Webinars have long been a staple of B2B marketing. There is an ample supply of industry statistics – alongside organizational data – that demonstrate why.
For example, ON24, which provides technology for hosting webinars, says these online presentations are a top lead generation tactic. That’s not surprising given the high engagement rate webinars tend to earn.
Data from BrightTALK, another webinar platform provider, puts the registrant-to-attendee conversion rate about one-third. The company said in an impressive report earlier this year, that more registrants will view recorded content days after the actual webinar. In fact, an astonishing 69% of views come more than 10 days later.
That such a volume of engagement is coming after the event underscores the fact there is a whole lot more value that can be gleaned from webinars. Arguably, the time, effort and budget that goes into producing high-quality webinars makes leveraging this existing investment an imperative in modern digital marketing.
In my experience, the webinar organizers in marketing tend to be focused on logistics and immediate marketing goals and simply don’t have the bandwidth to think about anything else. Yet if marketing gets the content and PR functions involved, these groups can help drive far better results – before, during and after – a webinar.
Below are 12 ideas on precisely how to drive better results from your B2B marketing webinars.
1) Publish a monthly roundup post
Roundups are content curation at its finest. Simply roundup a handful of the best news articles and blog posts from other credible sources – that are relevant to your community – and weave a promotion for your webinar into the content.
This works best if this is part of marketing operating system. In other words, you host a webinar every month, the organization has the discipline to consistently get a solid roundup piece produced, approved and published. This becomes a theme or column for a monthly blog post.
Do this four weeks prior to the webinar. Share your post liberally on social media.
2) Interview your speaker before the webinar
Whether your primary speaker is internal or external, carve out time for a 30-minute interview. There are several ways to do this without giving the webinar content away. For example, you can interview them on topics adjacent to the focus of the webinar, or cover in-depth an aspect the speaker will only touch on during the webinar.
For internal speakers, where a webinar is just one more additional duty, an interview like this can be a helpful creative exercise for them as they develop a presentation. If you’ve hired a 3rd party speaker, as part of an influencer marketing program, make this interview part of the contract.
If it’s not obvious, a reference to the webinar, date and registration form should be featured prominently in the piece produced as a result of the interview.
Do this three weeks prior to the webinar. Share the content on your social sites again.
3) Curate the speaker’s previously published content
If your speaker is prolific, then research and roundup previous blog posts and contributed articles he or she has published. Chances are, if you commissioned a 3rd party expert for your webinar, there will be a lot of content to work with.
If they are not prolific, then look to create another roundup from other external sources that have written about this topic. This begins to evolve from just another roundup to a valuable and carefully curated package of information that goes along with the webinar.
All the outbound links in this style post triple duty by serving as a built-in content distribution catalyst and help to build relationships with content.
Do this a week prior to the webinar and share on your social channels again. By now you can begin to see how a systematic approach to content provides both marketing integration with plenty of room for creativity.
4) Repurpose high performing promos as a native ad
Keep close tabs on the reach of pre-webinar content you’ve just published. If there’s a piece that is gaining break-out traction, double down on it. Repurpose – add value and polish – to it and then run it as a native advisement through an industry trade publication.
Given advertising deadlines, buying ad inventory is usually much smoother if you plan both content and budget for it in advance. However, you may have to make a business case for it the first couple of times and pitch it as an experiment.
If the inventory is exhausted by the time you decide to do this, check with the publication about a sponsored email to the reader list.
One of the most successful webinars, at least in terms of registrants, was from a native ad with a provocative headline. We fueled this even further and then we put a modest amount of paid social spend behind too.
Be sure to tag your content so you can determine how many registrants came from that source. I recommend the Google URL builder at a minimum.
5) Invite relevant media to truly exceptional webinars
If the content of your webinar is truly exceptional, an invitation to a very narrow list of trade media, bloggers or influencers may be warranted. For example, if your business released a statistically significant survey or data-rich industry trends report, a webinar that breaks down what it means would be useful. In this sense, the webinar doubles as something akin to an old-fashioned press conference.
Don’t get overzealous in inviting traditional reporters to webinars. Use this sparingly.
6) Research hashtags in advance
Any social media community manager worth their paycheck should already have a list of Twitter hashtags to use. However, the topic of the webinar is a chance to research new hashtags, confirm the old ones and update the list.
Every brand dreams of having its own hashtag, however, I generally think brands should be very cautious here. It’s far too easy for online trolls to hijack these hashtags and give you an unexpected problem during the event. Only use your own hashtag if you think you’ll have the engagement volume to drown out the trolls.
