Date: Feb 7th, 2017-How to use Online Events to build lasting Relationships
Key Speaker: Ms. Rachel Rosin (Senior Manager- Online Marketing, Act- On) & Ms. Caitlin Flask (Manager- Online Marketing, Act- On)
It is well known that webinars are an effective way of conducting digital marketing. This has been cited by approximately sixty six percent of marketers as the most effective tool for lead generation and reaching out to both prospects as well as customers. Though several organizations are now deploying them, certain techniques need to be followed to ensure their highest visibility and subsequent impact. Webinars can also prove to be great audience engagement tools and they must be leveraged long after they are over in different forms. In fact, according to business research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, three-fifths of marketers use webinars for their content related purposes.
Webinars must be planned keeping in consideration the target audience and the organization’s goals. Brand building will always remain among the major purposes. In addition demand generation and extending customer relationships remain of key significance. No webinar must pitch up for sales right from the outset as this might instead drive away potential customers. The content must be mapped depending on the customer lifecycle stage. They can be described in following stages:
- At the branding stage, where attraction towards the content is most important, the attempt must be to establish thought leadership.
- The demand stage may further be divided into three sub-phases that are – capture, nurture and convert. Here, solutions must be presented for the pain areas. Then, stimulants must be added towards the decision-making. Finally, the purchase decision must be eked out to validate the entire chain.
- Once the purchase is made, the next target is to expand the engagement. This can be done by disbursing educational content through corporate training programmes.
Since most people are fearful of posing questions during the webinars, a few seed questions must always be present to prompt the discussion.
Webinar Types & Formats
Webinars may be for three different purposes which may be described as follows:
- Branding – This includes webinars on industry education, news and analysis.
- Demand generation- product demos, success stories being shared and question-answer meets.
- Expansion- product features, onboarding stage and opportunities for up-selling.
Webinar formats may broadly be divided in to four categories that are as follows:
- Educational- this is the most common variety. It is available usually in lecture format and includes not more than two speakers. The biggest advantage is that these may be pre-recorded and thus used extensively for management training programmes. The speaker here must be an expert on the subject. This even helps in promoting the webinar. A template must be pre-prepared for the speaker to chip in with content only, so that the expert does not waste efforts on tech support. It is a very good practice to block off calendars for external speakers such as top executives or business influencers. This is because such people are very busy so scheduling assistance must be provided accordingly.
- Q & A – This is audience driven being pitted against any subject matter expert. The moderation must be done by an expert in corporate communication implying someone who can handle the various nuances of such events.
- Panelist Discussion – This includes a group of a maximum of five influencers but an optimum number of three. Similarly the moderator must possess enough skills to gauge best results from such discussion.
- Workshop- This is a single presenter format where screens are shared among multiple users.
There exist some crucial components which must be looked after before executing webinars. First of all there must be clarity about the Speaker as he / she will be the person on whose name the potential customer base will make their decision to attend or not. The said speaker must have certain level of authority on the subject matter. A formal meeting must be conducted with the speaker before the actual event. Next up is the Schedule which is important so that all concerned stakeholders may prioritize accordingly. Along with the date of the event itself, the date for a rehearsal must be set. This is particularly important to check for the tech support. Slides must also be prepared so that support content may be provided to the seminar attendees. The schedule must even include a promotional calendar. Typically, the first invite must be sent more than seven days prior to the date of the webinar. This will help avoid or at least reduce opt-outs. A thirty five percent increase in participation has been observed for webinar reminders or invites sent just twenty four hours in advance. However, no mailing list must receive the same invite more than a maximum of three times.
It is equally important to finalize the tech Platform that will be used for such an event. There are several platforms available that are easy to use, the organizers need to pinpoint which one. Examples of such include Go To Webinar, On 24, Web-Ex and Ready Talk. A final round of Rehearse is all that is left then. This must be done in a quiet room with stable internet connection and limited to no use of mobile phones.
The landing page and registration form are the first items that all attendees are likely to view. The form fields must be kept brief including note more than six to eight fields in it. The pitch must be strong enough to position itself as a solution to some existing pain point. The speakers must be introduced then and there. Also, the use of auto responder must be made. The form must be mobile friendly, as lots of confirmations could come using smartphones. Alignment must be horizontal and not vertical. The “Submit” button must be as big as possible. In fact, the human thumb is forty five pixels wide, so the submit button must ideally be broader for ease of use.
The technical and schedule wise details must also be included post registration confirmation. The appropriate fields must be inserted in order to capture relevant data. There is no point in conducting large scale data warehousing operations if the kind of information generated is not valuable to the firm.
Quick Tips for Email Invites / Reminders
Some tips have been collated through observation, which yield best of returns to email campaigns. Following are the major ones:
- Customization must be adopted keeping the audience in mind.
- Tuesdays and Thursdays are the best days to send out reminders. Mondays are the worst as most employees delete mails accumulated over the weekend that aren’t directly essential to their respective line of work.
Besides email, social media must also be extensively used to promote such webinars. LinkedIn in particular has been proven to be an ideal source. Promotions must also be made on company web pages. A section must be created on upcoming events or webinars. People must be duly informed that recording or slides or both will be doled out post event completion. A substantial segment of the viewers skips out the event altogether preferring to use the on-demand version. This is particularly true for those not residing in the same country, as time zone differences arise. A blog must be sent out before the event to arouse greater interest. A reminder mail must also be sent out just a few hours prior to the start.
Extending Webinar Life Cycle
It must be adopted as a thumb rule that the relevance of the webinar content must not be flushed out immediately after its actual execution. In fact, it must be leveraged long after its date. The 3 Rs – Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose- must be followed here.
The Rule of Four must be applied. This involves the fact that the content generated is extremely useful and its shelf life must be increased long after the actual event. It may be done using the following four techniques:
- Blog posts must be created to inform the audience about the key findings of the webinar which needs to be treated as a work of research.
- Infographics are the best way to condense data in visual form. They increase multi-pronged engagement. A lot of statistics may be broken down for the audience’s benefit.
- An e-Book may be created. Different viewers have different ways of consuming content. Many prefer visuals but a lot also want e-books to be read at leisure.
- The On-demand video discussed earlier is another powerful engagement tool, especially as it facilitates cross-border information reach.
In 2016 alone, one regular webinar provider extracted 1200 leads from the GIFs it created on content generated post their execution.