How to Include Webinars in Your Content Plan

May 21, 2012

If the myriad of webinar platforms out there with new entrants every year is not an indication that webinars are hot marketing tactic, then take a look at the following chart from MarketingSherpa:

MarketingSherpa B2B inbound tactics chart

Webinars, together with virtual events were ranked top three marketing tactics to have their budgets increased in 2011. The same result was voiced by Focus Research, pointing to webinars as one of the most valuable tools for B2B marketers.


Supporting this sentiment, MarketingSherpa puts Webinars again at top three most effective lead generation tactics.

MarketingSherpa Effective Lead Generation Tactics

All Webinars Are Not the Same

Problem is, knowing that webinars are a good tool to have in your marketing arsenal is not enough. To get the most out of it, make sure to include it as part of your content planning efforts and use the best type of webinar to the best type of persona. For example, consider the following types of webinars and how they can be used:

What: Product demo
Focus: Product features and functions
Typical Audience: Prospects that are evaluating solutions, technical buyers, training of new employees or business partners

What: New product release walkthrough
Focus: Key features of the new release, benefits of upgrading
Typical Audience: Current customers on previous release, sales team, business partners

What: Customer training
Focus: Step-by-step product walkthrough, business scenarios, best practices
Typical Audience: New customers, existing customers with new users

What: Case Study
Focus: One or more customers of your product tell their story of how it helped them overcome a problem that others in their industry also face
Typical Audience: Early stage prospects, current customers of another product (cross-sell) or different version (up-sell)

What: Educational (non-product)
Focus: Topic relevant to your prospective buyer
Typical Audience: Suspects, early stage prospects

And these are just a few examples. You can also host partner webinars where you host training sessions for business partners, you could do employee training webinars that talk to new employees about policies and procedures or guide them on how the company works, and you could have sales training webinars where tips are shared or new products are showcased.

Mapping Webinars to Your Content Plan

Webinars are a great channel to include in your content marketing plan. If you plan on creating a eBook or Whitepaper, a webinar is a great way to promote the highlights of what the whitepaper or eBook is about. New product coming out? Get a webinar in addition to the typical press release. Going to a trade show? Host a webinar the week prior to the show and give tips on how to make the most out of the show. Just came from a trade show? Host a webinar to share all the great stuff you learned during the show.

The longer webinars (more than 30 mins) can later be chopped down into easily digestible segments and posted on your Youtube channel. For the product demo webinars, you can also select specific segments of the recording and place them throughout the website to give emphasis to certain features of the product.

Customer testimonial webinars are great to include in your website and you can select key moments of a series of testimonials and stitch them together and publish as a Testimonial Reel.

Not all webinars are created the same, but each type can enhance your content plan and provide one more channel for your customers, prospects, partners, and even employees.

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Making the Most of Your Webinars

February 7, 2011

A recent report from On24, “Webcast Benchmarks and Best Practices for Lead Generation“,  has some interesting numbers when it comes to how webinars are being used and their effectiveness at lead generation. Take for instance the following:

  • The average webcasts captures 441 registrants
  • Attendee participation is usually 50-60% of registrations
  • 15-30% of registrants are sales-qualified opportunities

The numbers above should be enough for you to go back to your own metrics and see how you compare. Sure, depending on your industry the numbers might be skewed but at least you have a benchmark and something to show (or not!) senior management when your results are being questioned.

The report goes a bit further and also tells us that 52% of all registrations occur within 10 days before a scheduled webinar and 15% registering on the day of the webcast. In my experience this is accurate, and sometimes during the day (or the day before) of the event tends to bring an increasing number of new registrations. We are all procrastinators it seems when it comes to registering for online events.

What’s the ROI of webcasting?

According to the survey webcasts have a $22.60 cost per registrant for those with an average of 441 registrants and $39 per participant if the average is 256 participants. I personally think these numbers are high, but it depends heavily on the webinar platform you’re using. On24 is not the lowest priced one on the market (Adobe Connect, WebEx, and GoToWebinar all charge less for webinars), but this should be easy enough for you to calculate for your specific situation. Oh, but note that the cost involves “audience generation programs, to produce and promote a webcast”, so you have to add your email marketing costs (again, different platforms will charge differently) and any additional method you typically use to get people to register and attend.

I encourage you to download the FREE report from On24 and check out some additional nuggets that can help you evaluation your own webcasting program.


