Why B2B Marketers Need to Drive Webinar Engagement

B2B marketers are faced with a crowded, attention-sucking environment. There’s a lot of digital noise out there, so it’s important to make the most out of opportunities proven to drive engagement. As it turns out, webinars are a great opportunity. According to Demand Gen Report’s annual Content Preferences Survey, 64 percent, or two-thirds of respondents say they’re willing to spend 20 to 60 minutes in a webinar.

But simply running webinars isn’t going to be enough. For B2B marketers to get the most out of webinars, they need to build events with engagement in mind — from polls and surveys to panels and pre-event questions. In fact, Demand Gen Report hit this point home in a recent article, “B2B Marketers Look To Modernize Webinar Experiences By Promoting Two-Way Engagement.

Click the links below to learn how webinars engage:

Making Way for Two-Way Dialogue in Webinars

Demand Gen Report’s Brian Anderson sat down to chat with several webinar experts to discuss how B2B marketers can craft webinars with engagement in mind and collected several great tips. Among those tips is providing opportunities to drive two-way dialogue in webinars.

When folks talk about two-way dialogue in webinars a few common tactics come up. Q&A sessions, polls, surveys and chat rooms are all common tools that can easily be deployed.

Combine these tools with varying webinar formats — such as expert panels, product demos and video briefs — and you have a great recipe for two-way conversations with attendees. Presenters can watch a webinar’s chat feed and respond to questions in real-time. Polls can give them a better understanding of where audiences are at and tailor the program to suit the audience.

Prepping Webinar Engagement

But two-way dialogue extends beyond the actual webinar. For example, marketers can empower their audience and allow them to dictate the topic and questions within a webinar by asking registrants to contribute questions before the event takes place.

Elle Woulfe, PathFactory’s Vice President of Marketing, uses this tactic when promoting webinars. According to Woulfe, the results are good, telling Demand Gen Report that collecting questions ahead of time helps prepare webinar panelists and encourages registrants to attend so they can see their questions answered.

Woulfe also tells Demand Gen Report that webinars can pull in even more questions and engagement when co-marketing panel webinars.

Making More With Webinar Leftovers

Finally webinars, it turns out, are content-rich opportunities. That is, they can easily be re-cut, reused and recycled into additional content. Podcasts, small videos, ebooks, YouTube videos can all be derived from a single webinar and can further engagement as time wears on.

Old webinars are actually really solid sources of engagement, too. In fact, according to the ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report 2019, 36 percent of all webinar attendees only attend on-demand webinars. That’s a third of your overall attendees — and plenty of opportunities to drive more engagement.

For example, marketers can run old webinars as a simulive event — where a team member sits in on a replay and answers any questions that come through on chat. Marketers can also provide unique polls for attendees watching an always-on event or provide attendees with new, relevant information.

At the end of the day, B2B engagement is about knowing where audiences are most likely going to interact and reaching out to talk with them. Understanding your audience’s pain points is essential, but so is making it easy for them to share their concerns and questions with you. Find those opportunities within your webinar events and take advantage of them.

Sharat Sharan on the Marketing Metrics That Matter

By: Sharat Sharan, CEO and Founder of ON24

This article was originally published on MarketingProfs.com 

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

Over the past 20 years as CEO of ON24, we’ve pivoted several times, successfully navigated two of the worst downturns in recent memory, and become a sustainable, high-growth business.

I’m often asked what aspect contributed most to our long-term success. There are so many factors, but my answer is always the same: we became a sustainable business when we stopped looking at our marketing team as ‘nice to have’ team, but rather, as its own separate business department, one that impacts our bottomline. While I had previously thought of marketing as a softer department — one that made materials look slick — our business transformed when we transformed our marketing team from a cost-center to a revenue driver.

We did this through a range of measures, including conducting quarterly business reviews, and ensuring we hit our goals for marketing metrics that actually impact our revenue and bottomline. As we were changing the focus and goals of our marketing team, one of the struggles we found in the early going was determining what these metrics are that truly matter to our business and produce the highest ROI.

