The idea of a physical event focused on webinars is a bit ironic, but the more than 600 attendees that gathered in San Francisco this week for the third annual Webinar World demonstrated that the evolution of online events is having a fundamental influence on overall content and marketing strategies.
Hosted by ON24, the event featured thought leadership from top influencers in B2B, uses cases from a variety of industries, as well as a string of announcements around new products, partnerships and approaches designed to help marketers get ahead.
Sharat Sharan, CEO and Founder of ON24, explained to Demand Gen Report that the focus of Webinar World continues to expand and evolve to meet the changing needs of both marketers and buyers.
“What we’re seeing overall is that what both marketers and buyers want an ongoing, mutually beneficial conversation or digital experience,” said Sharan. “One of the main themes of this conference is exploring all the ways webinars can help enhance, humanize and scale marketing campaigns. We believe that meaningful engagement creates actionable insights which translate into revenue.”
Sharan added that the audience and influence of the event has continued to expand as well. Last year, Webinar World drew more than 2,000 attendees across four different events in San Francisco, London, Sydney and Singapore.He attributed the growth of the event in part to the challenges that marketers are having in creating content that stretches beyond clicks and opens to drive “human engagement” with a targeted audience.
At the event, ON24 unveiled the results of a new a study from Heinz Marketing, which found marketer’s confidence in certain tactics has faded over the past two years. The study, which surveyed nearly 150 respondents representing a range of industries, found that 63% of marketers said their content marketing strategy was either not very effective or only somewhat effective, compared to just 35% in 2017. In addition, two-thirds of respondents said they were either not confident or only somewhat confident that their content is driving revenue results.
To help marketers address this growing confidence gap around content, ON24 announced several new products, partnerships and platforms at the event, including:
Content Journeys is a suite of new features designed to drive ongoing engagement and create meaningful customer experiences. The expanded capabilities are designed to help marketers gain further insights and feedback from customers, help facilitate a two-way conversation and create a fully customizable digital experience for customers. Content Journeys provides marketers with new capabilities such as ratings, comments and customizable CTAs.
“Today, marketing happens in silos,” Sharan said. “That is not only bad for marketing departments, but it creates a fragmented buyer’s journey. Content Journeys was created to help fuse the walls between traditional divided marketing departments and enable continuous content delivery. The ultimate goal for any marketer should be to deliver a holistic customer experience. That’s the vision behind this innovation and what will define the future of marketing.”
ON24 Content Insights
Since measuring the impact of content and understanding what messaging is resonating with buyers is also a top priority for marketers, ON24 debuted Content Insights. It is available for ON24’s Engagement Hub and Target products and aims to help marketers optimize campaigns based on intelligence and insights.
One interesting feature of Content Insights is its ability to measure attentiveness as part of its Prospect Engagement Profile, which extends beyond the traditional metric of tracking viewing time. Other features include a rating system to track likes and dislikes on pieces of content, comments, as well as unique visitors and top accounts viewed.
“Content is one of the most resource intensive aspects of marketing. ON24 was built to help marketers constantly feed the thirst for self-served content. But we also know that for the marketer to gain ROI from that content investment, it can’t go into a black box,” Sharan said. “Content Insights finally helps unveil content performance and gives audiences the opportunity to give direct feedback to marketers helps optimize content creation, while giving buyers a sense of responsibility.”
Expanded Partnership With Marketo
With more marketers focused on measurement and looking to integrate data from digital experiences into their core marketing platforms, ON24 also announced an expanded partnership with Marketo, an Adobe company, at Webinar World. The partnership is designed to help marketers deliver an end-to-end demand generation solution by integrating with the webinar channel. Sharan explained that the multi-year agreement is positioned to help provide increased value to the thousands of customers who already use ON24 and Marketo to engage and understand their audience.
Mika Yamamoto, VP Customer Success and Digital Experience at Adobe and former President of Marketo, delivered a keynote address at Webinar World. During it, she emphasized that more marketers are focusing on revenue metrics to better align with sales. She explained that the partnership with ON24 will help marketers uncover real engagement data from their campaigns.
“Data is integral to enabling marketers to deliver outstanding customer experiences and ultimately shareholder value,” Yamamoto said. “Through our collaboration with ON24, we will be able to give marketers deeper insights into their customers, helping transform their funnel and positively impact their bottom line.”
The two companies announced that Marketo has selected ON24 as its global webinar provider and will use the behavioral intelligence provided by the ON24 Platform to help inform its own audience engagement strategy. ON24, a customer of Marketo for more than five years, will become a member of the Marketo Partner Advisory Board. The two companies formalized an agreement to work together to innovate their synergistic technologies, making it easy for marketers to adopt and realize the value of engagement data.