Email Best Practices for Virtual Events

With social distancing orders in place around the world, physical events are canceled for the foreseeable future. However, businesses are still operating, and many are choosing to shift in-person conferences and conventions online.

There are a lot of things to consider when making this decision, but one of the biggest is how to communicate you’re hosting a virtual conference instead of a physical one. Let’s take a look at a few email best practices for communicating your move to a virtual event.

The Day-of Agenda Email

With in-person conferences, it’s easy to focus on nothing but the event: your out-of-office message is on, you travel to the event, walk the vendor maze and track down a branded stress ball to take home. In essence, you’re eating, breathing and sleeping the conference.

Virtual conferences are different. It’s not as easy to simply turn everything off and focus solely on the topics of the day.

With that in mind, we recommend sending day-of agenda emails to participants. This gives participants a quick and easy snapshot of the day’s events, allowing them to see what topics are up for discussion and identify the topics that mean the most to them. This helps facilitate participants getting the most out of your virtual event.

Communicating Breakout Tracks Email

Most conferences have a few hours of breakout sessions after lunch. These are usually run concurrently, and participants have to choose one or the other.

In your daily agenda email, give participants a small preview of the topics so they can decide which ones they want to participate live. And, most importantly, remind participants that other tracks and sessions will be made available on-demand, if applicable.

One of the best ways to run a virtual event is to make use of simulive presentations, which allows presenters to pre-record an event while attending and responding to attendees in real-time through chat engagement tools. Participants get the best of both worlds because they don’t really have to choose between one topic track or the other.

Here is an example from Best of B2BMX:

Providing for Sponsors

One major consideration when digitizing your physical event is how to keep your sponsors in the loop and happy. In a physical event space, sponsors’ logos can be put anywhere, from programs and daily agenda handouts to banners and signs.

Getting a sponsor’s name out there for a virtual event requires a different approach. And one of the best approaches is to include your sponsors in your event emails. That way, your sponsors get the exposure they want.

Email Body

Let’s take a look at what Demand Generation Report did for its Best of #B2BMX event as a prime example. In its emails, the company included sponsors by providing a grid of logos throughout each email send. As you scroll through the message to see what topics are available to you today, you end with a collage of sponsors at the end of the email.

The company logos are placed just below the link that takes participants to the full conference agenda. Take a look:

Event Website

Best of #B2BMX took it one step further and included sponsors on the homepage of the event. When participants click on the link to the event agenda, a sidebar on the right of the screen highlighting sponsors. This sidebar remains throughout the entire event site, so sponsors are prominently displayed and broadcast to each attendee.

MarTech Today’s event, Discover MarTech, provides another great example by taking things one step further and displayed sponsors by categories:

Short Emails, Great Content

Emails — even comprehensive ones for virtual events — should be short, to the point and have a single focus that’s immediately clear to the reader. The goal is to share necessary information while keeping your reader’s attention and we have a few tips on how to do that.

Keep Paragraphs Short

Readers scan emails, before reading them. So, to capture both aspects of the reading experiences, keep paragraphs short. If you have a lot of content to share, break each element down into small paragraphs of no more than two to three sentences. You can also provide links on your different topics that allow people to click for more information if they want.

Stick to One Main Idea

Try to keep one main idea per paragraph. This will help keep your paragraphs short and to the point for your readers. It will also keep readers from getting lost in your message.

Organize Content Logically

Lastly, try to organize your content logically within an email. For example, a virtual summit email could present topics and events of the summit chronologically by the hour, by importance or by what’s going on by the day.

Write Relevant Subject Lines

Probably the most important — and most confounding — part of writing an email is coming up with a compelling subject line. This is your hook to get participants to open the email, it’s important and you need to make it count. No pressure.

Your best bet: make it short, to the point and, if at all possible, catchy.

If your email details the day’s topics and schedule, then your subject line should say something like “Today’s Awesome Marketing Summit Agenda” or “Your Daily Schedule for Awesome Marketing Summit.”

Because the subject line is the enticer to get people to open your email, try to make it relevant to the overall theme of your event. An email from the MarTech Conference is a good example of this.

B2BMX also did a good job of keeping its subject line short and representative of the email content.