Entrepreneurs are inevitably focused on the product and sales, of course. But for CEOs looking to supercharge their growth, start measuring marketing by the metrics that will matter most to your organization’s bottom line.

Pipeline 

This one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many marketers get this wrong. In fact, many get it wrong on purpose, in order to improve their numbers. If you’re undergoing a marketing team transformation, you should take the time to sit down with your sales team and understand which leads really are moving the needle for them and why.

With the help of your sales colleagues, you should create a more narrow description of a sales qualified lead (SQL), so your marketing team can focus on the right prospects and segments of the industry to go after. For example, if your business sells to VP-level roles primarily, and rarely closes a deal with those at the managerial level, a SQL should only include those at the VP-level or higher.

Yes, your pipeline will inevitably decline when you make this change. But if you have an honest conversation with your company about how this new description will help you engage the right prospects and produce more ROI, they’ll understand the dip and be on board with your long-term approach to pipeline.

Attribution

In the same vein of pipeline, marketers should have a firm grasp of which touchpoints are working for their business. Sure, if certain platforms like LinkedIn or Google Ads are most effective at converting customers, that’s where more of your budget should go.

But beyond that – marketers should understand what I call the ‘digital body language’ of your customers. What are the actions or touchpoints that indicate a prospect will become a customer? What indications show that you’re about to lose them? You should know the most important indicators — both good and bad – that your prospects give you. Then, you should engage accordingly based off these signals.

Of course, there may be some campaigns you need to run from a brand standpoint no matter what the attribution looks like. But you should have a clear idea of the initiatives that are driving the most dollars to your organization. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment with new marketing tactics, but those tactics should be informed and guided by past successes you’ve seen and the digital body language indicators.

Churn & Customer Lifetime Value

These are two separate metrics, but they’re so interwoven that marketers shouldn’t think of one without the other. Customer lifetime value is the net profit you can expect from acquiring a new customer – a number that increases whenever you reduce churn.

Seventy percent of companies say it’s easier to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. But many marketers aren’t necessarily thinking about marketing to existing customers, because they’re too focused on trying to acquire new ones and increase their pipeline. That’s a noble cause, but it might not be the most efficient way to see true ROI on your marketing. Read the digital body language of your existing customers, and see which ones are most likely to churn or which could be open to upselling to try to maximize your ROI.

As you transform your marketing metrics, be sure to come up with a way to measure retention and upselling. You may need to pull statistics to show your executive team how valuable retaining customers is, and why you should market not just to prospects but to existing customers as well.

Overall Engagement

Looking at impressions, website visitors, and reach is no longer enough for marketers. Heck, I don’t even care how many views you get on a video.

Smartphones and the ‘always on’ culture has changed things for marketers in several key ways: It’s easier to get clicks than ever before. But it’s also harder to keep viewers engaged. CNBC reported that ads have just 5 to 6 seconds to keep Millennials engaged. One way to combat these shrinking attention spans is to tailor your content on a personal level. McKinsey found that “personalization can deliver five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend, and can lift sales by 10% or more.” Now that’s a metric we can all get behind.

Whether it’s a personalized email campaign, recommending relevant products or solutions, or engaging through chatbots, companies need to focus on how to engage with customers in a personalized fashion. And this will only become more important as Millennials and members of Generation Z join the workforce and make more purchase decisions.

Clearly, all of these numbers help marketers stand out not just as the people who make things look pretty, but as the ones who drive tangible value to their organization — and that makes marketers indispensable to any fast-growing business.

Webinar World 2019: David Nihill and Why Laughter Drives Engagement

Humor is a critical tool modern day communications, marketing and content creation. Why? Because a dose of humor can capture audience interest, making you (and your message) memorable and more persuasive.

David Nihill, speaker, author and stand-up comedian, will share his journey from a person terrified at the prospect of public speaking to an award-winning comedian at Webinar World 2019. During this keynote speech, David will explain why humor can make marketers shine, how it can add value to content and how it can help companies connect with customers on a level that inspires loyalty.

In this highly energetic, engaging and funny talk, you will learn:

  • The elements of funny by deconstructing the comedy process
  • Easy, actionable steps from world-leading campaigns, speeches and more
  • How to translate comedy principals to marketing tactics

Hear what David has to say about comedy and marketing at Webinar World 2019 on March 12 and check out his book, “Do You Talk Funny?” on Amazon.

