October 24, 2017 Tiffany Beddow
If you want to know what webinars are all about, ask the experts! Our Customer Spotlight series gives webinar producers, promoters, and presenters from leading companies a place to share their secrets for a successful webinar program. In this post, we talk to Miles Szkoda, Web Content Manager at VertMarkets/Jameson Publishing.
So tell us… why webinars compared to other channels?
Based on the topic of our presentations and how long a person remains on the webinar, we can usually gauge how interested someone is in a a topic and how qualified of a lead they are. Broader topics can usually be used to grab people who are still at the top of the funnel and just gaining knowledge and researching, while more product- and detail-specific presentations usually catch people who are narrowing down products or close to making a final decision.
What are your metrics for success? Why?
We partner with a lot of people for webinars and normally we focus on lead generation. We also try to ensure we have minimal drop-off during the webinar so we can be sure we have targeted the right audience with our messages and that we’ve developed the right content for them.
What’s your webinar promotion strategy? What channels seem to work the best for you?
Right now we focus a lot on email marketing, but we also mix in some social through Twitter and LinkedIn.
What’s your on-demand strategy? Why is this important?
We do some on-demand events and will normally promote our most recent webinars in our weekly newsletters and on social media. We often host the on-demand versions as archived copies on our website to generate leads internally, instead of through the ON24 portal since we currently don’t have a CRM system that integrates with ON24 (ours is proprietary).
How do you actually get your webinar registrants to show up to your webinar?
We use a few pre-webinar emails and a few timely tweets and LinkedIn posts as reminders. We really like the way ON24 has the pre-webinar reminder emails built into the system.
How do you continuously engage your audience during your webinars? Why is engagement important to you?
For some webinars we will poll our audience early on to learn more about them so we can tailor the presentation to them and keep the content more relevant to keep them engaged. For others we poll them throughout the presentation with questions that they would be interested to know how their peers would respond to. Screen shares are common when we have someone talking about a specific software application so that the audience can actually see how something works or we use videos to show it in a similar way.
Engagement is important because if we have people on the webinar but no one is paying attention, when we follow up with anyone afterwards or invite them to attend another webinar we’re not going to get much response. We want people to come back and to respond positively to us in the future.
How do you work with other departments to promote your webinars? Any learnings you can share?
We’re a relatively small/medium sized organization so there isn’t a whole lot of departmental separation when it comes to promotion. We have a list of promotion tasks for each webinar and we make sure that each webinar is promoted based on that list and we evaluate it regularly to ensure we’re using every channel available to us to ensure we get the most success for our partners.
What are you best practices for working with presenters?
We’ve found that you really need to ensure you understand the presenter and adapt to how they work. If they have the time available, want to understand every aspect, and have full control of everything, you need to make sure you make more time and have more time available to teach them the controls and how to use everything. If they are very busy and just want to hop on, move the slides and do their presentation, you need to be grateful for their time and cognizant of it, ensuring you don’t run over and even stopping a few minutes early so you have time for a brief wrap-up afterwards without exceeding the limit.
Normally we send presenters a meeting invite for at least 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after the webinar, but at times we’ve done 30 before if there are multiple speakers just to give more time in case anyone has problems connecting or there are any hardware issues.
As an webinar expert — or, as we like to say at ON24, “webinerd” — what tips do you have for others looking to improve their webinar program?
I think there are a lot of things people can do to improve their webinars, but really asking for feedback from your audience is one of the best places to start. You can’t get any better advice than that from the people you are trying to either influence or sell something to.