When creating emails and their content for your virtual summit, keep these tips in mind. You have important information to share and you want readers to be able to digest that content quickly and easily.

How Webinerds Are Running Webinars From Home

Adjusting to a new work environment isn’t easy. Hopefully we’ve all been able to find our groove and figure out a system and routine that works for us now that many of us have been working from home for several weeks.

On top of setting up a workspace, webinerds also need a place to film and participate in webinars. Whether you participate in daily video conferencing or you host a webinar a few times a quarter, you need a home setup that allows you to go live.

To that end, we thought we’d share a few examples of how some from our webinerd community have recreated their webinar setup at home.

How Miles Szkoda Runs Webinars from His Dining Room Table

Miles Szkoda, Web Content Specialist at VertMarketers, brought his work set up home with him and hit the ground running. With two external monitors and a laptop, Miles set up camp at the dining room table to keep his webinar program rolling.

But what about background noise with loud pets? Simple: Miles creatively deployed baby gates to keep his dogs out of the room and a note taped to the back of his computer tells his family that he’s on a live program — blissful silence!

How Danielle Gilstrap Makes Her Virtual Life Look Glamorous

Not all webinar presenters want to display their home turf for all to see. The solution? Well, Danielle Gilstrap, Content Manager for Events at Laserfiche, got creative. Using features built into her smart TV (and expert use of camera angles), Danielle created high-tech greenscreen that can change backgrounds at the press of a button. She even created a calm outdoor background for her webinar!

How Sander Buitelaar Hosts Webinars from home

As a Marketing Campaign Coordinator at tray.io, Sander Buitelaar knows working remotely isn’t an excuse for poor webinar engagement. That’s why Sander broke out a second screen at home. With the additional screen, Sander can easily watch audience engagement during his events and respond to questions as they pop up.  He and his team are working hard, and they’ve been able to achieve an increase in webinar attendance in the past few weeks.

How Sathish Sakthivel Shifts Physical Events Online

Sathish Sakthivel, Business Intelligence Associate at athenahealth, spends much of his remote work time transitioning his organization’s physical, in-person events to virtualized digital experiences. Sathish’s home setup includes a laptop and an extra monitor that helps him manage the transition.

WebinarFH Tips: 

Recording Space

There’s a lot that goes into recording quality webinars, but the biggest challenge is simply finding a quiet space to record or go live without interruptions. When it comes to recording from home, that means finding a spare room or isolated space that people don’t often walk through.

As you’re deciding on a space that works for you, also consider how you can cordon off pets, toddlers or partners that can absentmindedly walk into your background or distract you while you’re on camera.

Finally, check the strength of your Wi-Fi connection in your chosen area — that may be the determining factor in whether that space will work for you or not.

Find or create good light

Once you’ve found a space or two that you think will work for your webinars, look at the lighting. Are you near a window with natural light? Are there overhead fluorescent lights?

Try a few different lighting options and see what looks best.  Keep your webcam or video feed open so you can see how the lighting changes as you face a window or adjust a lamp.

If you’re looking to invest in professional lights, there are basic and advanced lighting kits online.  They are fairly easy to set up and some even come with reflectors. Check out our recommended #WebinarFH gear here.

Have fun with backgrounds

There are tons of fun backgrounds available for you to use on video conferencing calls or webinars. Danielle got creative with her home setup by positioning herself in front of her tv that was able to display a beautiful nature scene.

There are several websites and apps that can create backgrounds for a multitude of video conferencing platforms. You can also hack your scenery by positioning yourself in front of a background of your choice. For example, a SmartTV (or any TV that can display photos) can let you swap out backgrounds on the fly. Just remember to have fun!

Consider investing in mobile gear

It never hurts to be prepared for unexpected situations. If you’re contemplating upgrading your webinar setup, consider tools that have the potential to go where you go, like a portable monitor or a mobile hotspot. Doing so makes it easier for you to produce webinars from wherever you are.

Check out this article on recording professional webinars at home for more tips and suggestions.

