Webinars have given us a safe way to keep our professional engagements going and socially distance at the same time. Now that digital-first events are the new normal, we’re seeing webinars happening nearly every minute across the ON24 Platform. In fact, in March we’ve seen the number of webinars hosted on the ON24 Platform jump by more than 330% and the number of attendees to these events double year-over-year.
So it’s safe to say there’s been a noticeable shift in the number of webinars happening on a day-to-day basis. Consequently, there’s also been a shift in webinar trends. For example, prior to March, audiences usually avoided webinars on Mondays and Fridays. Now, Mondays and Fridays are well-attended.
What other changes to webinar trends have we seen? Let’s take a look:
Best Days for Webinar Attendance
According to our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, the best time to hold a webinar is mid-week, with a strong preference for Wednesday and Thursday. But trends in March have changed how webinars are attended. The best performing day for webinar attendance — while mid-week still performs strong — is now Tuesday.
This shift, however, isn’t just because Tuesday is the day for the most attendance; it’s also happening because more webinars are taking place across the rest of the week, especially on Monday and Friday.
For example, webinar attendance for Mondays has jumped by three points when compared to our 2020 benchmark report and Fridays, in the same comparison, have leaped by five points. We see a similar pattern when we look at year-over-year traffic: Monday attendance in 2020 jumps by nine points compared to 2019 while Friday attendance jumps by three points.
Here’s a chart highlighting the differences between March 2019 and March 2020:
When looking at the sheer number of webinars produced, a slice of our analysis highlights this change: year-over-year, the number of events on Fridays and Tuesday has increased by 222% and 271% respectively, though Monday has the breakaway increase with an astounding 441% jump.
Takeaway: while mid-week is still a strong performer for attendance, nearly any day of the workweek will net you a solid number of attendees. We’d recommend experimenting with different webinar formats for different days of the week to optimize attendance.
Best Day to Send Promotional Emails
The first step in driving attendance to webinars is setting up and sending promotional emails. And, as most marketers know, there are certain days of the week that perform better than others for open email rates. According to our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, the mid-week — Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — are the best days to send promotional emails.
March 2020, however, has changed the typical open rates for promotional emails. Tuesday is now the definitive best day to send promotional emails for webinars by a three-point margin. But, again, this doesn’t mean that Tuesday is the only good day to send promotional emails. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday are also great days to send promotions and, together, account for 60% of registrations.
Here’s a chart showing how the increase in emails and events is acting as an equalizer across the week:
Takeaway: Early to mid-week are the best days to send promotional emails to drive registration. Avoid sending promotional emails during the weekend and on Friday.
The Best Time to Run Webinars
According to our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, the best time to run webinars is at 11 a.m. Pacific (2 p.m. Eastern). This remains true in March 2020, though there are a few shifts to consider when it comes down to timing your events.
First, and this is always true, the best time for a webinar is one that fits in with the schedule of your audience. Depending on the event or your audience, holding a webinar could work well early in the morning or later in the day. But, as a general rule, an hour before or after your region’s lunch hour works best.
So, how has timing changed in March 2020? Running events at 11 a.m. is still the best practice, but the overall trend to keep in mind is that webinars are starting earlier in the day. For example, in our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, 8 and 9 a.m. accounted for 8% and 9% of the day’s events, respectively. Those two hours have jumped by two percentage points to 10% and 11%.
Here’s a breakdown of how the best time to attend a webinar has changed when comparing March 2020 to March 2019:
Takeaway: 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET) is still the best time to host a webinar, but don’t be afraid to host an event earlier in the day.
Keeping Track of Changing Trends
Altogether, March 2020 has shown a significant change in the day-to-day use of virtual events. We fully expect to see further changes in webinar behavior as long as social distancing is the norm. Over the coming months, we’ll keep a close eye on these metrics and inform you of how companies are continuing to get business done with ON24.
As a software company dedicated to helping businesses improve relationships with customers, Zendesk has to connect with clients and prospects to earn business. But to make this happen, the customer relations platform had to be able to connect at scale, at any time and anywhere where its clients may be.
So, Zendesk decided it needed to provide high-quality digital experiences to create those opportunities for connection with its customers. Webinars, in particular, proved to be one of the most reliable tools Zendesk had to build business, generate leads and sign new customers. In fact, in 2018, the leading customer relationship platform achieved a 55% conversion-to-close ratio with webinars, the highest win rates by any channel.
