We live in an age where a strange dichotomy exists in B2B marketing. On one side you have information and content overload. Marketers are flooding the social Web with an unprecedented amount of content in the form of blogs, infographics, case studies, white papers, videos, and webinars. The list goes on and on.
On the other side is the attention deficit disorder that permeates buyers. Bursts of easily consumed information (infographics and short videos) are the norm, because capturing and keeping the attention of early- and late-stage buyers is a difficult task at best – a mixture of calculus and art may be a good comparative.
There are numerous studies that point to the fact that B2B buyers are self-selling through a significant portion of the sales cycle. Sirius Decisions reports that as much as 70 percent of a buy cycle is self-directed and completed prior to a prospect engaging with a sales person. In response to this, B2B marketers are focused on engaging prospective buyers, for an extended period of time. They want to lure prospects in with highly compelling, educational information and then keep their attention while they work their way through the self-directed buy cycle.
This is quite the mountain to climb for B2B marketers.
Webinars have long been an excellent vehicle for promoting valuable content to a wide audience. Unfortunately, many people think of webinars as a single event. Today, marketing automation platforms have created robust integrations with leading webinar platforms for the purpose of wrapping a full nurture marketing program around a webinar, which is designed to engage and hold the attention of a buyer for an extended period of time.
Through the lens of marketing automation, we think of webinars themselves as a nurture marketing initiative that runs over the course of six to eight weeks from start to finish. There are clear pre-, during and post-webinar marketing actions that should be followed for every webcast. Some general rules to follow and ideas you can use to increase audience engagement over a period of time are listed below.
Webinar promotion should begin at least two weeks prior to the actual event date. During this pre-promotional period, you should use a broad spectrum approach to driving registrations that includes email, social, blog, website, and direct sales engagement. The content of the webinar itself should be highly educational content. In short, use your best stuff when it comes to webinars.
As people register for the event, a mixture of trigger-based emails timed to coincide with the start date of the sessions should be used. Don’t oversaturate at this point, but continually reinforce the benefits of attending by highlighting things like speaker credentials, industry issues to be discussed, and promote any post-webinar materials of value. A phone call and triggered email from a sales person the day before the event, reminding the registrant of the start time, should always be used.
During the Event
Many webinar platforms allow for polling and surveys during the event. You should fully leverage these tools as it helps drive participation and engagement. Make the poll results available during the session or offer the poll results as a post-session asset. Encourage attendees to ask questions during the event and use the questions as the basis for an FAQ document that can be offered as a post session asset.
This is where you can put your marketing automation system to best use. Create two paths for post webinar promotion – one for attendees and one for non-attendees. Firstly, transform your webinar into an on-demand video and offer this as an asset for all registrants. Convert the webinar slides into a PDF and offer this as an asset as well.
Whatever the theme of your webinar, you should create complementary assets such as white papers, infographics, and use cases. People who attended the webinar, which will normally be about 40 percent of registrants, will be highly engaged for a period of three to four weeks following their attendance. Strike while the iron is hot and build out a series of follow-up communications offering the aforementioned assets and mixing in follow up calls from sales. A good marketing automation platform will make this process easy by leveraging nurture design programs that automate the flow of the campaign while generating sales tasks in the process.
In and of themselves, webinars are great content marketing tools. When built and managed with a strong nurture marketing campaign inside of a marketing automation solution, their value increases exponentially and drive audience engagement better than any other type of B2B campaign.