More Free Marketing Training

September 23, 2009

Who doesn’t like free stuff? I sure do, especially when it comes to marketing. That’s why I’m eager to check out two resources:

MarketingProfs Digital Marketing World

The folks at MarketingProfs held an online trade show that had a great speaker lineup and relevant topics for those in the online world, being very focused on tactics for lead generation, social media, and email marketing among other topics. The event was on September 16 but I was travelling and missed it. No worries because the whole thing is archived online for you to watch at any time! Access is free and open until December, so you do have some time but don’t wait too long.

The link for the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing World online event is: http://www.marketingprofs.com/events/9/conference

Meeting of the Minds Webcast Series

Marketing NPV is one of those great little secrets of the web, because not many people know of them. An advisory firm that focuses on linking marketing to financials, they have great stuff when it comes to marketing ROI and on marketing measurement. That’s why I think their new webcast series has great promise. The Meeting of the Minds is a free series of webinars featuring some of the great minds in academia such as Don Schultz, Gary Lilien, Dave Reibstein, Paul Farris, Tim Ambler, and others.

Although the topics seem to be more on the strategic side (big picture view), they will surely generate some interesting insight. Worth checking out and registering for those that are aligned with your interests.

The link for Meeting of the Minds Webcast Series is:

http://marketingnpv.com/node/614

I’ll watch them and post my review. Please do the same!

And enjoy… free is always good 🙂


Because You Can’t Beat Free Marketing Training

June 23, 2009

This is the second post finalizing the review of the Inbound Marketing University program from HubSpot. Here I talk about the final 5 classes. If you haven’t done already, check out the review of the first 5 presentations.

Class: Advanced SEO Tactics: On Beyond Keyword Research (GF401)
Professor: Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz

SEOmoz is one of the best places for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) information, and the presentation was full of nice tidbits about SEO. As I mentioned at my review of the basic SEO course presented, this is such a broad topic that 1 hour is not enough to cover everything, but Rand Fishkin did a great job presenting relevant information on how to get ranked higher on Google, including:

  • Link building
  • Keyword usage
  • Unique content creation
  • Domain diversity

As Fishkin explained each SEO concept, he made clear that they all need to work together. It doesn’t matter if you have great keywords if you lack the other elements.

SEO Tactics: He did a great job at distilling tactics into byte sized advice that we can all use for link building, content creation, and domain names. If you want to get some good insights on effective SEO, check out his presentation and the free articles they have on the SEOmoz website.

Veredict: This is a must watch class for those interested in SEO even if you’ve been doing it for a while. Rand’s presentation is engaging and full of great information.

Class: Calls to Action and Landing Page Best Practices (CV101)
Professor: Jeanne Hopkins, MECLABS, Marketing Experiments

If you are not familiar with MarketingExperiments, than you should immediately bookmark their website: http://www.marketingexperiments.com. They always have great content based on lots of testing they’ve done and publish their results frequently.

Since I’ve seen their reports and webinars in the past, the presentation about calls to action and landing pages was more of a refresher. Having said that, Jeanne’s presentation is a great starting point for those that have not seen their reports and want great actionable items for improving their landing pages.

The best take away from the presentation is their conversion formula: C = 4m+3v+2(i-f)-2a. Rather than being a formula that you need to solve, it is supposed to give you insights on how to create a landing page with higher probability of converting visitors. To get more insight into the formula and how it works, after watching the presentation, check out some of their website design case studies.

Veredict: Those new to Marketing Experiments are in for a treat. If you are familiar with them, not much new material.

Class: Inbound Lead Nurturing (CV201)
Professor: Brian Carroll, MECLABS, InTouch

The Lead Nurturing presentation followed the same format I had seen before from previous webinars presented by Brian Carroll, presenting the case for why would you want to “nurture” your leads. While the decision on whether to nurture or pass leads directly to sales will vary based on your own industry and experience, the concept is a powerful one.

Even if you decide not to engage in full lead nurturing as the presentation described, the concepts discussed during the webinar are worth bringing up to your sales managers to that everyone is on the same page. These include:

  • Definition of a lead
  • When should leads be passed to sales
  • When should leads be sent back to marketing
  • How should leads be followed up, and by whom
  • How should leads be qualified and what are the different qualification levels
  • What are the marketing messages that need to be developed for each type of lead
  • How should you track and manage your leads and what tools will you use

Veredict: Nothing new, but good solid concepts that marketers need to bring up to the sales management and come with an action plan.

Successful Email Marketing (CV301)
Professor: Eric Groves, Constant Contact

This presentation should have been titled Email Marketing 101. So if you need to get up to speed on why you should do email marketing, and the basics behind that, you will find out by watching this class, otherwise just skip it.

Veredict: Email marketing basics with a good intro for the novice, but lacking specific tips for the experienced email marketer. Other resources that will give you more insights into doing effective email marketing are MarketingSherpa and Marketing Experiments.

