Announcing ON24’s 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report

What’s the best time to run a webinar? What about promoting it? And who, exactly, is so used to running video events? You have questions about running webinars and digital experiences. We have answers.

That’s because we’ve just recently released the ON24 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, which is chock-full of useful information, from the best day to send promotional emails to average attendee conversion rates. Download this report to learn what you can expect from your webinar program, what other ON24 users are doing with their webinars and discover useful tips that’ll make your digital experiences stand out.

And, special for this year, you’ll also be able to see what leading marketers across the globe are doing to stand apart from the digital marketing pack based on data we’ve gathered for our report, “Experiences Everywhere: What Top-Performing Marketers Do Differently.

Curious about what’s in the report? Here are a few takeaways:

When to Promote Your Webinars

According to our benchmarks report, Tuesday and Thursday are the best days to send promotional emails for your digital events. Though, keep in mind: any day during the mid-week is typically fine for promotions.

Make sure you start your promotions early, however. We recommend at least 15 days before your virtual event’s launch, as more than half of all registrants sign up for a webinar eight days before the event. In fact, more than a quarter of all registrants sign up more than 15 days in advance. So, calendar out your emails and webinars!

The Best Day and Time for Webinars

When should you hold your webinar? Well, according to our benchmarks, Thursday has overtaken Wednesday as the best day for webinar attendance, but, again, the difference is so narrow that nearly any day mid-week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) will serve your webinar well.

When it comes to the time of day, 11 a.m. Pacific (2 p.m. Eastern) continues to be the best time to hold your webinar. But what if you’re not running a coast-to-coast virtual event? No worries. The best time to run a webinar is really the time that fits in with your audience’s schedule. Typically, that time is an hour before or after lunchtime (12 p.m.). So, feel free to run your event at 11 a.m. Eastern if that’s suitable for the audience you’d like to reach.

Personalizing Experiences

Marketers today can no longer depend on a one-size-fits-all approach. Audiences want content personalized to their tastes, needs and, well, account. In fact, personalized marketing is so valuable today that, according to our Experiences Everywhere report, 78% of B2B marketers say they’ve found personalized approaches like account-based management to be more effective than traditional marketing approaches.

Fortunately, today’s digital tools make it easy to create personalized and account-specific experiences, even for assets like webinars or targeted landing pages. All you have to do is get a little scrappy and organize your team and content for maximum effectiveness. Record a short intro video to play before a webinar that addresses the account you’re reaching out to. Or, incorporate a logo and special messages on a targeted landing page.

There are a variety of ways you can personalize a digital experience. Check out our e-book, “The Marketer’s Guide to Creating Personalized Content Experiences for more tips.

On-Demand Experiences

So what do you do after the event is over? Easy: make it available on demand. With always-on content, you can extend the reach of your virtual events to connect with registrants that may have missed the live event or interested audiences searching for your organization’s guidance.

In fact, 38% of all webinar attendees watch webinars on demand, spending up to 38 minutes engaging with your content and resources. But marketers can go even further, providing audiences with content hubs and targeted landing pages filled with relevant webinars, e-books, reports, videos and more. Used right, content hubs can provide audiences with all the on-demand resources they need to make a decision and provide your organization with the insights it needs to help bring a deal to close.

Download ON24’s 2020 Webinar Benchmarks report for more insights into how you can create digital experiences that connect.

The ON24 Platform and Our Commitment to Scaling with You

Today, we are all facing unprecedented circumstances, and we want you to know that we are doing all we can to ensure our platform is ready for unprecedented demand.

To date, the daily number of live webinar and virtual event experiences held on our global network has tripled. And, we are seeing attendee numbers skyrocket, with an average registration-attendee conversion of approximately 75%, and about the same 75% increase in the engagement per attendee with our tools.

While virtual event volume, attendance and engagement is at an all-time high, so is our commitment to ensuring the performance and reliability of the ON24 Platform. Our global product and support teams are working around the clock to monitor and maintain our platform scale and stability. Despite the record-breaking live attendance we’re seeing, there has not been a single performance issue.