How to Manage Webinar Questions in an Event with 1,000+ Attendees

According to our 2020 Webinar Benchmarks Report, 41% of all webinars in 2019 hosted at least 100 attendees. And while that’s a lot of curious professionals and audience interaction, that attendance rate is about to boom in 2020 given the massive shift from physical to digital events in the wake of COVID-19.

As a consequence, webinar practitioners are moving away from the question of “How do I drive more registrations and attendance?” to “How can I manage this influx of attendees and their waves of questions?”

The Attendee Boom

We recently had to figure out how to answer this question ourselves during a recent edition of our Webinar Best Practices Series. The event, focused on how marketers can pivot from physical events to digital, saw registration increase by more than 300% our average monthly goals for the series.

To put this in perspective, ON24’s Webinar Best Practices Series generated about 1,500  registrants on average before the COVID-19 outbreak and we’d normally see about a 25% live attendee conversion rate. The particular webinar being discussed here, How to Bring Physical Events into the Digital World, had 4,682 registrants the day of the live event and a 51% conversion rate with a total of 652 questions. WHEW!

How We Organized for Audience Success

We anticipated a high turn out, but nothing like what we saw.

Our response to this exponential increase in registration was to prepare for an all hands on deck Q&A session during the live airing, consisting of three SDRs and five people from the marketing team.

The questions that came through were categorized in folders as follows:

SDR Folder

    • Any questions showing interest in purchasing or asking for a price quote was added to this folder where SDRs responded by asking if they’d like to speak to a rep and getting their contact info to schedule them right away.

Marketing Folder

    • Between sorting through all of the questions, a team of five would answer as many questions as possible relating to the general product capabilities, marketing best practices and directing said attendee to the resource that could help answer their questions.

Tech Q’s

    • This folder is dedicated to any technical difficulties the audience is having. These were positioned as high-priority and the team would work diligently to alleviate as many tech issues as possible so individuals can enjoy the experience.

Granted, not all questions were answered. After all, there were only eight of us against 653 questions. But to make sure attendees got the answers they sought, our team hosted an office hour follow-up webinar. During this event, our speaker, Mark Bornstein, and two other guests answered FAQs.

In sum, if your webinar program is facing a potential flood of attendees and anticipates a lot of questions, just remember to sit down, catch your breath and organize. Set up a meeting with your sales and marketing peers and create a plan before the event. Good luck!

Four Tips for Transitioning to a Digital-First World

Marketers are waking up to the fact that we now live in a digital-first world. And you know what? They’re pretty okay with that. After all, B2B marketers have been touting the digital revolution for some time now.

So how are digital-ready marketers adapting to our new virtual workspace? By being ready to make the switch to digital. In fact, the #webinerd community is expert at driving these digital-first initiatives. Here are three examples of how:

D&H Distributing Takes Tech Conference Digital

 

D&H Distributing’s George Gunnett, a Multimedia Designer and Video Producer, and David Labagh, a Creative Strategist, transitioned their physical #DHThread tech conference into a digital #ThreadCast experience in less than three weeks.

How did they make the transition so fast? By breaking down what they already had done and translating it to a digital environment they’re familiar with. For example, the team decided that vendors could replicate physical booths as unique channels that attendees could visit for an overview of a vendor’s services.

D&H’s virtual program also featured five hours of live discussions with 31 supplemental on-demand vendor and solutions channels. D&H even took advantage of ON24’s Facebook Live Connector to livestream its event to its Facebook audience.

The BARBRI Group Leverages Digital Events to Reach Goals

As Director of Operations for The BARBRI Group, Peter Bruce, is a huge fan of digital events. With social distancing orders in place, he and his colleagues have transitioned many of their usual physical events, such as chapter meetings, lunch-and-learns and moderated panels, into digital experiences.

What’s more, The BARBRI Group can now empower its global roster of experts to participate in its digital experiences, helping the group to connect with its community and further its legal education goals.

Robyn Hatfield Shares #WebinarFH Network Tips

Robyn Hatfield feels your webinaring from home pain. She also knows how you can overcome it. Quickly realizing the trend for meetings and events, Robyn is sharing network and connection tips for fellow webinerds. As a marketing automation and CRM professional for Accruent, Robyn knows how to work around the frustrations of spotty Wi-Fi and has highlighted ways marketers and other work-from-homers can get the most out of their bandwidth.

