We all know what a webinar is. Or at least what one used to be. Packaged up as an online event, webinars have traditionally been a resource with which you can reach out to your audience digitally; a way to tell them about everything from your new product launch through to how they can better use X, Y or Z.
And they work. Take a look at the CMI’s ‘B2B Content Marketing 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends - North America’ report as an example.
Marketers once again ranked webinars as one of the most effective marketing options currently available to them (second only to in-person events).
But we have a problem. Or you, as the marketer, have a problem. You’re not using webinars correctly.
You know webinars are beneficial, but you’re not using them in the way that will truly generate more leads and provide you with more data than ever before.
Generally speaking, this is because webinars are still being thought of as the tool they once were – a marketing asset that allows you to reach out to your existing customers and clients – and not, crucially, as a brilliant tool that can generate leads and actually be the start of the customer journey.
Out with the Old (Content)
Webinars have come on a long way since the days of ‘webex’-style presentations. The word ‘presentations’ is actually key here, as that’s what they offered you — the ability to present to an audience. It was a one-way street. You spoke, they listened and it was afterward when any real engagement happened (if it happened).
Sure, you can still run a webinar that is simply you speaking to your audience whilst displaying some static slides, but who actually wants that? As the speaker, you’re basically reading from a sheet. As the audience member, you’re spoken to (or sold to.) That whole practice isn’t far off having the stigma of cold calling now. It's time to shake things up!
- You have the option of running live polls.
- You have the ability to have your audience ask questions whilst you’re presenting.
- You can use live video or pre-recorded segments within your webinar.
- You can even embed your entire webinar into a marketing automation landing page and have the full process streamlined and automated.
And when you have tools like this available to you, it quickly becomes apparent that webinars are more than a marketing support asset. Webinars are a fantastic and often unrivaled lead generation tool and they can genuinely start the customer journey.
Embedded Webinars + Marketing Automation Software = Results
Let’s use the ability for them to sit within marketing automation landing pages as an example of why this is the case.
If you aren’t aware of it, marketing automation software, like HubSpot, essentially allows you to do what it says on the tin and automate a lot of your marketing efforts. You can create landing pages with CTAs, insert these into pre-designed workflows, throw in a few emails and visitors can then follow an entire process without any on-going input from the marketer(s).
So let’s assume you’ve got your landing page and it’s looking good. It’s got your CTAs on there, a form to gather customer data, and lots of information to encourage visitors to actually click the CTAs or complete the form.
Now throw a webinar into the mix.
Immediately you’re offering something different at this top of funnel stage. You’re not relying purely on people reading the copy you’ve produced or digesting the images you’ve created for them, and hoping they’ll convert and move further along the funnel themselves.
Instead, you have a page that has an entire webinar experience embedded within it. Your visitors can register for the webinar, return to the same page to watch it when live (assuming we’re not talking about the on-demand version, which will be immediately available), all the while also being able to take in all of the other information you’ve provided to them elsewhere on the page.
Two things are now happening:
You aren’t relying on static content, or only pre-recorded content, to get people moving along the marketing funnel.
You’ve started releasing the potential of webinars.
Embedding webinars directly into your landing pages opens up a whole world of possibilities. They become lead generation tools. They allow you to directly engage with your audience in a way that simply wasn’t thought possible in a digital capacity before.
And whilst the benefits of this are clear, it’s important to reiterate the point that — the more you can engage with your audience, the more data you get from them.
Engagement is a Powerful Plus for Webinars
While engagement itself is brilliant at any stage of the customer journey, imagine just how valuable it can be right at the beginning — you can, quite literally, tailor an entire experience around your in-depth understanding of the customer’s needs, wants and expectations with minimal guesswork.
Webinars themselves have gone through a really positive resurgence of late, embedded or not. Always being a favorable tool, for B2B marketers in particular, the functionality that’s now available has made them more effective than ever before.
Yet it’s the embedded aspect that is truly revolutionizing — not just for the webinar experience, but the entire marketing offering and lead generation process. More engagement, data and leads at the very start of the customer journey? Yes, please.
Does your company use webinars effectively? What do you do to refreshing these pieces of content?