CMO Confessions Ep. 17: Higher Logic’s Hunter Montgomery

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of CMO Confessions, a bi-weekly podcast series discussing how sales and marketing really operates. In this episode, we talk to Hunter Montgomery, CMO at Higher Logic, a community management solution based out of the East Coast.

Hunter has more than 20 years of experience in the marketing sector, weaving his way through a variety of organizations. In July 2007, he joined Verizon Business before moving onto Vocus and, finally, Higher Logic.

Hunter has a sharp eye on cutting through the puff that’s common in B2B marketing. As we discuss in this episode, he has a learned preference for impactful action and content. I think that theme of taking the time to think things through carries well throughout this episode and I hope you all enjoy.

If you’re interested in diving into Hunter’s career as a rocket scientist, you can find his LinkedIn profile here. If you’re interested in his insights and expertise, you can find his Twitter here.

If you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcription:

Joe Hyland:        

Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of CMO Confessions. I am really excited to welcome Hunter Montgomery, CMO of Higher Logic to today’s show. Hunter, how are you doing?

H. Montgomery:

Good. Joe, how are you doing?

Joe Hyland:

I am doing great. Just, year-end wind-down, which I love. So, we’ll get into that and how you look at the end of the year versus starting the year shortly. Just to start things off, talk to our audience about what you guys are up to at Higher Logic and what you’re all about.

H. Montgomery:

Alright, great. Thanks. So, Higher Logic, we are a community engagement platform. It started off about 11, 12 years ago as a professional association based here in DC. Obviously, there are people who say there’s an association for everything and everyone, which is pretty much true. So we built in a kind of idea of community, right? You have lawyers and accountants and scientists and they’re part of an association — they want to talk and interact. And so we built this online community platform, which is perfect for them. About four or five years ago, we really started to expand out more in the corporate space — software user groups, right? B2B software. And then at last, a little over a year ago, we bought two marketing automation platforms to really expand what we do. And now we kind of talked more about engagement, right? It’s about how do you engage with your customers, your members.

H. Montgomery:

They don’t care if you’re sending an email from a platform or a daily digest from the community or a request from somebody else. They just want to know that you care about them interacting with them and you’re giving them value. And so what we’ve sort of rolled out is combining the ideas of community and really the market automation part to give this personalized, customized interaction between a company and their customers or an association and their members, which is very similar, right? If you really think about an association member is just this SaaS user, right? Every year they get to renew their membership and they want to see value in it. If they don’t see a value, they’ll go somewhere else. So we’re all about that?

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, that’s great. I think a lot of marketing mirrors politics. I was a political science major so maybe that’s just my own leaning, but I think all things in life really are local — even as we’re moving to everything being global, I get it. I think people feel more comfortable with small intimate communities and I think a lot of marketing has — and we can talk more about this — but has leaned too heavily on all quantity and just blasting out as much as possible to as big of a group as humanly possible. But it’s all about how about engagement and quality. So talk more about how your company’s philosophy on this community engagement model, how your marketing mirrors that.

H. Montgomery:

So immediate it fits very well, right? It’s all about personalization. It’s about giving your prospect if you will — or your member or your customer — the information that they need that valuable to them. It’s to your point, it’s not blasting out. “Hey, here is a webinar on a topic and I’m going to send it to my entire database where we know not everybody cares about it fit their schedule.” So we’re similar in terms of how the community works, the idea of basically with the market automation platform we added. But what we had it in there also was looking at how people interact and then give them that content that matters to them. If it’s a product they use, if it’s a community, a subcommittee they’re part of, you know, it’s how they interact with it. Like we’re doing a lot now more with AI.

H. Montgomery:

We start to learn about the people in the community and in the marketing side, what they read, what they click on, what they replied to, what questions they ask, all those things. I’m kind of starting to build kind of a digital fingerprint if you will, of what that person’s doing. And then you want to give them what’s valuable to them. That’s when marketing automation came up. “Oh, don’t send a blast to everybody,” but for marketing automation, for a long time, it was firmographic. I know what title you are, I know how big your company is, an industry it’s in, so I have a good sense of what you want to read and look at, but if I all of a sudden learned that you’re the chief customer officer, but you tend to read and interact in a different community, I can actually really show you information and content that matters to you. Not just a generic eBook of what a chief customer officer needs to know about x, y, z, right? Which is great, but maybe I have specific areas of like customer support. That’s my focus. That’s my target. All the sudden I’m getting content around that. So that’s kind of how we’re built the platform. And then obviously that’s how kind of the modern marketing person tries to look at things and every time you get more data you can do more with it.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Love it. I mean, the more relevant we can make our message and our delivery, the more successful we’ll be, right? So, I think people conceptually agree with that. It’s like breaking a bad habit. It’s easy to just flash your whole database with one message and I urge marketers to avoid that temptation.

H. Montgomery:

Part of it too is like what we’re trying to do, I mentioned the AI before, and I was talking to another guy I know, he’s writing a book about marketing in AI, and he had an example. I think it’s like BMW one of those companies, they’re basically creating 10,000 personas. Now, usually, if you have five personas of a buyer persona. That’s not a build-on and they’re great and they’re helpful. They’re good. What have you can create make 10,000? Everybody’s slightly different. The machines can learn more than you can and they can react to it. Not to scare people that marketers aren’t going to be important because you still have to understand who that buyer is, what they want, what they need, create content for them. But if you can just target that much more to somebody and that helps that much more of your click rate, you know, conversion rate — all the rates that you’re trying to track, then you can go focus on other things and stop worrying about the daily tasks. A lot of promises there. We’ll see how it comes out.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. That’s powerful. I love walking into a marketer’s office and seeing the five or six personas on the wall with a picture and their tendencies. Like, I’d love to see this 10,000 version.

H. Montgomery:

That’d be pretty cool.

Joe Hyland:        

Okay, well, that makes to me and makes me think about things we love about marketing and things we perhaps don’t. So, I’ll start with the positive side. What do you love about today’s marketing opportunities versus five or 10 years ago?

