May 20, 2019 Mark Bornstein
ON24 has been a sponsor at the Sirius Decisions Summit for many years. It’s a great conference and a bellwether for the latest marketing trends. Every year, there are new buzzwords, “hot takes” and an onslaught of emerging technologies that are supposed to make us better marketers.
We seem to be plunging towards a future where all of our marketing will become completely automated and powered by intelligences far greater than our own. And this new world of marketing is all about digital signals. Tiny increments of data that tell us whether a set of ones and zeros would be more likely to buy something. What has gotten lost in this futuristic story? Our prospects and customers.
Well, this year something has changed. Maybe all of the talk about personalization and ABM has marketers finally taking a more customer-centric view of the world. Or maybe marketers are realizing all of this automation is starting to turn audiences off. I actually overheard one woman at the conference say “people are really starting to hate my marketing because there is just too damn much of it.” Yikes! Regardless of its origin, this year people were thinking a LOT about their audience’s experience. It’s this mindset, that could very well save marketing from itself.
More on building better audience experiences:
- How to improve audience participation in your webinar
- 3 Things Your Audience Wants from Your Webinar
- Webinar World 2018: Captivate your audience with Alex Blumberg
- 5 Ways to Make ABM About Your Audience, Not Automation
I felt this shift profoundly during the two break-out sessions I gave and the many conversations I had at our booth. Usually, all marketers ever want to talk about, with regard to webinars, are topics like how to drive higher registration or how to find better leads. This year, the focus was on how to deliver a better audience experience. And it’s about time.
To rise above the noise, marketers need to start thinking about how to build experiences that their prospects and customers will WANT to opt-in for, not run away from. All of these amazing marketing tools, and all of this great automation, were made to get us to our marketing, and lately, it has become our marketing. That’s where webinars are taking on a completely new role.
At SiriusDecisions, I talked about the “modern webinar”, an engagement-driven experience where audience members are interacting with your presenters, immersed in your content and fully experiencing your brand. The modern webinar is becoming more like TV programming than the PowerPoints many of us deliver. Instead of one-off webinars, I am seeing companies creating serialized programming, with established hosts, talking about topical issues with their guests. In many cases, these webinars don’t even have slides, just great conversation — and the audience is a part of that conversation. In these webinars, audience members are responding to polls, asking questions, downloading content, clicking on CTAs, tweeting and much more. It really is an experience. And these experiences are increasingly the tip of the spear for many marketing functions, including ABM, customer marketing and programs at every stage of the buying cycle. Wherever there is marketing, there are engaging webinar experiences connecting people to brands.
The true magic of the modern webinar is that if you build this model, something extraordinary happens: all of that engagement turns into data. Real data. Actionable data. Now instead of measuring clicks and opens, you are getting actual insights into the minds of your prospects and customers. In a recent report from Sirius Decisions, they called webinars the highest rated “human touchpoint.” This is how we put human engagement into our digital marketing.
At this year’s SiriusDecisions Summit, I could see the light bulb going on. Marketers from companies everywhere are beginning to figure out that to truly rise above the noise, you have to build immersive audiences experiences. And through these experiences, we will get much better at turning those ones and zeros into happy customers.
Want to know how you can break through the noise and connect with your audience? Download our joint report, “Break Through the Digital Noise: Drive Engagement, Action, Conversion and Loyalty.”