This is a guest post from Phillip Angerhofer, Campaign and Digital Event Manager at Qualtrics. Read his first post here.
A week-long webinar event represents a major investment of time and resources for your company and your guest speakers. Make sure your marketing strategy gets your speakers the attendance they deserve, and your company, the ROI it needs. Here’s how we promote major digital events at Qualtrics.
Set strong goals
Everyone knows you can’t measure ROI without goals, but that knowledge doesn’t always make it into practice. Companies sometimes just decide to “hold a great event” and measure whatever they always measure. That might work with an occasional one-off presentation when you’re just trying to test the water, but it doesn’t give you enough direction to put together a major digital event.
If you’re holding a webinar event because you want to drive marketing leads, that’s great! How many leads do you want to drive, and how will you measure them? Have you picked the right topics and subject-matter experts (SMEs) for that goal? If you’re simply hosting a webinar series because it’s something your community will find valuable, or a way to build your brand, that’s fine too — provided you can define and quantify your goals. How can you measure value? How will it help your company? What types of presentations will establish thought leadership?
It’s OK to cast a wide net. Qualtrics uses webinar events both as a lead generation tool and an opportunity to drive sales leads, but we still have to set goals. We know where we’re looking in the marketing funnel, and how we’re going to measure progress.
Segment your marketing database
Your contact database isn’t a list of people to shout at until they attend your events and buy your products, so don’t treat it that way. If you’re ready to hold a major webinar event, you should have detailed information on, at the very least, your more promising contacts — where they are in your marketing funnel, what segment and job position they occupy, what their interests are, and what content they’ve downloaded or interacted with in the past.
Use that data to create a refined marketing strategy, targeting your marketing leads and contacts with events and tailored language that appeal to them. If a webinar is aimed at IT, don’t send it to marketing contacts. If an event is aimed at helping managers increase productivity, it might not appeal to senior leadership, or may require different language to connect with them. You can get away with more targeted emails and InMail messages if you’re holding a big webinar event, but you still don’t want to club your contacts over the head with content that doesn’t appeal to them.
Develop your own webinar marketing best practices
Industry marketing benchmarking reports and webinar best practices are a great place to start, but they’re just guidelines. You need to be collecting data and seeing what works for your company. For example, it’s webinar marketing gospel that you’re best off sending emails Wednesday or Thursday at 9am when your marketing leads are just getting into work and checking their email. However, for some strange reason, 1pm Wednesday outperforms 9am at Qualtrics. That doesn’t make that rule a bad rule, it just shows that our market is an exception. By trying different times and measuring opens and CTAs, we can get better results than a company that treats benchmarks as gospel.
The more precisely you can measure the performance of your marketing strategy, the better your ROI will be. You don’t want to go into a major webinar event unaware that, for whatever reason, your Facebook ads never get clicks from your client’s IT department — you need that information before you start.
But webinar marketing best practices aren’t just about targeting, they’re also about flexibility. If your free social posts are leading to tons of conversions early on, make some more! If your paid LinkedIn ads aren’t getting the ROI you need, but your promoted tweets are, shift your marketing strategy. The quicker you are at reacting to feedback, the better your results will be.
Use all applicable marketing and promotion channels
Your marketing strategy starts with using conventional channels that work for you, including Adwords, LinkedIn, guest blogging, and email, but you can go beyond that. If it’s an asset that you could use to reach leads, now’s the time to put it in play. You can spoof thought leader presenters (with their permission) and send emails promoting their presentations that reply to your own webinar event team. They can be as simple as, “Hey, I hope you saw this presentation I’m giving on [topic] at [event/time]. Click to register.” The important thing is using their influence to build your event.
You should also ask presenters to promote for you, providing them sample emails or guest blogs to send to their own contacts. They’re as interested in building their own brands as you are, and many of them will be happy to lend their voice — especially if you make it easy for them by providing content they can share.
Plan your webinar event follow-up
We often come out of webinar events with 20,000 or more registrants, thousands of attendees and varying data points for each lead. If we had to sit down and figure out how to use that data after the fact, it could take us a week or more to actually follow up. And by then, we’d have lost a lot of interest and opportunities.
That’s why it’s crucial to figure out how to break up your registrants, and what you’re going to do for each group before the event is over. Who gets passed to the sales floor? Who gets dropped into the nurture track? What type of content and marketing strategy will you use for each group? We like to divide registrants into four groups based on attendance vs. nonattendance, and contacts vs. leads, but you should also look at market segmentation, position, and other factors that might affect your messaging.
Don’t forget to send out notices when the content is available on-demand! Your registrants were interested enough to register, but a lot of them have busy lives. Give your audience a way to watch the webinars on their own time, and you’ll get a lot more value from the event.
Make the experience enjoyable for everyone
Making a big digital event is a lot of work for your team, but it can also be a rewarding experience. Show everyone you appreciate their work, and make sure they feel like they have a voice in the event. Getting your team to love what they do will help you continue to get great results and up your game with each webinar event.