H. Montgomery:        

I like math, which sounds kind of crazy. I’m not a quant guy, I’m not math major, a history major and undergrad. But it’s made it so marketers can go to the CFO, CEO, whoever, maybe the head of sales and say, “Here is what I’m actually impacting on your sales. I can show you, I can draw a direct line from these people to your bookings, closings, revenue. I can show, I can draw a dotted line to this group saying, ‘Hey, I got them in front of your guys, somehow'” they know I’m not trying to take credit,” but when you can start to look at the math that — a company before called Vocus, we are a PR software company, but a lot of that was built on: you bring a lead-in, they convert to a demo — it was a little old school now — and then they close for win and there are rates each way, there’s your ASP. IT becomes math.

H. Montgomery:        

And if you get on the understanding of math, I mean it shouldn’t cloud everything you do. But at least you can go and say, here’s what I’m doing and if you give me more money I’ll get more of these for you. If you reduce my budget, I’m going to get fewer of those for you. So the math part and the connection with the finance side and really being able to trust it and it’s not “we think we influenced.” And obviously it’s different companies, B2B fits very well in. But that’s the one thing I do like because it gets to be cut and dry and you’re not sort of trying to have to talk smart. You can actually show some numbers.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, I love it. I think that’s a fantastic point. I love that in doing a compare and contrast to now to a decade ago when we were doing these models — it was a lot of assumptions. Your right, now like for us, we’re doing this right now actually. We have our plan for next year for revenue, and then we, based off of historical win rates, a conversion from inquiry to MQL, MQL to sales accepted, lead all the way through. We’re pretty granular. And what you said is dead on — there’s give and take. So, great, you don’t want to give us that budget. “Oh, okay. No worries. Like, you know, here’s what the marketing can contribute. It will be less than we had planned in and we do.” And then, so ON24, we then do check-ins every quarter to see how accurate we are. And, for us, a decade ago it was a little different. That’s interesting. I’ll get to the things that aren’t great in a moment, but you raised, you raised a great point.

Joe Hyland:        

I think there’s also … So if we’re going to be more quantifiable, there’s more modeling — there’s truthfully a lot more math in marketing today in data then there was a decade ago — in a lot of ways, I see geeks taking over marketing teams. You have more and more people who focus on data. I’m curious on your team if you’ve seen that shift or if the marketing personas are a little more traditional.

H. Montgomery:        

I think it kind of … there’s a few people who fit it well. They’re not quants or Geeks, but they understand the business side of it because really the numbers are about the business side. It’s one thing to understand the different conversion rates along the waterfall, but it’s why? Why is it important? Why is a booking today more valuable than the booking three months from now? And why is the ASP .. and all those things that the CFO cares about. You got to know what the CFO cares about. So we haven’t got there, I also have a younger team, so it’s almost like we’re helping them understand what marketing is going to be. I want to do email marketing or I want to do content and that’s great and they can. But Now let’s see: Did your content actually get downloads? We love that. Did it then convert — to your point — MQL, SAL, win? What do we see, how are you contributing?

H. Montgomery:

And then now they feel like, okay, I understand I got to be part of the business. I can’t just do content for the sake of content. And they’re not an indicator of that it was successful. It’s the first step So, it’s I have not brought in people and I’ve actually moved, kind of bringing an ops role. We didn’t have an obstacle here before. I’m like from an ops background, so I get the whole marketing ops and what it means and so kind of bringing people in, that’s a hard one to find. I mean, maybe, I think probably out on the West Coast it’s probably a little easier here on the East Coast. It’s still more traditional marketing people.

Joe Hyland:        

Out here, out here, everyone wants to call themselves the growth hacker, but which is really a demand gen person with a new name.

H. Montgomery:

Right, revenue, right? Revenue. What is it, what’s the new one? I can’t remember. It was like basically had of revenue or somebody in the marketing department, you know.

Joe Hyland:

Oh, you see some pretty … our office is right next door to LinkedIn’s. We see some pretty creative titles on LinkedIn.

H. Montgomery:

I’m sure.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, I think that’s interesting. We had a similar understanding of the why for a business is really important, particularly for young marketers. We have a lot of the younger marketers earlier in their career who listened to this show. It’s critical to my opinion. One, always tie yourself to revenue wherever possible and then, two, you’re dead-on like understanding why we’re doing all of this is so critical. We had someone who was running our social media a few years ago and was quite successful with it, but it was a bit of a learning curve to get to the why social influencers mattered. And, for webinars, I think ultimately where we landed was they don’t. Which is fine, we just had to change our social media strategy, but it was like, “Oh, wait, all of these people like this tweet.” Like, okay, cool. Like, what do we think that means to the business? So yeah, it’s an evolution.

H. Montgomery:        

We had one of the companies we acquired in the last couple of years, they had a really good blog. And they came over and I looked at it — like, three times as many as our blog in terms of people that subscribed to it. And you know, my CEO is like, “Oh my God, the blog is great. You got to look at it.” And we dug into it and there are no leads there. I mean, it’s not our audience. It’s great. I appreciate it. And one of their sales guys came over with that because he’s like, we got to do like we did before. I said, do you ever see that the leads at the blog generated? I like activity but not activity for the sake of activity. It does not bring any value to what we’re trying to do. And they did keywords. It was optimized for SEO, I guess. Optimized for SEO drives me crazy. I’m sure there are markets there are companies that need to do it and it’s very valuable. But when you look at it and you realize that there’s nothing there for you. You know, we had a lot of homeowners associations. That’s not a professional association. They’re not buying our software.

H. Montgomery:        

So yeah, it’s got to connect the dots for people and understand that’s what it is. Not saying that it’s bad. It’s not our business.

Joe Hyland:        

Focus is a powerful and beautiful thing in life, right? And understanding markets you were going to play in and double and triple down in versus those that are just a distraction I think is, man, that can save so much time and energy and money. Okay, cool. Let’s get back to the original question. Okay. We went over things you love. What about things that frustrate you or you just, you just hate about the marketing landscape?

