Two Webinar Stories to Consider
Consider the following stories about two webinars that helped propel their companies to measurable success.
A niche-market software company identified over 1,000 prospects with specifically defined needs for their product
One of the challenges for this particular software company was finding qualified sales leads for their product which had a very narrow market. They sell software that tracks and measures courthouse process efficiency – i.e., how much staff and time is required to process 100 uncontested divorce cases.
They’re target market was court managers who where facing staffing cuts and were required to justify their head count. The company offered a webinar topic about metrics that should be tracked and highlighted the level of efficiency that was being achieved by various staffing levels in courts across the country. They also provided a suggestion for a manual method for tracking efficiency – in Excel. They closed by mentioning they had an automated solution.
After the webinar, they followed-up attendees and non-attendees, introducing their software solution and moving into ‘sales mode’.
A real estate brokerage identified over 1750 potential homebuyers
A real estate brokerage had a lot of house listings but very few potential buyers so they held a webinar focused on identifying potential homebuyers – both first-time and investors.
Their webinar included statistics which helped to dispel the myth that credit for potential homebuyers was unavailable. First showing that there had never been a better time to buy, they then explained several financing options which were available on government backed programs that included up to 97% financing.
By positioning themselves as an industry expert, they identified over 1750 potential buyers – and then distributed the leads to their agents throughout their region.
In virtually any industry, webinars can successfully:
- Generate sales leads
- Reach and influence decision makers
- Position your firm in the marketplace ahead of the competition, regardless of your size
- Launch a new product or service, or market an existing one to a new market
- Up-sell or re-sell existing clients
Webinars allow any firm – regardless of size – to demonstrate expertise and establish credibility.
Step by step, this guide:
- Takes you back to basics – grounding you in successful lead-generation principles
- Helps you avoid the three biggest mistakes that can sabotage your webinar marketing plan
- Details the core webinar marketing strategies for your plan
- Outlines the benefits of leveraging OPM (Other People’s Marketing) resources
- Calls you to action with nine easy strategies
- Offers more resources, including a webinar marketing plan template in the appendices
By following these proven guidelines, your company may also experience sales increases of as much as 70% or more in a single year, driven by leads generated by webinars.
One of the many benefits of webinars is their ability to be easily recorded and marketed online through email, your website and web marketing. Take advantage of this potential asset for months, or even years, after the live webinar and your organization could generate 20% or more viewers. Here we are focusing on the promotion of live webinars, but obviously, most of the principles are also useful for the promotion of recorded webinars.
Back to Basics: How to Generate Leads
Today we live in a “Permission Marketing” culture.
Buyers of products and services are more in charge of the purchasing process than ever before. They want to control what information they consume, which firms to engage and when and how they buy products and services.
Webinars area great way to identify prospects who are ready to investigate what you have to offer. They effectively ‘put their hand up’ and say ‘I’m interested’ when they register for your webinar. Webinars can be powerful and cost effective because they reach your prospects at their home or office and can be interactive and intimate, take advantage of digital media and can be marketed through email, online and social media marketing.
The first measure of success is to generate registrants in the numbers that you want. A registrant is a lead – whether they attend your webinar or not.
Successful lead generation has little to do with your firm, product or service
The potential power of webinars can be found in the fact that prospects will judge the merits of the event on its own terms, largely independent of the sponsoring firm or its products or services. Accordingly, virtually any firm can appear to be the market leader or use a webinar to out-market larger or more established competition.
You want to target potential buyers for your lead generation efforts, those who will be likely to respond to your lead generation campaign, and then follow through and buy. Generally, the more potential buyers who see your invitation, the more likely you are to increase leads. And, if you can create a compelling headline (an ad for and ad) for your offer, many more will spend time investigating the benefits of attending your webinar.
For webinars, the invitation list or media selected will always be the biggest factor in getting registrants to your event. And the vast majority of registrants will come from your own email list or a co-sponsors list you access for the event. Alternatively, marketing through social media can generate enormous registration if done correctly.
Secondly, webinar titles and the summary of the perceived value of the event (what attendees will learn from the content) will drive those who hear about your webinar to register.
The more you test, the more leads you generate
Many marketers or marketing teams are afraid to try new things or innovate to find new ways of outperforming current or past efforts. Over time, marketing campaigns by those who are not afraid to try new things will do better than those who are reluctant to do so.
Why? Direct response marketing involves knowing the market. How do you know what marketing media, offer or headline will work for you organization? The only way to know is to put the vote to the marketplace. In short, to take a small portion of your resources and conduct a test. Let the market decide what is most appealing.
