Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Four Practices to Increase Webinar Effectiveness

Are you using webinars as a lead-generation tactic in your marketing efforts? According to MarketingSherpa, webinars are "one of the top two lead-generation tactics for B-to-B technology marketing". Couple that with the current economic climate and you have a few great reasons to include webinars in your 2009 marketing strategy.

If you're not sure where to start, or if you're already running webinars and want to improve upon your current strategy, consider these 4 best practice tips that we've learned through over 10,000 webinar event registration programs.

Tip 1: Compelling and Simple Email Copy

Provide Value: When putting together your event email copy, always remember that your email is about the webinar and not your product. No one is going to want to attend your webinar if all they are going to get is a sales pitch, and your email copy will set the tone. Provide your audience with compelling benefit based information on why they should attend your webinar.

Keep it Clear and Simple: Be sure to include all key event points, so that your audience can easily identify if your webinar will be of value to them. Your webinar invitation should clearly indicate the following key points:

  • The Topic
  • Speakers
  • Date and Time
  • Why You Should Attend?
  • How to Register

Don't Forget About Structure: The structure of your email is also very important, again making sure that your audience can find the information that they need as quickly as possible.
When constructing your invitation ensure that:

  • The call to action for registration is clear, and is located 'above the fold' in the email

  • Use a custom header in your email to showcase the event details AND link to the registration page. This is a great way to capture your audiences' attention.

  • Always include a TEXT link for the call to action located above 'the fold', for recipients who do not allow images to appear in their email client.

Tip 2: Multi-Touch, Multi-Channel, Automated Promotion to Boost Registration

Use multi-touch, multi-channel promotion to help drive event attendance. Leverage automation to develop an effective and automated event promotion program. Follow this sample Best Practice Registration Workflow, as a starting point to building your program. When building your program, keep in mind these four tactics that help boost registration numbers:

  1. Add additional channels to your promotion mix. Doing so has seen the following increases in registration:
  2. links lift registration 3% - 15%
  3. Partner Banner Ads and Email Sending lift registration 1% - 4%
  4. Send follow-up emails to those who have not registered after the first invitation. This tactic has resulted in increases in registration from 30-45%
  5. Use Batch Signatures to increase response rates. Sending emails on behalf of the sales agent (who owns the lead), using Batch Signatures, has resulted in increased open rates of 10-15% and click-through rates of 2-4%. See here for details on how to do this in Eloqua.
  6. Leverage offline channels. Recent success has been seen using 'text-to-voice' functionality. Sending a recorded voice message at the same time as the 2nd invitation, or in a day-before reminder, helps to increase registration and attendance. See here for details.

Tip 3: Make Sure You Convert Webinar Registrants into Webinar Attendees

Today webinar attendance rates are at 25-35% for a well run webinar. That means up to 75% of the people who actually registered don't get the value of the live event! Of course, you want your registrants to attend, to warm up prospects, and educate customers, so it's critical you do all that you can to ensure those registrants attend.

Some quick tips to turn your registrants into attendees:

  1. Include an ICS calendar object in your webinar confirmation email. This effective tactic has resulted in increases in attendance from 10-20%. See here for details on how to do this in Eloqua.
  2. Send timely webinar reminders. Send a webinar reminder email to registrants 1-2 hours before the webinar, instead of a day before. This practice has increased attendance by 10-15%.
  3. Use telemarketing (for large webinars) or call-on-demand to remind registrants about the upcoming webinar, and increase attendance up to 20%.

Tip 4: Ensure Timely Follow-up to Generate Qualified Leads

So if the majority of people are not actually attending the live webinar – how do you maximize lead generation for all of those registrants? It is well known that follow-up connection rates drop significantly if you wait more than 24 hours, so it is critical to quickly assess who attended and who did not attend, and then send a targeted communication to both groups.

Here is what we recommend:

  1. Split follow-up communications into those who attended, and those who did not attend
  2. Follow-up no later than 24 hours after the webinar
  3. Ensure you provide access to a recorded version of the webinar to BOTH groups
  4. Provide an additional call-to-action for more value-add content
  5. Monitor activity and pass on qualified leads to sales for follow-up

Like other marketing processes, driving webinar ROI is becoming more of a well thought out science. There are key tactics and strategies to follow to ensure your webinar is a success. Once you've implemented your first webinar program don't forget the importance of measuring your success and keeping your program up to date. Why not add in some testing – test subject lines or sender names, monitor what resonates best with your audience, and continue to improve your promotional plan.

Many of the topics on this blog are discussed in more detail in my book Digital Body Language
In my day job, I am with Eloqua, the marketing automation software used by the worlds best marketers
Come talk with me or one of my colleagues at a live event, or join in on a webinar