Class: Analyzing Inbound Marketing (AZ401)
Professor: Marshall Sponder, Monster.com, Web Analytics Association for Social Media

In this class Marshall takes you through a tour of web analytics and how to track and measure your efforts related to social media, web, and more. Besides giving you an overview of how web analytics work, he dives into some specific examples of how to understand the data you are getting from the analytics tool.

Veredict: Great introduction to web analytics and good tips on different types of analyzes makes this presentation worth watching with a notepad to take notes.

Conclusion

While I didn’t expect outstanding material from a free course, some of the classes were really great and worth watching again. The Inbound Marketing University calls itself a “marketing retraining program”  and I guess that if you really have not been involved with online marketing up until now, it could be a great eye opener. For those that have been around online marketing for a while is a good refresher but nothing spectacular. I still suggest checking it out because nothing can beat free training.


Inbound Marketing Training for Free

June 21, 2009

Last week I attended the Inbound Marketing University, a free online program put together by HubSpot featuring talented well known professionals on blogging, SEO, social media, lead nurturing, email marketing, landing pages, and viral marketing.

Free Marketing Training from IMU

Free Marketing Training from IMU

After watching the classes, my take on the University is:

Positives:

  • Online archives from each class including slides available on-demand helps a lot when you have busy schedules like mine, and also allows watching at your own pace (i.e. fast forward the boring parts)
  • Quality instructors that have proven experience and really know the subject helped validate the quality of the program
  • Quick and to the point presentations (60 mins each) allowed you to get instant factual and actionable information

Negatives:

  • In general the content was focused on the basics, which is ok for a newbie but I was expecting some more “meat” and a combination of basics with advanced tips and techniques for those that want to take their marketing to the next level (the SEO classes were the exception, having a basic and an advanced class)
  • Too broad topics delivered with too narrow a focus. While corporate blogging, for instance, is a broad topic, the presentation focused on only certain aspects of corporate blogging, leaving a lot of stuff untold.

During the next couple days I’ll post specific review about each class so you can decide which ones to take and which ones to skip based on your experience level.

Review of the first 5 classes:

Class: How to Blog Effectively for Business (GF101)
Professors: Ann Handley & Mack Collier, MarketingProfs

This was a basic introduction to blogging, so for those already familiar with what blogging is, there wasn’t much new content. From a corporate blogging perspective, I like that they brought up what I consider the two main issues in corporate blogging:

  • Do you have the time?
  • Do you have the people?

Often times we get directives from the top echelon asking us to setup a corporate blog for the CEO, a blog for every manager, and to churn content every day. Unless you have the staff available to create new content quickly, you will be stuck.

What was missing from the presentation was:

  • Rules and policies for company blog writers on disclosing company trade secrets, talking about products that are yet to be released, copyright laws, and abiding to the company’s employee handbook
  • How to blog with shareholders in mind (current and prospective)
  • Blogging about the competition (dos and don’ts)
  • Blog copywriting tips

Veredict: Unless you are new to blogging, skip the class and check out the resources below, plus do a quick Google search and you’ll find tons of more information.

For those interested in corporate blogging, tips for corporate blogs and some rules and policies, check out the following links:

Class: SEO Crash Course to Get Found (GF102)
Professor: Lee Odden, TopRank Online Marketing

Not only Lee Odden provided a quick basic overview of what SEO is and why it is important but he also went into some details on how to make the most out of Search Engine Optimization. What I liked best was the tips on tools you can use and where to find additional resources. SEO is such a complex subject that you can barely scratch the surface in one hour so knowing where to go for more information is invaluable. The links he suggested are:

Keyword Tools:

Additional SEO Resources Mr. Odden recommends:

Veredict: If you have never done any SEO in your life, his presentation is excellent. Otherwise, skip it and go straight for the Advanced SEO class (to be reviewed in my next post).

Class: Social Media and Building Community (GF201)
Professor: Chris Brogan, New Marketing Labs

Chris Brogan’s presentation was more of a theoretical overview of community building than tools for doing that. This presentation was a great disappointment for me, since I have read so much great stuff from his blog and was expecting a bit more depth in his presentation.

Veredict: If you are new to social networks, community building, etc. the presentation will probably give you some good pointers so you avoid common blunders when building your own community.