Four Tips for a Digital-First Approach

1) Adapt Events, Don’t Cancel

You and your colleagues have spent hours planning your event. The venue is reserved, the attendees are registered, the speakers are prepped and the equipment has been tested.

But then you get a call and the venue has to cancel.

You are still ready to go! Take a page from D&H Distributing and translate your physical event into a digital experience so audiences can stay informed and your messages can stay top-of-mind.

2) Open Up Your Experiences

Physical events have — by nature — limited attendance capabilities. Now that your event has shifted online, consider lifting attendance restrictions to reach a broader audience.

Special topic discussions or sessions may encourage audiences to participate — especially those who are interested in your brand but lack the time or resources necessary to attend an in-person event. Unless there is a reason to restrict access (and there can be), open your sessions!

3) Activate on-demand viewing

With on-demand webinars, attendees can get so much more out of your event than they originally expected. Not only does on-demand viewing give your attendees the option of engaging with more content, you may also find that more people attend and thoroughly digest more content from a dedicated virtual event because it’s convenient.

For example, breakout sessions may end up with a larger audience because registrants can now attend every session they want instead of having to pick between topics that may have been scheduled for the same time. Now, they can participate in one live session and the other on-demand.

4) Don’t forget the data

Don’t forget to check out the metrics after your event is over. Digital events and online engagement statistics give you much more data than physical events ever could.

For example, not only can you see who actually attended and engaged with each session while it was happening, but you also get a long-tail, on-demand audience that wouldn’t get from a physical event.

Don’t squander those opportunities. Make sure you capture as much data from your online event as possible and be sure to get that information to the appropriate people to follow up. Consider giving someone a special assignment to guarantee attendees are contacted in a timely fashion and with accurate information.

For more tips, suggestions and guidelines on moving physical events online, check out our other resources:

Digital Alternatives to Cancelling In-Person Events

Taking In-Person Events Virtual? Five Things to Consider

Four Steps to Communicate You’re Moving an Event Online

Jack’s Hacks: Moving a Planned Event to a Webinar

Three Webinar Lessons Learned from The Learning Network’s Study Session

In response to COVID-19, schools across the United States have shuttered their buildings for the remaining 2019-2020 school year. But that doesn’t mean students and teachers have to give up on learning. In fact, many teachers are looking for ways to connect with classes and promote distance learning.

But before those remote classes can truly hit their stride, teachers need to study up on how to run virtual classes. Enter The Learning Network, a New York Times-created resource focused on helping people teach and learn online.

Recently, The Learning Network held an event explaining its Lesson of the Day program. The premise of the webinar was to both show how educators can integrate Lesson of the Day in classes and how teachers can adjust the Lesson of the Day format to fit their students and curriculum.

But The Learning Network also provided some lessons webinar practitioners can use in their day-to-day events. Let’s take a look:

Widen Your Audience

Though most of the participants were teachers or other types of educators, a few parents and life-long learners also joined the broadcast. The hosts from The Learning Network encourage this for two reasons:

  1. When learning is incorporated into everyday activities, students see that it can be fun and doesn’t have to have negative feelings and associations, which they hope helps students see learning as a positive experience and something they want to continue.
  2. Everyone should feel encouraged to learn throughout life because it keeps the mind sharp — especially as we age.

Create A Unique Format (And Stick to It)


The Learning Network’s overall demo and its Lesson of the Day process are entirely unique to The Learning Network’s services. And these two elements both dictate the format of the webinar and its content. This means The Learning Network has a powerful format it can use to address a specified audience.

The Learning Network’s three-person panel introduced participants to Lesson of the Day, its basic formula and its guiding philosophy throughout the hour-long webinar. Participants saw a few example lesson plans and learned how to incorporate Lesson of the Day’s fundamentals into a larger lesson topic.

For example, all of the Lessons of the Day are based on an intriguing article recently published in The New York Times. Each lesson opens with an overview outlining the goals of the lesson and previews the activities within the plan.

Then, it moves on to a short warmup activity asking students to do some pre-thinking and to activate any prior knowledge on the topic. After the warmup, students read the article and then have questions for writing and discussions. These are meant to check for understanding and ask students to think critically and more in-depth about the topic.

