Posts Tagged ‘Webinars’

New to B2B Webinars? Learn 6 steps for creating an effective webinar strategy

November 17th, 2010

Fellow marketing managers, commiserate with me for a moment. I’m sure you’ve been in a similar situation. You’re given a new marketing initiative that you know little to nothing about. For some it might be Twitter. For others, maybe landing page optimization. My intimidating hill to climb, was the webinar.

While preparing for today’s MarketingSherpa webinar about email relevance and deliverability, and researching for the past couple of months on webinar creative practices, it became more evident to me that a clear marketing strategy was needed in order to produce better webinars in the future.

Highlighted below are the six tactics that I found successful for creating a clear webinar strategy and currently impact the way I plan, create, and promote MarketingSherpa webinars. And if you’re a MarketingSherpa member, we even have a complimentary Sample Webinar Plan that you can download.

Step #1: Know your deadlines and deliverables
Early communication with the sponsors, clients, and presenters is key. Email them and introduce yourself laying out a timetable for future meetings and deadlines. Once you know the key dates and information (webinar date, presenters, and topic), work backwards from the date of the webinar and set up target dates for completion. Important dates to remember include:

  • Landing page setup and review
  • Launch calls
  • Presentation deadlines
  • Dry runthrough

I highly recommend you set up a launch call to review these deadlines and discuss any concerns as well as present an overall webinar outline for a suggested topic.

Step #2: Map out an effective marketing plan
Once you have confirmed the target dates and deliverables, you can begin to create a marketing plan. This plan should include your plans on promoting the event (emails, banner ads, social marketing) along with key dates and deadlines. The difference between a good plan and much better plan is in the details. The more specific you can be with target audience, goals, and call to action, the more effective your plan will be. When this is completed, send it to all the parties involved (including your sponsors and presenters if applicable) so they can see the plan details and discuss plan specifics.

Step #3: Create relevant webinar copy for target audience
Relevancy is the key. If your audience feels that the webinar subject and email copy is relevant to their needs then you will be more successful in engaging prospects. As Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director (CEO), MECLABS always says, “Clarity always trumps persuasion.

Shy away from vague statements like “leading,” “best” and “most.” Be specific. For example, “Homepage Design: The five most common pitfalls and how to overcome them” Subject titles and copy that are specific may be enticing to a smaller audience, but most of the time this audience is highly interested and therefore a better lead. Always include a good call to action and use this line of thinking when creating copy, “If I am the ideal prospect, why should I attend your webinar?”

Step #4: Apply marketing promotions across all channels
Using a number of highly targeted email blasts from in-house and sponsors lists, along with banner ads, you can bring in a significant amount of attendees. However, when marketing for our last webinar 2011 Top B2B Marketing Practices: From Lead Generation to Marketing Automation, it was the social media activity (Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs) that drove an additional 200-250 attendees within a week of the webinar. When tweeting, make sure to begin to establish the Twitter hashtag you plan to use to live tweet during the webinar.

Many companies do a number of webinars a month and using every avenue possible to create buzz is crucial to a webinar’s success. I’ve found that the sweet spot for marketing is two weeks to the day before the event.

Step #5: Preparation precedes power – practice and execution of the webinar
No matter what webinar platform you use (GoToWebinar, WebEX, ON24) it is imperative to learn the basics of these programs before you begin using them. Spend some time watching the “best practices” training presentations, and reading the FAQs and how-to sections many of these platforms offer.

Knowing the tips and tricks of how each of these platforms function will be critical to avoiding “Uh oh” moments. Familiarize yourself with the important functions, like polls, registration questions, follow-up emails, and reminders.

Also, familiarize yourself with Twitter. Establishing a Twitter hashtag, and having at least one person from your company live tweeting during the webinar, is a great way to drive conversation and interaction and also gauge the sentiment of your audience in real-time.

Bottom Line: Your preparation will give you the power you need to execute the webinar and the practice will give you the peace of mind.

Tactic #6: Follow up and review – continuing the conversation
Once the webinar has concluded, it’s important to keep the conversation going. Sending a follow-up email containing the slide presentation and any special offer material you promised is only one part of the conversation. The second important part is keeping them engaged with other webinars, articles, books, classes, and events that apply to the topic of the webinar. Think of Amazon, “Those who attended a webinar like you also found this interesting…”

It’s also important to review how the webinar went. Spend an additional five to ten minutes getting feedback from the speakers and monitoring the Twitter hashtag after the webinar concludes. This feedback will help you in making improvements in future webinars.

