Announcing Webinar World: Engage for Action

At some point, your audience stopped caring. They tuned out your communications and skipped over your content. It’s what happens when people are reduced to data points.

We know you get it. We also know that the pressure of keeping the business running is so overwhelming that you have no choice but to produce more. More content, in more channels, with more fleeting touches delivering superficial data and diminishing returns. The more you interrupt, the less it feels like a genuine conversation. So, when the conversation ends, so does any real connection to your audience, along with an opportunity to gain meaningful insights about the real person on the other end.

That’s why it’s imperative for every brand to rethink engagement. At ON24, we know there’s a better way—a more compelling, human approach. It starts with dynamic, relevant, multimedia content, delivered both live and on-demand, connecting with your audience when they want to through interactive features like polling, chatting, surveying, and more. And, finally, turning connections into insights that you can act on and share seamlessly across your operations.

Join us at Webinar World 2019 and to learn how to Engage for Action. Because if you redefine the way you engage with your audience, you can redefine your success.

How do you put the “human” back in your marketing?

This post was originally published on the Ignite Blog on B2Bmarketing.net B2B Marketing will host their annual Ignite Conference on July 10, 2018. 

You know those movies about robots taking over the world? Ok, that hasn’t happened…yet. But our marketing is becoming increasingly robotic and impersonal. Today, we rely on marketing automation, search algorithms, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and any other number of digital technologies to scale our programs, reach more people, and be more targeted with our content. And all of that is good, but then what?

There is still a human being at the other end of our marketing and we ultimately need to engage with them in a meaningful way. Today, engagement is measured in clicks, views, and tiny digital signals that might indicate a good potential target. But where is the moment of persuasion and connection? That takes engagement. Real. Human. Engagement.

The good news is that real engagement is becoming more possible every day. Landing pages are becoming more dynamic, websites are integrating cool new tools to interact with site visitors, and there are all kinds of virtual environments where prospects can interact with you and your brand. The key characteristics of true engagement-driven technologies are:

  • Interactivity
  • Multiple content options
  • Multi-media content options
  • Social integration
  • All actions taken by someone are captured and measured

In my world, webinars are the ultimate engagement tool. What other opportunity do you have to interact with your prospects for up to an hour at a time? And, if you’re thinking of a webinar as simply a talking Powerpoint presentation, then you haven’t seen a modern webinar. Today, webinars enable attendees to ask questions, respond to polls and surveys, tweet, connect socially, chat with other attendees, download content, link to landing pages, link to key conversion offers like demos and free trials, and even self-select a sales consultation. They are also multi-media experiences that more resemble daytime talk shows then online presentations.

The real magic of these engagement-driven webinars, however, is how they capture every action that an audience member takes to help us find our best leads and learn from their behavior. By integrating this data into marketing automation and CRM systems, we can put this powerful information in the hands of salespeople. So instead of following up on a webinar, they are following up on a question asked or a piece of content downloaded; essentially continuing a conversation, not starting one.

The explosion of digital marketing technologies and their marriage to automation and artificial intelligence is great. It will help us leave a trail of tiny breadcrumbs in the digital ether for us to discover potential prospects. However, it’s what happens next that is most important. Because ultimately, there needs to be a moment…a human moment. And that is how we will turn a digital signal into a customer.

If you would like to see examples of engagement-driven webinars, come check out my presentation at B2B Marketing Ignite. I promise it will be engaging.

Realizing Engagement-Driven Marketing in the Digital Era

This post was originally published on ADMA.com.

For marketers, data is difficult. It’s easy to get, yes, but being able to draw out any meaningful insights or actions can be an exercise in pulling the hair out of your head.

Why is extracting insights from data so stressful? There are a few theories. First, our jobs are on the line. We need to be able to provide sales with qualified leads and context to land business. Failing that, we risk our positions. Second, we’re trying to divine the wants and needs of a large group of professionals through one of the most obtuse methods ever devised — abstracted numbers and maybe a few pie charts if you’re lucky.

And these numbers, generally, don’t get any easier to read over time as most data comes from superficial, automated interactions. These interactions do little other than giving sales a phone number to cold call.

We need to change how we approach data — how we perceive our audience. Marketers need to learn to engage — not just interact — with their prospect and clients to get a better picture of what they need. Through engagement-driven marketing, marketers can find the leads ready for a sales conversation — complete with what content that particular lead interacted with last, what they may be hung up on about a solution and how sales can keep the conversation going.

Best yet, this helps marketers to tie their actions to revenue.

