Drive Webinar Registrations Via E-mail

Running a Webinar can turn even the calmest marketer into a nervous wreck. As one of my marketing colleagues who has run several Webcast projects remarked:

Those Webinars are a bitch. It takes one full-time project manager 10 to 12 weeks, plus percentages of time for a content developer and marketing staff. Then, the day of the event, there are three to four IT people and five to seven customer service people. The vendors bring in 10 to 12 people, including cameramen, producers, and the Internet folks. It’s like anything that’s live: preparation like crazy beforehand, extreme stress during the production, then everyone goes totally brain-dead afterwards. It’s worse than a conference because you only get 90 minutes. It’s gotta be right — or that’s it!

Just in case you’re ready to head for the hills after that real-world assessment, she concludes, “Webinars are the price of doing business these days. They’re super-popular with our clients. And I have to admit, they’re kind of fun to produce in a kind of horrifying way!”

Clearly, Webinars are here to stay, and they’re a great way to attract new leads. So let’s see if we can help you stay sane through at least the marketing and promotion part.

For advice on promoting Webinars, I turned to Amy Bills, senior manager of field marketing at Bulldog Solutions, which specializes in lead optimization and management using Webinar campaigns and other information platforms. Here are some of the recommendations she passed along that may help you during your next Webcast.

The Right Topic and Message Attract the Right Audience

“More likely than not, the audience for a lead-generation Webinar is pretty savvy. If your event is just a demo of your product, they’re probably not going to want to spend much time with you,” says Bills.

“A tenet we follow is, ‘Teach, don’t sell.’ Develop a topic, and a message around it, that really speaks to your prospect’s pain points — the things that are making their jobs difficult,” she says. “If you have something to teach them, they’re more likely to come. And while you’re teaching, you establish your company as a thought leader in your space, which makes later sales engagements easier.

“This approach is important because we’re always concerned not only with raw numbers but [also] with quality. If you get 1,000 registrants but none are good prospects, it’s not a very successful lead-generation Webinar,” says Bills. “But if you drive prospects who are demonstrably good prospects for your sales team (and eventually convert to deals) by giving them information that solves their day-to-day business problems, that’s real success. So when we measure whether something worked, we’re usually looking at the quality of the leads as well as quantity.”

Test Subject Lines

According to Bills, “Whenever possible, we recommend testing subject lines on a list subset before sending a promotion to an entire list. This is especially valuable not only as a one-time test, but [also] if you identify types of subject lines and look at results over time.

“You might, over a course of several Webinars, test a coy subject line,” she continues, “such as ‘Five Great Ways to Do Better Webinars’ (introducing a bit of mystery) versus a subject line that introduces fear and uncertainty, such as ‘How to Fix the Webinar Mistakes You’re Making.’ Over time you can glean data on which type of message resonates with your prospects.”

Maximize Webinar Attendance

According to Bulldog Solutions, 40 percent of people who register for a Webinar attend the live event. Bills offers two ideas to maximize attendance:

  • Make confirmation e-mail more than just reminders. Confirmation and reminder e-mail messages to registrants are a great opportunity to solidify their engagement, not just because they offer the obvious access information. Include a one-click Outlook reminder on pre-Webinar communications to make it easy for registrants to add access information to their calendars. Also include relevant information in the pre-event communications, such as a relevant white paper or case study, to get registrants thinking about the topic beforehand.
  • Open channels for a dialogue. We’ve seen great results in engaging prospects in a two-way dialogue before the live Webinar even occurs. A prospect who’s already entered a conversation with you is invested in attending the live event. As part of our post-registration, pre-Webinar communications, we send registrants a simple, personalized e-mail we call a sales acceleration note. This e-mail, automatically generated through our system, contains some simple personalization: the prospect’s name, company, and a signature from the event speaker or moderator. Most important, the e-mail solicits input or feedback. It specifically requests recipients reply with specific questions or issues they’d like covered in the Webinar. We see up to a 20 percent response rate on these, and it’s a source of fantastic insight into prospects’ biggest pain points.

Post-Webinar: Leave No Leads Behind

“After the live Webinar, you have a great opportunity to engage with prospects,” says Bills. “Even those prospects who didn’t attend the event needn’t be left on the table. You have an opportunity to keep the conversation going with them.

“Bulldog recommends a follow-up communication 24 to 48 hours after the live event, dynamically generated based on whether or not someone attended,” she continues. “That timeframe is critical: The likelihood of a prospect converting to a sale drops dramatically the longer you wait to contact them. Attendees can receive a ‘thanks for attending’ e-mail that reiterates the key messages from the live event and contains a sales-oriented call to an action such as signing up for a demo.

“Those who couldn’t attend can receive a ‘sorry we missed you’ e-mail that gives them access to an archive of the live event, so they can catch up on what they missed and contains a call to action.”

Thanks, Amy, for that great summary of what it takes to successfully promote in a Webinar in a systematic, calm way. You’ve probably saved a few marketing folks some sleepless nights of pre-Webinar stage fright.

How are you using e-mail to promote your Webinars? Podcasts? Social media efforts? Share your B2B case studies and best practices with Karen.

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