For more information about getting your company to successfully build an online community, I recommend the following for further reading:

Class: Successful Business Uses for Facebook and LinkedIn (GF202)

Professor: Elyse Tager, Silicon Valley American Marketing Association

Elyse makes some great points about using social media for your business, such as:

  • It’s free, but… : although you may not have a line item in your budget on how much you need to spend on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and other social media sites (they are all free), you do have to spend time (sometimes a LOT of time) working the social media space, which does translate into costs.
  • Commitment: you will have to commit to spending time developing your social media strategy; it doesn’t work overnight and require backing from your company willing to let you spend time doing it.
  • Set goals: this is important for any social media platform that your company is trying to use. Setup what your goals are for each platform (create connections, increase brand awareness, etc.) and measure it religiously.

Veredict: If you are new to using LinkedIn and Facebook for your business, Elyse’s presentation is a great starting point. For those that already use social media sites personally and just want to take it to the next level and include their business in the social media space, the presentation is a starting point, but it only tells you some of the basics.

Class: Viral Marketing and World Wide Raves (GF301)
Professor: David Meerman Scott, author of New Rules of Marketing & PR and World Wide Rave

David is a great speaker and has engaging stories, making his presentation one of the best of the series. He is also able to bring ideas implemented by Fortune 500 companies down to the level of small businesses, which is the best way to get actionable items that you can implement in your own business.

Some key insights from his presentation are:

  • Create buyer personas: what types of people are you trying to reach and what are their needs?
  • Earn attention: create something great and distribute it online to generate buzz
  • Nobody cares about your products: they care about solving their problems
  • Lose control: trying to control all your content will work against your attempts to get your ideas heard. Free content will get you farther.
  • New measurements: how you measure your success is now related to how your ideas are being spread (blogs, twitter, etc.)
  • Put down roots: and participate in the communities where your target audience is involved
  • Point the world to your virtual doorstep:  make sure you have an online presence that integrates with your other efforts in generating buzz

Veredict: this is a great class for those that want to learn more about viral marketing or that are trying to convince their companies to do it. For more great stuff on viral marketing, David Meerman Scott’s blog (www.webinknow) is a great starting point.

Next: Review of the final 5 classes:

Advanced SEO Tactics: On Beyond Keyword Research (GF401)

  • Calls to Action and Landing Page Best Practices (CV101)
  • Inbound Lead Nurturing (CV201)
  • Successful Email Marketing (CV301)
  • Analyzing Inbound Marketing (AZ401)

You can check out the presentation slides at: http://www.slideshare.net/HubSpot/presentations

The online recordings for the classes are at: http://www.inboundmarketing.com


Webinar Presentations That Suck

May 25, 2009

Webinar Presentations

You are not even 3 minutes into the webinar and you know it: The presentation will suck. You roll your eyes and switch to your email while you wait for the presenter to appear alive, for the next slide to have something meaningful, for the pain to end… and wonder if you’re the only one wasting your time watching this session. Yeah, we’ve all been victims of poorly delivered webinar presentations and hate when we sit through the whole thing waiting for that moment when something useful will come out of it only to find out we wasted a perfectly good hour!

How do you avoid the same mistakes you see people committing all the time when delivering web presentations? Here are five key rules to guide you when preparing your webinar:

1. Get in your head that this is NOT a live presentation: you can’t see people; you don’t know if they are paying attention or just checking their email, you don’t know if they have fallen asleep. All the great presentation techniques they teach when you have to deliver a presentation in person will most likely not work. So get over it and start thinking about connecting with your audience.

2. Your slides are more important than you: OK, this may be too harsh a statement, but if people can’t see you, then how do you keep them engaged? Yes, you should sound energetic, don’t speak in monotone and try to stand up while talking, but make sure your slides are top notch. All that public speaking help that is out there can’t help you if your slides suck. That means you really don’t know much about public speaking because your slides are supposed to help you deliver the message! This includes using animations to help make a point, graphics and diagrams to explain a complex idea, and easy-to-read font (think 18 pts or bigger). A good speaker with a great slide deck is something we don’t see every day, so show the audience that they are in for a treat!

3. Use strategically located polling questions: One way to engage the audience during a webinar is to use polling questions. If well crafted and placed, they can help get things going and keep the audience interested, but if used too much they can be a drag. I suggest using the first poll within the first 10 minutes of the presentation, the second poll in the middle, and the third poll can be used either 10 mins before the end or right after the end but before the Q&A part. Successful polls are the ones that make the audience think, that when the results are shown they are meaningful to the audience, and that the presenter can use to make a point or get ideas flowing.

4. Use a moderator when possible: unless you are a great speaker, the presence of a moderator can really help. Not only the moderator can help with instructions before the start of the presentation (how to maximize the screen, where to enter questions, etc.) but this person can also interject during the presentation to create a dialog. Some of the best webcasts I’ve watched were the ones where a moderator would interject at some points to feed a question that was relevant to the slide being presented or to make a comment that would help with a transition to the next section of the webinar.