But providing great digital experiences takes more than just surface-level treatments. Since Zendesk operates across the globe, it needed a digital experience partner that could work at its scale.
For Villaluna, that meant partnering with a provider that could provide her team with the digital tools to support global and multilingual capabilities, including closed captioning and localization help.
“ON24 is the only company I know of that provides support across the globe, which has really helped us provide more meaningful engagements with our audience,” Villaluna said. “ON24 takes into account all of the things we could ever think of as a marketer and how to improve our webinar programs.”
Driving Engagement with Every Audience
For Zendesk, though, providing a strong digital presence meant giving its audiences the means to interact with the Zendesk brand. After all, those interactions, when measured, can add up to new campaigns, better market insights and a more satisfying brand experience.
To make this hope a reality, Villaluna takes advantage of the interactivity webinars can provide. For example, a good presenter can directly engage audiences, ask them to participate in Q&As and respond to polls and surveys. Presenters can even directly respond to conversations and questions raised in a live chat setting, too.
“All of the enhancements that ON24 has provided over the years definitely addressed this whole need for allowing our audience to be a little bit more engaged with our programs,” Villaluna said.
Moving Ahead with Digital Experiences
Now, Villaluna runs a quarterly webinar series called “What’s New at Zendesk,” which is broadcast across EMEA, APAC, and the Americas. Prior to linking up with ON24, Villaluna notes they used to have a couple of hundred registrations for a single webinar.
Zendesk now regularly has thousands of webinar registrations with an almost 45% live attendance rate — a success which Villaluna credits to ON24’s unique engagement tools and global capabilities.
“Just when we thought we’ve hit the max, as far as our registrations and attendance rates, we keep surprising ourselves,” Villaluna said. “It’s exciting for us.”
While Villaluna counts on ON24’s metrics and analytic tools to measure the success of her webinars, and routinely tracks average registration, attendance and engagement rates.
But, more importantly to Zendesk, Villaluna keeps a careful eye on attendees that return to Zendesk’s webinar programs and continue to engage with their brand.
“Success is also defined by the value and impact of the content we serve, and the quality of the experience that we provide to customers,” she said. “ON24 helps us deliver on that.”
Professionals across the globe are still adapting to the new work-from-home reality. To that end, we asked our #webinerd community to share how they’ve adapted to webinaring from home and what they’ve seen as customers and partners come to rely on virtual events to get business done.
The responses have been overwhelming. We’ve had dozens of #webinerds respond to the call, share their #WebinarFH setups and offer tips they’ve found useful for adjusting to our new remote reality.
What, exactly have they been saying? Well, here’s a small sample of what we’ve seen with a few #WebinarFH tips:
How Rhonda Mihalic Facilitates Engagement from Afar
Chioma produces webinars for the American Staffing Association, and she’s been keeping busy over these past few weeks. What with? She’s been organizing and producing webinars packed with important industry information addressing how staffing organizations ought to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
How Jocelyn Robertson Keeps Webinars Going for Financial Engines
A longtime webinerd, Jocelyn is relishing the opportunity to help friends, colleagues and business partners to jump on the webinar bandwagon. As a Webinar Producer with Edelman Financial Engines, she’s found new ways to engage audiences across her many digital events, including the use of video formats and engagement tools for interaction.
Webinerd Tips To Take Away
As more and more professionals settle into their new normal of video chats and physical-turned-digital meetings, we wanted to share a few webinar-from-home tips from our webinerd community:
Keep your events interactive
Webinars drive interactivity and collaboration with virtually anyone at any time. For example, the Junior Library Guild is drafting a book series with its audience in real-time. That’s a creative approach for sure, but if you’re going to hedge towards more conventional webinar approach, make sure to take full advantage of engagement tools like Q&A, chat, polls and more to bring your audience in and involve them in your event.
Bring audiences together virtually
Don’t overlook the benefit of having audiences engage with each other. Audiences can do more than simply listen during a webinar. Have attendees engage with your speaker through polls Q&As, chat and other engagement tools. Think of a webinar as a two-way conversation instead of a static presentation.
