How to use webinars to drive engagement and increase pipeline

Best Practices

This Questions and Answers interview was originally published on b2bmarketing.net .

What are the common mistakes businesses make with webinars?

Mark: Companies tend to think of webinars simply as a top of funnel, lead generation tool. Their goal is to get as many names as possible. Many marketers don’t even care what happens during the live webinar, once they’ve acquired the leads they simply send them to sales and claim victory. That’s just outdated thinking.

The modern webinar is all about engagement. They’re multi-media, interactive experiences, where the goal is to get your audience members to take as many actions as possible which then provides you with actionable information about your prospects.

And this engagement model works across the entire buying cycle. Today, we see companies replacing static content like white papers, case studies and demo videos with interactive webinars. Just imagine letting your prospects hear directly from your best customers on a webinar? Now that’s an effective case study. Or replacing that canned demo with an interactive tour of your product? There are so many ways that webinar engagement can supercharge your marketing.

Do you think people underestimate the power of webinars?

Oh absolutely! In a time when we measure engagement by the click or mere seconds spent on a landing page or in an email, we have very few opportunities to have real human moments with our prospects. That used to be the role of sales but the modern buyer doesn’t want to engage with a salesperson. So what replaces that experience? That’s where webinars come in. What other chance do you get to be in front of your prospects for up to an hour at a time? An hour where you can not only present content to them but where you can also interact with them in meaningful ways. And this interaction is going to give you the insights you need to find and convert your best leads.

What do webinars mean for sales teams’ engagement with prospects?

Well, I feel for salespeople these days, their job isn’t getting any easier. Buyers are inundated with sales and marketing emails and prospecting calls which has resulted in them being numb to most sales methodologies.

Further, and I’m going to say something bold here, most salespeople are used to getting weak leads from their marketing teams. And I say that as a marketer. Let’s be honest, it’s true. Webinars however are the one marketing technology that can change that reality. Now you can capture every action that a prospect took in a webinar (questions asked, poll responses, survey data, content downloaded, etc.) and put that data into Salesforce, or other CRMs, for the salesperson to view before making contact. This enables them to continue a conversation as opposed to starting one. And that is a game changer.

How can you optimise interactivity in a webinar?

Well, I believe that webinar interactivity should be scripted right into your presentation. Just like you script your story and your slides, you should plan how you are going to interact with your audience. When I build a webinar, I always plan out a few polls to help fuel a good conversation with my audience. I will often script a few different spots in the webinar to take questions, not just wait till the end. Sometimes I build in gamification too. I also encourage the audience to live tweet, download content and click on CTAs. The point is, you should optimise your webinar to ensure your audience is involved and interacting with you and each other as much as possible. Increased engagement will lead to higher content retention and more importantly, it will provide you with more data for effective follow-up later.

Where is the ROI in webinars? What’s the business case?

Webinars have such a high ROI for such a small investment. The business case for webinars is that they enable you to quickly and cost-effectively engage with large numbers of your prospects in a real human way. Webinars are now where the selling happens. It’s where we find our best leads and how we convince them to become customers.

It kills me every time I talk to a company that is using a meeting or conferencing tool for their webinars because their IT department already had a contract in place. Don’t get me wrong, meeting tools are great… for meetings, but that are not optimised for webinars. The investment in true webinar marketing platform will likely have the highest return of anything in your marketing tech stack.

Webinars have clearly developed over the years. What do you think is the future of webinars?

There are two ways that I think webinars are evolving. The first is that the live experience is no longer the only goal. We’re now living in the on-demand economy, meaning people want to consume content on their own time, in their own way. Content needs to be always available and easily binge-able – and this goes for webinars too. We’re seeing many companies moving to the Netflix model, where they’re building on demand gateways or hubs where valuable webinars are made available for immediate viewing. These gateways are where you can archive webinars after the live event is over, to extend the life of that content. We also see companies building webinar content that’s produced straight for on demand without a live component. Webinar gateways are an effective way to get more people to the right content.

The other area I see the role of webinars changing is in personalisation. Account-based marketing programmes have become an incredibly important part of modern marketing strategies. We all want to be more targeted and we do that by offering a more personalised experience. But most ABM strategies focus on the targeting and not what happens once you make contact. We’re now seeing companies creating customised webinars that are created for specific accounts, industries or use cases, to add a higher level of engagement to their ABM programmes. That includes custom landing pages with targeted webinars as the primary content.

What do you think webinars do for brand image?

So much. In many cases, webinars are where your prospects first experience your brand – and not for a few seconds but for a long period of time. You have to think about your webinar console as if it’s a virtual lobby to your company. As I mentioned above, you should always customise your webinar consoles so when your prospects attend your events they feel enveloped by your brand. You can create a lot of stickiness to your brand imagery with such a long exposure if you do it right.