5. Practice. Then practice some more: this is true with any type of presentation. Unless you practice, you won’t deliver a good presentation. For webinars, it is even more important since you don’t have your body language to help out; you have to keep people engaged with your voice, the slides, and the setup of the webinar. Prepare, rehearse, and train like you mean it!

Please do us all a favor and make sure your next webinar presentation doesn’t suck! 😉


Tools of the Trade: Webinars and Online Presentations

April 29, 2009

Webinars

Webinars or webcasts, as they are sometimes called, have increased in popularity and in effectiveness within the past 5 years or so. A common tool for today’s marketer they provide a great way to reach a large number of people with your message.

I believe in three simple rules for a successful webinar program:

  1. Understand and map your needs
  2. Choose the appropriate webinar platform
  3. Put in place a well documented webinar process

 1. Understand and map your needs

First and foremost, you should list out all the ways in which your company will be using webinars and the platform. For example, typical uses of webinar software often fall into one or more of these categories:

  • Online sales demos and presentations: a sales rep shares a PowerPoint presentation and his desktop screen while walking through a product demonstration.
  • Marketing presentations and educational sessions: usually involving a moderator and a speaker, sharing PowerPoint slides and often making use of polling questions and maybe annotations to engage the audience.
  • Online training: an instructor sharing PowerPoint slides, maybe sharing the desktop screen and using arrows, circles, and other annotation tools to illustrate a point.
  •  Technical support: a technical support representative with a customer on the phone where the customer shares control of his desktop and the rep troubleshoots.

OK, before you tell me that training and tech support are not part of the traditional definition of webinar, please bear with me for a moment and I’ll explain it in time.

Depending on the category, or type, of webinar usage you will be able to list out all the features you need. Each webinar platform has a set of features that can be useful or useless and why pay a premium if you don’t care whether circles can be drawn on the screen? An interesting way of looking at it is by making a grid on a sheet of paper or using a spreadsheet comparing your needs versus the features required.

 

 

Sample requirements grid for webinar platform selection

Sample requirements grid for webinar platform selection

 

 

 

Why list technical support and online training? Although often outside the marketing/sales spectrum, there are tools out there that may not only help with webinars but can also help with the needs of the tech support and professional services departments. Why not kill three birds with one stone? So don’t discard them completely until you have spoken to these departments and determined whether they should be included in the requirements grid or not.

2. Choose the appropriate webinar platform

Now that you have listed how you will be using webinars, you’re ready to investigate and fend off vendors. In your first conversation with a vendor, you should list all the uses (maybe even share the grid with them) for the tool you want to buy and ask for a demo showcasing the specific requirements you have. This way you make sure you control the sales process and don’t waste time with a tool that does not have a feature you consider critical.

Some of the most used webinar providers are:

          Microsoft LiveMeeting

          Adobe Connect

          WebEx

          GoToMeeting / GoToWebinar

          On24

          Lotus Sametime

If you do a quick Google search many others will show up, including free ones like:

          Yugma

          Dimdim

The Web Conferencing Council has some good information on webinars and has recently released a whitepaper comparing some of them.

One other thing to consider is the teleconference provider, especially for your marketing webinars that are likely to have dozens of attendees. Some webinar providers have their own conferencing service (GoToMeeting / GoToWebinar offers one for free and Adobe Connect users needs to use Premiere Global for an extra fee), so you should ask the question during your evaluation. The price for phone conferencing will increase the overall costs for your webinars.

3. Put together a well documented webinar process

Now that you have the tools in place, you should think carefully about the procedure to be followed for webinars, especially for the marketing webinars where multiple attendees are involved. Online lead generation events are more effective when there’s a formal procedure that is followed every time, preventing occasional glitches from happening. Thing of the following:

          When should a new session / room / webinar (the terminology varies according to the platform) be reserved?

          How will registrants get login information? Some webinar providers handle this process for you.

          Do polling questions need to be prepared in advance and uploaded?

          Do slides need to be prepared in advance and uploaded?

          Will registrants be contacted by email or phone prior to the webinar to ensure attendance?

          Will the online event be recorded? Should any special steps be taken in this case?

          Should a moderator make opening remarks and help with Questions and Answers?

 

These are only some of the questions that you should ask yourself as you are setting up your company’s webinar program.

Webinars, webcasts, online events, and whatever other name you have for this can be expertly handled once you know your requirements, have done vendor due diligence, and setup a process that can be followed and standardized.

I hope these simple tips will help you with your webinar initiative!


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