The webinar is now a major weapon in the marketing armory and figures suggest that over 90% of B2B businesses plan to organize webinars in 2017.
This is great news, but for anyone planning a webinar, there are serious pitfalls that need to be avoided at all costs.
But firstly, let’s look at the many benefits of organising a webinar. One of the main reasons behind their increasing use is that they have the ability to directly reach the decision makers. In other words, they can be used tactically to ensure that a company is communicating with those that will make a sales decision, or those that can influence it. This is why they are so good at generating sales leads and creating a high level of product awareness.
Most importantly though, once the company has engaged the targeted audience, the webinar can very effectively nurture and build long term relationships with the customer basis.
This is why marketers have discovered that webinars can decrease the cost per lead figure and also bring down the cost for acquiring prospects.
That’s great, but unless there are some ground rules, some observance of the key elements that make an effective webinar, a lot of money and effort will be wasted. What’s more, a poorly organised webinar could actually damage a company’s sales effort and even hurt its reputation.
So here’s what to look out for and it can be broken down into ten segments: 1. Audience; 2. Data Segmentation; 3. Content; 4. Emails; 5. Landing Pages; 6. Registration Forms/Social Media Buttons; 7. Promotion Channels; 8. Lead Follow-Up; 9. Campaign Flow; and, 10. Debrief.
In other words, let’s start at the beginning. And you would think a very obvious statement first: you need the right audience. But this is where many companies fall down, right at the first fence. If your base contact list consists of thousands of emails which you hope, just might give you enough for a webinar, then stop. A successful webinar starts from reaching out and engaging with the audience. You have to think this: is every email address, or contact point a viable prospect? That’s not the same as thinking whether they have the time to attend; it’s whether they are the right person for the webinar and would likely benefit from attending. So, be ultra-critical with your list and chop out those targets which you don’t know if they are viable. If you don’t do the basics, you’ll fall flat on your face.
2. Data Segmentation
Another common mistake is poor data segmentation. If you don’t properly segment your data, then you won’t be able to fully exploit your list. So you have to consider the basic segments, such as the activity of the business, size of the company, its revenues, number of employees and demographics. This gives you vital intelligence, a degree of insight that is the basis of sound marketing. For every contact you have, you should have, on your radar, a profile of the business, whether they are in expansive, or contractive mode, and who the key players are behind the company, and their likely budget. And, most importantly, whether you have contacted them before, which means you can adapt the content and avoid the embarrassment of speaking to them like a fresh contact.
So you’ve got a viable and strong list, with companies with which you have a great deal of insight. The next step is to consider carefully what you are sending them. Research suggests that over 50% of your target list won’t attend if they are not sure of what’s on offer. This means that unless your email subject line is spot on with a clear call to action – registering for the webinar in our case -, then forget it; all the preliminary work up until this stage will be wasted. But get the subject and the content right, and you’ll see the response rate boost skywards. Content is crucially important.
4. The Invitation Email
As Bob Dylan once said, ‘the times they are a-changin’, and that’s very true when it comes to how we view emails. Latest figures suggest that just over 50% of B2B email is opened on a mobile device, whether it’s a smartphone, or tablet. And sovereignly, if the email doesn’t look good on the mobile device, then 80% of them are deleted, wasting all the effort that goes into your data base and content. So, make your email responsive across the available platforms.
5. The Landing Page
Once you achieve the much-wanted click-through and the recipient comes through to your website, you have to ensure that your landing page is up to scratch. Many companies get this bit wrong. They rely on one set landing page for every email, or worse, think that the Home Page will do for everything. So the email recipient happily comes onto the website, if faced with a page which has no immediate link to what’s said in the email and bingo, off they go, annoyed and frustrated.
6. Registration Forms/Social Media Buttons
One of the biggest turn-offs is being asked to fill out a form. You know the sort of thing, name, company, inside leg measurement, favourite pet. The best way to get around this is to build-in auto-forms into the landing page, or make use of social media buttons which makes form-filling a doddle.
7. Promotion Channels
Many people rely on one, or a few channels to exploit, maybe email, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. But you don’t need to limit yourself to these. There are also press releases, paid promotion on B2B websites, group messaging on LinkedIn, re-marketing and paid-for online ads. There are numerous potential channels that will help you fill up your webinar seats.
8. Lead Follow-Up
Unless you properly follow-up the generated leads, then all your efforts will be wasted. So each lead which comes in, has to follow a certain path of qualification and then action. This stage is as important as the first, so this must not be rushed. Indeed, many companies fail to see that there is a natural flow between the generated leads and then the action.
9. Campaign Flow
The campaign has to have an identity, with each stage properly planned and followed through to its natural conclusion. From choosing the correct number of email targets, right through to which sales person who gets the lead to convert, each part of the process has to be planned and implemented as part of an overall strategy. The approach must be scientific and not random.
After the campaign has finished and the generated leads sent to the sales team, the entire process needs to be subject of a debrief. It’s all too easy to emit a sigh of relief and want to move quickly onto the next campaign, but this is a mistake. Each campaign offers up suggestions and ideas for the next campaign. This is valuable intelligence and should not be wasted.
Each campaign should form part of an evolutionary sales process which improves after each effort, resulting in more sales per promotion and an increased marketing ROI.