Featuring Janet Rubio, CMO, True Influence
Webinars have emerged as one of the best B2B conversion tools available today for Account-Based Marketers. Platform provider ClickMeeting recently reported that the number of webinars it hosted increased by about a third in 2016, and the growth trend is certainly continuing.
At True Influence, we’ve had great success employing webinars to convert new prospects which quickly qualify as Sales-ready after a brief vetting and nurturing cycle. Webinar attendees tend to be genuinely interested in the subject matter – otherwise, they wouldn’t commit the 30 minutes to attend an online event – and, the interactive platform enables you to provide the specific learning about your product or service thereby driving purchasing decisions.
Webinars have also become easier to produce, with video conference-like technologies putting the delivery platform well within the reach of almost all marketing teams.
Still, hosting webinars requires significant resources, and as with all marketing assets, you want the highest possible number of qualified prospects to engage with your content, in order to maximize your investment.
For webinars, that translates primarily into increasing the click-through rates on e-mail invitations, which analysts report are still are the primary channel for driving webinar registration and attendance. Effective invitation mails lift your CTR well above the 20 percent typical of most B2B email. Coupled with a smart social media strategy and well-crafted landing pages, winning invites can push your webinar program to the next level.
Your team will ultimately determine the right strategy though testing and creative trial and error, but here are 10 tips I’ve found make for effective invitations and higher webinar engagement.
1) Be Sure to Pick a Relevant Topic
As I said earlier, webinars are great at generating leads that quickly advance to SQL status, but that’s only the case if you’re tackling a topic that’s critical to your customers’ current purchasing decisions. As with all ABM marketing efforts, knowing what topics your target accounts are researching online is essential to selecting the focus of your webinar as well, and the messaging in your invite mails and other registration drivers.
Employing intent signal monitoring information, such as that provided by our InsightBASE third-party ABM data service, lets your team identify spikes of interest as reflected by internet searches and online content consumption. A high volume of searches on general terms – think “SaaS Accounting Software” – may signal an opportunity for an overview or strategic value presentation; very detailed intent signals about data integration or ROI calculations may mean a tactical or detailed cost-benefit discussion will be more effective.
2) Match the Webinar’s Content Profile to the Audience You Want to Attract
As you design the content for your webinar, remember that prospects will choose to attend for the same reason they’ll attend a seminar at a trade show – they are looking for specific information about their purchasing decision.
Users at all levels of the account’s hierarchy will respond to the classic “Five Best Tools” and “10 Things to Remember” outlines, but I’ve found they resonate most with managers and operational staff. These prospects have near-term problems to solve, and an upfront idea of the exact, actionable information they’ll get speaks to their tactical mindset. VP and higher job categories tend to gravitate to respected guest panelists, such as analysts from leading firms in your market, who speak to broader strategic issues. We’ve had great success partnering with both SiriusDecisions and Forrester Research to provide this level of gravitas in our own True Influence webinars.
3) Personalize Mails to Individual Contacts in the Account
I’ve found webinars to be successful at generating engagement across all job roles. You can produce a strategic webinar that’s still very useful to managers and key operational influencers. However, personalizing the messaging in your invitations to the job demands of the recipient is the best way to win registration and attendance.
With confirmed contact information, like that found in our InsightBASE service, you can build invites which focus on bulleted outlines for tactical prospects, and on high-profile panelists for VPs and up. As with every ABM marketing communication, personalizing messaging to the individual within the account is essential.
4) Be Catchy and Clever in Your Subject Line
Recipients can’t click through from your email invitations if they don’t first open them, and that demands effective subject lines. You can find a ton of tips for writing subject lines, but my best advice is to be catchy and clever. A few key tactics to keep in mind:
5) Keep Your Invitation Copy Brief
Recipients want to quickly scan your invitation mail to understand the value proposition, so brevity is imperative. Stay focused on either your list of specific learning points or featured panelist, depending on the audience profile you are targeting. Ideally, your invitation should include a 50- to 70-word abstract and a photo of your panelist.
Let the landing page do the heavy lifting. Leadpages suggests that a smartly designed landing page can result in 30 percent conversions for webinars, among the highest in the industry. Include a detailed agenda of the event and a full bio of your presenters. As with all landing pages, video dramatically increases conversions, if they are brief and to-the-point. Remember that B2B buyers have become more sophisticated – you might even say jaded – and just want the facts.
6) Host Your Webinar at the Most Inviting Time
We’ve found that 1 p.m. Eastern on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays are best times and days for hosting a webinar. Your prospects on the East Coast can participate around their lunch schedule, nor is the time too early on the West Coast. Webinar platform provider On24 agrees that weekdays are the best, but suggests the 2 p.m. Eastern time slot resonates with their survey base.
7) Send Invitations Well in Advance, but Remember Last-Minute Registrants
You can begin awareness e-mail campaigns as much as 30 days in advance of your webinar, typically in connection with your social media channels (more on that a little later).
Your real push for registrations should begin approximately 10 days prior to the event. BrightTalk reports that “starting now” invitations that run up to the day of the event can win 30 percent to 40 percent CTRs. On24’s 2017 report suggests that 25 percent of attendees register the day of the webinar.
BrightTalk also suggests that Monday is actually the best day to promote pre-registration, with the first three days of the work week averaging approximately 22 percent conversion rates on email.
8) Use Social Media to Build Awareness
Social media is key for building awareness of your webinar. At True Influence, we’ve actually seen CTRs on social media comparable to our email webinar invites. If you’ve signed on a star panelist for your event, be sure to ask him/her to promote the webinar on their own social channels as well.
For our social media awareness efforts, we’ve developed a graphic element designed specifically for quick identification of the event across channels. It’s not a huge outlay of effort, and we’ve found the results to be worth it.
9) Don’t Forget Digital/CPC
We’ve use digital advertising, mostly from the typical networks such as AdWords, to promote our webinars. As a supplemental source to meet your registration goals, paid advertising is always a solid option. And as with our social awareness efforts, we use a graphic element in these campaigns, and coordinate them across various channels.
10) Let Your Webinar Speak for Itself
I have a pocketful of marketing truisms I have developed over the years, and one of my favorites is: “The way they come to you is the way they behave.”
You may find differing advice on the Internet, but I don’t believe in using incentives, such as raffles, to drive webinar registration, particularly if the ultimate goal is to create Sales-ready leads. Incentives will drive up raw registration numbers, but your webinar is a high-value asset unto itself. Users who have to be further baited into registering probably aren’t going to turn out to be solid leads.
On the note of high-value content — be sure to include PDFs, blog posts, and other assets right there in your webinar interface to nurture leads while they are deeply engaged with your content.
Send Reminder/Thanks Messages to Registrants and Attendees
Be sure to send reminder mails about attendance to registrants the day before and day of your webinar. And be sure to add value to the content of the mail – remember, a lot of these folks won’t remember even signing up for the event, much less the content of your landing page which got them to convert. On24 reports that about 45 percent of registrants end up attending events.
For those registrants who did not attend, be sure to ask them to download a replay of the webinar to further your nurturing efforts. And after a month or so, re-purpose the replay as an original content asset for a whole new campaign. This tactic is particularly useful if you’ve engaged a star panelist.
Make the Most of Your Webinar
There are numerous tactics for increasing high-quality registrations to your webinars, and most of them depend on crafting smart, personalized invitations that drive higher click-through rates. Webinars are a great conversion tool for generating Sales-qualified leads, and optimizing your registration efforts can yield even greater benefits from this investment of marketing resources.