative for law firms to offer programs that help their clients meet requirements for ongoing professional development.

For example, Ulmer & Berne recently put on The New Restrictive World of Business Immigration: Strategies to Hire and Maintain Foreign Talent, a webinar outlining recent immigration developments relevant to employers. The program was designed for both lawyers and human resources personnel, so Ulmer provided both CLE and HRCI credit.

…offer programs that help clients meet requirements for ongoing professional development.

Not sure exactly which types of certification are necessary for your clients and their personnel? Ask them. They’ll welcome your interest and – more to the point – they’ll sign up for your continuing education webinars to earn the credits they need to maintain licenses and professional standing.

3. Programs that Provide Practical Advice for Responding to Complex Issues

The uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic – the impact of social distancing on the global economy, the challenges of meeting contractual obligations, the cost of employee furloughs and layoffs, the timeline of quarantines and lockdowns, to name but a few – make up some of the principal worries that “keep clients up at night.”

…your clients need practical advice that guides them through the risks and challenges of doing business…

Lawyers are well positioned to alleviate those concerns with programs that offer practical advice and pragmatic solutions for responding to the crisis. Like those who present WilmerHale’s webinar on Contract Issues in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic, offering an in-depth look at the potential effects of the pandemic on existing and future contracts.

Now more than ever, your clients need practical advice that guides them through the risks and challenges of doing business in these unprecedented times. Focus your programs on specific measures they can adopt to reduce uncertainty and position themselves for recovery when the crisis has passed.