Webinars give marketers almost unlimited opportunities to test different lists/media, headlines or “offers”, which in this case means that content presented at the webinar. Take advantage of these as well as view each new webinar as an opportunity for learning over time.
5 simple steps to lead generation success
A simple and effective way of generating webinar registrations is to act on the following five steps, investigated in more detail throughout this guide.
- Define the topic/problem to which your prospects will respond
- Create the presentation
- Generate registrations (leads) by executing the marketing plan for your webinar
- Convert your registrations to sales
- Repeat what works best and improve where possible
Bigger is generally better when it comes to webinars. Essentially, it takes the same effort and cost to deliver a webinar with 10 attendees or 100. However, do not make your presentation topics so broad that you attract people that do not make good prospects.
The next section therefore will begin to reveal how you can gain more registrants and leads from your webinar program.
So you want to do a big webinar? Three common mistakes to avoid:
Webinars, one-to-many online events, can be designed to accomplish a diverse set of marketing objectives.
In order to build a successful webinar program of big and impactful events (with a series of events and recordings) for your organization, you must first understand the most common pitfalls. They stop the average webinar from becoming a big webinar – one that has the size and impact that can help drive your sales and growth.
These costly errors include:
1. Trying to do too much with any individual event – Many marketers try to do too much with a single webinar. They think by having a little something for lots of different audiences they will draw in a bigger crowd.
But webinars are a classic “narrowcasting” medium. This means a relatively small (or narrow) audience is looking for content that specifically addresses their needs.
So in contrast with the way most approach webinars, generally the more specific the objectives and the more specific the webinar, its marketing and its content are designed to meet a need for that audience, the better the results, the more registrations and the higher the quality of the leads generated.
That said, different types of marketing webinars can be used to match the broad objectives of the company while capturing prospects at various stages of the buying cycle and then moving them to a sale.
They include positioning or awareness webinars, educational webinars, sampling or demonstration webinars, sales conversion webinars and post-sale webinars.
So select your narrow objective and audience and build your webinar plan from there.
2. Failing to use your content as a webinar draw – Content is King with webinars. It encompasses the “what you will get” or “what you will learn” in your webinar- the only thing of interest to your prospects.
Many nascent webinar producers think fancy demonstrations, charts, or the world’s best or most expensive webinar presenter will guarantee a big crowd, even from a small promotional plan.
The sizzle of a presentation may be good, but it will not help you draw a crowd. Why? Because you need people to register before the actual event. And generally, the audience is asking themselves, “What is in it for me by attending this presentation?”
Therefore, when developing the content outline and speaker for your webinar, ask yourself, “what benefits or information will this type of audience respond to?”
The key is to make your topic/invitation narrow – attracting only people who are good prospects for your service.
3. Having a weak or non-existent marketing plan – While a 20% response rate to a webinar invitation sent by email is possible, it is rare. Yet many webinar producers think that just because they have good content and a free webinar, the audience will turn out in droves.
Especially in markets where there are a lot of competing messages, vendors and webinars, it will generally be a lot harder than you realize to get registrants for your webinar. For email, consider a 2-4% response rate to be successful if marketing to the ‘public’.
The next section will cover the critical elements of the webinar marketing plan to help you gain more registrants and attendees from all your events.
Core Webinar Marketing Strategies
Key pillars in a webinar marketing plan include your selection of media and lists, your communications plan for those lists and media, the webinar invitation and getting the tactics right.
Media and List selection
The webinar marketing plan starts with identifying the lists(s) and/or media that effectively reach your target market. This can include your own in-house and direct mail list, outside direct mail or email lists, partner/speaker/affiliate lists and external media – including social media – and websites.
Unless you engage in social media marketing, a typical webinar will see 90% or more of its registrants come from an opt-in email list, so the most important part of your marketing plan will be to use, rent, or access email lists likely to be responsive to your webinar invitation.
Most importantly, the list should contain a high percentage of individuals who are potential buyers or influencers for your products or services.
Resist the temptation to use easily available media or lists when they don’t match the target market for your specific webinar. A little extra investment in list development will pay off in response and attendance.
Successful email marketing should use three common sources for registrants:
- Your own in-house list
- An opt in email, outside speaker or co-sponsor list
- A third-party rented list or external ads
Five questions to ask when developing your list are:
- What internal email lists are available to promote this webinar?
- What co-sponsor or outside speaker lists or media can be considered?
- Where are similar webinars or events being successfully promoted?
- What media or lists have been responsive to your company’s marketing offers in the past?
- When evaluating a list or media: what percentage of the list/media can be considered the target audience for this webinar? Who else is mailing/using the list? What webinars and promotions have worked best to this list?
After selection of the media and lists, the next foundational element of the marketing plan is the communications plan.