Related resources

Marketing Webinar Optimization: Five questions to ask yourself about webinars

B2B Marketing: Take established tradeshow best practices and adapt them for an online audience with virtual events

Members Exclusive: Download your complimentary Sample Webinar Plan

B2B Marketing: Are tradeshows on the way out?

October 28th, 2010

Bet that title got your attention. And the answer is, “Of course not.” Tradeshows, seminars, expositions and conferences have been a key way to connect with customers and colleagues for a long time (see the recently completed MarketingSherpa B2B Summit for just one example), but these events are facing some stiff competition from cyberspace.

The MarketingSherpa 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report just came out and I had the chance to review it a couple of weeks ago. The report covers B2B marketing tactics, budgeting, challenges for the coming year and more. The information was gathered through 935 marketer surveys and the report includes 167 charts and tables.

The Benchmark Report is full of great material, but one particular chart really caught my eye:

The effectiveness of webinars is significantly greater than tradeshows

Now you’re probably thinking, “What gives?” I grabbed your attention with a dramatic title and immediately calmed things down with a reassurance that tradeshows aren’t going away anytime soon. Now this bit about effectiveness? The strong numbers for the effectiveness of virtual events and webinars are very intriguing, but maybe because they are so much less expensive to execute, marketers are placing too much value in the online events.

I asked Jen Doyle, Senior Research Analyst at MarketingSherpa and Lead Author of the 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, if some of this effectiveness is related to savings over tradeshows. Here is Jen’s response, “Absolutely. In addition to the benefit of cost effectiveness, webinars also offer a balance between having one-on-one conversations with prospects as with tradeshows, and reaching a high volume of prospects which isn’t always easily accomplished at these events.

“Our 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Study of nearly 1,000 B2B marketers revealed that the effectiveness of webinars is significantly greater than tradeshows.”

The emphasis on her final sentence is mine. So virtual events and webinars are seen as effective, but that view comes from a lot more than simple savings over tradeshows.

What makes live events and webinars effective?

Just how effective do marketers find virtual events and webinars? Here is Jen once again, “When executed properly, virtual events or webinars can be highly effective methods in both lead generation and lead nurturing. With the execution of webinars, organizations are able to generate interest, build brand credibility and gain thought-leadership recognition – all of which will lead to results that impact a B2B organization’s bottom line.

“In this year’s B2B study, we learned that 43% of B2B organizations found virtual events or webinars to be highly effective, and another 48% to find them somewhat effective. When we compared these ratings of effectiveness to other B2B marketing tactics such as email marketing, search, telemarketing, direct mail, etc., webinars came in as the second most effective B2B marketing tactic overall, just behind website design, management and optimization.”

At MarketingSherpa, we host both live events (like the upcoming Email Summit) and webinars (like the upcoming B2B Marketing Summit Wrap-up which, ironically, is “virtual” yet based on a live event).

Webinars are a great way to maintain a regular conversation and provide consistent information to our audience throughout the year. Live events offer the opportunity to really have some deep interaction with our audience, and allows them to share knowledge peer-to-peer, marketer-to-marketer.

So both live and virtual events work for us. It’s about finding the right place and time for each, and ensuring we have a steady stream of information for our audience through the year. What about your company? What have you found works best for you?

Related resources

2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report

Free Executive Summary: 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report

Marketing Webinar Optimization: Five questions to ask yourself about webinars

Internet Marketing Research: A behind-the scenes look at MarketingExperiments Web clinics

What’s the Best Day of the Week to Host a Webinar?

June 28th, 2008

If you’re a B-to-B marketer who hosts lead-generation webinars, you’ve probably asked yourself that question. The most recent newsletter from webinar services vendor Bulldog Solutions offers some guidance.

Read more…

Do Webinar Attendees Take a Summer Vacation?

June 15th, 2008

I recently interviewed a B-to-B marketer who had completely revamped her webinar strategy to generate a 400% increase in attendance. One change they made was to eliminate events in July and August, when they’d seen generally low interest from their prospects and customers.

Her theory: People tend to take a vacation in the summer, or else find the nice weather just too enticing to sacrifice an extra hour in front of a computer.

Read more…