Make sure your webinars are relevant
Professionals are always looking for the latest news and updates, especially when face-to-face and in-person events aren’t a possibility. Chioma, for example, has seen a 21% jump in conversion rates since organizations have moved towards working from home. Make sure your webinars are timely and relevant to pique audience interest and drive conversions.
Not sure what to talk about? Ask! Simple polls and Q&A engagement tools can easily provide your audience a forum to suggest topics and help you better understand what your audience actually wants.
Be creative with your formats
Webinars shouldn’t feel cookie-cutter or like everyone is doing the same thing. Try expanding your webinar horizons by using tools and formats that are new to you.
Always have a keynote speaker? Try a moderated panel discussion instead. Focusing on live audiences? Give on-demand webinars a chance and you’ll be surprised to see how many more people tune in at a time that’s convenient to them. Follow Jocelyn’s lead and capitalize on unique branding and customization for the audience console during your webinars. And, like Jocelyn, explore new video presentation styles to keep things interesting for audiences.
If all else fails, rock some kickass unicorn headphones to keep things interesting!
Oh, Fridays. The end of the workweek and the start of the weekend. Some relax and take it easy. Some need to attend to last-minute to-dos. Most, I hope, read Feature Friday blog posts (thank you!). One thing you might not think happens often on a Friday, however, is a webinar. But the times are changing!
Due to concerns that audiences would not be available, marketers often avoided hosting a Friday webinar. But running webinars on the last day of the business week may be key to increasing conversion and lead rates and connecting with prospects and customers.
Audiences are now just as engaged on a Tuesday as a Friday. In our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, we noted that the mid-week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, were the best days to host a webinar. But the massive shift to remote work due to COVID-19 health concerns has opened up Friday as another great day to host.
Friday’s Numbers Overall
Here’s a quick breakdown of why Friday has become an ideal day to run webinars: Between Q4 2019 and Q1 2020, webinars hosted on Fridays saw a registration to attendance conversion increase of nearly 10% — a number that’s expected to grow. When comparing engagement during the first week March (right before most United States lockdowns began due to the spread of COVID-19) versus the first week of April (after more cities and states instituted lockdowns), Friday webinar attendance increased by 406% globally.
Previously, Fridays weren’t a critical part of the webinar equation. Now, however, Fridays are seemingly becoming part of the Friday fold. The ON24 Platform also experienced a 173% increase in the number of Friday events between the first week of March and the first week of April.
Strategic Friday Webinars
So what about when there isn’t a massive stay at home movement? How can webinar practitioners strategically use Fridays to their advantage?
Anecdotally, we’ve found Fridays for recurring events like our Daily Demo. Contrary to what you might expect, the Daily Demos on Friday have traditionally generated the most leads out of all the days in the week. This makes sense from a certain perspective: Fridays are good days to catch up on emails, calls or other low-priority tasks you haven’t had the chance to manage earlier in the week. A 30-minute demo is an easy addition to round out a week.
In sum: If you want and need more availability and engagement opportunities, you don’t have to fear hosting a Friday webinar. Your audiences can still attend and engage with you and your content.
It has been just about a month since marketers’ worlds were dramatically disrupted — personally and professionally. There have been blips along the way but most people are now settling into a routine that will be their “new normal,” at least for the near-term. I wanted to share some of the lessons learned and observed over the past month:
Resilience. At the drop of a hat, marketers have done massive shifts to turn planned physical events into digital experiences. It has taken an immense amount of scrambling to make this work but marketers quickly developed new strategies to get work done and shift their events.
Partnerships are accelerating. Physical event players are making shifts to pull together contingency plans for their businesses. This is mainly being done from partnerships or embedding of other technologies within theirs. This has been done hastily, so it will be interesting to keep an eye on these players to see how or if these materialize into changes into their product strategy.
Communication is key. This has always been true but with people being remote, there has been a need for communication internally and externally to be ramped up significantly. Many stories have been written about the tools and technologies that people have used to do this.
Work from Home is Work. Personal one here, when people find out that I’m a remote employee (and have been for five or so years), I get questions about how I stay focused or how I resist the urge to do laundry during work hours. First, you can ask anyone in my household that I do not crave laundry overwork. In any case, leaders who were once hesitant are seeing that teams can work effectively when in different locations with the proper technology and process of course.
