Last week, Eloqua hosted an awesome Virtual Road to Revenue event for hundreds of modern marketers. Check out all of the fantastic content from speakers like Eloqua’s Alex Shootman and Toby Murdock from Kapost. I had the opportunity to share some tips for marketers looking to make the most of webinars throughout the buying process. Here’s a synopsis of my advice (for more, grab the slides or listening to the recording).
Don’t Try to Be All Things to All People
This is a recipe for disaster! As with any other content, you need to hone in on the audience you want to target before you do anything else. What’s interesting to one persona is not going to appeal to another. Another thing to consider when planning for your webinar is where your target audience is at in the buying cycle. While webinars can play a role at all stages of the sales process – top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel – the experience needs to be tailored for the appropriate stage to get the best results. Let’s take a look.
Successful Early Stage Webinars
Is the goal for your webinar to fill the top of the funnel with new prospects? Here are a few tips:
- Focus the topic of your event on an emerging market trend or business problem that is top-of-mind for your target audience.
- Take the time to develop meaty content that includes advice that your audience can take away and apply immediately in their daily job.
- If you have the budget for it (or friends in the right places), consider bringing in a recognized expert to speak. This will add credibility and cachet to your event, and potentially help draw a larger crowd to hear your message.
And speaking of crowds, don’t skimp on promoting the event. Your goal is to attract as many people as possible who fit your target profile. Here are a few things that we’ve found effective at ReadyTalk:
- Start a steady drumbeat on social. Begin 3-4 weeks out and increase the cadence of posts as the event date approaches.
- Make it easy for your audience to spread the word with their peers by including social sharing links in event emails and on the registration page.
- Leverage relevant partners to help get the word out to their audiences – make it easy for them to do so by providing pre-written tweets.
During the live event, use tools like polling and chat as more than a way to make sure your audience is awake. Take this opportunity to learn more about your audience and gather data that will help you pinpoint sales-ready leads and drive fast, tailored follow-up. And, once your event is over, strike while the iron is hot. Following up quickly after the webinar is crucial to success!
One “don’t” at this stage? Remember that this isn’t the time to pitch your product – you’ll lose credibility and alienate your audience. Save the product demos for later stage prospects.
Effective Late Stage Webinars
When you are talking to an audience that is further along in the buying process, remember that they are actively exploring solutions and looking for validation that yours is the right choice. Now is the time to communicate specifics on how your product can help them take advantage of an opportunity or solve a pressing business problem.
Expect a significantly smaller audience for webinars targeted at buyers in this stage. You’re going for quality over quantity here. While you may only have a few dozen attendees, they are further down the funnel and more likely to turn into closed won opportunities.
How can your webinar help make that happen?:
- Consider having a happy customer share their story on the difference your product made to their business.
- Build in time for a brief demo that clearly illustrates how your product solves their top of mind issues.
- You can even get really crazy and have your happy customer demo how they have applied your solution in their own environment!
So, what’s a big no-no for webinars at this stage (or any stage for that matter)? Definitely don’t pull the old “bait and switch.” Make sure your title and abstract clearly sets expectations and then deliver on those promises.
Using Webinars to Onboard & Ramp New Users
Even after you close the deal, webinars can play a role in driving revenue. Use live and recorded webinars as a technique to onboard customers, train them on how to use your product, introduce them to key contacts, explore advanced features, and ramp usage. Over time, this is a great way to upsell and cross-sell existing customers, creating loyalty, customer retention, and revenue growth.
One piece of advice at this stage? Take the time to create sessions tailored to the needs of different users, even if it means a larger number of very small sessions. Otherwise, you risk losing your audience’s attention while you cover content that isn’t relevant to them.
While conducting these sessions as live trainings gives you a great opportunity to build rapport with new users and respond to their questions in real-time, it’s also nice to offer the option of on-demand recordings that allow users to consume the content at their own pace.
I’m always curious to learn from other marketers and to hear what’s techniques are working for them. What’s your best advice on the webinar front?