H. Montgomery:        

Well, I think I kind of jumped the gun. I think that last one I kind of overstated. So, I think you mentioned a little bit about, for a long time social, right? Social’s gonna be the greatest thing ever; you can’t scale it, you can’t track it, to your point. That kind of helped with the SEO. I think SEO was way overplayed in my, in the companies I have been part of. Again, I’m sure there are businesses were they very important. I think the other thing is, and you alluded to, we talked about a little before we got on the call and that is kind of the tech stack. Six or 7,000 tech solutions now in the Martech one, you know, Scott Brinker’s thing, which is great. And it was 150 in 2011. I mean the sheer number that these little point solutions can solve all your problems or you’ve got to put them all together yourself, is crazy.

H. Montgomery:        

And I love the tech side. As I said, I was the op side. I liked for efficiencies. I like to find an advantage you can have. But there’s, I don’t know if there’s really 7,000 advantages out there.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. And we talked about this for a second before we started. It’s 10 times worse out here in San Francisco. Scott was on the show a couple of months back, great guy. What a gargantuan effort this has become. He’s got a research team behind it now because I think the last one was like 67, 6,700 companies or something crazy. But yeah, you’re right. It was 150 in year one. So in year one it was just him doing it was like pretty easy, right? Yeah. Everyone and their brother has a little kind of B2B marketing company right now out here. It’s like, you know, two guys in a cat and their garage.

Joe Hyland:        

I think what’s interesting about it, and quite, quite, quite dangerous, is so many of these companies have received funding from these venture capital firms. They have money that they need to deploy. They’re placing bets, if you will. If three or four out of 10 bets work, they’re successful. That’s generally their model. So, you have a lot of these companies who have raised one or two million and so it feels like a quasi-legitimate organization and it doesn’t solve enough of a business need to justify their existence. And so yeah, it’s out of control in ,y opinion.

H. Montgomery:        

Yeah, it really is. That and it makes it hard to find things out there. And how do you sift through it all?

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. And it’s all in. You alluded to this just a moment ago, anyone thinking that technology will be a silver bullet or, you know, kind of this one-size-fits-all solution and then they’re like, they’re really missing the boat. It’s all gonna work together. So a lot of these techs, it becomes your problem to now implement it, which is not how this needs to work. If it doesn’t connect to your marketing automation or your CRM, I mean forget it. So, and we’re both technologists, we work for technology companies, but I will always advise people to be considerate before they bring in tech to their org.

H. Montgomery:        

Yeah. And then, all of a sudden, you get a bloated budget potentially. You know, you add this thing here and that thing. All of a sudden, someone looks, you said you have a hundred thousand dollars for the software in marketing and what are you doing? And because, it’s SaaS, a lot of times you don’t have to get into. It doesn’t go through it. Right. And you just need somebody to hook it into Salesforce or hook it into your market automation or, to your point, it just gets a little bit out of control and then you become an IT guy.

Joe Hyland:        

It’s true. I mean it happens fast. I think it was Gartner, four or five years ago, who predicted that you know, it was probably around now 20, 18, 2019 CMOs would have a higher budget than CIOs. I think that I think they were right. It’s occurred.

H. Montgomery:        

They were right because it’s gotten easier because now these things do work better together. And out of the box, they work your marketing automation and out of the box they work with Salesforce. That’s always sort of the sticking point: How do I integrate it? But now it’s easy.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, it’s easy. Yeah. Last word on this for me: focus on things that will solve your use case if your use case. If your use case is Demand generation. Great. Double down on what will yield a greater return. I’m buying things because they’re nice to have. I mean, you’re just being irresponsible.

H. Montgomery:        

Absolutely right.

Joe Hyland:        

It’s like a PSA from you and I. Okay. So you guys are big in the engagement space, particularly on the community side. I’m curious to get your take on this move for marketers to own more of customer engagement. Again, if we do a compare and contrast to five or 10 years ago, I felt five or 10 years ago, it was rare for marketers — particularly in the B2B world — to own kind of post-sale. Oftentimes marketers said, “Hey, once someone becomes a customer, like, our job is done.” But I’m seeing more and more marketers really care about the customer experience and that customer engagement. So I’d love to get your take on, on this movement and kind of how you guys feel about it.

H. Montgomery:        

Yeah, I completely agree with you. We’ve seen it on our end. I’ve been in companies where marketing didn’t even touch the customer. One of the things I’ve seen, at least the customer side is, it has become a bigger deal, right? “Customer, customer, customer,” last couple of years, right? Everyone’s talk about it. There’s so many different places where the customer could sit. There’s renewal. There’s upsell if that’s your model. And then there’s having the whole, “Oh, we’re now we’re going to bring a Chief Customer Officer In” And where do they fit? Do they fit under the CEO? Do they fit under operations? Do they fit under sales? So the customer kind of gets lost. But the one group is sort of a neutral arbiter the whole thing that kind of a neutral friend, if you will, is marketing. Because it’s getting good content.

H. Montgomery:        

Hey, you know, here’s a webinar, here’s content. Yes, it’s, we’re using for a prospect. It’s about the same problem that you had before or issue or topic. So, by default we kind of accepted it and we went out and said, hey, you know what, we’re gonna shifted a woman on my team to just do customer marketing. We weren’t doing it before and she helped the upsell team, right? That was an easy traditional generate leads for them. We do a soft, very, a kind of relationship way. Did a monthly newsletter from the customer success people, but we generated it, but you still have that, “Okay, well who really owns their renewal rate, who really owns how are we going to support them in the right way they need?”

So it’s a little bit in a flux in all honesty. But as I said, it was a great opportunity for marketing to come and say, look we just want to make sure they’re happy. And can provide content and help and if they want to learn more about other products we will be able to give them the opportunity to raise their hand. That’s all we say. But it’s such an important thing now for organizations that they all have to figure it out. And we’ve gone through a transition internally here and I think we figured out, but it took a little time, you know? And there’s a lot of History of people doing this for the last 15 years in a new way. People think that it really needs to be done and for B2B, obviously, B2B is a different model than, obviously, a B2C or manufacturing or you know, whatever.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. And you reference the SaaS model a little bit ago and, you know, 10 or 15 years ago when you were selling an on-prem, bigger upfront cost. And then there was just a small maintenance component. It kind of mattered less. It matters a lot more now.

H. Montgomery:        

Yeah. It does impact. And back to your point, there’s tools now for it, right? You have the customer success platforms like Turn Zero, To-Tango, Gainsight. They’re leveraging that. Everyone’s jumping in. Everyone wants to be helping the customer.