7) Have graphics for social media prepared
There’s an obvious real-time marketing component to webinars – live tweeting snappy soundbites as they occur is one of them. This can go a lot further with a little preparation.
For example, having a few graphics ready to go with these tweets will visually augment any quotes shared on social media. Certainly, a screenshot from the presentation can suffice, but well-conceived illustrations, sized to the requirements of the intended platform, will bring a higher level of professionalism.
Most social media-savvy speakers these days have tweetable moments already baked into their presentations. With a little prior coordination, you can prepare a few quotes in a graphical format like this to share during the webinar.
There’s an easy way to use PowerPoint tip to develop such graphics – see my post photo hacks for PR pros to learn more. Alternatively, ask the creative shop to help you create a self-serve solution you can use for the year.
8) Have a list of thoughtful links prepared
Live-tweeting an event also presents the opportunity to share existing content relevant to the topic from other sources. For example, if the speaker previously wrote an in-depth article on a topic that’s only referenced at a high-level during the webinar, sharing it in that very moment adds value. If you’ve already curated a roundup of links, here’s a chance to use it again.
In addition, you’ve probably had a chance to review the presentation before hand – so match up links to the presentation content. For example, if the speaker is citing a statistic in the presentation, have a link to that source ready to share the moment it is referenced.
It’s also important to note that you should not limit your sharing to content only produced by the speaker. Have a few relevant links of your own ready to go and a few from other credible sources too.
9) Draft a takeaway post for rapid publication
Have your PR or content team attend the webinar and draft a blog post that summarizes the content presented. A simple technique to drafting a useful post quickly is to write a list of takeaways or points that stood out on the webinar. Three to five points will do, seven is better, 10 or more for an outstanding webinar.
Publish this post with a link to the recording the following week and re-socialized on social media. This can also be used in a variety of other ways, for example:
Include a link to the summary post in a thank you note to attendees.
Use the copy to promote the recording to those that didn’t register or attend.
Embed a link in your regular monthly email newsletter.
It’s potential media pitch or link for a roundup article.
Adding multimedia to this post will enhance the value. For example, upload the slides to SlideShare and embed the presentation in the blog post. Also be sure to include a link to the webinar recording.
I’ve seen both gated and ungated versions of recordings work. Some organizations do not gate recordings, which in that case best practice is to upload the recording to YouTube (or Vimeo, etc.) and embed it into the blog post. Others will gate newer recordings but ungate the content as they age and gradually release them on an open video platform.
A recent Marketing Smarts podcast interview with video platform provider Wistia points to research and advocates for always gating content. The key is in how you gate: Wisita says 20 seconds into a video is most effective and you can’t go wrong asking for an email at the end of a video.
10) Create an infographic based on key points
Much like the tweetable moments, most third party speakers you pay to present on webinars are going to have key points built into the presentation. The many lessons, principles, or essential elements the speaker makes…this is ready-made content for an infographic.
Of course, you give full credit to the speaker and invite them into the review process. Most reasonable influencers will love this idea and readily embrace it. Co-content marketing is good for them too. If they do not, then check out this post on the magic middle.
11) Pitch a contributed article to the trade media
A forty-five-minute webinar is time enough to provide a lot of ideas – ideas that may also be worthy of a contributed article. Usually, webinars conducted for thought-leadership purposes are best as the basis for contributed articles. Product specific webinars probably won’t work.
I have also found it’s far easier to create a contributed article based on a webinar topic if the speaker is also an employee. Although it’s not impossible to create contributed content with a 3rd party speaker, it is more challenging given the ideas do not belong to the company.
12) Use it as a basis for a white paper
If the content of the webinar is appropriate and thorough enough, it could either be the basis of a white paper, or a component thereof. A good marketing leader will plan webinars in a successive format specifically for this purpose. It can be a series, but it doesn’t have to be since three congruent webinar topics that can be weaved together under a common whitepaper theme will do.
Even disparate topics can be weaved together. For example, repurposing the summaries of the webinars you’ve already published over the course of the year into a cohesive ebook. This requires some advanced planning, but if you cover one trend every month, at the end of the year, you have the foundation for an ebook on 12 trends from 2017.
This is a more viable option when dealing with a topic that’s especially complex and when using a third party webinar presenter you’ve hired. Put that infographic you created in point #10 as an added visual element for your gated content registration page.
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There is an incredible amount of additional value that B2B organizations can realize from existing efforts such as webinars. If you are trying to accomplish all this for the first time, it will seem overwhelming.
However, that’s why having marketing systems and content processes are so important. By the second or third try, the execution will be seamless and your marketing organization will begin to look for optimization and process improvement opportunities.