For the next thirty days, I expect to see more of the above but also a pipeline pivot. The next steps will be to pivot from that moment to figure out how pipelines will be filled for the remainder of the year. Most marketers rely heavily on or at least in part on Spring events to fill the pipeline for the remainder of the year. FInding supplemental strategies is paramount now. More on this to come in the coming months.
Amidst the current global crisis, field and event marketers have been left scrambling to figure out how to handle upcoming events and programs planned for the year. Asking themselves questions like, Do I just cancel the entire event? Do I postpone my event? How do I salvage my event?
Hunter Smythe, Director of Corporate Events at Benefitfocus, faced this exact scenario earlier this year. She and her team decided the show must go on and took on the challenge of pivoting the company’s annual in-person customer and partner conference, One Place, into a virtual event experience. They manage to do so in less than two weeks. Here’s how they did it.
How to Move Forward After Last-Minute Event Cancelation?
Benefitfocus looked for a few qualities in a digital experience solution. Any platform the company adopted needed to be easy to use, provide content on demand for various audiences and had to be flexible enough to make Benefitfocus’s brand shine throughout the experience. Ultimately, Benefitfocus turned to ON24 to create a stellar virtual experience.
Benefitfocus started its move by mapping out what its virtual experience would look like. The team then decided to trim down the usual two-day event into a half-day online event and split that half-day event into a keynote speech and 14 breakout sessions. Each session and speech was pre-recorded and scheduled to run “live” using the ON24 Platform’s simulive features.
Continue on to learn the keys to the Benefitfocus team’s success and tips for bringing your own event virtual.
Benefitfocus’s Keys to Success
An Agile Team:
Benefitfocus assembled an agile team to quickly get to work and get the event up and running in eight business days. The team managed all this while navigating last-minute speaker preps and recordings, making decisions on what the experience would look and feel like and figuring out how to best use new technology. Here’s how they made it work:
Putting The Customer Experience First:
For Benefitfocus, it was important to make the online event as similar to the intended in-person experience as possible, ensuring that attendees still engaged with sessions and took away key learnings. To make this a reality, Benefitfocus focused on prioritizing the audience experience by making sessions easy to access and conversational and providing clarity on how the day would unfold.
Providing attendees ability to register once, gain access to all content: Using ON24 Engagement Hub to house all sessions in one location, Benefitfocus set up a seamless registration experience. Meaning, once the customer registered once for One Place, they then had access to all content in the event hub, never having to input their information again to watch another session.
Clear Agenda with Scheduled Breaks: Leading with an hour-long morning keynote, the team built in a 15-minute break right after, similar to what they would have done in-person, leaving people time to check email and take calls before the breakout sessions started.
Survey Feedback Baked into Every Session: Traditionally at Benefitfocus’s in-person events, there is one survey for the entire event that is sent out after the event has concluded. With ON24, they could gather real-time audience feedback based on each session, helping Benefitfocus understand what sessions were the most popular and who might be interested in more details on Benefitfocus solutions. Compared to in-person, Benefitfocus received far more feedback than ever before.
Tracks and Sessions Built for Different Audiences:Similarly to how Benefitfocus would have handled breakouts in person, using ON24 Engagement Hub, they set up different tracks intended for their different audience personas to run concurrently after the keynote, making the most of each attendee’s time.
On-Demand Strategy and Mindset from Start
Since this was the first time Benefitfocus would have a digital component to One Place, the team started thinking more about its general digital strategy and how it will use this event as a resource year-round. As the team built out its virtual event with ON24, they took advantage of key aspects of the ON24 Platform to prime the event experience for on-demand engagement.
One-Stop Event Landing Page with ON24 Engagement Hub: With ON24 Engagement Hub, Benefitfocus could organize and aggregate all content and sessions related to the event and set it up not only in a seamless way for the live event but also once the event concluded, the Engagement Hub was already optimized for on-demand usage, so Benefitfocus customers can return to the event hub all year round for resources.
Bookmarking Key Moments with Chapterization: Once the sessions concluded, the Benefitfocus team went back and chapterized each breakout session to make it easy for on-demand attendees to engage with the most impactful moments.