Every Lesson of the Day concludes with “Going Further.” This is a 15-20 minute activity that extends learning beyond the single article. It may ask students to read a related article, watch a short video or complete a mini-project related to the topic. Finally, The Learning Network encourages educators to pick and choose the parts of the lessons that work for them.

Encourage Participation

Finally, each Lesson of the Day makes use of its comments section. For The Learning Network’s purposes, the comment section provides teachers with the opportunity to share how they used the lesson in their classroom and provide feedback, tips or suggestions to help others.

During the webinar presentation, attendees were able to participate in a short example warmup activity that asked participants to analyze an image. The exercise asked them what they noticed, wondered about and inferred from the photo. The topic for this webinar: Katherine the Shark’s Twitter Account!

Participants were asked to post their thoughts and comments to the group chat feed. Comments included noticing that she’s swimming close to shore, that she’s smiling in her profile picture, wondering why she’s misunderstood and inferring that she’s looking to change how people think about her.

In addition to doing the example warmup with Katherine The Shark, the staff from The Learning Network also took participants through warm-up activities about technology Easter Eggs (the kind hidden in software, not around the house during Easter) and the intro video to the Syrian version of Sesame Street. Participants were asked to try an Easter Egg connected to Google, and to infer about the values, lifestyles and points of view in the Syrian Sesame Street video.

These are great ways to encourage attendees to participate in the webinar and interact with one another. These activities also underscore both The Learning Network’s unique offering and ways participants can interact with material over a digital medium.

See The Learning Network for Yourself

The Learning Network provides free current classroom resources for every school day since they began in 1998. These resources contain lesson plans, writing prompts, activities, news quizzes and educational contests based on New York Times journalism.

Having received plenty of feedback throughout the years, The Learning Network resources are most commonly used in three ways:

  • Connect the classroom to the world: One of the main goals of The Learning Network is to help students be aware of current events and understand how they’re relevant to them in their own lives. To do this, The Learning Network produces materials in five different areas: Current Events Lessons, News Quizzes, Geography Quizzes, Lesson Plans and Teenagers in The Times.
  • Give students a voice – and strengthen literacy skills along the way: Through the writing prompts and contests, staff at The Learning Network hear from students often and they highlight the best submissions on the site. Topics in this area include Student Opinion Questions, Picture Prompts, Word of the Day, Current Events Conversation, Contests, Our Writing Curriculum and Crosswords.
  • Promote critical and creative thinking through multimedia: Because The New York Times is no longer just a black and white hard copy newspaper, the staff at The Learning Network leverage the many types of multimedia available and find ways to build them into their topics. These prompts include What’s Going On in This Picture?, What’s Going On in This Graph? and Film Club.

The Learning Network can be accessed through The New York Times website or by clicking here. You can also check out their many professional development videos and past webinars on its YouTube channel.

How Facebook Live Connector Expands D&H Webinars

At some point or another, every marketing team goes through the phase of wanting to boost both its social media presence and its engagement on channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and others. A few months back, the D&H team and I found ourselves in that exact situation, specifically for our Facebook Page. We’d seen a few other brands try out Facebook Live and thought that would be a fun way to get some eyeballs on our content, grow our follower base, and boost engagement. While it was great to see there were people engaging and viewing, we really never knew WHO was viewing, we simply had view totals.

As we focused more on capturing leads, we needed a solution purpose-built for marketers, and ON24 fit the bill where Facebook Live couldn’t. ON24 helped us bring our video content experience to life, while also capturing new leads that we could fold into our existing marketing operations processes. But while we wanted to collect contact information, we also didn’t want to lose engagement and viewership from the Facebook following we had organically built.

How Facebook Live Connector Enhanced D&H Events

Enter the ON24 Facebook Live Connector.

We were happy to learn that you can easily stream ON24 webinar content to your Facebook Page. For our events that aren’t primarily focused on lead generation and geared more for thought leadership and awareness, we now use the ON24 Facebook Live Connector to get more eyeballs on our content.