We know that your webinars, virtual events, hybrid events and content experiences are more critical to your success than ever before, and we are taking proactive measures to increase our platform resiliency. Our team is rapidly scaling our network capacity so that you can continue to deliver engaging digital experiences that delight your audience and grow your business.

No matter what lies ahead, ON24 is here to support you. Thank you for continuing to trust in us as your partner.

Sincerely,

Jayesh Sahasi

EVP of Product and CTO, ON24

How Webinars Work

We all know webinars are one of the most indispensable weapons in a marketer’s armory. But what is a webinar and how does a webinar work? There’s a lot going on behind the scenes of even the most basic webinar software. And, when it comes to a world-class solution like the ON24 Platform, we rely on some of the best talent in the biz to make the experience of setting up and delivering a webinar seamless for you.

Let’s start with a simple definition:

A webinar is an engaging online event where a speaker, or small group of speakers, deliver a presentation to a large audience who participate by submitting questions, responding to polls and using other available interactive tools.

Webinars are different from meeting tools, which are designed to let small groups meet and collaborate in real-time. They’re also different from traditional streaming media like videos, which don’t give the audience any way to engage with the content.

Learn more about webinars:

Even the most bare-bones webinar has separate streams for slides and audio. But most modern webinars go far beyond that, with slides, presenter video, integrated social media and live attendee feedback in the form of questions, polls, idea storming and more. So what are the most important factors of webinar technology? Let’s take a look:

Making the Webinar presenter successful

At ON24, we’ve spent years perfecting our presentation manager, PMXD. Obviously, we wanted to make it easy for you to upload, modify, manage and deliver your presentations. We quickly discovered that great webinar presentations take more than a well-uploaded presentation deck.

Most of our customers go into every webinar with at least two key players: the presenter, who delivers the webinar content, and the producer, who takes care of all the behind-the-scenes work, like queuing video clips, managing guest speakers and routing questions from webinar attendees. We knew delivering live webinars can be stressful, so we help the production team keep in touch with real-time chat and intuitive controls for controlling the flow of the webinar, pushing polls, and swapping out presentation content on the fly.

Providing an engaging webinar experience

Engagement is what really makes the ON24 webinar platform. And we take that very, very seriously. When you’re asking people to stare at their computer screens for up to an hour you have to give them something interesting to stare at. It helps if you can also give them something interesting to do.

Most webinars these days include basics like a place to submit questions. But we don’t think that’s engaging enough. So, we’ve added to it with popular interactive tools like surveys, polls, downloadable assets and integrated social media. We’ve also created more niche widgets like idea storming, testing and certification tools and group chat.

But that isn’t where it ends. We also built a robust suite of integrations to make sure the data collected through all that interactivity is passed to your marketing automation and CRM platforms, creating a seamless marketing data environment.

Treating Always-on webinar audiences like live audiences

If you only consider the live audience, though, you aren’t taking the full picture into account. According to our 2019 Webinar Benchmarks Report, more than 30% of webinar attendees only sign up for the on-demand event. That presents an interesting challenge for those of us on the back end of webinar software. How are we going to treat all those people who, for whatever reason, just couldn’t make it to the live event?

Sure, it would have been easier to treat on-demand webinars like static videos, but then your audiences wouldn’t get the full webinar experience. When we think about webinar engagement, we always consider those additional viewers who watch webinars on-demand or simulive (that is, webinars that are pre-recorded, then broadcast to a live audience at a designated time). Every ON24 webinar, no matter how it’s delivered or when it’s viewed, must have all the bi-directional interactivity of a live webinar, from moving windows around the console to the ability to submit questions — and actually get an answer.

Webinars have changed a lot over the past decade or so, and they’ll continue to evolve as new technologies emerge. But for those of us who build the platform, the mission is always the same: to give you everything you need to engage an audience and meet every one of your business goals.

How can a webinar drive more engagement for you? Learn how the ON24 Platform makes it work with our 30-minute live demoAlternatively, you can check out our free 30-day trial here

Taking In-Person Events Virtual? Five Things to Consider

Marketers are constantly evaluating the right mix of content and tactics to power amazing experiences for buyers. And now that it’s impossible to engage your buyer through physical experiences due to the ongoing global health situation, we are seeing a swift and massive disruption in the day-to-day activities for B2B marketers. Across the globe, marketers are trying to find effective strategies to engage audiences even when they can’t meet in-person. After all, marketers still have pipeline to generate and they need to get creative… quickly.