There are a few ways marketers can realise this engagement-driven method. For example, one of the best tools available today are webinars (coincidentally, we’re hosting a nearby event to discuss just how webinars and marketers can drive engagement). Webinars work as an engagement-marketing tool not just because they can hold an attendee’s attention for a half-hour to an hour, but because they offer audiences the opportunity to talk and interact with their hosts. In-webinar tools — like questions, polls, surveys, social media and more — give marketers the opportunity to not just make their event more interactive, but to also gauge interest and, yes, generate more data on an audience member’s content consumption habits.

At ON24, we’ve built our platform to provide marketers with a tool to engage their prospects and customers, and then turn those engagements into insights their sales team can use. Every webinar generates more than 40 data points per attendee. Combined with data over the course of a prospective or client relationship, and you’ve got a much better picture of the human behind the screen.

So how can your organisation start moving toward an engagement-driven model? It’s not just about getting a webinar tool — it’s about how your organisation approaches marketing, data and empathy with your customers. You’ll need to take-in data with a purpose, or as we call it, engagement-driven data. This is what we’ll discuss at Webinar World 2018 APAC, on May 31. Hosted at Doltone House in Hyde Park, Sydney, our day-long event will examine what it means to engage on a personal level in today’s digital world.

If you want to learn more about how to take your marketing efforts and webinar campaigns to the next level, join us and hundreds of other marketers at Webinar World at Doltone House in Hyde Park, Sydney on May 31.

Register for the free, full day event here.

Webinars 2.0: Increasing Renewals Through Engagement Marketing with ON24

In marketing, we talk a lot about customer engagement. Why? Because we inherently recognize the importance of engagement to the perceived value of our companies and products.

It’s not something we have to create complex algorithms to understand: We like Bob because when we talk to Bob we actually have a conversation—not a one-sided spiel. Our favorite teachers are ones who create a learning environment where assumptions are challenged and ideas are tossed back and forth like a ping pong ball.

That’s engagement: when we realize value from our interaction. But often we’re so busy trying to show value in our webinars that we’re not engaging customers or prospects and allowing them to extract value from a conversation.

We create amazing content, but then we basically just present a slide show for an hour. We’re not creating a digital discussion around value.

When it comes to renewals, it’s evident that customers who see value in our products are exponentially more likely to renew. So when I took over the BrightEdge webinar program about seven months ago, I wanted to shift our focus to community building, to becoming the go-to source of actionable information on SEO and content performance.

My hypothesis was that if we could become that thought partner for our customers, we would help them attain better adoption of our platform, boost brand loyalty, and ultimately, see an increase in our renewal rates.

Take just a second and re-read that last sentence. See what came first? Value to our webinar attendees—not results. One-sided slide show presentations and sales pitches disguised as webinars are self-serving. By replacing results with value as our number one objective, we can create the engagement necessary to actually achieve results. It’s a little counterintuitive, but let’s dive into our process and see what happened.

Step 1: Filling the Digital Seats

It doesn’t matter how amazing your webinar content is if people don’t see it. At BrightEdge, we were struggling with low webinar attendance. It wasn’t that we didn’t have valuable information; we just didn’t have a good vehicle to get people to attend.

When we looked into the numbers, we saw we were only getting about an 80 percent deliverability rate on our emails. The problem was in our email strategy. We were sending out mass emails to a large pool of customers and prospects. This wide-net approach can burn folks out on your communication, and more than that, it doesn’t take into consideration the value your recipients want.

We did some work in our marketing automation strategy and narrowed our target for each webinar. Now, our emails are relevant to the audience and delivered at specific times when the webinar content is most useful: onboarding, middle of the funnel, etc.

With just a few simple tweaks, we went from low email engagement and webinars with only 40 attendees to a 99.2 percent email deliverability rate and engagement marketing webinars packed with thousands of people. These numbers aren’t just for show, though. Because if your focus is on value, the attendees influence the direction of the webinars.

Step 2: Make It Relevant

One of the best webinars we’ve ever hosted, in terms of engagement, was from an agency speaker who walked through a case study of one of their customers. They had the customer on the webinar as well to provide additional insights and confirm results. It was an in-depth look behind the scenes of how the customer achieved success, and the audience absolutely loved it.

Why? Because it helped attendees learn how to be successful themselves. They got to hear a real use case rather than some generic sales pitch touting X% returns. Those types of webinars aren’t relevant, and the audience can’t extract any real value they can use to make their own organization successful.

By walking through the process, step by step, prospects can learn techniques, regardless of the method, and current customers gain a working knowledge of the product that they can then turn into tangible results.