Here is a recent example so you can see the two experiences in action:

The ON24 Experience (100+ leads)

The Facebook Live Experience (200+ views)

Getting started with the ON24 Facebook Live Connector is straightforward. The first step, if you haven’t done so already, is to request that your Customer Success Manager enable the functionality for your account. Once you have it turned on in your Webcast Elite account, it’s easy enough to follow these step-by-step directions on how to configure by webinar, how to start and end the Facebook Live stream from PMXD day of your webinar, and additional caveats you should be aware of.

Tips for Implementing Facebook Live Connector

Our team now uses the ON24 Facebook Live Connector exclusively for our D&H TV Live webcast series, and we’ve picked up a few best practices along the way that should be helpful for you.

  1. Don’t forget to set the Facebook post to Public. To get the maximum amount of engagement and viewership on Facebook, I recommend setting the post to Public to ensure all potential Facebook viewers can see the live stream and comment.
  2. Collaborate with your social media counterparts. Make sure whoever manages the social channel is fully aware of your plans to use Facebook Live via ON24.  Ensure they are scheduled to monitor during the webcast time and prepared to answer questions. Prep them with FAQ docs with answers to common questions that they might receive about the specific session. Also, during the stream, be sure to be in communication via your favorite mode (text, slack, teams) just in case something comes up.
  3. Drive Facebook Live viewers to register for the Webinar Experience. Capturing leads is still a top priority for us whenever possible, so whenever people ask questions about the content on the Facebook Live stream, we encourage them to register for the event and join the live webinar experience to get their questions answered directly from the presenters.

ON24 Ranked as Top Marketing Solution in G2 and TrustRadius

We’re thrilled to announce that ON24 has been named as a top marketing solution for engaging audiences and driving business growth in two separate rankings by G2 and TrustRadius. It’s an honor to even be considered, and the fact that we were ranked two separate lists reinforces our message that today’s marketers are eager to create and deliver digital experiences everywhere their customers are.

So what happened in particular?

Well, we’re happy to say that ON24 earned both the #5 spot on G2Crowd’s list of the Best Products for Marketers and the #11 spot on its Top 50 Products for Enterprise for its Spring 2020 G2 Leader Awards. We were also ranked in the top half of the Best Software Products 2020.

ON24 also received a Top Rated product award from TrustRadius, a well-known review site for B2B software. This designation is based entirely on customer feedback via reviews, further demonstrating why ON24 is the platform marketers rely on to create and deliver engaging digital experiences.

And today’s new normal reinforces why strong digital marketing is so critical to businesses success. In fact, 91% of top-performing marketers agree that creating and delivering digital experiences is the most important factor for driving future revenue growth.

In particular, these rankings prove that interactive, data-rich experiences drive real, tangible results that digital marketers need — now more than ever. More importantly, our #webinerd community has redefined what it means to interact and engage digitally.

But we’re not stopping. Everyday, we’re going to continue to prove our position as a leading technology platform and help marketers like you bring your digital strategy and vision to life. How? By helping you develop your digital vision with the industry’s first Center for Marketing Transformation. By empowering more than 20,000 B2B marketers like you to advance digital your messages through a series of virtual event experiences. And, of course, by continually iterating and improving the ON24 Platform.

How Webinerds are Adapting to a Work-From-Home Lifestyle

Central offices provide a quiet environment that empowers you and your professional colleagues to tackle big problems. Now, those problems are being tackled from the confines of our homes, noise and all.  And, we have no idea if or when it will go back to the way it was.

Either way, transitioning to a work-from-lifestyle is no easy feat; especially for those with tiny human roommates who think they’re on the longest spring break ever.

So, what’s a webinerd to do? Take a look at how a few of our webinerds are adapting to working from home plus a few #WebinarFH tips to help your transition:

How Will Patterson’s Webinar Content is Changing

Will, Manager of Customer Advocacy at Securly, helps prepare customers for new content and new content standards for his webinars from home. He has even teased a few guest star cameo appearances to attract attendees’ interest. Who wouldn’t want to participate in more webinars with puppies?

How Franz Raymund Ayento Shares Important COVID-19 Information

As a federal IT contractor for the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), Franz Ayento and his team created an emergency webinar to provide updates on COVID-19 to staff. Ayento even made time to create a demo of the ON24 Platform that’ll be presented to management at an upcoming board meeting. The most impressive aspect of it all? He still managed to display superb multitasking skills and work ethic while taking care of his 9-month-old daughter.

