These days, no self-respecting lead generation engine is complete without a web-based seminar program. Live and even recorded Webinars are a low cost way to find and pre-qualify prospective customers. These sessions are particularly effective for professional, knowledge based services which have a high cost of direct sales.
Just like every marketing program, the beginning of the Webinar funnel begins with getting behinds in seats. Here, of course, content is king. You must select content that aligns the interests of the target audience with the specific benefits your product provides. Remember that people attend Webinars to learn, not to be sold something.
The title that you create will have an amazing impact on the registration rate. Craft a title that clearly tells the audience what is in it for them; edit it mercilessly to ensure that you accomplish this in as few words as possible.
In some circumstances, it may make sense to build a Webinar community as part of a larger social networking experience. If you go this route, then you can develop a series of Webinars adhering to a theme. However, tread cautiously here. The ultimate goal of Webinar programs is to accelerate the sales cycle. By deploying a sequence, prospects may feel compelled to wait until the end of the series to pass judgment on the value of your solution.
Every additional field of information that you request on the registration page will lower the registration rate. To that end, simplify the registration page to the bare bones. Asking for email addresses alone will provide the maximum number of leads. However, you will probably need to have enough information to route leads to specific sales territories based on vertical market, geography, or named account. In that case, you can ask for an email address and phone number. By linking the email domain to a company name and the area code to geography, you will have everything that you need. Moreover, asking for a phone number will serve to filter out less qualified parties. To make sure that your Webinar really hits the mark, optionally you can solicit advance questions on the confirmation page.
Since it may require multiple touches to entice people to register for your Webinar, a typical best practice is to begin promoting the event twenty-one days in advance. Though you can start as much as a month in advance, people generally will not respond to a solicitation for something that is more than thirty days away. In terms of scheduling, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 11 am and 1pm are the optimal times. If you have filled the calendar for those days, then Tuesdays are the next best choice. You should avoid Mondays and Fridays, since those days are unlikely to provide an acceptable return on investment.
Getting people to register for your Webinar is only the first part of the battle. The next hurdle is actually getting them to show up. You should expect registration-to-attendance ratios to range from 25% for general interest topics to 50% for specialized topics with a highly targeted audience. Of course, if you have exceptionally valuable content and people who actually paid to attend, then attendance rates can be as high as 90%.
The first way to increase attendance rates is to make remembering to attend the Webinar as effortless as possible. At minimum, you should send a registration confirmation that includes an electronic calendar attachment. In addition, industry best practice dictates sending a reminder one day before as well as one to three hours in advance of the session.
A second compelling way to drive attendance is to offer a reward. One form of this is offering a monetary or otherwise fashionable prize to randomly selected attendees. However, you can do better, particularly if you are focused on a specialized topic. For example, if you are a customer relationship management software vendor extolling the virtues of using technology to improve client relationships, then you could offer an exclusive and directly relevant whitepaper or electronic book to all attendees.
Congratulations, you not only got people to register for your Webinar, but also enticed them to hear what you have to say. But, since attention spans are short and Webinars rely on influence at a distance, you have your work cut out for you.
A first best practice is to load the most valuable content at the front end. This will serve to engage your audience. In addition, you will demonstrate that the session has value even for those that drop early.
A second best practice is to manage your speaking tone. As you would with a live audience, speak with passion and enthusiasm, almost as if you are speaking with one individual rather than broadcasting to a group.
A third best practice is to make the experience interactive. For example, you can integrate polling and discuss results as they are dynamically updated. Additionally, you may choose to integrate social media feeds into part of the display.
Though compelling Webinars are designed first and foremost to inform the audience, attendees know that your motivation for teaching them is not purely altruistic (unless you are doing a public service session). Hence, the webinar should end with a call to action that compels the attendees to escalate their involvement. For instance, consider soliciting them to fill out a post event survey in order to download a free copy of the presentation.
Drive and measure results
Webinars are a marketing activity designed to initiate or accelerate a sales cycle. Hence, registration rates and attendance rates are not in and of themselves adequate measures of success. To truly get a sense of any gains, then, monitor the return on investment by factoring revenues from converted clients against program costs. If you discover the program is not driving profits, then you can adjust it or shut it down and used the money for something with higher proven impact.
To maximize conversion rates, sales executives (or sales automation if you do not have a direct sales force) should respond immediately to attendees. In addition, it often pays to reach out to the fifty to seventy five percent of registrants that did not attend. For this latter group in particular, you may want to send an automatic invitation to your next Webinar.
Here are the concepts you can immediately apply to create a compelling Webinar program that delivers a high return on marketing investment:
- Drive registration
- Drive attendance
- Deliver content
- Drive and measure results