I’ve had the privilege of covering the physical and digital events space for the past five years and have seen companies use effective strategies to bridge the divide. Often, effective physical-to-digital programs were born out of the need to connect with target accounts. These marketers realized they needed virtualized, digital experiences for buying group members who weren’t able to attend an in-person event.

I want to share with you some of the top tips I’ve seen marketers use when merging in-person events to digital experiences — be that virtual events or webinars. From a strategic perspective:

    • Communicate. People want to understand what your organization is doing so they can plan ahead. Even if you don’t have the complete answer or solution, letting attendees know that you’re monitoring a situation and when they can know a decision by will go a long way.
    • It’s all about the Data. While you may be scrambling to pull off the execution of an in-person event turned virtual, don’t lose sight of thinking about what to do after the event is over. Make sure attendance and engagement data is captured and funneled to the appropriate systems. Assemble a task force to ensure that follow-up to attendees is swift and informed.
    • Learn from the Experience. Future-proofing your marketing strategy will be a hot topic once marketers get past the current chaos of reworking plans. No doubt there will be opportunities for organizations to rethink people, process and technology. I urge all marketing leaders to make setting up marketing channel contingency plans as we enter Q3.

And for the digital experiences themselves:

    • Turn on the Camera. Yes, you heard me (and I’m someone who rocks the athleisure better than no other when I’m not presenting). Not only does having video enabled for webinars and virtual events boost engagement, it should be required if you’re hosting a digital experience in lieu of an in-person one.
    •  Make it Interactive. Mimicking the experience of an in-person event is challenging if you resort to dated digital behaviors. Leverage polling and Q&A features heavily. If you’re struggling to see where your content can have these opportunities, consider inserting polling questions after a data point or at the end of a section. You can also check out some more tips here.

ON24 Update: We’re here to Help You Cross the Physical/Digital Event Divide

At ON24, our top priority is our customers and employees. And, we want you to know that at this difficult time, we thank you for relying on us as your partner.

Our mission at ON24 is to empower you to create human connections with your audience across the globe, even when meeting in-person is not possible. And, as COVID-19 continues to restrict our travel and workplace environments, we are here to help you build a successful digital experience strategy, now and always.

As you move your physical events into the online world, we are prepared to support you and offer our decades of expertise running virtual events. The ON24 Platform is built to meet increases in network demand, and we have robust contingency plans in place to ensure the continued reliability you have come to expect from us. Please do let us know your digital event needs as soon as they arise so that we can help you deliver the best outcome possible.

In addition to keeping business as usual for you, we have taken several precautions to maintain our own business continuity, including:

    • Workplace safety and operations policies that adhere to CDC guidance
    • Remote workforce with back-up resources
    • Voluntary work from home policy
    • Restricted domestic travel and no international travel policy
    • 14-day quarantine policy for any potential risks

We’re actively monitoring the situation and remain ready to help you cross the physical-digital event divide. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Thank you,

Scott Ray, Chief Customer Success Officer, ON24
Chris Dishman, Vice President of Customer Success, ON24

How Personalized Marketing Goes Beyond Inbound and Outbound

Modern marketers face a lot of binary choices when it comes to strategies and tactics. Do you focus on demand gen or brand? Field marketing or virtual events? Outbound or inbound marketing?

The truth is that focusing on one tactic or strategy over another is often a false choice. With the tools given to marketers today, teams can piece together the best aspects of a strategy or tactic without compromising on quality. Inbound and outbound marketing provides a great example.

Check out The Accelerated Buyer: How Personalized Content Journeys Impact the Buying Process to learn how you can create digital experiences with a personal touch.

The Outbound v. Inbound Dilemma

Outbound marketing, where marketers reach out to audiences in the hopes of engaging potential customers, has drastically changed since the days of cold calls and commercials. Today’s digital era has inspired the rise of banner ads and media buys, changing how marketers reach audiences. But outbound marketing is still largely the same in three ways: it’s expensive, uncertain and typically not as profitable as other methods.