Joe Hyland:        

It’s a big space. It’s actually kind of funny because your business, my business would not exist without our customers. I mean, I know that’s such an obvious point, but like, man, do we lose sight of obvious points in business? And so I had a friend of mine who works for another company here in the city, a pretty big role and he said, “Well. Listen, the only thing that matters is, is our upsell numbers for our customers.” And I said, “I don’t know what if, what if your customers are happy? Like where does that fit in there?” And he was like, “Well, yeah, yeah, that too.” I’m like, “Oh, okay. I don’t know if this should just be like assumed.” And I love it when, when the business strategy gets in the way of what’s actually best for the customer.

So, I think you’re right: marketing can play a pivotal role because we have no revenue targets, we really just want to make sure the customers are getting the best content, what’s, what’s best for them. So I strongly feel marketers should play a bigger and bigger role. Because if this sits on the sales side, and I mean to throw no stones here, sales will naturally lean into upsells. Great. You want them to. But I don’t think they should be the arbiter of ensuring that customers are in fact happy.

H. Montgomery:        

Right, right. Or really no… it’s trying to be a consultative approach where I look at the customer and say, “Wow, they’re struggling with this. I think it’d be a good opportunity.” Yeah. Maybe there’s an upsell versus recommending the wrong thing because they’re just trying to get through their upsell. Like, propagate, versus B or, where b really would fit them. But A is maybe on the spiff list. Someone has to have, truly have the customer’s best interest in mind and it pays off long-term. It’s that balance. Short-term, long-term retention, long-term revenue. You get somebody to buy another product or upsell for three more years versus the wrong one. And they canceled it after a year.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah. That’s not good for the business. You mentioned ToTango and Gainsight and kind of this industry which has sprung up over the last 10 years for customer success. Love to get your take on this. Another thing I think that is interesting for companies is, and I think a lot of companies are getting it wrong, is CSMs didn’t exist eight or 10 years ago. Now every organization has at least who cares about the renewal basis, has a pretty big team of CSMs. Most CSMs though, how do I say this in an eloquent way? Most CSMs come from the client side and they want to ensure people are, you know, the clients are happy, which is great. But I don’t think they were necessary — they may have struggled to see the connection between happy customers and how a business is fully successful. I feel like a lot of companies have thrown a lot of bodies on the customer success side, which is great, but there’s not necessarily a strategy for how we holistically communicate with our customers. It’s almost like you have, if you have 50 CSMs, you have 50 communication strategies. There’s no like centralized plan.

H. Montgomery:        

Right, right. Yeah. I mean I think because, to your point, they all can have different even metrics. Is it NPS? Is it renewal rate? Is it upselling? They do, but I think that I do think it’s maturing. I do think that the idea of CSMs and having … you know, we have a woman here who manages all our CSMs and she also managed all our community managers. We’d have to have them for our professional services and our customers can use us for their community management services. So she comes from that. It’s all about engagement, interacting and making these … it’s one of our best services because it’s running a community is not a light lift. That’s her background. And I think that’s how she approaches she almost his approach to CSMs as community managers, even if they don’t have any community.

H. Montgomery:        

So I think, to your point, you kinda need the right person leading that group. So everyone sort of understands it. It’s, “Here’s how you’re going to communicate, here’s the outcome that we care about. And, but at the same time, you still ask how do you balance the upsell number if you have a strong retention number?” We have a very strong retention number, right? So everyone’s like, “Okay, what do we do?” Do we need fewer of them because our retention number is not an issue and then? No one, I think has solved it yet. I mean that’s the good thing is there’s an opportunity for people to get it right.

Joe Hyland:        

Yeah, I agree. And when you, you said it. Well, it’s, it’s understanding the why, right? As long as the, as long as that side of the organization understands what the real metric is and what we’re trying to accomplish. I think you’re on the right path to success. Right? So Listen, Hunter, this has been fantastic. I could do this for multiple hours, but I’m going to be true to our format and stop at half an hour. I really enjoyed the discussion. Thank you so much.

H. Montgomery:        

No, thank you. I love the opportunity and good luck with everything.

Joe Hyland:        

Awesome. Thanks, man. Thanks.

How to Streamline Webinars Ops with Integrations

This post was originally published on heinzmarketing.com. Syndicated with permission.

Last week, we debuted a new blog series: The Road to Webinar Success designed to help you better plan, think about, and utilize webinars in your broader demand generation initiatives. Our first installment covered a brief background on the value of webinars as well as their effectiveness, and also dug into The Power of Panel Webinars. If you haven’t yet, go back and read that blog to get yourself oriented.

This week, I want to look at what it means to streamline your webinar operations using integrated tools and technologies. What are the values of integration? Who are the key stakeholders involved? What do you need to consider when it comes to integration? That’s what we’re here to find out.

An overview on streamlining webinar operations with integrated technologies

While the functionality of an individual tool matters, at some point, you’re going to need it to start sharing information. With robust integration between your webinar platform and the rest of your marketing tech stack, you can streamline operations across your sales and marketing initiatives.

Why should you care about streamlining webinar operations with integration?

To act on buying signals

Today, marketing is all about identifying signals and acting on them, and while we’re in no short supply of tools to identify what people do, when, and where, siloed tools makes acting on those signals much more difficult.

To react more intelligently

When your data is effectively integrated, you can identify prospect actions across your tech stack and better understand how best to follow-up on that action, without the manual data pulls. If a lead attends a webinar, sales can be notified to follow-up. If a lead registers but doesn’t attend a webinar, they can be added to a specific nurture program. If a lead asks a question on a webinar, an SDR can answer immediately. With the right integration, you are able to continue the conversation rather than reaching out cold.

To reduce manual workflows

Automation allows you to reduce the amount of manual processes to get the data you want before, during, and after a webinar. It also makes possible to develop programs or see new angles to data that were previously too difficult or too risky to do manually.

The ability to integrate helps mitigate risks with tricky data, and it allows you to focus your time on more important facets of your role, rather than spending hours sifting through data trying to decipher what’s actually relevant.