Step 3: Listen

This is the most important step in a successful webinar engagement strategy. To be able to facilitate real-time engagement, a powerful, nimble webinar platform is a must. At BrightEdge, we use ON24 for all our webinars.

ON24 lets us derive an understanding of the customer needs—and market needs— with two invaluable in-webinar engagement features:

  • Q&A: This is where webinars turn into a true digital discussion. Attendees can submit questions at any time during the live webinar, and because we craft our content to be a conversation, these questions aren’t an interruption. They’re an opportunity to add value.
  • Polls: Every five to ten minutes, we poll attendees on the webinar topic. This allows us to get an understanding of the audience’s sophistication and knowledge of the topic. This information then drives the direction of the webinar in real time.

Step 4: Follow Up

Engagement doesn’t stop once the webinar ends. That’s why it’s important to have a solid follow-up strategy in place. If you’re listening and engaging attendees during the webinar, you’re also collecting tons of useful information: what questions were asked, what were the poll responses, and who attended the webinar.

If you’re using ON24, you also gain additional insights from the attendee’s ON24 Engagement Score. This goes several steps further than traditional lead gen tracking—who registered versus who attended. ON24 tallies each participant’s engagement related to their level of activity within the webinar.

Through integration with SalesForce, our CS and Sales teams have that information and can tailor their messages to add even more value to the prospect or customer. Then, we’re not just pushing our agenda through customer communication; instead, engagement in our webinars is enabling 1:1 value-add conversations.

So… Does It Work?

Short answer: absolutely. We have seen that the higher engagement we have in webinars, the higher likelihood for a renewal. By combining webinars into an overall engagement model built around giving value to our prospects and customers—including live events, user groups, and CS outreach—our existing customers are more informed, engaged, and deriving more value from our product.

While I can’t share the exact renewal numbers publically, suffice it to say they are well above the industry standard. And all the credit goes to the value we’re providing the community through our omnichannel customer engagement strategy. So, if you’re tired of one-sided slide share webinars, low attendance, lackluster engagement, and high churn rates, perhaps it’s time to stop looking inward, and start looking out—to your customer community—for answers. By simply listening, you’ll have a better understanding of what they want, and with ON24, you’ll be ready to give it to them.

Originally published on Upshot stories

Your Webinars Are Really Not That Interactive

What makes webinars one of the most valuable marketing tools we have today is the ability to directly engage an audience in ways that most marketing tools simply can’t. But most webinars today still fall into the “we present and you listen” model. At this point, you are probably saying to yourself, “Not us! We do Q&A at the end of every webinar.” Well, that’s great, but it’s not enough.

According to the 2017 ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report, 82% of webinars have Q&A during the webinar, most of the time at the very end of the presentation. The problem is that if you save Q&A for the end of your presentations, your audience is in passive listen-only mode for a majority of the webinar. But this is easy to change.

There are many interactive tools available, including Q&A, to make your webinars more engaging. And how you use these tools is just as important as using them in the first place. Here are some ideas to quickly add energy and engagement to your webinars:

Polling

Polling is one of my favorite engagement tools. I love to add at least 2–3 polls to every webinar. They keep the audience active and involved, and they get to have a voice in the conversation. Polls are great because the force the listener to take an action, which keeps them mentally dialed-in to the presentation. I usually start every webinar with a poll, just to get the interact

Group chat

Group chat can be a fun way of keeping your audience connected to the content and the webinar. Your audience has an opinion and would love the chance to comment on what is happening in the webinar. The key is to make sure that you have someone (not the presenter) managing the discussion to keep the discussion positive and on track.

Social Media

Getting your audience engaged socially is another great way to connect and interact with your audience. Twitter can be a really effective way of extending the conversation beyond the webinar. With a pre-set hashtag, your audience can comment on your content and highlight what they think are the most important parts. After the webinar is over, you can favorite and retweet those comments to continue the conversation.

Gamification

Why not have some fun with your audience? Use polls or the Q&A feature to quiz your audience or do raffles or give-aways. It’s another way to let the audience get involved and feel more connected to the webinar. Also, when they know there is going to be a give-away, they will pay more attention.

More Q&A!

But even if you are just doing Q&A, why not consider taking questions throughout the webinar instead of just at the end? If your presentation is broken into a few different topic areas, pause after each section to take a few questions. It’s a great way to keep your audience engaged.

The modern webinar is much more of a conversation than a presentation. Don’t talk at your audience, talk with them. Increased interactivity and engagement will lead to longer attendance times, more content retention, and ultimately, better leads. So don’t make your audience wait for their chance to speak, get interactive right from the start.