3 Tips for Running an Expert Interview Webinar

I recently wrote about different webinar formats you can use to keep your audience engaged. One of my personal favorites is the expert interview because it gives you a fabulous opportunity to bring your audience the unique experience and knowledge of an authoritative voice while allowing you at the same time to showcase your own skills and understanding of the issues.

Equally important, preparing for and leading an interview gives you a chance to spend valuable one-on-one time with a guest who matters as much for your own practice as he or she does for your participants: a government agent or regulator, an industry leader, or an executive from a key client, for example.

Finally, building your webinar around an interview lets you move away from the traditional slide presentation to lead a dynamic discussion around issues facing your audience. It is, above all, a conversation, which provides you with broad freedom to explore questions in depth without becoming weighed down by bullet points and linear logic.

So how to make sure your expert interview is memorable for participants and guests alike? Here are three ways:

1. Remember your audience

Yes, you want to make the webinar interesting and fun and engaging for your attendees, but a story about the time your guest went surfing amid sharks off the coast of Australia – as entertaining as it may be – isn’t going to help participants revise their workplace policies, for example, to account for legal recreational marijuana use in their state.

Never forget that your audience signed up to learn something and that it’s your job to make sure they do. It’s ok to go off topic from time to time with anecdotes, as long as you don’t take too long to get back on.

Takeaway: prepare your questions, and the structure of the conversation, with audience needs in mind.

2. Let your guest be the expert

You may have the broadest knowledge about the topic you’re covering, but when you’re interviewing an influential guest, you’re no longer the star of the show.

Let your interviewee do most of the talking. Ask them relevant questions that allow for meaningful answers. Listen to their responses so you can follow up when you think your audience needs more detail or explanation.

And above all, try not to interrupt your guest unless it’s absolutely necessary: to get immediate clarification on a particular point they made, or allow them to correct misstatements. You can follow-up and probe deeper into the issues when they’re done talking.

3. Fine-tune your questions (while also allowing the conversation to go anywhere)

Good questions make for great interviews: the way you frame the issues, the way you tee up responses, the way you elicit insight and perspective. And the best way to make your webinar a success is to ask questions that allow your guest to provide valuable and perceptive answers that get straight to the core of your audience’s concerns.

Spend time fine-tuning your questions. Edit them down to the essentials, then edit them down again to make sure you get quickly to the point while providing essential context. Have a colleague put them to you so you can hear what you’re actually asking rather than what you think they say.

During the interview, it’s a good idea to use your questions as a guide to the conversation rather than as a strict outline that you must follow: the discussion is likely to take unplanned directions that lead you down paths that are relevant to attendees.

Lorem Ipsum Oops-um: What To Do When Email Mistakes Strikes

Sending out the wrong email is an email marketer’s worse nightmare! As a Marketing Programs Manager at ON24, I manage a variety of campaigns and the various moving parts that make a campaign successful. With every email that goes out, there is an extensive building, revising and quality-assurance process involved. There are many iterations made to email copy, styles, subject lines and more. When all pieces are finalized, the email is constructed, put into the automation flow and sent out to the designated audience.

MOST of the time, this executes successfully. But then there are the times where the wrong email is sent and your whole world flips upside down? Seamlessly handling how to deal with an email error or mistake is the beauty of being a marketer! When something does not go as expected, you don’t have time to sit and point out mistakes or faults. Instead, you collaborate with your team and determine an action plan!

A few months ago, we had an email fiasco where the incorrect email went out promoting our popular Webinar Best Practices Series. Everything looked great upon setup and QA, but the automation failed to save the email and reverted back to its template – the dreaded Lorem Ipsum. I woke up to a flurry of email and social messages from our prospects and customers pointing out the issue. I knew I had to take action as soon as possible to repair the situation and continue investigating the issue after. If an email disaster ever comes your way, here are some tips based on my experience for a strong action plan:

  • Transparency: Send an email out to your manager and involved stakeholders pointing out the issue, discussing what went wrong so they are aware before they hear from someone else
  • Start the investigation: submit a support ticket or communicate with your operations team or person to investigate the issue
  • Write an effective follow-up: Work with your content team or copywriter to craft an effective follow-up email-slash-apology response
  • Communication is key: Send the apology email out the same day to those that received the wrong email as quickly as possible
  • Follow-up: Send an email out to stakeholders involved noting the apology email is scheduled and provide any status updates from the investigation

Email marketing can be tedious, but your audience will understand that mistakes happen if you accept the mistake and communicate it effectively! We are lucky that we market to marketers, therefore our audience understood and responded positively to our apology. The apology email that we sent out was witty, admitted our mistake, and addressed the situation in a humorous manner. Your audience is human too and everyone makes mistakes! It’s what you do and how you build and execute your come back strategy that truly matters! All’s well that ends well!

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.