Can webinars allow you to understand your customers better?

Well, here lies the true magic of webinar engagement. The more you interact with your audience, the more you can learn about them. Webinars are where your prospects actually tell you what’s on their mind: their challenges, needs and interests. Their interactions with you (through polls, surveys, Q&A, chat, social, downloads etc) provide a much better picture of your prospects and customers than you can get with any other marketing technology. Marketers all want to be data driven and engagement is the only way to get the data that really matters. It’s simple maths: webinar engagement gives you the insights you need to convert prospects into customers.

Mark’s tips to achieving best practice in webinars

  1. When promoting your webinars, don’t keep sending the same email repeatedly. Mix up the message and mix up the email type. The same goes with social media, don’t tweet the same thing over and over again. If it didn’t work the first time, it probably won’t the second or third.
  2. Make sure your webinar console looks and feels like your brand. You have people staring at a fixed location for up to an hour, give them something to look at. Integrate your logo, top-line messaging, corporate imagery and colours. Make sure your webinars are a great reflection of your company.
  3. Dial up the engagement. As I said earlier, the more interactive your webinars are, the more actionable data you’ll get to qualify your leads and convert them into pipeline. Literally script engagement into your presentations by integrated polls, Q&A, gamification, etc. Your audience will appreciate it too.
  4. Play with the formats. Don’t treat all webinars as talking powerpoint presentations. Some of the best webinars I’ve seen lately didn’t even have slides, they were simply great discussions with interesting people. Try panels, interviews, chat shows, and other formats to change the tone of your events. It will also take the pressure of your presenters. Instead of giving a ‘formal’ presentation, they can have conversations with each other and the audience, which is a better experience for everybody.
  5. Have an on-demand strategy. According to our recent Webinar Benchmarks Report, 35% of people who view webinars will watch on demand – not live. If your webinars only exist as a moment in time, then you’re losing up to a third or more of your potential audience.


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Announcing Webinar World: Engage for Action


At some point, your audience stopped caring. They tuned out your communications and skipped over your content. It’s what happens when people are reduced to data points.

We know you get it. We also know that the pressure of keeping the business running is so overwhelming that you have no choice but to produce more. More content, in more channels, with more fleeting touches delivering superficial data and diminishing returns. The more you interrupt, the less it feels like a genuine conversation. So, when the conversation ends, so does any real connection to your audience, along with an opportunity to gain meaningful insights about the real person on the other end.

That’s why it’s imperative for every brand to rethink engagement. At ON24, we know there’s a better way—a more compelling, human approach. It starts with dynamic, relevant, multimedia content, delivered both live and on-demand, connecting with your audience when they want to through interactive features like polling, chatting, surveying, and more. And, finally, turning connections into insights that you can act on and share seamlessly across your operations.

Join us at Webinar World 2019 and to learn how to Engage for Action. Because if you redefine the way you engage with your audience, you can redefine your success.

Ready to Engage for Action? Register now for Early Bird rates

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Summer Reading: The Five Elements of Webinar Storytelling

B2B Webinars

For the next summer series playlist track , we’re going to put on the ritz. Jazz it up a little. Add some flair to the webinar air. We’re going to talk, of course, about generating great webinar stories.

So, how can you add some glitz to your webinar story glamor? Simple: organize. Plot, plan and then push your content. Getting the elements of your story right is critical because, as Mark Bornstein notes in “10 Secrets for Creating Great Webinar Content ,” webinars are getting longer — up to 56 minutes on average in 2017. That added length means you have an exceptional opportunity to draw your audience in and push great content out.

So, where to start? Well, right here:

1. Have a goal in mind.

First, you need to have a goal for your specific webinar. This is where having detailed ideal customer profiles, personas and buying cycles in place helps. By knowing where your proposed webinar is going to fall across those three elements, you can select, craft or recycle highly relevant content that benefits the audience your aiming to address. Consider this the plotting stage of your webinar story.

2. Find inspiration in content that works

Your organization has stories. It has content. It has material you can take and turn into a webinar. For example, it has content for top, bottom, and middle-of-funnel buyers. Find the material that performs best — whether it’s a white paper, ebook, case study, research or just a blog post — and use it as inspiration for your webinars. Break your selected content down into topic areas and build out webinars based on those topics.

3. Refine

Once you have a topic selected — one that solves a problem for your audience — it’s time to refine. By refining, we mean focusing your webinar entirely on one subject and one subject only. Refrain from asides. Don’t try to connect one subject to another. Just focus on the topic you chose. By going deep into one issue, you’ll provide your audience with tangible benefits and prove your expertise.

