Webinars are a great example of how marketers can take traditional campaigns and transform them into something sales can use in the inbound marketing process.
As inbound marketing strategies continue to mature and evolve around various social networks, savvy marketers are taking traditional campaigns and transforming them into useful tools for sales to participate in the inbound marketing process. Today, all companies should adopt a well-rounded and comprehensive marketing strategy that includes equal parts inbound and outbound campaigning.
Marketing automation vendors are continuing to develop useful and practical tools inside of their applications to help their customers achieve these goals. Social publishing, which was considered to be an external function to most marketing automation platforms, has become more of a standard function or integration as of late.
How marketers adopt and use tools such as social publishing vary, but there are some traditional lead generation campaign strategies that should be used to help drive inbound social traffic. The short putt in this regard is webinars. I classify webinars as a traditional campaign type because they have become mature and well documented in their structure, goal, and promotion strategy. Generally speaking, webinars are a highly effective way to present your company's point of view and showcase your expertise to (potentially) large group of people. Traditionally, webinars have been promoted via email campaigns, newsletter sponsorships, and advertisements. Marketing automation platforms have jumped on the popularity and effectiveness of webinars as lead generation campaigns and developed event management functions (or entire modules within the apps in some cases) as a core part of their platforms. In addition to event management, some marketing automation vendors have added social publishing capabilities to push content out to the social Web.
Combining these two technologies is a no-brainer and marketers should consider how they can use webinar content as part of their inbound social strategy.
Firstly, webinars can be broken down into "thought leadership" and "product promotion" categories. Only the former should be considered viable content for inbound marketing campaigns. Thought leadership campaigns typically promote industry best practice or research related content, often featuring outside expertise (analysts, clients, etc). If deployed within a marketing automation platform, webinars will typically feature an optimized landing page for registration for the event.
The landing page should provide a good summary of content in bullet point format with information about the speaker and benefits of attending. The landing page may then be accessible via a short URL (bit.ly as the most common example). Today, some marketing automation apps will provide for their own shortener and allow for direct publishing from the system. Access to publishing from the system may even be provided directly to your sales team, either through direct access to the MAP or via integration with CRM.
Sales should be well informed about the webinar and coached on the best ways and places to promote the webinar. The most common networks for promoting webinars are LinkedIn and Twitter. Once sales is given access to the short URL for the webinar, they may then engage in actively socializing the event in their own social network accounts. LinkedIn groups have proven to be a highly effective and targeted network for social webinar promotion but there are nuances and rules to the road when presenting and promoting. Several methods are listed...
Webinars, assuming the content is done well, provide a great vehicle and teaching moment for marketing to engage with sales in social promotion that drives your brand deeper into the social Web and helps to align the efforts of marketing and sales with regard to social campaigning...which is a good thing for any company!
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