At Webinar World 2019: Mika Yamamoto and Turning Engagement Into Revenue

Craft, adjust, finalize, publish. Then hope. Getting content out there is a process in and of itself, but capturing attention and driving revenue? At times, it just seems like it’s not a part of the process. Well, it’s time to set things right.

To learn how webinar practitioners can engage and drive results today, we’re sitting down to talk with Mika Yamamoto, Vice President and General Manager of Marketo at Webinar World 2019. During this keynote conversation, Mika will discuss the elements of engagement with Jim Blackie, Chief Revenue Officer at ON24, and lay out how engagement impacts the bottom line.

During this discussion, you’ll learn how engagement impacts revenue — especially as account-based marketing and other advanced targeting tactics become the norm — and how these two critically linked elements fit into your overall marketing process.

Join us at Webinar World 2019 on Tuesday, March 12, at 11 a.m. at the San Francisco Regency Hyatt to learn how engagement becomes revenue and how marketing and sales can work together to make it happen.

Three Engaging Channels B2B Marketers Should Use

CMOs are slated to spend nearly 12 percent of company revenue on marketing technologies in 2018. That’s great news, but a bigger question looms: is that money being put to good use? Does that 12 percent in revenue go towards boosting the company’s bottom line? The answer to that question: it depends.

It depends, mostly, on if marketers are allocating funds for tactics that really, truly work. What works? Turns out, real human engagement works best. Personalization, for example, delivers five to eight times the return on investment on marketing spend and can lift sales by 10 percent or more, according to a recent McKinsey study. But personalization, in a digital-driven age, is hard to scale without becoming — at some level — impersonal.

The question, then, is what solutions can marketers use to make one-to-one communications work at scale without making visitors feel like numbers in the database?

To answer this question, and a few others, we asked Harvard Business Review Analytic Services to study how marketers are balancing the need for human engagement with digital scale and which solutions provide better ROI for their efforts. The results are surprising. Some of the most common channels, such as social media and email, also offer great ROI — so long as they’re executed well. Here are a few avenues to consider:

Email

Email is a standard channel for engagement in both the business-to-consumer and the business-to-business realms. Emails today are sliced, segmented, personalized, delivered and seldom read. That because, more often than not, companies simply blast emails to thousands or hundreds of consumers to celebrate a product, not driving engagement.

But emails are great opportunities for engagement and ROI if used well. According to Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, B2B organizations need to slow down and build a foundation of trust, often through phone calls, with prospects before emailing them more details. Once trust is established, companies can then make detailed profiles on a prospect and use predictive analytics to guide and personalize messages. As always, marketers must ensure the language they use is personable and clear for readers.

Webinars

Webinars are powerful tools that drive engagement, hold attention for upwards of an hour and can be used in almost any situation. They’re potent tools driving real, measurable results and marketers are taking notice. According to the HBR study, 44 percent of marketers say they plan to increase their investments in webinars. It makes sense: webinars reach anywhere from hundreds to thousands of customers with real human interactions through Q&A chats, social media and more. It should be no surprise, then, that 50 percent of business leaders turn to webinars for access to business content, with 40 percent saying the format is useful for consuming business content.

When it comes to driving engagement, webinars are one of the most effective channels. But how can they be used better? Simple. Webinars offer organizations the opportunity to quickly build campaigns addressing a specific audience, craft on-demand content hubs to buttress those campaigns and develop a webinar series targeted for technical audiences and more. The versatility of webinars, ranging anywhere from short demos to streaming live in-person keynotes augmented with chat, empower organizations to create engaging digital experiences.

Social media

Finally, there’s social media. Social media is ubiquitous, compelling and engaging — if used right. But social media can also alienate prospects. It’s no surprise, then, that many B2B marketing executives are still uneasy about their companies using the channel.

