For this month's good media idea we will highlight webinars, specifically in the B2B marketing space. If you are not familiar with the term, a webinar is an online seminar conducted usually by a publisher and sponsor in which participants pre-register, then log-in to view at a specified time the audio/visual presentation. It is usually timed at an hour, with 45 minutes of a presentation, and 15 minutes for question and answer at the end. Webinars topics vary widely, but usually focus on either a relevant topic to the reader, or discuss an industry problem. Some may even qualify for continuing education credit in certain fields. Above all, webinars should not be a sales pitch of a product - but more on that later. After the webinar is conducted, the publisher or platform usually provides all of the contact information of registrants to the sponsor. Then the sponsor has a fresh set of pre-qualified leads (people that invested an hour of their time to learn more on the topic and company) to begin to nurture.
Webinars are an excellent example of content marketing done right. Content marketing has been a buzz-word (or is it buzz-phrase?) in the marketing world for the last few years for a reason: because it works. The concept of content marketing is that a business provides relevant information to a potential customer who trades their information or time to receive it. It takes many forms, as either via a blog, ebook, slide share or a webinar and when done right can be an excellent means of positioning a company as an expert in a field while generating qualified leads. In our web-driven world where everyone turns to a search engine to discover more on a topic, quality content can attract a lot of prospects to a company's website and provide a great way to begin a relationship.
We have been recommending and coordinating webinars for many of our B2B clients the last few years, and have seen a large volume of leads generated this way. It positions our client's as thought-leaders in their industry, provides quality content for a publisher's audience and is an engaging & interactive way for a client to interact with potential prospects. But it's gotta be done right. Below are a few tips that we have learned through our time of coordinating these for our clients.
6 tips for effectively executing webinars
1) Pick a relevant topic. Content marketing is only as good as the content. Make sure the topic is interesting to the audience and obviously something that your company can build a presentation around. Also Don't be salesy: This is the kiss of death for any webinar. If it's just a sales pitch for your product disguised as an educational webinar, people immediately will log off. They did not sign up for a product demo; they have given their time to learn something new. Usually the publisher will help massage the message to keep the content in a more editorial vein.
2) Timing is important. Make sure you schedule the webinar at an appropriate time seasonally both for the audience and for your sales cycle. Ie. A webinar about hibernation habits of bears presented in July is probably not going to be a huge draw. Coordinating your webinar's timing with a new product launch is not out of bounds either, as long as you do not make it a sales pitch for that product (see above). The time of day and week is also important and different for each audience and should be considered as well to optimize attendance.
3) Ask the right questions. The quality of the leads that you generate from the webinar will be directly correlated to the information you ask for in the pre-qualification process. Beyond normal contact information, most publishers allow sponsors to ask a couple of other registration questions. Make sure you are thinking through the information you want from leads that will help you best determine which leads are hottest for follow up. Which leads me to the next point...
4) Follow up with the leads. You have spent time developing the content for the webinar and money sponsoring it. You have asked excellent pre-qualification questions, and hundreds attended your seamless presentation. The publisher has provided the list of registrants and attendees - please do NOT let the leads get cold on your desk. Make sure you have a plan and team in place to follow up with the leads so they turn into sales. That's the point of all marketing, after all, isn't it?
5) Do post-analysis. After the webinar has been presented and leads have come in, we always recommend analyzing how it went to improve your webinar endeavors in the future. Perhaps it was not well attended - was the topic too niche? Or the leads generated are not your core prospects. Maybe a different publisher should be selected next time that better aligns with your brand. Asking and answering these questions will make you a better marketer.
6) Be prepared to work hard. Coordinating these webinars with publishers is a lot of work, both for the advertiser and the agency. There are conference calls required to develop the topic, time to actually create the content (usually from someone outside of the marketing department) and then dry runs and execution the day of the webinar. Webinar platforms and technical capacities vary from publisher to publisher as well as the teams they have to coordinate the webinars (or lack thereof, in which case an agency with experience is paramount). But if done well, the hard work pays off with content your company can be proud of that generates leads and eventually sales.