To share data across sales and marketing

When your webinars are integrated, sales and marketing can be better aligned when it comes time to engage a lead. With your webinar data being shared across systems, both teams know how leads have engaged in your webinars and can more thoughtfully route them accordingly as part of continued nurture.

When it comes to integrations, anything that speeds up the sales and marketing process is beneficial. Anything that delays it is a problem.

To improve data and reporting capabilities

Gain a single source of truth not just for your webinar data, but also the role it plays amongst your broader sales and marketing activities. With this, you can simplify reporting and analytics and ensure that marketing, sales, and executive leadership are all looking at the same data to see reports with the same lens.

With integration, you are also able to build a process around how data is collected and acted on, getting the right data in front of the right people at the right time.

The more you can do to automate your workflows with inputs from integrations, the more you can do to drive the business forward.

When should you consider streamlining webinar operations with integration?

You should never not think about the possibility of integration.

The minute you have two systems, you should ask if they’re able to talk with each other. Consider using this play when you want your webinar program to play a larger role in your marketing strategy, you’re tired of manually sifting through webinar data, or your marketing, sales, and executive teams all lack a central data source.

You may also want more transparency and reliability in your data and reporting. Maybe you want tighter alignment between sales and marketing before, during, and after a webinar happens. Or perhaps you want to improve your lead conversion rates, follow-up actions, and broader lead engagement tactics.

Who are the key stakeholders involved in streamlining webinar operations with integration?

When it comes to integration, your marketing operations team should lead the charge. However, they should be sure to work with both sales and marketing to identify what tools need to be integrated, what inputs need to be involved, and what signals need to be tracked.

Want more?

Now that you know the principles of streamlining your webinar operations, it’s time to put it all together. To learn how to do this and much, much more, join us at ON24’s Webinar World 2019 from March 11-13 in San Francisco, CA! PLUS save $500 and get free tickets using the code “Heinz_VIP” at checkout!

Watch keynote presentations, join breakout sessions, and participate in interactive labs all designed to help you utilize webinars and engage for action.

We’ll see you there!

Can’t make it to Webinar World? Join us with a panel of experts from ON24, Netline, Sketchdeck, and DemandBase for our Panel Webinar to Drive Engagement, Action, Conversion, and Loyalty. Learn More >>

A User’s Guide: Navigating ON24 Target

Earlier this year we introduced ON24 Target, our approach to helping marketers personalize, distribute and measure content performance across personas from a single system. Powered by the ON24 Platform, Target provides marketers with access to their best assets, from webinars to videos to white papers, match the highest-performing pieces to specific personas and drag-and-drop that content into a personalized content experience.

ON24 Target is a new product and it’ll take some time for users to familiarize themselves with the product. To get you more comfortable with Target, we’re putting together a small series demonstrating its abilities, interface and more. For the segment, we’re going to dive into how to access and navigate Target.

Accessing Target

Accessing Target is simple. Log into the ON24 Platform and look at the left-hand column. There you’ll see several icons. Click on the fifth icon the one with mountains to gain access to your Target dashboard.

This is your Target dashboard. Here you can see a list of your content experiences and organize them by creator and project. To create a new content experience, simply click the orange “Create Experience” button at the top of the dashboard.

Select the Gateway you want your content experience to be associated with, enter a title and write an abstract. Click “Create” and enter Target Experience Creator. You should be on the “Attributes” tab.

How to Use Target

Okay. Let’s take a look at the Target Experience Creator dashboard. You’ll notice a sidebar on the left with buttons. These are your Target creation tabs. From top to bottom you have “Attributes,” “Layouts,” “Content,” “Widgets,” and “Styling.” Each will take you to the main sections of ON24 Target’s editor.

At the very bottom of the tabs sidebars are two buttons. The first icon, the eye, is your preview button. Click this at any time to see your Target Experience as your visitors will see it. The bottom icon, the arrow pointing up, is publish. This will push your Target Experience live.

Attributes

The attributes page lets you adjust your Target Experience’s attributes. This includes the experience name,  your campaign code (if the experience is a part of a larger ABM campaign, for example), abstract and more. This is also the tab where you’ll set up your registration page and security (if necessary) and set a thumbnail.

There are more complex elements to dig into, like Domain Filtering and add HTTP Referring, but for now we’re going to keep things at a high-level to get you up and running. Let’s take a look at the “layouts” tab.

Layouts

The second icon from the top (the one that looks like a Piet Mondrian painting) takes you to your “layouts” tab. When you click on the “layout” tab you’ll see three main areas. On the far left are your tab buttons, where “attribute,” “layout,” and other sections are listed.

To the right of the tab buttons is your editor section, which is where you’ll select Target Experience layout. You’ll also see this section in the “Content,” “Widgets” and and “Styling” sections. To the right of the editor column is the Experience Editor pane.

The Experience Editor is a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor. Any changes you make in your Experience Editor, from ”drag and drop” content, to changes in color, font size and more, will be reflective of what your visitors will experience.

Finally, there’s the editor column. In the editor column, you’ll see five Target Experience templates. Simply click on an experience to change the layout of your Target Experience page.

Content

Below the “layouts” button you’ll see the “content” tab. Here, you’ll see the content selector in the editor section. You can select which account you’ll pull content from, search and filter content. To filter your content, click the three lines to the right of the search bar. Three filter options, “Sort by,” “Type Filter” and “Date Filter,” will pop up below the search bar.

With the “Sort by” filter, you can filter content by date created and content type. The “Type” filter lets you fine-tune the content types you want to see in the editor section. Options include “Document,” “Video,” “Webcast,” “Webcast Video,” and “Webpage.”

Finally, the “Date” filter allows you to sort content by when it was created. Your options here are “Last 30 days” and “Last 90 days.” You can also load more content into your editor section by simply scrolling to the bottom of your content list and clicking on the “load more” button.

Widgets

Below the “content” tab is the “Widgets” tab (identified by the icon with four squares). The widgets section is a work in progress — the “contact us” tool being the only widget so far — but here you’ll be able to select widgets and drag and drop into the Experience Editor pane.

Just in case you’re curious, “contact us” tool provides visitors with the ability to connect with a salesperson or other point of contact with one click.