By contrast, inbound marketing, where marketers provide content relevant to niche audiences, has turned marketing organizations into hubs of information. Combined with digital marketing tactics, such as SEO, social media marketing, and blogging, inbound marketing is a powerful tool pulling relevant, interested audiences to an organization’s website and its products.

But, where inbound marketing strategies are more effective at generating leads and engaging with audiences, they lack the element of a human, personal and emotional touch.

How Personalization Revamps the Marketing Funnel

Enter personalization. By catering to prospects and client’s individual needs, personalization has become a secret tool marketers use to achieve high conversion rates and customer satisfaction. And it does so by combining the best elements of outbound marketing with inbound marketing.

Personalization takes inbound marketing one step further by recognizing the individual preferences of audiences and using that data to inform content creation. Each buyer is met with content suited to their consumption styles, from white papers and blogs to video content and webinars. Content can also be arranged the order that is best suited to the viewer, effectively curating content by incorporating ongoing feedback and following the prospect with relevant content throughout their buyer’s journey.

It’s Time to Deliver Better Digital Experiences

Consumers, including B2B buyers, are becoming more accustomed to targeted marketing. And that trend is having a positive impact on both digital marketing and consumer perceptions of digital. In fact, according to a Harvard Business Review study, when online shoppers were told an advertisement was shown to them based on their on-site behavior, click-through rates increased by 11%, time spent viewing the advertised product rose by 34% and revenue grew by 38%.

Organizations that get ahead on providing personalized experiences are much more likely to find success by winning over buyers. This doesn’t mean scrapping existing marketing and starting from scratch. Rather, all it takes is a concentrated effort to understand the performance of your existing content and the different personas it resonates with.

To learn more about how you can go beyond traditional inbound/outbound marketing, check out our new e-book: The Accelerated Buyer: How Personalized Content Journeys Impact the Buying Process.

Bridging the Gap Between Product Centricity and Customer Centricity

I’m a firm believer that the greatest technology companies are product driven-companies. Apple, Microsoft, Netflix — at their core, they create tremendous products.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about customer centricity lately. After all, it’s at the heart of everything we do at ON24.

Many B2C-first companies like Apple and Netflix have had the benefit of getting real-time feedback from individual consumers. You could tell immediately from sales, downloads, daily active users, etc., how much your customers liked or didn’t like your product. That, in turn, made these companies customer-centric as well, as they adapted their product to meet consumer needs.

But it’s generally been more difficult for B2B companies to access this feedback. Until recently, that is. Now unprecedented engagement and back-end analytics have pulled back the curtain, so B2B companies have the insights they need to understand how customers are leveraging their product.

But there still needs to be a shift in the B2B mindset around customer centricity. For the majority of my career, the collective thinking was that companies never had a world-class product and a world-class customer experience. If you had a great product, that could make up for an average customer experience — so why invest in it? And if you had a wonderful customer experience, that was likely because you were compensating for a not-so-wonderful product.

But I’ve come to a different conclusion: product and customer-centricity are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe that the companies that win tomorrow will be those that use data from their customer experience to improve their product and learn from their product’s different use cases how to better serve their customers.

What’s changed? Digital experiences have evolved tremendously in recent years. Customer journeys start with marketing touchpoints. But today the best digital experiences go further:  ushering prospects through each stage of the funnel, surfacing personalized content, answering Q&As in real-time, and providing helpful information at every turn.

The result is that customers get personalized recommendations and content, while companies gain unprecedented insights into what these customers want and need. Through real human engagement, ON24 has been able to get the insights to drive both our pipeline and our product. It’s just another example of why today’s best products don’t happen by chance – they happen because they are constantly enhanced thanks to insights from a customer-centric approach. And that’s something we should all strive for.

Make the Right Impression With Personalized Experiences

Every day, audiences are bombarded by advertisements. The average person online is faced with more than 1,700 video and banner ads each month. These ads are ineffectual, and often end up annoying customers and driving them away.

In fact, a study last year from Kantar found that 54% of buyers objected to online ads and 55% were apathetic towards seeing advertising content. Another 70% said they see the same ads repeatedly and only 11% actually enjoyed viewing them.