By taking a digital event strategy, One Place 2020 achieved 200% growth in attendance over the sign-up for the in-person version of this year’s event and engagement is continuing well after the event from on-demand viewership, as customers continue to revisit the One Place event hub for resources.
And, the ON24 Platform provided their team with another benefit that just isn’t possible with physical events: real-time data. The insights that ON24 delivered immediately gave Benefitfocus an understanding of their customer’s digital body language.
Now, the team knows a majority of attendees gave the virtual event experience a high rating, understand how many minutes they spent consuming content and can even drill down into which sessions resulted in the most people raising their virtual hand to learn more.
At 7:11 a.m. MT on Wednesday, March 18, John Mellor was driving west on I-80 and nearing Salt Lake City when his phone started to blow up.
When Domo’s chief strategy officer got a chance to pull over and check the messages, they were all about one thing: The 5.7-magnitude earthquake that rocked central Utah just before sunrise.
Mellor didn’t feel the ground shake as he was heading down Parleys Canyon. But the timing was fitting. Because over the course of the previous month, he had certainly become familiar with seismic shifts.
Domo, a leader in business intelligence and data visualization, turned its annual conference, Domopalooza, into a virtual event in less than two weeks. Scott Resch, Ambassador of What’s Happening, Domo, shares with us how the company made the shift in record time. This article was originally published on Domo.com. Shared with permission.
It all started on Feb. 20, when Domo CEO Josh James traveled to Tokyo for meetings and was struck by how the entire population was wearing surgical masks to protect against coronavirus.
When he returned to Utah a couple of days later, he immediately summoned Mellor and other executives at Domo to discuss the possibility of making the cloud-based software company’s popular annual user conference, Domopalooza, a virtual event.
Less than 24 hours later, on Feb. 26, after using the Domo platform to analyze the potential impact of canceling or dramatically altering the conference, the conversation got more serious. And on the 28th, a tough but educated decision was made: Turn the 2020 version of Domopalooza into a 100-percent online experience.
As the next 12 business days unfolded leading up to the event, the legal department reviewed contracts while everyone else within the organization chartered a course for themselves that was centered around what leadership identified as the main priorities: generate excellent content, drive registration, and maintain a community-first mentality.
The core team met twice a day to take inventory of where key initiatives stood and what still needed to be done, and everyone else charged forward on ambitions that aligned with critical deliverables, such as the coordination and recording of 24 different breakout sessions.
Some projects came together nicely. Others were more challenging, as roadblocks presented themselves in some form or another on several occasions, starting with the weather the week of March 2.
“The forecast wasn’t good,” Mellor said. “We needed some blue sky for the keynote video, and there was only one day that week that called for such conditions. So, we went for it.”
As well, despite finding pictures of a salt mine cave that the video production crew thought would serve as an ideal backdrop for one segment of the keynote, it took some investigating to find out exactly where it was—and then some additional time to gain access.
And then there was the initial shooting location for the live portion of the keynote: The Cliff Lodge at Snowbird. As Utah ski resorts started to shut down due to increased concerns about COVID-19, Domo’s events team had to look elsewhere—fast—for an alternative.
The group found one in a Webb Production broadcasting studio, which of course had to be set up for the on-stage presenters with social distancing in mind but also allowed Domo to bring its product team in via Zoom.
By the time March 18 rolled around, Domo was ready to rock. And at 10 a.m. MT, just as the earthquake was about to turn three hours old, Domopalooza 2020 aired as a 90-minute collection of powerful messages that transported the audience everywhere from the highest peaks in Utah to the floor of a Pep Boys service garage in Philadelphia.
Domopalooza 2020 was one of the first major tech conferences that morphed into an online event in response to the coronavirus pandemic. And while consensus at Domo is that there were some additional moves that could’ve been made—even under the intense pressure of such a tight deadline—viewer feedback suggests the company struck the right chords.
“Your virtual event was so polished, effective, and engaging that it made me seriously consider whether in-person events were even necessary anymore,” wrote one attendee who watched from his home in Nashville. “Being able to ‘travel’ across Utah, go on-site with your customers, and see some of the future innovations Domo is bringing was simply incredible.”
