Why Webinar Marketing Fuels Demand Generation in 2019

B2B marketers are in a strange place. There’s more money going into marketing than ever before, but marketers are more uncertain than they’ve ever been. Marketing budgets, according to a recent report by Demand Gen Report, are going up by 20 percent or more. But a joint ON24, Heinz Marketing report found that 67 percent of marketers consider their content strategy somewhat or not at all effective.

So what is effective? Demand Gen Report examines what works in “What’s Working in Demand Generation In 2019?” The report found that marketers can effectively balance their approach to new strategies, like account-based management and peer-to-peer review sites, with traditional tactics like direct mail and webinars.

Webinars, in particular, are an effective way to connect with prospects across all stages of the marketing funnel. According to Demand Gen Report’s “2019 Demand Generation Benchmark Report,” 58 percent of demand gen marketers say webinars are the most successful tactic for top-of-funnel engagement. Nearly half, 48 percent, say webinars move prospects through the rest of the marketing funnel — from mid to bottom and closed — effectively.

How Webinar Marketing Empowers Digital Results

Why are webinars an effective digital approach? It may be because marketers are using webinars in more conversational and personalized formats. Jon Russo, CMO and Founder of B2B Fusion, says webinars are becoming a “must do” channel.

Our own Mark Bornstein offers his own theory as to why webinars are a useful tool:

One of the biggest changes we have seen in webinar marketing is the move to more conversational formats, such as panel discussions. [Buyers] don’t want to be lectured to; they want to participate in conversations where panelists are talking to each other but also including the audience in the discussion. This type of conversational marketing increases audience participation and content retention. It’s for your audience but also good for you as the more you interact with your prospects, the more you learn about them.

With engaging, conversational content, marketers can gather the data they need to refine messaging for targeted audiences and accounts, enabling popular strategies like account-based marketing.

Learn more about webinars

Webinars Formats That Drive Conversations

Panels

A panel of knowledgeable experts provides an excellent opportunity for attendees to interact and learn from industry thought leaders. Depending on the audience, panels can be as casual or as formal as necessary. Just know what panel webinars entail — they can require a lot of organization.

Presentation webinars

Presentation webinars may seem like a one-sided affair, but modern webinar suites offer a range of interactive tools like polls, surveys, Q&As and chat rooms. It’s very easy to put an in-house expert, or spokesperson, on a webinar to showcase updates, introduce new products and answer questions from attendees.

Interviews

Some attendees want to learn from experts. So, conduct an interview. Interviews are a great format allowing organizations to sit down with an industry leader and draw out a better understanding of an industry trend. Audiences, too, can ask questions through the chat tool or collectively decide on a theme with polls.

Live Case Study

Case studies allow prospects to fully evaluate product and solutions based on how other organizations use a given service. Webinars provide an excellent medium to share case studies, especially when a satisfied customer shares their experience and interacts with an audience.

Webinars provide a range of opportunities for marketers to engage with prospects (and customers) at every stage of the funnel.

Announcing ON24’s 2019 Webinar Benchmarks Report

Here is a fact about webinar marketing: Thursday is the best day for webinar attendance, followed closely by Wednesday. Here’s another fact webinars in general: about two-thirds of ON24 users personalize webinars to their audience while over a third produce one-to-one webinars for targeted accounts.

There are a lot of facts to learn about webinars, from the best time to attend to what tools practitioners use to record video. Fortunately, you can find all of them in the ON24 2019 Webinar Benchmarks Report.

This year’s benchmarks report assesses the trends behind webinar use in 2018, evaluating everything from the best day to send promotional emails (Wednesday) to which webinar formats are taking off with practitioners (video adoption, for example, jumped by 16 percent).

But the 2019 edition of ON24’s Webinar Benchmarks Report is a little different. We not only included a quantitative assessment of the state of webinars circa 2018, but we also asked our community members what they think about webinars today and how they are actually using webinars.

So, what did they have to say? Here are a few high-level takeaways:

  • 76% of respondents say webinars allow them to drive more leads
  • 86% of participants say they run up to 150 webinars in a given year
  • 89% of those offering webinar-based training say they can easily scale programs
  • 52% of respondents say they share quality leads generated from webinars with sales

Why does this matter? Because a well-run webinar program is defined by knowing what’s possible and how. The ON24 2019 Webinar Benchmarks Report provides you with the ability to make your one-to-one communications scale in a digital world. This is especially important as marketing budgets, and the pressure to prove ROI, grow.

In fact, according to Demand Generation Report’s “2019 Demand Generation Benchmarks Report,” 58 percent of B2B marketers cite webinars as their most successful tactic for top-of-funnel engagement. Nearly half said webinars were the most effective channel they had in converting and accelerating leads at middle and late stages of the funnel.

There are a lot of great facts in the 2019 Webinar Benchmarks Report that’ll help you build a robust, engaging and data-driven webinar program. Download the report today to get started.

For more insights and guidance on how to make the most of your webinar platform, download ON24’s 2019 Webinar Benchmarks Report and watch the corresponding always-on webinar for more best practices.

Engagement in the Age of Automation, an HBR Insight

Marketers spend a lot of money on a lot of digital tools. In fact, according to a recent Gartner survey, CMOs report they’ll spend nearly 12 percent of revenue on new marketing technologies, a crowded landscape spanning more than 6,800 solutions, in 2018.

Such a trend suggests two things. First, that current solutions aren’t addressing underlying needs for marketers. Second, that marketers are hungry for something that finally works.

This is short-term, stop-gap thinking and it’s damaging both customer experiences and brands by turning interactions into interruptions and prioritizing tactics above strategy. This isn’t just idle chatter. A new report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, sponsored by ON24, surveyed the state of engagement and technology in marketing today and found the industry largely agrees. The problem, according to the survey, is that digital technology often gets in the way.

According to the report, four out of five marketers say they value human and personalized interactions over automated, but the digital tools they use make it difficult to realize genuine human interactions. And those interactions count. According to 80 percent of respondents, the human element in a customer experience gives their organization a distinct competitive edge and nearly 50 percent of organizations with high levels of customer loyalty say they are trying to maintain the same level of customer experience across live and automated channels.

The digital tools marketers use today to make human interactions a reality just aren’t built for human engagement. For example, email and social media are critical marketing channels for any organization, but 70 percent of survey respondents say they’re not using those tools effectively.

“Our marketing technologies target people,” says Laura Ramos, Vice President and Senior Analyst, Forrester Research. “But people often play a small role in designing what the systems deliver. Many executives believe they can just plug in the technology and it will magically improve business performance and customer engagement.”

It’s time for marketers to reverse the digital tool equation. They need to prioritize tools that boost genuine human interaction. It’s not that automation doesn’t play a part in marketing today, it’s that it represents a small role in the larger goal of connecting and enabling genuine human interactions online.

So how can marketers make better connections? By taking the time to think about the digital tools they use now and how those tools impact customer interactions and experiences over the long-term. By prioritizing tools that enable engagement, marketing teams can build better experiences that treat customers as humans, not figures in a database.

One opportunity for marketers to scale the impact of human-to-human interactions is through webinars. According to the marketing technology analyst firm SiriusDecisions, webinars continue to be the highest-rated human touchpoint throughout the buyer’s journey. We know a thing or two about webinars, and we know they can build engagement, build scale and build better experiences.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll share more insights from the HBR report, examining how marketers can build better interactions in today’s digital environments. If you’d like to see how you can scale human interactions online, click here. If you’d like to review the report yourself, click here.