Webinars have long been the staple of most marketing programs. If backed by a strong content strategy, it’s a powerful tool that can be used to attract leads at the top of the funnel or to accelerate your pipeline in the middle. It’s also a great way to simply gauge your audience’s interest in what you have to offer – it’s a higher commitment type of program (vs. a guide download) that can get leads to MQL quickly.
I often tell teams during planning season that when looking at individual programs, start by asking the question: Do I really need a webinar (or any other program) every month, every quarter or at all? The following key components should help you not only clearly answer those questions, but also guide you as you build a webinar program that will deliver results.
1. Clear Goals
Despite all the hard work that goes into planning and executing, it’s the ROI of the program that your CMO cares about. Are you creating webinars to generate awareness? Are you looking to generate leads at the top of the funnel or to get them to MQL? Is it part of an ABM strategy at the bottom of the funnel? Clearly defined goals will allow you to identify what part of the funnel you need to address (this is important when thinking about segmenting your audience or deciding on a topic) and guide you when pulling in resources (think content vs. product marketing teams, for example).
I like to organize my webinars by what areas of the funnel I’m addressing. Because the KPIs there can be so different from one another, it’s important to map it out in some kind of table format that you can visualize.
Keep in mind that oftentimes bottom of the funnel programs are much more high touch. At this stage you’re likely working with the account rep to plan and execute on targeted webinars/demos that might require a technical sales rep to be present. Quality over quantity should be the focus here.
2. Killer Content
I’m giving you 30-40 minutes of my time. All I ask for in return is interesting content that addresses some of my challenges. While content creation may not always lie in the demand gen’s realm of responsibility, you should be using data to help inform your team on topics that are resonating at different stages of the funnel. You should also be asking your sales team what they’re hearing in the field. Ask yourself, why would my prospects want to attend this event? Outline 3-4 reasons and keep those pinned on your wall throughout the planning process. Keep your audience in mind - if they’re technical, they will want to see demos. Line of business professionals are more interested in thought leadership and best practices.
3. Customer Experience
While this piece depends on your marketing automation tool and webinar provider, there are a set of best practices we should adhere to. First and foremost, do invest in the technology that will make the experience as seamless as possible for those on the other side. I can’t stress enough how a reliable web conferencing tool is important. This space is crowded with players (we can probably spend an entire post outlining pros and cons for each), but you should evaluate 2-3 vendors and pick one that offers ease of use, integration with your marketing automation and reliable service. If webinars are going to be a key part of your programs strategy, do prioritize a marketing automation/webinar platform integration that can:
Seamlessly sync your registrant and attendee data between both platforms (as opposed to having to upload CSV files).
Accommodate fully-responsive landing pages that you can build from your marketing automation. (For more on customer experience, see below for some quick fire tips for logistical success).
4. Reporting and Analytics
Whether you’re using multi-touch attribution, all touch or last touch, you must set campaign level reporting in place to help you keep track of your webinar engagement results (registrants, attendees). Though these metrics are not related to revenue, they should be tracked in order to understand engagement overtime and inform you during next season’s planning. But ultimately you should be reporting on your webinars’ overall impact on the funnel. Following the guidelines provided in the goals section above, here’s how you should be reporting on your webinar KPIs.
5. Sales and Marketing Service Level Agreement
This should be a crucial piece in any webinar strategy puzzle. Having well defined SLAs will really set you up for long term success. Making sure your sales team is armed with all the ammunition they need to do effective follow-ups is key and they will love you for it. Here’s how I like to define the responsibilities for each group:
Marketing: Create sales briefing book and share details with sales, including all emails and drop dates as well as follow-up script and social sharing bytes (at least 2 weeks before the event and then again the day of). Though this can be a big ask, try your best to have all your leads assigned to sales within a few hours of the webinar being over. One of the reasons why I like doing webinars on a Tuesday or Wednesday is because it gives sales all of Thursday and Friday to follow-up with prospects. That same day, sales should receive an email from you letting them know that leads were assigned and what the agreed upon follow-up process is.
Sales: Your sales team should commit to tracking their activities within their CRM and communicating any issues back to you. Keep communications open, friendly and commit to developing a healthy rapport. You’re offering them a lot of support, do make sure they’re held accountable as well. Whether that entails proper CRM tracking, following through on their follow-up process (5-7-10 steps), make sure you are able to track those activities within your CRM.
I’ve seen webinars work really well through all stages of the funnel and they have been an invaluable component of my marketing programs’ strategy. I’ve seen webinar activities generate as much as 26% of insides sales meetings and millions of dollars in opportunities. This is the structure that I follow and what I believe has made webinars so successful for me. Now I’d love to hear from you. What are some key components in your webinar strategy?
A lot goes into the process of planning a webinar. Though we don't really get into execution components in this post, here are 6 quick fire tips for logistical success:
Best days and times to send email invites: Experimentation is key here, but Tuesdays and Thursdays still lead as the best days to send, with 10 am being optimal time.
Number of invites: 3-4 sends (one per week) with one last chance the day before. It's ok to do 2 sends and one final chance the day before IF you've reached your registration goal or you don't have enough time to promote.
Reminders: One confirmation email should go out as soon as the attendee registers. This email should contain login instructions and add to calendar capability. Offering add to Google Calendar is extremely important nowadays.
Engagement: Always provide 2-3 polling questions to get audience to participate. Encourage that they ask questions throughout, but be prepared with 4-6 seed questions as well.
Webinar duration: 45 minute of talking time should be more than sufficient with 5-10 minutes of Q&A. Experiment with 15 min coffee breaks or 30 minute webinars. Wrap up at least 5 minutes before the hour as most people have other meetings to get to.
Landing Page: Opt for a clean look and feel - header, sub header, short copy and speaker images. For better conversion rates, the form and copy should all appear in one page.