Styling

Finally, there’s the “styling” tab (look for the icon with the paintbrush and pen). Here, you can change, adjust and style the look of your Target Experience. You can adjust the background color, add a gradient, upload a background image adjust foreground colors, adjust header and body text, style tiles and select display options.

If your organization has a pre-established style, you can click on the “Inherit Content Gateway Styling” switch at the top of the editor section to inherit a style from your content gateway.

8 Ways Panel Webinars Provide Marketing Power

This post was originally published on heinzmarketing.com. Syndicated with permission.

With a panel webinar in your tool belt, you can give your prospects, leads and customers an authentic experience while engaging them far more meaningfully than with traditional assets. And, all while demonstrating your organization’s thought leadership with the added bonus of third-party endorsements from your panelists.

So, why should you care about panel webinars?

To Stand Out

Webinars have been done the same way for a long, long time, essentially comprised of one-sided PowerPoints, linear presentations, and a feeling of being lectured at. With a panel webinar, however, you’re able to foster much more fluid conversations not just between your panelists, but with the audience as well.

To Drive Authenticity

With a panel webinar, you become more approachable, more interactive, and more conversational. And these, in turn, highlight the more human, the more authentic, side of your organization.

To Gain Actionable Insights

Panel webinars allow you to engage leads in a much more powerful way — to make them a part of the conversation. And the more you involve them, the better you’re able to qualify them based on questions they ask and polls they respond to.

Through their interaction on the webinar, you are able learn more about them and move them through the funnel more effectively. And with this data, you’ll also have an easier time handing these leads to sales.

To Save Time and Resources

Most experts find panel discussions much easier than presentations. They’re more conversational, require less prep, and aren’t nearly as demanding as more traditional webinars are. Because of this, it will likely be much easier to get speakers to participate.

When Should You Use Panel Webinars?

As Mark Bornstein, VP of Marketing at ON24 says, “No matter where a lead is in the buyer’s journey, a conversation can be just as effective as a presentation.”

Top of Funnel

At the top of funnel, panel webinars can be used in a number of ways:

  • To establish your organization as a thought leader and trusted adviser
  • To generate net new leads with value-added content
  • To generate demand for and awareness of your organization’s expertise and focus areas
  • To drive deeper, more meaningful engagement amongst top of funnel leads

Middle of Funnel

In the middle of the funnel, panel webinars should be used to further qualify lead intent with more technical, educational topics that work to differentiate your brand. You can also use them to address use cases and scenarios by hosting a panel of customers who speak about their experiences with your product.

Bottom of Funnel

And at the bottom of the funnel, panel webinars can be used to speak to your core product capabilities with a panel of engineers or product managers, up-sell or cross-sell by promoting new features and product launches, and validate your organization with customers speaking to your expertise.

How Much Time Do You Need to Prepare a Panel Webinar?

When planning a panel webinar, you should give yourself between 6-8 weeks to prepare. This will ensure you have your resources planned, promotions mapped out, and topics and speakers confirmed.

Like most webinars, a panel webinar should be between 30-60 minutes. This will help ensure the audience stays engaged the entire length of the session and reduces the possibility of drop-off.

Who Are the Key Stakeholders Involved in a Panel Webinar?

Who’s responsible for what in a panel webinar?  Here’s a quick view of the roles and responsibilities:

  • Marketing: Strategy, Planning, Production, Promotion
  • Sales: Promotion, Lead Engagement, Follow-Up
  • Moderator: Discussion Guide, Time Management, Audience Input Management
  • Panelists: Subject Matter Experts, Strong Speakers, Engaging Perspectives

How Do You Produce a Panel Webinar?

Now that you know the principles of producing a panel webinar, it’s time to put it all together. To learn how to do this and much, much more, join us at ON24’s Webinar World 2019 from March 11-13 in San Francisco, CA! PLUS save $500 and get free tickets using the code “Heinz_VIP” at checkout!

Watch keynote presentations, join breakout sessions, and participate in interactive labs all designed to help you utilize webinars and engage for action.

We’ll see you there!

Can’t make it to Webinar World? Join Matt Heinz and a panel of experts from ON24, Netline, Sketchdeck, and DemandBase for our panel webinar, “Cut Thorugh the B2B Noise: Drive Engagement, Action, Conversion, and Loyalty.”

Heinz Marketing On: The Road to Webinar World 2019

This post was originally published on heinzmarketing.com. Syndicated with permission.

So much of what constitutes sales and marketing today is noise, and while noise may keep prospects busy sifting between what’s important and what’s not, it doesn’t do much to tip the marketing scales in your favor. Noise doesn’t stand out. It doesn’t get noticed. It doesn’t drive interest, engagement, urgency, or, most importantly, action.

But as we all know, creating content that resonates with one persona is hard enough. Doing so for multiple, across companies and industries? Well, that’s another story altogether. When today’s buying committee is made up of at least six people, and one in two consumers completely disregard content they deem irrelevant, what’s needed to drive meaningful, scalable engagement? How can you take into account your targets’ different roles, responsibilities, preferences, and concerns? How can you be sure what you’re sending prospects is actually valuable?

These are just a few of the questions we, as B2B sales and marketing professionals, must consider. But the answers are much harder to find. And while there may not be a silver bullet to solve all of our engagement woes, there is a tactic that can, at the very least, help to point us in the right direction — webinars.

With ON24’s Webinar World right around the corner (which you can get free tickets to using code “Heinz_VIP” at checkout!), we’ve been thinking a lot about the usage and effectiveness of webinars as a means to drive meaningful, scalable, and profitable engagement. In fact, according to ON24’s 2018 Webinar Benchmark Report, 95 percent of practitioners agree webinars represent a key part of their marketing and lead generation efforts, as well as:

  • 76% reporting webinars enable them to reach more leads
  • Over one-third (38%) considering webinars to be ‘critical’ to their digital communications
  • Half of those surveyed consider the quality of leads generated through their webinars to be above average
  • And eight in ten respondents report webinars help lower their cost-per-lead

Clearly, webinars possess a lot of value. The question now is: What are the different plays, tactics, and strategies around webinars you can utilize to uncover this value for yourself?

To help you get (and stay) on the right path to achieving webinar success, we’re excited to announce our new blog series — The Road to Webinar World 2019. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll share with you a new webinar tactic to help you do everything from planning, measuring success, and integrating a webinar program into your larger marketing strategy.

