February 06, 2018 Miles Szkoda
Webinars are amazing marketing tools. They give businesses a platform to engage potential buyers for hours at a time. But when we changed to an in-house solution, we realized we were only experiencing the tip of the iceberg. Keep reading to see how we reduced cost and increased output with one simple solution.
As the web content specialist at Jameson Publishing, I see my fair share of webinars—about 80 per year. So when we decided to move from a third-party solution to hosting and managing all our webinars in-house, I knew there were a few critical must-haves: cost reduction, time savings, and confidence in the platform. Now, just two years after implementation, our results speak for themselves—we made the right decision.
A Little Background
Jameson Publishing is a pioneering B2B media services company devoted to the creation of valuable long-term professional relationships. Whether it’s through our print and online publications, at one of our industry events, or during a professional training course, our focus remains the same, to provide the platform where the world’s business and community leaders meet, engage, influence and collaborate to bring important new products, services and solutions to market quickly.
We work with companies who have marketing departments of one all the way to giants like Microsoft and Honeywell, and although our partners come from all industries and with very different budgets and resources, they have one thing in common: They understand the power of a webinar.
We’ve been offering webinars for over five years now, but with the rise of the public’s—and B2B buyer’s—consumption of visual media, the demand for this highly engaging content channel has increased drastically. There’s no other tool in the marketer’s toolkit that allows them to hold the attention of a prospect for 60 minutes or more, and our partners recognize the huge ROI potential behind this unprecedented engagement.
As more and more of our partners added webinars to their contracts, we began to think about how we could increase our output while drastically reducing the time to create, manage, and execute the webinars as well as reduce our cost per webinar. For several years, we used a third-party to perform every function of the webinar: manage, set up, produce, and execute. While this hands-off approach did have one benefit—it didn’t require any internal resources—it also had its fair share of drawbacks. Namely, time and money—two of the most precious business resources there are.
The Selection Process
Being that we had never owned this process internally, we didn’t have a team set up to manage all the aspects of webinar production. So I volunteered to be the point man and our management team began evaluating webinar platforms. We looked at several of the big names, like Adobe Connect and GoToMeeting, but like the adage says, experience is the best teacher. In this case, our experience came from attending webinars hosted by other companies to see which ones stood out to us. Not long into our hunt one of our circulation team members happened to be attending an online trade show and was extremely impressed by the quality of the live webinar. After some investigation, she found out that the webinar software company was ON24.
To be honest, ON24 wasn’t even on our radar. Like a lot of companies, we started our search with the top names in the industry—the Gartner Magic Quadrant companies. But it was the experience of watching, participating and using various platforms that gave us the confidence that we were choosing the best webinar platform for our needs. Today, we’re happy we took the time to try several options, and as you’ll see from the results below, that time was an investment that has paid dividends.
Our partners are busy professionals with calendars to match. With our old provider, we would have to schedule a 20- to 30-minute training call with our co-presenter before the live webinar to explain the platform and how to use it. These co-presenters are often executives and/or industry analysts, so a half-an-hour time commitment is a big ask. And when you have people whose job it is to ensure the financial success of their organization, asking them to learn this menial task of running a webinar could often become an annoying or frustrating experience.
With the simplicity of the ON24 platform, I now only need five minutes or less to explain how to run a webinar. The process goes like this:
• Explain the three main windows they will use.
I know, not even a lengthy enough process to justify bullets, but you get the point. A minute or two per window to explain how to manage questions and ensure a smooth webinar, and that’s it.
In addition to reducing time spent per webinar for our partners, the fast setup process is a blessing for our busy editors and sales reps who join in on the training calls. To illustrate how quickly and easily someone can go from zero knowledge to trained and ready to host an ON24 webinar, I’ll give you a real-world example. Recently, I had a scheduled session with a partner and before the editor or sales rep even had a chance to join the call, the training was over and they were ready to go. By having a tool that is well made and easy to use, it increases our partner’s confidence in us and their decision to use us to reach potential customers.
By switching to ON24, we’ve reduced our costs by nearly 80 percent. . . In addition, our partners are happy with the beautifully produced and flawlessly executed webinars and our executive team is happy with the boost in our bottom line.
Now I’d be remiss if I didn’t factor in the soft cost of my time into our current price per webinar. But with just a nominal amount of experience and initial training (less than two days), I can set up a webinar similar to ones we’ve completed in the past in less than 10 minutes using templates and create a new webinar, branded specifically for a new partner in less than 30.
This efficiency in our process has also produced an unforeseen benefit: confidence. From day one working with ON24, every single webinar has gone off without a hitch. This flawless execution has not only given our sales and management teams confidence in ON24, but it has also increased their confidence in our internal resources to deliver a seamless, highly professional webinar experience to every partner, every time.
If you and your company are considering a change, and are vetting various webinar platforms, I can’t stress enough how important experience is. Get your hands dirty, attend and host as many webinars as you can on as many different platforms as possible, and let your experience guide you to the best solution. This firsthand knowledge will give you and your entire organization the confidence that you’re making the best decision, and I hope, will produce for you the same tremendous results we’ve achieved.