An alternative to email marketing is marketing your event in various social media networks such as Linked-in, Facebook, Twitter and many others. It does not require an email list and the effectiveness can be far superior to email marketing.
The webinar communications plan
The webinar communications plan includes which vehicles you select to promote your webinar, when prospects see your ads and invitations and how you want them to register.
Select communication vehicles and the timing of the delivery of your messages to maximize the reach and impact with your chosen target list or media.
Select communication vehicles and the timing of the delivery of your messages to maximize the reach and impact with your chosen target list or media.
Seek to get your webinar invitation in front of as many members of your target audience as possible working within the budget available.
Consider multiple forms of contact outside of emails such as online advertising, social media networks, telemarketing, direct communications from salespeople or direct mail postcards. The combination of multiple media and contacts can increase your rate of success and awareness of your event.
The general rule is the majority of registrants will respond within 10 days of your webinar. The heart of a communications plan could include an email to your <> list 7 days before the Webinar and 2 days before.
If you have outside speakers or co-sponsors for the event, they could follow this timing as well to their own lists.
And, don’t forget to promote links to the live event and recording in newsletters, social networking sites and on your own website as well as those of your speaker and partner. These tactics won’t be successful on their own, but you could see a 20% lift in registrations.
Finally, many webinar promoters spend precious little time on the registration form and process.
View the promotional process as a whole. Take the same care to crate marketing copy for registration as you do for the invitation copy.
Recognize that capturing a webinar registration is a great way to learn more about your prospects, but that asking too many questions of your prospects may increase the numbers who abandon the registration form before completing it.
The best registration process offers one-click registration or one-click access to a simple registration form which can convert 50% of its traffic to registrants. Requiring two or more steps to register – or making it hard to register for the webinar – will significantly lower your registrations.
Here are five questions to ask when developing your communications plan:
- Ideally, when would we like our prospective attendees to receive the invitations/ads?
- What is the optimal mix of promotional vehicles based on the list/media, budgets, and promotional timelines?
- Have we made it easy for prospects to register for the webinar?
- What flexibility do we have to add an additional or “last chance” mailing or promotion to the schedule based on initial results?
- Have we established a calendar with enough time for creative development and review cycles while still meeting the deadlines for ad placements and email blasts?
After selection of the media and lists, the next element of the marketing plan is the Webinar invitation.
The Invitation Email
Getting your message out through your webinar invitation requires writing promotional copy that highlights the title, timing, speaker or speakers and primary benefits of attending your presentation. A good invitation also calls your prospect to action with some urgency. (For purposes of this guide we will discuss the invitation in terms of being an email invitation.)
When marketing and selling something intangible such as webinar content, it is especially important to paint a vivid picture of the benefits of attending. When I was running a team of people who marketed and produced 50 webinars a year for our company with as many as 15,000 total registrants, I would describe the email invitation as “5 Bullet Points and a Dream.”
You see, many successful marketers distinguish between the “big benefit” of the webinar (that is, how will the webinar attendee’s life be better or different after attending) and the benefits of different parts of the webinar experience.
The primary or “big benefit” of the webinar is often summarized in the title of the webinar. Secondary elements could be what they will learn, what questions will they be able to ask and get answered, what will they see or experience during the webinar, etc.
1. Subject Line – the headline
The prime benefit of the webinar could also be the subject line used for the email invitation.
While one could take an entire course on headline or title writing alone, remember that the subject line of the email is critical because it is your “ad for an ad”
2. Marketing Copy – building up interest and desire
As mentioned elsewhere in this guide, the purpose of the webinar invitation is to “sell” the webinar and any information included should support, not detract, from this objective.
Often, one will see much of a webinar invitation devoted to background information on the company, speaker or related products or services. This information often does nothing to educate the reader on the benefits of the webinar so it should be minimized or avoided.
One model for creating copy which gets response is the AIDA formula: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. You first get their attention with the subject/headline.
Next, create interest with the initial text of your email. This could be questions, or a nagging problem they face.
An effective way to make sure you generate their desire is to summarize the case for your webinar in three to five phrases, sentences or bullet points which are almost entirely focused on benefits.
Now that your invitation has their attention and builds up interest and desire take them to the next step.
3. The Webinar Offer and Call to Action
The description of the webinar offer includes the title, timing, speaker or speakers, and any bonuses or extras given as a part of registering or attending the webinar. The offer also includes whether the webinar is free or has a cost.
Because webinar content can be considered the promise of future benefit, including something tangible or immediate in your offer may help increase the response. Tangible bonuses can include writings such as a white paper, checklist or book, a free product, small giveaway or a small amount of consulting time.