But there are a few ways organizations can get more out of their social efforts. IBM Cloud, for example, divides its social messages into earned and paid social. Earned lets the company know which messages resonate with different customers at different stages of the buying cycle. After tracking and collecting data, IBM uses the most impactful posts in paid social campaigns to reach broader audiences and drive engagement where it counts.

Using Engagement to Accelerate Pipeline

The pressure to make deals close, especially as the year comes to an end, is real. But what’s a marketer to do when prospects fail to progress? According to research by SiriusDecisions, an integrated webinar strategy is one of the best ways to make deals move.

Too often, teams turn to automation to try and nudge opportunities without working through if a contact needs to be nudged in the first place. It’s a spray-and-pray marketing strategy disguised in an algorithm, and it doesn’t deliver the necessary results. To get deals across the finish line, marketers need to move beyond clicks and views and start to empathize with audiences.

Empathy demands close listening, and the best way for marketers to listen today — outside of directly calling and talking with prospects — is understanding what messages connect and why. Automation cannot find these insights on its own and must take a backseat to genuine engagement. In a digital context, this means marketers need to do more than watch audience clicks and views and interact with attendees as they consume content and ask questions. Generating these meaningful interactions means gaining better insights into what they need from a solution — giving marketing and sales the fuel they need to push opportunities along.

Collecting Insights

Collecting insights is more complicated than slapping a UTM code on a link. Often, collection requires tracking a range of accounts in a vertical and how they engage with interactive content. Here, using the right tool is critical. Does it monitor downloaded resources? Questions asked? Often they visited a website or digital events? These sorts of insights are essential for identifying opportunities, especially fast-moving prospects looking to make a quick deal.

The insights gained from user engagements can also help unstick stalled deals. Marketers and sales teams can provide slow-moving prospects with additional content based on their interests or alert them to upcoming events or articles by subject matter experts they respect. Additionally, organizations can put together highly-targeted, self-serve nurture tracks with the use on on-demand content.

The Right Content Meets a Better Channel

On-demand content hubs are particularly powerful tools for stuck opportunities. Such hubs allow you to re-engage and refocus prospects on your best, most relevant content based on industry and persona. They also enable prospects self-discover content and engage with the organization in a way they prefer. On-demand hubs also provide an opportunity for marketers to create self-qualifying triggers that move highly-engaged prospects from a nurture track to an active demand track.

Live events, too, are great for motivating and re-engaging stuck prospects. Live events give them the opportunity to interact with SMEs, ask questions and download new content specific to the event.

Fueling Reports

Time is of the essence, which means sales teams needs as much information on newly engaged and re-engaged prospects that are ready to take the next step. That’s why it’s essential for organizations to build engagement profiles – summaries of prospect or account interactions with a brand. With engagement profiles, marketing can get specific behavior reports across live, on-demand and personalized content experiences for either individual prospects, or cumulative reports on accounts, and deliver them to sales for the final push.

End-of-year pushes are never easy. But using engagement-based marketing to push stalled pipeline across the finish line can resurface promising leads and make fast-moving campaigns much more comfortable.

To learn more about how webinars and on-demand gateways help you accelerate pipeline, download this research from SiriusDecisions.

It’s a Webinerd World

Looking for great webinar guidance? Get the freshest webinar tactics and strategies at Webinar World 2019.

I am sitting on a plane from London to San Francisco, on the way home from the final Webinar World of 2018 — and what a year it’s been. This is the second year of Webinar World and the eighth event globally. There were Webinar World conferences in San Francisco, London, Sydney and Singapore. When our CMO, Joe Hyland, first had the idea for this event, we all thought he was crazy. A conference about webinars? Will anyone even come? Our inaugural event in San Francisco two years ago shocked us all. Hundreds of people showed up from all over the world. There were people from Europe, Asia and even a woman from Africa, for again, a conference about…webinars. Why?

I go to a lot of marketing conferences, some are better than others, but if there is one thing they all have in common is that they are very general in their purpose. There are conferences about inbound marketing, marketing automation, content marketing and just plain marketing-marketing. My biggest frustration about these conferences is that you never go very deep on any subject. Instead, you spend a few days hearing high-level generalities like “tell a story” or “know your customer.” Not exactly the kind of guidance that is going to take your programs to the next level.