With all this oversaturation, how are marketers supposed to create the right impression with the right audience at the right time? The answer lies in personalization.

What Buyers Are Looking For

Your on-demand webinar audience awaits

Buyers are looking for a sense of connection in a digital world. People want to be recognized as individuals with unique preferences and tastes — not as usernames and account numbers. Personalization signals to buyers that they are heard, and that their needs are valued.

In the B2C space, customers are accustomed to ads matching searches and clicks. B2B customers are often left out of this online trend, but they, too, crave a more connected experience during their buyer journeys.

How Personalization Shapes B2B Buyers

A webinerd and her coworkers discuss optimization

An Epsilon survey found the appeal for personalized content is so high that out of 1,000 buyers, 80% of respondents said they were more likely to do business with a company if it offered tailored experiences and 90% said they found personalization highly appealing.

When it came to actual purchasing behavior, transactional analysis showed buyers were 10 times more likely to become a valuable customer — making more than 15 transactions in a year — when presented with personalized messaging. These buyers who rated companies high for personalized experiences also made purchases three times more frequently.

Drive Personalization with Targeted Messaging

Personalized — or one-to-one marketing — combines data and analytics to deliver targeted brand messages to individual clients. Today’s digital engagement tools are so sophisticated that marketers can create online experiences completely customized to the interests of individual buyers, and they can evolve those experiences with ongoing feedback.

ON24 equips marketers with the tools to create compelling experiences and leverage audience insights to provide leads with a personalized journey. Learn how to curate highly successful campaigns by downloading the e-book, The Accelerated Buyer: How Personalized Content Journeys Impact the Buying Process where you will find out:

  • Why personalization is taking over B2B marketing
  • Streamlined approaches to creating non-linear content journeys
  • How to build curated experiences with data-powered insights

Revisiting the Brand v. Demand Gen Debate

It’s a simple yet persistent question facing CMOs and marketers today. Do we take the billboard route, which will probably reach a wide audience but provide very little data on customers and their interaction with the advertisement?

This article was originally published at marketingmag.com.au. Shared with the author’s permission.

Or should we take the digital route instead, by means of Facebook ads or increasing SEM, which might reach fewer people but will give us detailed metrics and tracking that will demonstrate our campaign’s ROI?

The Big Marketing Question

In some ways, this debate poses a more philosophical marketing question: What is more imperative, cultivating the long-term brand of your company, or driving immediate and, of course, tangible sales results?

For the modern marketer, generating awareness and driving demand generation efforts should never be seen as mutually exclusive, like a game of heads or tails.

Why? Because modern marketing can actually accomplish both of these goals: building brands by means of advertising, while still driving clear sales-focused lead generation efforts. But in order to make sure their entire marketing team is aligned, CMOs today must ensure team members know the value of both of these marketing efforts.

The Marketing Gulf

If we take a step back, the gulf between content marketing (which generally falls into the brand-building category) and demand generation (which drives more leads) can seem like completely different worlds.

Demand generation professionals often have immensely different skill sets than the content side. Metrics and terminology will often vary as well. While the content team might be more concerned with broad exposure for a blog post, white paper or other digital content, demand generation teams are more engrossed with raw engagement statistics, interaction, and how that is effectively impacting their pipeline.

Best of Both Worlds

As you can imagine, depending on a CMO’s marketing philosophy and priorities, it can be easy for one of these teams to feel neglected or snubbed. In addition, a company’s sales culture plays a huge role: is the sales force currently contented with their leads and in need of high-quality content to back their conversations with prospects? Or is the sales force asking for instant and higher-quality lead volume, with less emphasis on content?

It’s therefore vital for CMOs to illustrate to all members of a marketing team what their role is, and how it contributes to the larger team goals and business objectives.

CMOs need to consistently outline the vision for the marketing team: high-quality content works best with a demand generation component and vice versa.

Awareness campaigns don’t always need to directly lead to sales pipeline, and demand generation efforts needn’t always have to deliver a significant boost to brand awareness.

Yet the two are inseparable, and the best marketing teams will succeed when the efforts from both sides supplement each other. And today’s CMOs need to not only know the short-term and long-term benefits to both — but also be able to communicate those benefits to their teams in order to achieve the best of both worlds.