4. Build your story

Finally, it’s time to build your story. This is where you get to add the neat little details. It’s hard, sure, but the good news is most of the heavy lifting is already done. You have an audience in mind, a topic and a specific pain point you’re trying to address. Now, all you have to do is decide how you’ll address your topic.

You’ve got a few options. You can showcase a new concept, compare strategies and tactics, demonstrate your solution (if you’re talking to bottom-of-funnel attendees) or give news-like updates on new industry developments. Whatever you chose, make sure the event sticks to your agenda, speaks on what you’ve advertised in your webinar abstract and is paced so your audience can follow along.

There are two things you should avoid, however. First, don’t make filler content. Your event should only be as long as it takes to address your topic (plus questions). Second, don’t pitch until it’s time to pitch. Audiences are coming to you for advice and help — help them first, then, when a prospect is at the bottom of the funnel, you can start talking about your company.

5. Outline and build your slides

Right, you have your narrative built out. Everything’s practically done except for the actual event content. Often, this means slides. Don’t worry — building slides to your content is easy.

First, outline what you’re going to go through during your event. This outline will serve as the basis for your slides. Second, know who’s speaking to your slides (heck, it could be you) and build your deck to their speaking cadence. This could range anywhere between 20 to 40 slides.

Does that sound like a lot? It not as intimidating as it sounds. That’s because when you build your slides, you should use a lot of white space, very little text (typically no more than three to four bullet points) and use pictures that either build a connection to your audience or help you to tell your story. The slides will fly by.

And that’s it! The basis of your webinar story is built out. All that’s left is for you to practice, adjust and present.

What else can you do to build out excellent webinar content? You can check out our entire Webinerd Summer Playlist right here . You can also check out our summer reading list for track three:

1. Webinars As a Content-Delivery Machine

2. How to Build a Killer Webinar Presentation

3. Q&A with Alex Blumberg, CEO of Gimlet Media

4. Four tips to detox your webinar slides

5. The Role of Webinars in the Buying Cycle

The post Summer Reading: The Five Elements of Webinar Storytelling appeared first on ON24 .

To view our Partner blog, click here

Summer Reading: 5 Tips for generating must-see webinars


The Summer Playlist series is smoldering hot and well underway . To accompany today’s best webinar tracks, we’ve put together a summer reading list for you to peruse at your pleasure.

So, go ahead and brush up on program planning basics, browse demand-gen tactics, consume some engagement-focused content. Our summer reading list is produced for your leisure.

Our first summer reading list, based on today’s event, “Creating Must-See Webinars: How to Attract, Engage and Retain your Audience, ” covers, well, how to attract, engage and retain audience members.

It’s not as easy as it sounds! As Jeremy Collins, BrightEdge’s Director of Digital Marketing can attest, building and maintaining an audience is a full-time job. But there are a few tricks and tips to you can deploy for great effect.

Build out your personas

It’s no secret personas are critical marketing tools, but using them as a master resource for a webinar program is essential. Design events and programs catering to the needs of your profiles for a structured approach to your events. But don’t forget to do your persona research as well.

Promote where your audience is

Some audiences prefer different digital locales — whether that’s social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn or forums like Reddit or SpiceWorks. Research where your personas go — even if it’s only as far as Google and cater your event’s titles, SEO and ads to appeal to that environment.

Get buy-in from your experts

Check in with your resident experts — whether they’re on product, sales or your executive teams — to get their feedback on your program and buy-in. The more you help your audience with your experts, the more your trust you brand builds — and repeat viewers.

Email isn’t dead

Good email is never dead, but bad email always is. One the best sources for pulling in webinar attendees is in the inbox — so long as you cater your message to match the recipient’s persona. When you announce an event relevant to a well-defined persona, audiences respond.

Play the long game

On-demand webinars are in demand. One of BrightEdge’s key tactics is to use on-demand webinars to continue generating leads long after a live event is over. In fact, Steve Winchester, CMO of Rego Consulting, found his team’s live and on-demand webinars perform on near-peer levels — roughly 1,500 live attendees to 1,200 on-demand attendees.

Right. So you have your webinar tips and your Summer Playlist track. Now, it’s time for the reading list. Take a gander at your first webinar reading assignment for the summer:

  1. How to Build a Killer Webinar Presentation
  2. See How Twilio Boosts Webinar Attendance with Facebook and an On-Demand Strategy
  3. How to improve audience participation in your webinar
  4. 3 Things Your Audience Wants from Your Webinar

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How do you put the “human” back in your marketing?

Artificial Intelligence

This post was originally published on the Ignite Blog on B2Bmarketing.net B2B Marketing will host their annual Ignite Conference on July 10, 2018. 