A good invitation also calls your prospect to action with some urgency. Some common strategies are to: limit the number of virtual seats available to ensure personal interaction, articulate the downside of missing out, state that the webinar is only being offered once this year or mention that this invitation is a “last chance.”
For online marketing copy, call your prospects to action (urgently) by having them click on a direct link to the registration page, also known as the web registration form.
Remember – a strong registration form will achieve 50%+ conversion to registrant. A weak form or cumbersome registration process will net conversion rates as low as 10% or less.
Finally, many marketers spend much time debating the effectiveness of text versus HTML emails or on the design or HTML of an invitation.
Caution: Make your layout and design decisions with the goal of getting the maximum response from the invitation. These elements are not an end to themselves, but support the best presentation of the webinar and its benefits.
Getting the webinar invitation right means constructing a winning headline/tile, building up desire for the event through benefits, and articulating your offer and call to action in a way that moves people to register for the webinar.
Getting the Marketing tactics right – common questions and answers for better planning
Taking care to ensure the marketing tactics are executed right is vital to maximizing registrations – so much so that it should be considered in the strategy phase of planning your webinars.
When should you hold your event? Simply, when you target market is most likely available. For business audiences this is usually mid-week, mid-day. For an audience such as individuals buying financial services this may be early evening, at 7:00 PM.
How long should your marketing event be? Generally, free marketing webinars will last between 30 and 45 minutes. Since the average webinar attendee will tend to join the webinar about 3-5 minutes after the start time, plan your content, including questions and answers, for either 25 or 40 minutes.
Should you always record the live webinar? Yes. And, make sure your webinar recording is available to all registrants 12 to 24 hours after the event.
Also, consider promoting the availability of the recording to your entire invitation list the week after the live webinar to take advantage of awareness built up before the live event.
What is the best reminder sequence to turn registrants to attendees? Use an auto-responder email which sends a confirmation email at the time of registration and a minimum 24 and three hours before the webinar.
It can be challenging to do many big webinars without going beyond your own marketing resources. Next, we will discuss OPM, Other People’s marketing resources.
Leveraging OPM: Other People’s Marketing Resources
Some of the greatest successes with webinars and marketing events are when a new event is introduced to a responsive, trusting list.
It goes something like this: One firm has a proven event which drives leads and sales and partners with a complementary firm with a customer and prospect list matching the first firm’s ideal customer profile. The event is promoted to the list and magic happens.
For example, informational marketer Tony Robbins promoted marketing guru Jay Abraham’s seminars to his seminar attendee list, creating many thousands of leads and around a thousand customers.
A financial products company promoted a marketing services company to its list of financial advisors and 18% registered, totaling many hundreds of registrants with 7 becoming customers within 48 hours of the webinar.
What are some effective strategies for working with others to get more registrants from your existing marketing resources?
Add OPM Lists to your webinar marketing plan
One of the surest ways to recruit buyers to your webinar is to recruit a friendly partner for your webinar who has a relationship with many of your likely customers.
Whether your firm partners with a media firm, recruits a co-sponsor for the webinar, or builds a formal affiliate network, variations on this theme are the surest way to go beyond your in-house email list for more registrants.
Gain Wider Reach with Outside Speaker and Their Lists
Outside speakers can bring many gifts to your webinar party. They can lend content and credibility that help draw in your audience. They can also offer their lists to help promote the webinar.
Don’t be bashful about asking your outside speaker to promote the webinar to their list.
For example, in many marketing webinars, the outside speaker can lead the presentation with an overview of issues or best practices and then your speaker follows with specific tactics to solve a problem and introduces the product or service.
Call in marketing dollars or resources from firms with an interest in seeing your company and webinar succeed
Marketing resources come in many forms. They can include time, people, money and ideas around a webinar.
If you are a distributor of another’s products, they may offer an expert speaker on the products’ usage, money to help promote the event or lists of potential customers.
Understand what core competencies, resources and strengths your company brings to a webinar and partner with others to help fill in the gaps.
Offer it in writing – provide a report, white paper, or checklist as a bonus for registering for your webinar or webinar recording
You may be able to call on high perceived value, low-cost bonuses provided by third-parties.
Bundling a bonus with webinar registration or attendance can offer a minor lift to your members.
For example, a free consultation or evaluation from a services provider or a free trial of a software product would both be potential bonuses to consider for your webinar.
Here are five way of leveraging OPM as part of your webinar program:
- Email or post to “friendly” lists
- Use outside speakers, and access their lists.
- Get marketing dollars or resources from resellers, distributors, complementary sellers, wholesalers, etc.
- Use a third-party firm’s report, article, or checklist to bump up perceived value and registrations
- Provide a free offer of high perceived value from a third-party firm.