Marketers know the power of webinars. When done well, they can engage, generate better leads and drive more pipeline than any other form of content marketing. With that said, the webinar game has changed and organizations need to be aware of the different ways webinars can be used and the different formats they can leverage to truly maximize webinar ROI. They need to look at webinars through a different lens and below are some ways they can do that.
Webinars aren’t only for lead generation – it used to be that webinars were only used as a top-of-funnel lead generation tool, but that’s no longer the case. Yes, most companies mainly use them as a way to build awareness and initial interest, but savvy marketers are using webinars for every stage of the funnel. And the approach of your webinars should be different for every stage. There are webinars that can be used to further qualify existing leads; webinars that can be used to build a business case and take an opportunity to the proposal stage; and there are ways you can use webinars to be the final push to close those hard-to-win prospects. Don’t stop there, though. Today everything is about customer experience and you must earn your customer’s business every single day. Webinars are a great way to continually educate and engage your customers, ensuring they’re happy and up to speed on everything you can do for them. They’re a great way to upsell and establish a larger footprint within your current customer base.
Your webinars don’t have to be live – I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I would venture to say that 5 years ago at least 85% of the webinars being executed were 100% live. That number might even be short. Your webinars don’t have to be live anymore. Yes, a live webinar still makes sense depending on the type of webinar and the kind of audience you might have, but there are options. Here are the different formats and when you should use them:
- Live – go live when you want webinars that are collaborative and have a lot of audience interaction. For example, going 100% live is ideal for town hall-type webinars or any webinar where you want to answer questions from the audience while they’re coming in. Additionally, if you’re big on polling (if you’re not, you should be) and want to immediately publish the results for the audience, a live environment might be what you’re looking for (you can still do polling in other formats as well). If you have a sizeable database that is engaged, familiar with the type of quality content you put out, and you’re not concerned about poor live numbers, then going 100% live would be a fit for you as well.
- Simu-live – there has been a sizeable shift in simu-live webinars (pre-record the presentation and broadcast it as a ‘live’ webinar with live elements) over the past 2-3 years. More and more marketers are going this route for a number of reasons. First of all, they’re sick of getting burned by live day webinars – the technology craps out on them; the audio isn’t working; they can’t move their slides; their speakers do a crummy job; or worse yet, something comes up at the last minute and they have to postpone or cancel the webinar altogether which is a terrible look. None of these are issues when you run simu-live webinars. Second of all, going the simu-live route enables you to get the presentation exactly how you like it and ensure that it’s going to be top-notch and well received on the day of the broadcast. There are a host of other reasons that simu-live makes sense, but ultimately it provides more peach of mind which is priceless.
- On-Demand – no, I’m not talking about archiving it on-demand after the live or simu-live event. I’m talking about doing it on-demand from the get-go. Organizations large and small are taking this approach. If you’re a small company and don’t have a big enough database where a live webinar of any sort make sense, create an on-demand webinar. You can then use that on-demand webinar to build up your audience and generate leads at the same time. If you’re a company of any size and don’t want to deal with promoting a webinar, going through everything that a live/simu-live webinar entails, but you still want to create a piece of content that’s a lot more engaging than static forms of content (see whitepapers, eBooks, etc.), than an on-demand webinar is your answer.
Extend their shelf-life and re-purpose – almost all companies that are executing webinars are eventually getting them on-demand. However, most companies do a poor job of promoting the on-demand version. They archive it somewhere on their site, maybe send an email or two to their audience, and then they let it die on the vine. It’s a waste of a great piece of engaging content. You should promote your on-demand webinars the same way you promote your live webinars. Additionally, on-demand webinars offer a treasure trove of goodies from a re-purposing perspective. They can be used to create whitepapers, eBooks, case studies and blogs. The feedback you get from them can be used to create additional webinars. One of the things we’re doing for a lot of our clients right now is creating highlight reels of their webinars. So as opposed to only having the on-demand version and making people sit through 45 minutes of presentation, a highlight reel is a condensed 4-5 minute mini-webinar that highlights the most important pieces of the webinar that will deliver the most value to the audience. It’s easier to promote through social channels, gets higher response via email than promoting the entire on-demand version, and it’s a great tool for your sales force to leverage when they want an exciting, outside-the-box piece of content to send to their prospects. This approach has really taken off for our clients.
Jason Stegent is the Founder & President of Elastic Solutions. Email him @ firstname.lastname@example.org