I think that’s what made Webinar World different. It’s an event that is focused on a very specific skill set, and a critical part of most companies marketing success. Instead of lofty abstractions, people were learning best practices and practical guidance on how to create awesome webinars — and frankly awesome marketing. But what we didn’t realize was that webinars were not just an important part of these people’s jobs, webinars were also something they were really passionate about.

To capture this passion, we came up with the term “Webinerds.” At first, it was just a funny idea for some t-shirts and a hashtag, but something happened: people went crazy for the term, and soon, marketers around the globe were proudly identifying themselves as “webinerds,” sharing their own best practices and showing off their latest webinars. It took on a life of its own and became a real community.

With each Webinar World conference this year, Webinerd fever grew. It was so inspiring to hear stories from marketers proudly talking about their latest event or some new element they added to their webinars. I heard stories about new presentation formats, creative uses of video and gamification. Many companies were moving from one-off webinars to branded series with hosts and stage sets — really cool stuff. Last year, companies were mostly focused on fundamentals like driving registration and console building. This year, the focus has shifted to creating really immersive, engaging audience experiences. It’s been fun to watch this evolution.

As I think about this, I realize that Webinar World is really serving two purposes. Webinar marketing has become an incredibly valuable skill set. Anyone who is really good at it will always be desirable to their current and future employers. Companies love people who have the skills to build such impactful marketing. But there is something else…

Webinars are something you can really be proud of. Most of us got into marketing to be creative people that build cool shit. But as marketing has gone digital, a lot of the cool factor has gone away. It’s hard to get a lot of personal satisfaction from a good SEO result or an email campaign, but delivering an awesome webinar is such a great feeling. It’s something that you can be really proud of. Webinerds are increasingly becoming the rock stars of their marketing departments.

So you see, it’s a Webinerd World. A hashtag has turned into a community and a movement. And I, for one, can’t wait to see where we go from here.

I guess we will find out at Webinar World 2019.

Interested in what Webinar World has to offer? Check out Webinar World on demand here and register for Webinar World 2019

Get your #webinerd on – All Hail the Rise of the Webinar!

By Paula Morris, Senior Director, Pi Marketing Solutions

This article was originally published on pi-marketingsolutions.com. Syndicated with permission.

Picture the scene … on a surprisingly warm and pleasant autumnal day in central London a room full of almost 400 B2B marketers were spending the day talking about webinars! ‘Surely it isn’t possible to fill a full day just talking about webinars!’ I hear you cry but as ON24’s global #WebinarWorld event came to London last week that’s exactly what happened!

And as Mark Bornstein, ON24’s Chief Webinerd (more on #webinerd later) mentioned in the opening address it really is time that we aren’t shocked about this anymore as the rise of ‘The Webinar’ in the B2B marketing space is truly upon us.

We are all trying to grab people’s attention in a very noisy and crowded space but, if used creatively and effectively, webinars can become a critical part of your marketing outreach allowing you to drive significant engagement not only within your account-based marketing activity but also within a larger target audience or segment.

As we continue to learn and analyse our prospects and customers digital body language the more we understand that these days the buyer journey isn’t necessarily linear, and that we can’t control at what stage of the buyer journey certain types of content are consumed. And this is where webinars come in to play…..buyers now want to receive content on their terms, on their time and in any order. People want to view easy to digest material when and where they want.

During the opening session at #WebinarWorld London the audience were asked: ‘How many of you have downloaded a whitepaper in the last 6 months?’ – the result, a few half-raised hands, however we are all pre-disposed into thinking that this is the type of content that we should be producing. Yes static white papers have their place but a webinar can bring them to life by turning traditionally passive content into rich media interactive experiences. For example a quick 10 minute webinar on the ‘Top 3 Findings’ of said industry white paper is a perfect webinar for a C-level audience to consume whilst at an airport lounge, or a more in depth 3 part series could be created for those subject matter experts – the key point is that ‘the webinar’ is now an essential part of our marketing mix and a fundamental medium that should be leveraged across all marketing activity and not used as a tactic in isolation. Therefore, if done well, it really is a case of ‘build it and they will come’ – but only if relevancy and authenticity are achieved.

