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How SAP Adapted Its Webinar Program to Combat Digital Fatigue

300 digital events in 2020

>8,000 attendees in a month across all events in the region

40% of pipeline for HR audience from HR Connect event

ABOUT SAP

  • Employees:  >105,000
  • Industry: Software and Technology
  • Headquarters: Baden- Württemberg, Germany
  • Founded: 1972

SAP’s strategy is to help every business run as an intelligent enterprise. As the market leader in enterprise application software, SAP helps give people and organizations deep business insight and fosters collaboration that helps them stay ahead of their competition. It’s end-to-end suite of applications and services enables business and public customers across 25 industries globally to operate profitably, adapt continuously and make a difference. With a global network of customers, partners, employees, and thought leaders, SAP helps the world run better and improve people’s lives. For more information, visit www.sap.com.

INTRODUCTION

SAP is a huge company with over 105,000 employees in more than 140 countries worldwide.  The company has 100+ development locations and more than 22,000 global partner companies. Based on revenue, SAP is the largest non-American software company and the world’s third-largest publicly-traded software company. 

SAP’s APJ marketing team has been partnering with ON24 for several years to deliver webinars and other digital events, with the help of an in-house agency that helps with set up and execution.  The agency manages all of the technical aspects of the event including set up, console design, trial runs, training presenters and speakers and day-of event management. 

With this set up, the marketing campaign managers can focus on promoting the event, building an audience, securing quality speakers, and creating content and post-event follow-up. This allows the agency and campaign managers to each focus on their strengths and not become overwhelmed with the workload of producing frequent digital events.  

 

“Having this turnkey environment has really helped us survive Covid,” said Len Augustine, APJ Head of Portfolio, Ecosystem & Digital Marketing at SAP. “We would not have been able to scale as quickly and as easily if we hadn’t set up our webinar environment in this fashion.”

  • Employees:  >105,000
  • Industry: Software and Technology
  • Headquarters: Baden- Württemberg, Germany
  • Founded: 1972

SAP’s strategy is to help every business run as an intelligent enterprise. As the market leader in enterprise application software, SAP helps give people and organizations deep business insight and fosters collaboration that helps them stay ahead of their competition. It’s end-to-end suite of applications and services enables business and public customers across 25 industries globally to operate profitably, adapt continuously and make a difference. With a global network of customers, partners, employees, and thought leaders, SAP helps the world run better and improve people’s lives. For more information, visit www.sap.com.

SAP is a huge company with over 105,000 employees in more than 140 countries worldwide.  The company has 100+ development locations and more than 22,000 global partner companies. Based on revenue, SAP is the largest non-American software company and the world’s third-largest publicly-traded software company. 

SAP’s APJ marketing team has been partnering with ON24 for several years to deliver webinars and other digital events, with the help of an in-house agency that helps with set up and execution.  The agency manages all of the technical aspects of the event including set up, console design, trial runs, training presenters and speakers and day-of event management. 

With this set up, the marketing campaign managers can focus on promoting the event, building an audience, securing quality speakers, and creating content and post-event follow-up. This allows the agency and campaign managers to each focus on their strengths and not become overwhelmed with the workload of producing frequent digital events.  

 

“Having this turnkey environment has really helped us survive Covid,” said Len Augustine, APJ Head of Portfolio, Ecosystem & Digital Marketing at SAP. “We would not have been able to scale as quickly and as easily if we hadn’t set up our webinar environment in this fashion.”

PROBLEM

Prior to the pandemic, the team delivered around 100 events per year across their five main regions which include Australia and New Zealand, India, Japan, Southeast Asia and Korea. 

When the pandemic prohibited in-person events, the team ramped up their digital plan and produced more than 300 events across their region in 2020.  These events were often offered in multiple languages and included everything from small roundtable thought-leadership discussions with 20-30 people to large multi-day events with more than 1,000 people.  

“Some months we had up to 8,000 attendees across all the events that we were running,” said Augustine. 

But, as more companies began hosting webinars and other virtual events, the threat of digital fatigue began to set in.  After a year of digital interactions, the company worried that the sheer volume of virtual events would erode attendees’ desire to participate in them. 

Registration and attendance declined as did time spent engaging with digital events. Overall, people were less enthusiastic about participating in online events. SAP needed to do something to re energize its digital audience since face-to-face events were still not an option.

“Having this turnkey environment has really helped us survive Covid.” 

Len Augustine
APJ Head of Portfolio, Ecosystem & Digital Marketing at SAP

SOLUTION

To combat digital fatigue, SAP needed to make some changes to its webinar program and figure out how to re-engage its audience. The team came up with several solutions to drive registration and attendance to their webinars: 

  •     Decrease volume of events – By paring down the number of events it offers, SAP could encourage attendees to attend events by only focusing on highly relevant content that the audience wants.
  •     Increase event engagement – Augustine and his team made a conscious effort to make sure events were highly engaging and relevant to the audience, to encourage attendance and  participation. 
  •     Decrease event communications – By looking at past events, Augustine and his team could identify which event invites and reminders had the biggest impact on registration, and eliminate ineffective email clutter. 

We’ve made a deliberate attempt to make the events better.” 

Len Augustine
APJ Head of Portfolio, Ecosystem & Digital Marketing at SAP

  • Give the audience more control – Offering content that attendees could consume on-demand helped increase registration and attendance.  On-demand viewing has become an expectation as people find their new work-life balance. 
  • Decrease event length – The typical hour-long webinar is now too long to hold the attention of modern attendees, so SAP decreased the length of its events and broke quality content into smaller, more digestible sessions post-event
  • Simplify registration process – Instead of making people register for each event, SAP simplified the registration process so people only need to sign in once to access all content. This led to higher attendance numbers since people were no longer being stopped by gated pages to access content. 

“We’ve backed off the number of events this year. We’ve made a deliberate attempt to make the events better. We’ve tried to make the events more engaging and more interesting to draw the audience back,” said Augustine.

“The goal will be to do hybrid events in as many cases as possible.” 

Len Augustine
APJ Head of Portfolio, Ecosystem & Digital Marketing at SAP

RESULTS

Of the many events SAP runs every year, there are several marquee events that focus on specific software solutions or business roles.  One of these events is HR Connect which brings SAP’s HR customers together to share experiences, information and networking. 

This multi-day virtual conference was broadcasted across the APJ region and had close to 1,000 attendees.  The event also generated 40% of SAP’s 2021 pipeline.

Moving forward, Augustine’s goal is to create hybrid events by incorporating digital elements into face-to-face events, allowing those with geographical restrictions to still attend and participate when they otherwise would not get to.   

“We want to preserve the best of both worlds. The goal will be to do hybrid events in as many cases as possible,” said Augustine. “People have absolutely enjoyed being able to come to things that they would’ve had to justify a plane trip for in the past.”