April 07, 2015 Tom Masotto
The buyer’s journey has changed due to the high-quality information now easily available to prospects. B2B technology buyers are using this information in the early stages of the buying process and aren’t engaging directly with salespeople until much later. However, as buyers change their habits, there is an opportunity for marketers to play a bigger role.
Marketers’ primary goal is straightforward: to identify new prospects and progress them from one stage of the buying process to the next, ultimately moving them to the purchase stage. But how do you guide a lead from the first inquiry to a lifetime of customer loyalty? At ON24, we know that webinars are key in moving leads from one stage of the sales funnel to the next. In fact, according to Forrester Research, webinars are the #1 marketing tactic at each stage of the sales funnel.
Many of you may be using webinars to spark general interest and increase awareness, but that’s only the beginning. If designed with the buying cycle in mind, webinars can be an extremely effective for moving prospects from awareness to purchase.
The secret to nurturing leads with webinars is delivering the right content at the right time. For example, while demonstration webinars are appropriate for bottom-of-funnel stages, they do not work well for top-of-funnel lead generation programs.
Here are some examples to illustrate how you can successfully use a webinar solution in each sales funnel stage.
Prospects in the awareness stage are researching information to learn about your company – and others – so they can begin to evaluate options. At this stage, your objective is to win the prospect over with your company’s unique approach and value proposition. An effective webinar at the top of the funnel should demonstrate your company’s thought leadership perspective and your expertise in the field. Get one of the leaders at your company on board to discuss your specific point of view and how your product is at the cutting edge of the industry.
Your prospects in the consideration stage are looking for answers. It’s now your responsibility to provide information to help move the prospect closer to making a decision. At this stage, webinars work best when they provide general solution-based content that explores typical challenges and benefits without highlighting the specifics of your company’s solution. One way to bring this to life is by having an industry leader, not a company spokesperson, host your webinar to discuss potential solutions to prospects’ problems.
By this stage, your prospects know that your particular technology is a possible solution for them but might not be convinced that you’re the right vendor. Therefore, you must influence them with the specifics of what your company offers and the benefits you can provide. In order to convey this through your webinar, call on your best advocates, customers! A customer in the same industry can describe your solution in detail and demonstrate the return on investment during a webinar. Hearing from a current customer can convince prospects that your company has a solution that can satisfy their needs.
At the purchase stage, your prospect is ready to make a decision, and you’ve made it to the list of the top two or three choices. Now’s the time to demonstrate the superior features of your solution and highlight your competitive differentiators. Try teaming up with your company’s product manager to host a webinar to demonstrate the key elements – and their benefits – that will positively influence your prospect’s decision.
Once you master the ability to tailor your webinar content to each stage of the sales funnel, you’ll find webinars extremely effective for moving prospects from one stage to the next. The equally important webinar analytics measure attendee engagement, progression through the funnel and behaviors, allowing you to identify sales-ready leads in real-time and follow up with the most qualified leads immediately.
And webinar analytics become even more valuable when integrated with your CRM and marketing automation platforms – like Act-On – and incorporated into your lead scoring and nurturing programs. So what are you waiting for? Optimize your marketing program with webinars to accelerate your prospects’ journey through the buying cycle – from the first inquiry to revenue.
Ready to learn more about lead nurturing? Access our Lead Nurturing Toolkit, and you’ll learn about the lead marketing lifecycle, lead nurturing segmentation, automated email programs, and lead scoring. We’ll give you a blueprint for implementing long-term lead nurturing programs that will deliver more leads and higher close ratios.
“Nurturing Leads With Webinars: Awareness is Just the Beginning,” as posted on the Act-On Software Blog, 4/7/15