And so on to the notion of the #webinerd (Web-i-nerd web-e-nərd noun: a person who loves webinars so much they made an urban dictionary definition). An official rallying cry was sent out to all the attendees of WebinarWorld to join the #webinerd movement and by judging by the length of the queue for the complimentary #webinerd branded t-shirts (which incidentally were printed with your choice of colour before your very eyes leaving Joel Harrison, Editor-in-chief at B2B Marketing almost lost for words) social media was awash with pictures of attendees donning their new attire declaring that they ‘have now got their #webinerd on’ – it is safe to say that the modern #webinerd is not shy about stepping forward to declare their inner marketing geek.

With great content presented, shared and discussed in the Genius, Best Practices and Execution theatres it was more than apparent that this is an area of marketing that deserves the focus of a dedicated event. The future leaning, thought provoking and insightful content really highlighted how impactful a well-executed webinar programme can be in delivering a wealth of customer insights and actionable data.

So if you are looking at how to drive customer engagement with scale, come join the #webinerd movement……the only decision you now need to make is whether you want a blue, green, red or purple #webinerd logo on your t-shirt!


About the Author

With over 20 years B2B marketing experience Paula has a proven track record of leading successful strategic marketing campaigns in the enterprise ICT space. With a focus on delivering ROI her experience includes developing and aligning marketing strategy, full persona and solution based programme delivery, behavioural based nurture programmes and leading successful teams across a broad range of projects.

Twitter: @pmorris_99

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paula-morris/

How To Use Webinars To Drive Engagement and Increase Pipeline

This Questions and Answers interview was originally published on b2bmarketing.net.

What are the common mistakes businesses make with webinars?

Mark: Companies tend to think of webinars simply as a top of funnel, lead generation tool. Their goal is to get as many names as possible. Many marketers don’t even care what happens during the live webinar, once they’ve acquired the leads they simply send them to sales and claim victory. That’s just outdated thinking.

The modern webinar is all about engagement. They’re multi-media, interactive experiences, where the goal is to get your audience members to take as many actions as possible which then provides you with actionable information about your prospects.

And this engagement model works across the entire buying cycle. Today, we see companies replacing static content like white papers, case studies and demo videos with interactive webinars. Just imagine letting your prospects hear directly from your best customers on a webinar? Now that’s an effective case study. Or replacing that canned demo with an interactive tour of your product? There are so many ways that webinar engagement can supercharge your marketing.

Do you think people underestimate the power of webinars?

Oh absolutely! In a time when we measure engagement by the click or mere seconds spent on a landing page or in an email, we have very few opportunities to have real human moments with our prospects. That used to be the role of sales but the modern buyer doesn’t want to engage with a salesperson. So what replaces that experience? That’s where webinars come in. What other chance do you get to be in front of your prospects for up to an hour at a time? An hour where you can not only present content to them but where you can also interact with them in meaningful ways. And this interaction is going to give you the insights you need to find and convert your best leads.

What do webinars mean for sales teams’ engagement with prospects?

Well, I feel for salespeople these days, their job isn’t getting any easier. Buyers are inundated with sales and marketing emails and prospecting calls which has resulted in them being numb to most sales methodologies.

Further, and I’m going to say something bold here, most salespeople are used to getting weak leads from their marketing teams. And I say that as a marketer. Let’s be honest, it’s true. Webinars however are the one marketing technology that can change that reality. Now you can capture every action that a prospect took in a webinar (questions asked, poll responses, survey data, content downloaded, etc.) and put that data into Salesforce, or other CRMs, for the salesperson to view before making contact. This enables them to continue a conversation as opposed to starting one. And that is a game changer.

How can you optimise interactivity in a webinar?

Well, I believe that webinar interactivity should be scripted right into your presentation. Just like you script your story and your slides, you should plan how you are going to interact with your audience. When I build a webinar, I always plan out a few polls to help fuel a good conversation with my audience. I will often script a few different spots in the webinar to take questions, not just wait till the end. Sometimes I build in gamification too. I also encourage the audience to live tweet, download content and click on CTAs. The point is, you should optimise your webinar to ensure your audience is involved and interacting with you and each other as much as possible. Increased engagement will lead to higher content retention and more importantly, it will provide you with more data for effective follow-up later.