In the interest of assisting other organizations that are considering or have planned the type of remote event that is quickly becoming de facto in these turbulent times, Domo has put together a list of best practices. The list is based on what its employees closest to the production of the conference learned over one wild-but-rewarding three-week period, and it goes as follows:
1 – Use data
Before doing anything else, Domo used data to analyze the previous five Domopaloozas. The team looked at who attended, what their job titles were, where they came from, what industries they worked in, what content they liked most, and more.
With that insight, leadership was not only able to prioritize what went into the program, but determine how long it should be and how it should flow, what types of pieces needed to be created to appeal to both execs and day-to-day users, and how the popular “sneaks” (sneak-peek) portion of Domopalooza should be handled. “We couldn’t fly blind,” Mellor said. “We had to have something concrete to work from, and that was it.”
2 – Set Targets
Typical attendance for Domopalooza is just over 3,000 people. But once plans for this year’s event changed to online, and therefore limitations on venue space and time no longer existed, Mellor used it as an opportunity to move the line to 10,000. “I just thought, ‘Without travel costs and other logistical constraints, why couldn’t we reach two to three times more people within our customers’ groups?’” he said.
The strategy worked. Domopalooza ultimately garnered more than 9,000 registrations—about four times as many as last year—and more than 12,000 viewers. What’s more, people from 80 countries logged on to watch. At the in-person event last year, 28 countries were represented. “Setting a higher bar was galvanizing,” said Julie Kehoe, Domo’s chief communications officer. “It motivated everyone to push harder, to see what was possible.”
3 – Meet and Rally
To make sure nothing slipped through the cracks and everything moved in concert across all areas of the business, key stakeholders got together twice a day and gave updates on where initiatives they were responsible for standing. “We couldn’t afford to let any decision sit for more than 12 hours,” Mellor said.
These quick huddles (or “standups,” as they’re often called) revolved mainly around hot-button items of the day and served to help the team monitor what kind of progress was being made on them. The meetings also inspired everyone to be as flexible as they could, as updates often included a nod to how someone—or even a group—had handled an unexpected or unfamiliar situation with proficiency.
4 – Create an engaging experience
Given the opportunity to do Domopalooza in a completely different way, the team looked in every possible direction to make the event one to remember. “We could’ve done the equivalent of one basic, pre-recorded webinar,” Mellor said, “but that would’ve flown in the face of our creative spirit, a characteristic that’s at the heart of who we are.”
Instead, Domo leveraged the medium in a way that allowed attendees to see more of Utah than Salt Lake City, and go inside the places where Domo customers work. The team also made room for a live component, which gave the audience the ability to send questions to leadership through social media, via the hashtag #askDP20.
Industry analysts got boxes featuring local coffee, cookies and a mug, to make them feel a little closer to where they were originally going to be for the event. And breakout session speakers received kits that included mics, props and lights, as well as images they could use on Twitter to promote their seminars.
The approach resonated. The breakout sessions—which were taped and then made available on-demand immediately following the main program—drew more than 3,100 distinct visitors.
5 – Pick the right technology
One of the real luxuries Domo had in the process was its ability to call on Webb Production for anything. While the company was originally hired to put on a traditional, in-person conference, it was quick to retool the plan when the situation changed.
Webb’s value didn’t end there, though. It also let Domo use its studio for the live portion of the program, and came up with an impressive stage design that included a giant LED screen, which was used to display images of Utah designed to bridge the gap between customer and vendor.
Additionally, Webb brought Boxcast to the table—a platform that allowed Domo to stream live video to the audience, trim the video without taking the stream offline, and offer replays around the world, including a fully translated Japanese version.
For the breakout sessions, Domo used ON24, a digital experience solution that offered a configurable front end and allowed the audience to see the speaker and their slides simultaneously. It also gave Domo the freedom to add widgets, giving the viewer the ability to customize their screen.
Lastly, Domo took full advantage of social media, especially during the event. “Even though we were miles away from our customers,” Kehoe said, “we wanted to create an intimate, interactive experience for them—and channels like Twitter and Instagram were a good way to do it.” To wit: Domo pulled in 86 questions via #askDP20, and calculated a “reach” the next day of 659,335 people (for a spread of 11.2 million).