You know those movies about robots taking over the world? Ok, that hasn’t happened…yet. But our marketing is becoming increasingly robotic and impersonal. Today, we rely on marketing automation, search algorithms, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and any other number of digital technologies to scale our programs, reach more people, and be more targeted with our content. And all of that is good, but then what?

There is still a human being at the other end of our marketing and we ultimately need to engage with them in a meaningful way. Today, engagement is measured in clicks, views, and tiny digital signals that might indicate a good potential target. But where is the moment of persuasion and connection? That takes engagement. Real. Human. Engagement.

The good news is that real engagement is becoming more possible every day. Landing pages are becoming more dynamic, websites are integrating cool new tools to interact with site visitors, and there are all kinds of virtual environments where prospects can interact with you and your brand. The key characteristics of true engagement-driven technologies are:

  • Interactivity
  • Multiple content options
  • Multi-media content options
  • Social integration
  • All actions taken by someone are captured and measured

In my world, webinars are the ultimate engagement tool. What other opportunity do you have to interact with your prospects for up to an hour at a time? And, if you’re thinking of a webinar as simply a talking Powerpoint presentation, then you haven’t seen a modern webinar. Today, webinars enable attendees to ask questions, respond to polls and surveys, tweet, connect socially, chat with other attendees, download content, link to landing pages, link to key conversion offers like demos and free trials, and even self-select a sales consultation. They are also multi-media experiences that more resemble daytime talk shows then online presentations.

The real magic of these engagement-driven webinars, however, is how they capture every action that an audience member takes to help us find our best leads and learn from their behavior. By integrating this data into marketing automation and CRM systems, we can put this powerful information in the hands of salespeople. So instead of following up on a webinar, they are following up on a question asked or a piece of content downloaded; essentially continuing a conversation, not starting one.

The explosion of digital marketing technologies and their marriage to automation and artificial intelligence is great. It will help us leave a trail of tiny breadcrumbs in the digital ether for us to discover potential prospects. However, it’s what happens next that is most important. Because ultimately, there needs to be a moment…a human moment. And that is how we will turn a digital signal into a customer.

If you would like to see examples of engagement-driven webinars, come check out my presentation at B2B Marketing Ignite. I promise it will be engaging.

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Realizing engagement-driven marketing in the digital era


This post was originally published on ADMA.com . For more information about Webinar World 2018, please click here

For marketers, data is difficult. It’s easy to get, yes, but being able to draw out any meaningful insights or actions can be an exercise in pulling the hair out of your head.

Why is extracting insights from data so stressful? There are a few theories. First, our jobs are on the line. We need to be able to provide sales with qualified leads and context to land business. Failing that, we risk our positions. Second, we’re trying to divine the wants and needs of a large group of professionals through one of the most obtuse methods ever devised — abstracted numbers and maybe a few pie charts if you’re lucky.

And these numbers, generally, don’t get any easier to read over time as most data comes from superficial, automated interactions. These interactions do little other than giving sales a phone number to cold call.

We need to change how we approach data — how we perceive our audience. Marketers need to learn to engage — not just interact — with their prospect and clients to get a better picture of what they need. Through engagement-driven marketing, marketers can find the leads ready for a sales conversation — complete with what content that particular lead interacted with last, what they may be hung up on about a solution and how sales can keep the conversation going.

Best yet, this helps marketers to tie their actions to revenue.

There are a few ways marketers can realise this engagement-driven method. For example, one of the best tools available today are webinars (coincidentally, we’re hosting a nearby event to discuss just how webinars and marketers can drive engagement). Webinars work as an engagement-marketing tool not just because they can hold an attendee’s attention for a half-hour to an hour, but because they offer audiences the opportunity to talk and interact with their hosts. In-webinar tools — like questions, polls, surveys, social media and more — give marketers the opportunity to not just make their event more interactive, but to also gauge interest and, yes, generate more data on an audience member’s content consumption habits.

At ON24, we’ve built our platform to provide marketers with a tool to engage their prospects and customers, and then turn those engagements into insights their sales team can use. Every webinar generates more than 40 data points per attendee. Combined with data over the course of a prospective or client relationship, and you’ve got a much better picture of the human behind the screen.

So how can your organisation start moving toward an engagement-driven model? It’s not just about getting a webinar tool — it’s about how your organisation approaches marketing, data and empathy with your customers. You’ll need to take-in data with a purpose, or as we call it, engagement-driven data. This is what we’ll discuss at Webinar World 2018 APAC, on May 31. Hosted at Doltone House in Hyde Park, Sydney, our day-long event will examine what it means to engage on a personal level in today’s digital world.

If you want to learn more about how to take your marketing efforts and webinar campaigns to the next level, join us and hundreds of other marketers at Webinar World at Doltone House in Hyde Park, Sydney on May 31.

Register for the free, full day event here .

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