Here’s a calendar of what you can expect:

  • 2/20 The Power of Panel Webinars
  • 2/26 Streamlining Webinar Operations with Integrated Technologies
  • 3/05 Driving Webinar Success with Your Internal Teams
  • 3/12 Building an ABM Program with Webinars
  • 3/19 Using Webinar Data for Research and New Content
  • 3/26 Tracking Webinar Performance
  • 4/02 Extending the Life of Your In-Person Conferences
  • 4/09 Developing Webinars for Key Opinion Leaders (KOL)

Keep an eye on this space, the ON24 Blog, for these posts and more as we head into Webinar World 2019 and beyond.

3 Sessions We’re Looking Forward to at Webinar World 2019

How can you get more engagement from your webinars? Learn the tips, tricks and tactics that make webinars work at Webinar World 2019.

This is my second year attending ON24’s user conference, Webinar World. We’ve got a strong, loyal base of demand gen users in the tech industry and you’ll meet a lot of them at our event. But this year I’m excited to see customers outside of tech talk about using our platform in really cool ways.

For example, HVAC manufacturer Jacksons Systems will share their secret sauce for bringing product training to life – hint hint, they’ve added video to their webinars.

Using Video with Jackson Systems: How to Captivate Audiences with On-camera Presentations

TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 2019 at 1:45 – 2:15 PM – BREAKOUT SESSIONS, ROUND 3

You’d think adorable puppies have no place in a webinar about HVAC controls, but the manufacturer Jackson Systems proves us all wrong by showing that making content fun and relatable through video makes a big impact, no matter the industry. Join Tyler Hershberger, Production Director at Jackson Systems, for a deep-dive into video-based webinars, from humanizing your content to mastering advanced video techniques to adding new technology.

You’ll learn how to:

• Add video to your webinar strategy

• Use video to bring content to life

• Build the right tech infrastructure for video

Morningstar, a giant in the financial services world, will give us a sneak peek into the complete reboot that they gave their webinar program. Find out where and how they use webinars to strengthen relationships with their existing customers and attract new ones.

Extreme Makeover: Learn Why Morningstar Overhauled their Webinar Program

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13, 2019 at 11:00 – 11:30 AM – BREAKOUT SESSIONS, ROUND 1

For the investment research and software company, Morningstar, content truly is king. So, when their webinars proved unworthy, the team decided to make a regime change. Join Morningstar’s, Emilie Neumeier, Product Marketing Manager and Lisa Rafdal, Marketing Manager to hear how the fintech firm totally renovated their marketing strategy with a brand new webinar program that improved the audience experience and increased MQLs by 300%.

You’ll learn how to:

• Rebuild your webinar program from scratch

• Align your webinar program with your buyer

• Use webinars across the customer lifecycle

RSM, a provider of audit, tax and consulting services, built a continuing education webinar program using the ON24 platform’s capabilities to track, report, and issue certificates. What a great way to develop a loyal client base.

Making CPE Easy with RSM: How to Build a Painless Process for Continuing Education Webinars

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13, 2019 at 11:35 AM – 12:05 PM – BREAKOUT SESSIONS, ROUND 2

With specific learning criteria to meet and thousands of certificates to issue, continuing education programs get complicated fast. Join RSM’s Allison Snyder, Senior Marketing Specialist, to learn how the ON24 Platform helps make it easy to run continuing education webinars across any industry, from reporting to tracking to self-service certificates.

You’ll learn how to:

• Build a webinar program with CE in mind

• Optimize the ON24 platform functionalities for CE

• Roll out a CE program at your own organization

These are just a few of the many sessions that will be going on over the two-day event so if you want to learn more check out the agenda here. Hope to see you there!

Webinar World 2019: Getting to Marketing Innovation with Cheri Keith and Joel Harrison

The rapid climb in social media spend, the advent of account-based marketing and the need to design everything for mobile — all of these changes to marketing took place within the past ten years. And while it feels like marketers are just starting to get a feel for the digital ground underneath their feet, the reality is that rapid change is going to keep coming.

Marketing’s evolution has gone into hyperdrive thanks to advances in technology, but good tech isn’t the only factor for innovation. Today’s game-changing marketers aren’t the ones adopting new technologies, but the ones who use tried and true marketing tactics to drive innovation.

To help marketers identify the elements of innovation, Joe Hyland, CMO at ON24, Cheri Keith, SiriusDecisions Senior Research Analyst and Joel Harrison, B2B Marketing Founder and Editor-in-Chief, will down together at Webinar World 2019 and discuss the differences between hype and reality and what makes for an innovative marketer.

Join us on Wednesday, March 13 at 9 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, California to take part in this panel discussion and learn the elements of innovation.

What You Can Expect at Webinar World 2019

This post was originally published on dmnews.com, shared with the author’s permission.

It’s a virtual event, it’s a physical event, it’s a worldwide webinar. Webinar World, hosted by the leading webinar and virtual event platform ON24 will be drawing Webinerds to San Francisco again for three days of education and networking, March 11-13. DMN will be there, and we’ll be looking out for two characteristic elements of ON24’s annual event: granular instruction on the ways to do webinars right, and input not just from ON24 customers, but from other technology vendors — a sign of the respect ON24’s offerings command among the company’s peers.

The world a webinar

“A whole conference devoted to webinars?” That’s the kind of question which might be asked by anyone who still views webinars and comparable virtual events as optional add-ons to their strategies for engaging with customers, partners, and even employees. Central to ON24’s proffer is that virtual events can, and should, be at the core of such strategies — not just because they’re effective as live events, but because of what might be called “long tail” benefits. Webinars can engage an audience in real-time, of course, especially with Q&A and polling features, but can also have a productive after-life as on-demand content for anyone unable to attend the original event. They’re also great tools for capturing data about engagement right when the engagement happens.

Mark Bornstein, ON24’s VP of content marketing and official Chief Webinerd, lays out the benefits of webinars as follows:

  • Ease of deployment and persistence of content
  • Tote bags are great for picking up pieces of paper, but people now expect to consume content digitally
  • Product demonstrations can happen right away; no scheduling
  • You capture every conversation, every single action: poll responses, responses to CTAs, the chat log, etc.
  • Much faster marketing to sale hand-off; instant CRM.