As we enter Q2, marketing leaders are piecing together how they will adjust their marketing strategy and tactics to meet their quarterly and annual goals. It would be an understatement to say that this quarter has been filled with disruptions. But with some certainty about what must change, despite the unrest, it is time to hunker down and put pen to paper for how marketing teams will be operating to drive business results. As we enter this new stage, I wanted to share some considerations for your marketing strategy across technology, people and process:
You may find yourself in several different scenarios as it relates to your martech and sales tech stacks. In some scenarios, for some mission-critical technologies, it accelerated the purchase. This could be something like a webinar, virtual experiences or video collaboration technology where the need became acute and you went through an accelerated purchasing process to meet the needs of your marketing organization.
Evaluation of your current martech stack — while these plans likely were put on hold for the past month — will likely pick up in the coming weeks. I can’t urge you enough to make sure you take the experiences of the past month into consideration. Think about what excelled and what held the marketing organization back during that period of time. Go back to the audit and evaluation and ensure they are up to date based on your recent experiences. The goal is to create a martech stack that can be resilient.
New work environments and a disrupted marketing strategy will certainly lead to changes in process. Rather than a team member walking to another’s cube to address a question or give a friendly reminder, now these communications are going digital and it can become overwhelming. Look for ways to automate review processes through existing systems, so reminders are given by the system and humans are freed up to focus on other tasks.
The outpouring of care for one another has been beautiful to watch. I’ve heard great stories of managers and teammates being there for one another and have found fun ways to get used to life in a more remote environment. As someone who hasn’t had an office in about five years, I’m happy to welcome everyone into this environment! The key at this point is to ensure team members feel comfortable and empowered to ask for what they need. One aspect may be helping team members get the appropriate technologies to set up their home office. Other team members will require increased flexibility due to the new working environment. Many people are juggling partners sharing tight spaces, young children and pets all demanding their attention. Be open to changes in meeting times to better accommodate these schedules.
Marketers are resilient and creative. Make sure you are patient with yourself and others, as well as remain open to new ideas and creative solutions to challenges.
As with most time of upheaval and uncertainty, you’re probably already communicating more with key audience. Rules and regulations change daily (if not hourly), and it can be difficult for your clients to keep up while running businesses. Rapidly changing developments have a profound impact on your clients, who need guidance on how to respond.
Webinars let you be helpful at a time when the safety of social distance is tantamount.
This post originally appeared on jdsupra.com. Shared with the author’s permission.
You can transmit valuable thought leadership to your audience in a way that keeps the interaction human and responsive. They’re easy to produce and easy to access. What’s more, they let participants – most of whom are probably working from home too – actively participate in the session, see your face, and gauge your confidence and authority.
Three considerations as you step up your thought leadership:
1. Find more opportunities to help
Consider organizing a weekly “Pandemic update” for clients in a particular region or industry. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should explain recent developments and advise on potential responses. You could even target individual clients with webinars and content tailored specifically to their situations.
Setup personalized experiences to house the archive of webinars and other materials your clients will need, like this one we created to help our customers cross the physical/digital divide.
Use your platform to host an open Q&A session where you can get a read on business concerns, answer the questions suited for you, and again: be helpful. Hosting a weekly internal meeting with your client whose employees are now working from home is a great way to get to know the concerns of your clients while offering real-time support and solutions.
Sometimes just giving clients a forum to ask questions and share ideas is enough to help them understand their options for dealing with uncertainties. Schedule a webinar for Friday afternoons, when the workweek is nearly over, a kind of social distancing reception where the guided conversation is centered around working together to get through this unprecedented situation.
2. Use short-term innovation to launch long-term digital solutions
Rapidly shifting to online-only events can seem drastic and sudden, but supplementing the webinar content you produce doesn’t have to be temporary.
We’re always encouraging customers to give digital a bigger role in their marketing and business development strategies, both to complement physical, face-to-face events and also to give their audience more opportunities to see them “in action.”
That’s easier to do when continuing programs you develop in response to the current environment.
3. Mind the data (and the lessons)
In your rush to put together new programs for your audience, it’s important to remember that a webinar produces the same amount of data and lessons whether it has been planned for six months or six hours.
Either way, you refine your lists of topics that matter to your audience, of clients that follow your thought leadership, and of prospects with whom you can follow up. Make sure you’re capturing attendance and engagement data, and passing it on to the appropriate people and systems for analysis and follow up.