How Matt Radick Adapted to His Situation

Matt works as a Production Program Manager at MedBridge and he’s had to quickly adapt to working from home while keeping customers and clients informed about important COVID-19related healthcare information. How did he do this? Well, Matt converted a closet into a home studio to record audio for product demonstrations and panel discussions for healthcare leaders.

Webinerd Tips To Take Away

As you adjust to the new normal, work-from-home lifestyle, we want to share a few tips to help you successfully #WebinarFH:

Flag and incorporate potential distractions

Working from home is an unusual circumstance for the vast majority of professionals out there. For webinar presenters, working from home can be distracting to both the host and the audience.

So, be upfront and communicate those potential distractions with your audience! Let them know what to expect in terms of background activity — and how you’re going to try and minimize it.

Patterson, for example, took those at-home distractions and integrated them into presentation and communications. He flagged that there’ll likely be background noise, integrated the reality of being at work with a young family and provided a teaser to pique audience interest: a puppy in a bowtie.

Find a way to make it work

Your home probably doesn’t have the same high-tech recording studio you use for webinars at work. The lighting may not be ideal or you just can’t get the dog to stop barking for 45 minutes no matter what you try. Just remember: It’s ok! We all know things are different right now. When times are tough, the best thing you can do is to find a way to make it work.

Take a page out of Matt’s book and find a way to make your situation work for you, even if it means making a closet a recording studio. By providing a high-quality experience, you can help your audience realize some level of professional normalcy and continue to provide important information.

Plan for the unexpected

You may be an expert webinerd, but even the most experienced presenters encounter the occasional problem. So, how can you get ahead of them while working from home?

Your best course of action is to plan ahead. Do your best to manage the unexpected and plan your events around potential disruptions. Planning a webinar recording during a child’s nap or quiet reading time, for example, can cut down on background noise. Similarly, scheduling 15 minutes to play ball with your dog outside can help encourage it to sleep during your presentation. Know that your packages are usually delivered around 11 a.m.? Move your webinar recording to the early afternoon.

For Franz and his NCUA team, preparation meant practicing and demonstrating how webinars work to upper management prior to an important board meeting.

Don’t focus on perfect

Mistakes happen. Even the most seasoned public speakers know this and, more importantly, know how to react (accept the mistake, highlight it and then move on). Webinaring from home provides even more unpredictability since new pint-sized office mates probably don’t have the same reservations about opening a closed office door or interrupting a phone call.

Whatever you do: don’t stress. Audiences are forgiving, especially in such unusual circumstances. Remember: while you might be frustrated with your children interrupting you, seeing or hearing your kids may be the highlight of someone else’s day.

If you need to pause your presentation to address the interruption, tell your audience what’s going on. Apologize for the interruption, laugh about it together, and then move on with your presentation.

Our chief webinerd, Mark Bornstein says, “It’s just real life, and people like real a lot better than canned. So, do what you can to avoid the tiny mistakes, but when something happens, just roll with it. Your audience will stick with you and you may find that a potential disaster turns into your best webinar ever.”

All in all, your kids are funny and your cat is cute.  Roll with it! We could all use more joy and positivity right now.  Check out more tips on dealing with the unexpected from Mark.

 

 

How Zendesk Scales Virtual Engagement Across the Globe

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.

How did Zendesk achieve such great results? As Hope Villaluna, Senior Manager, Global Online Events at Zendesk, puts it, realizing such great results comes from focusing on the values behind the company.

“We like to say we’re in the business of relationships.  We help our customers build better relationships with their customers,” said Villaluna.

Scaling with Customer Needs

When Zendesk first started using webinars to interact with customers, it hosted four webinars a quarter. It used these digital events to build trust and credibility for its company.

But Zendesk quickly realized the potential of webinars, especially when contributing to pipeline, and quickly increased its event output. Now, it hosts roughly 25 webinars each quarter and has since created a robust webinar hub, which includes educational resources, product updates and more.

Delivering Across the Globe

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.”