Where is the ROI in webinars? What’s the business case?

Webinars have such a high ROI for such a small investment. The business case for webinars is that they enable you to quickly and cost-effectively engage with large numbers of your prospects in a real human way. Webinars are now where the selling happens. It’s where we find our best leads and how we convince them to become customers.

It kills me every time I talk to a company that is using a meeting or conferencing tool for their webinars because their IT department already had a contract in place. Don’t get me wrong, meeting tools are great… for meetings, but that are not optimised for webinars. The investment in true webinar marketing platform will likely have the highest return of anything in your marketing tech stack.

Webinars have clearly developed over the years. What do you think is the future of webinars?

There are two ways that I think webinars are evolving. The first is that the live experience is no longer the only goal. We’re now living in the on-demand economy, meaning people want to consume content on their own time, in their own way. Content needs to be always available and easily binge-able – and this goes for webinars too. We’re seeing many companies moving to the Netflix model, where they’re building on demand gateways or hubs where valuable webinars are made available for immediate viewing. These gateways are where you can archive webinars after the live event is over, to extend the life of that content. We also see companies building webinar content that’s produced straight for on demand without a live component. Webinar gateways are an effective way to get more people to the right content.

The other area I see the role of webinars changing is in personalisation. Account-based marketing programmes have become an incredibly important part of modern marketing strategies. We all want to be more targeted and we do that by offering a more personalised experience. But most ABM strategies focus on the targeting and not what happens once you make contact. We’re now seeing companies creating customised webinars that are created for specific accounts, industries or use cases, to add a higher level of engagement to their ABM programmes. That includes custom landing pages with targeted webinars as the primary content.

What do you think webinars do for brand image?

So much. In many cases, webinars are where your prospects first experience your brand – and not for a few seconds but for a long period of time. You have to think about your webinar console as if it’s a virtual lobby to your company. As I mentioned above, you should always customise your webinar consoles so when your prospects attend your events they feel enveloped by your brand. You can create a lot of stickiness to your brand imagery with such a long exposure if you do it right.

Can webinars allow you to understand your customers better?

Well, here lies the true magic of webinar engagement. The more you interact with your audience, the more you can learn about them. Webinars are where your prospects actually tell you what’s on their mind: their challenges, needs and interests. Their interactions with you (through polls, surveys, Q&A, chat, social, downloads etc) provide a much better picture of your prospects and customers than you can get with any other marketing technology. Marketers all want to be data driven and engagement is the only way to get the data that really matters. It’s simple maths: webinar engagement gives you the insights you need to convert prospects into customers.

Mark’s tips to achieving best practice in webinars

  1. When promoting your webinars, don’t keep sending the same email repeatedly. Mix up the message and mix up the email type. The same goes with social media, don’t tweet the same thing over and over again. If it didn’t work the first time, it probably won’t the second or third.
  2. Make sure your webinar console looks and feels like your brand. You have people staring at a fixed location for up to an hour, give them something to look at. Integrate your logo, top-line messaging, corporate imagery and colours. Make sure your webinars are a great reflection of your company.
  3. Dial up the engagement. As I said earlier, the more interactive your webinars are, the more actionable data you’ll get to qualify your leads and convert them into pipeline. Literally script engagement into your presentations by integrated polls, Q&A, gamification, etc. Your audience will appreciate it too.
  4. Play with the formats. Don’t treat all webinars as talking powerpoint presentations. Some of the best webinars I’ve seen lately didn’t even have slides, they were simply great discussions with interesting people. Try panels, interviews, chat shows, and other formats to change the tone of your events. It will also take the pressure of your presenters. Instead of giving a ‘formal’ presentation, they can have conversations with each other and the audience, which is a better experience for everybody.
  5. Have an on-demand strategy. According to our recent Webinar Benchmarks Report, 35% of people who view webinars will watch on demand – not live. If your webinars only exist as a moment in time, then you’re losing up to a third or more of your potential audience.