The relevance of the above to Webinar World is that it puts these theories into practice. It goes without saying that attendees get to witness live content, and engage with speakers and panels directly, as well as networking with their peers. But the conference also re-invents itself — on the fly, as it were — as virtual content for on-demand consumption. Here’s last year’s Webinar World, still packaged for consumption by many more people than actually attended the event. We’ll see a repeat of this strategy in 2019, demonstrating the practical long-tail value of a virtual content strategy.

Doing webinars right

It wouldn’t be Webinar World without strong educational themes for webinerds of all levels. The first day of the conference features introductory sessions, for “webinewbies” new to the ON24 offering, right down to the nuts, bolts, and widgets of the platform. But it also offers deep-dive training for habitual users, not least how to use data derived from webinars to drive other actions and campaigns.

Bornstein, of course, will be sharing his latest tips on pushing webinars to the next level, and other members of the ON24 team will be presenting a blueprint for putting webinars at the heart of ABM. But at Webinar World, it’s not just about ON24’s best practices. The audience will be hearing from a range of partners about solutions which complement ON24’s offering: for example, how it fits into an Oracle infrastructure, how to utilize SketchDeck’s design solution in a webinar context, how Box can help with email promotion for webinars, and how to use Zapier to automate webinar workflows.

Customer success stories also occupy the stage, with presentations from Merrill, Financial Engines, Splunk, SAP HANA, and others. We can’t mention all the sessions here: check out the full agenda.

Keynotes and craziness

Let’s not overlook stimulation for the mind and the senses. In the former category, we’re particularly looking forward to the keynote from Mika Yamamoto, a DMN Marketing Hall of Femme inductee, whose amazing career trajectory has taken her from Microsoft, to Amazon, to SAP, and now to Marketo as VP and GM. Among others on the keynote stage, Scott Simon, host of NPR’s Weekend Edition, and David Nihill, author of Do You Talk Funny?

In the latter category, and speaking of funny, the one thing better than the Webinerds in the Wild after-party will be the re-cap next morning from Bornstein and CMO Joe Hyland. With or without dance move videos.

DMN will be covering the event, speaking to ON24 executives and other guests, and presenting the highlights right here. Maybe we’ll see you there.

The 5 Webinar World 2019 Sessions to Up your Continuing Education and Training Game

Training and continuing education is an increasingly critical element for company success today. Employees demand it, clients crave it and some industries even require it. But producing a training or continuing education course is easier said than done — especially when you’re the one doing the producing.

To make education easier, and to help you learn a few things about the process, we’ve put together a few Webinar World 2019 sessions on digital training and continuing education. These breakout sessions will show you how you can give your training and continuing education webinars a long life, chapterize, integrate old material into your lessons and more.

Looking to improve your continuing education or training webinars? Check out these five sessions at Webinar World 2019:

Tuesday, March 11, 2019

Everlasting Webinars with S&P: How to Maximize your On Demand Strategy

2:20 – 2:50 p.m.

Live webinars or simul-live webinars for maximum training impact? According to S&P Market Intelligence, it doesn’t matter as long as you always make your webinars available on-demand. Join Laura Lopez, S&P’s Head of Client Education, to learn how to give your training webinars everlasting life through the right mix of interactivity features, curated playlists using ON24 Engagement Hub and constant promotion across touchpoints.

You’ll learn how to:

• Multiply attendees and engagement beyond the live webinar

• Encourage content binging using ON24 Engagement Hub

• Measure your on-demand webinar program performance

From Basic Training to Masterclass: CompTIA’s Approach to Virtual Learning

11:35 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.

Virtualizing in-classroom training has more to offer than just convenience, it can supercharge the value of your audience’s learning experience by offering group interactivity, chapterization for self-paced content consumption and the ability to measure course effectiveness. Join CompTIA’s Tazneen Kasem, Director of Product Management & Instructor Network and Stephen Schneiter, Program Manager, to learn how to run impactful training programs, whether that’s increasing participation of association memberships or driving more awareness for your brand. This session is based on the industry driven standards included in the trainer certification, CompTIA CTT+.

You’ll learn how to:

• Plan for webinar course instruction

• Deliver engaging, interactive training experiences

• Evaluate program impact

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Repurposing your Webinars with Align Technology: How to Use a Single Webinar Multiple Ways

1:15 – 1:45 p.m.

It’s much easier to piece together a puzzle when you can see the whole picture. The same principle applies when it comes to webinar planning — once you know all the ways you want to use a webinar, then you can quickly create and assemble all the elements. Join Align Technology’s Sr. Professional Education Manager Patricia Torres to take a step back and see how to build a holistic webinar program that can be broken into several pieces of content that serve multiple use cases.

You’ll learn how to:

• Create modular content and stitch it together with simple tools

• Gain insights from content interactivity

• Integrate multiple touchpoints into a single experience

Rock-solid Core: Learn How IBM Cloud Maximized Marketing Performance with Webinars

1:15 – 1:45 p.m.

A strong, flexible core is important for physical fitness and digital marketing. After relentless webinar training and constant measurement, the IBM Cloud team discovered that webinars are their core for building an unshakeable foundation and maxing marketing campaign performance. Join IBM Cloud’s Jim Gianotti to hear how webinars became the heavyweight champion of their marketing mix.

You’ll learn how to:

• Implement a team-wide webinar regimen focused on making webinars a core tactic

• Make webinars do the heavy lifting, benefiting other campaign tactics and content distribution

• Prove why doing webinars will strengthen your marketing campaign core

Making CPE Easy with RSM: How to Build a Painless Process for Continuing Education Webinars

11:35 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.

With specific learning criteria to meet and thousands of certificates to issue, continuing education programs get complicated fast. Join RSM’s Allison Snyder, Senior Marketing Specialist, to learn how the ON24 Platform helps make it easy to run continuing education webinars across any industry, from reporting to tracking to self-service certificates.

You’ll learn how to:

• Build a webinar program with CE in mind

• Optimize the ON24 platform functionalities for CE

• Roll out a CE program at your own organization