Q&A: ON24’s Mark Bornstein on how to make marketing webinars that rock

mark bornstein

Hosting a webinar is a popular way for brands to reach out to and engage with consumers, all while gaining leads, providing value and establishing their expertise in a specific part of the industry.

But with so many webinars out there, how can marketers make sure theirs is the one that really stands out? ClickZ sat down with Mark Bornstein, VP of Content Marketing for ON24, ahead of their popular year-end webinar ‘Webinars that Rocked 2016‘, to find out the secrets behind making the biggest impact with your webinar.

Produced in association with ON24.

Hosting webinars is all the rage for brands at the moment – what makes them such a popular marketing method?

In the age of the self-educated buyer, where sales often play a secondary role, marketers need to have more meaningful interactions with their prospects. Pushing out static content like whitepapers offers very little in the way of actionable data.

In fact, most of the traditional marketing playbook is aimed at simply getting a registration form filled out – essentially getting a name. That’s fine, but it’s not enough. Webinars enable companies to have an engagement-driven experience with their prospects, where they get valuable data on prospects’ interests and behaviors. That’s incredibly valuable to marketers.

What do you think are the most essential ingredients for a really good webinar?

Great webinars start with great branding. Your audience should feel like they are wrapped up in your brand. That includes your logos, corporate colors and images and your top line messaging. Probably the most essential element is interactivity and engagement.

Truly great webinars are conversations, not presentations. That means the audience isn’t passively watching a powerpoint presentation; they are asking questions, live tweeting, downloading content, clicking on other calls-to-action. All of this activity doesn’t distract from the content, it reinforces the content and keeps them engaged. And it provides you with a wealth of data on their needs.

What can marketers do to make webinars a genuinely interactive experience, and not just passive listening/watching?

Most marketers build webinars with a little Q&A at the end and think that they are delivering an interactive experience. It’s a good start, but not nearly enough. There are so many ways to engage an audience, including polling, live chat, surveys, idea storming tools and others.

I love polling. Polls force your audience to take an action (press a button), and keeps them connected to your content. Also, people love to see what their peers are doing. I recommend integrating at least three polls throughout every presentation.

Another great tip is to make your webinar social. Encourage live tweeting; create a custom hashtag. It will give your audience a chance to have a voice, extend the reach of your content, and give you a better idea of what content is resonating. The more active your audience is, the better.

You could have the greatest webinar in the world, but it won’t get you anywhere if no-one shows up. What are your top tips for attracting greater webinar attendance?

There is a real art and science to driving webinar registration. I recommend at least three email drops, each with a different, unique message. You need to catch your target prospects at a moment of receptivity with a message that resonates. If it doesn’t work the first time, it probably won’t work the second or third.

Also, try mixing up the email formats. Plain text emails, perhaps written by the presenter or host, can be a very effective way of getting registrations. The same goes for social promotion; don’t just tweet out the title over and over. Mix up the message and the time of delivery.

Really sophisticated marketers are creating unique promotions for specific buyer personas or industries. It may only be a few words tweaked here and there, but if you can make your promotions speak more specifically to someone’s situation, you will be more successful at getting them to register and engage.

It often tends to be the case that many more people sign up to a webinar than actually attend. Is there any way to combat that?

According to the latest ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report, an average of 43% of people that register for a webinar will attend. And that may be skewed a bit by different industries and use cases. I tell marketers that they should be performing around a 35 to 43% conversion rate. If your conversation rate is low, there are certainly things you can do.

Reminder emails are really important. If you already send them and your conversion is still low, try changing the delivery time. Some companies send reminders the day before, some the day of, and some literally five minutes before the webinar. Experiment and see what works for your audience.

Another great tip is to enable everyone that has registered for your webinar to put the event on their business calendar. This is best done from confirmation emails. If you don’t have them put the event on their calendar, they will most likely schedule something else.

What is the best webinar that you’ve ever attended, and what was it that made it so good?

I am quite selfishly going to say mine. HA! We have a monthly webinar series called ON24 Webinar Best Practices Series and it’s pretty great. They are engaging, fun and I hope educational. We have thousands of people register each month and it very much has that TV show kind of feel.

Think about it – we are a webinar company giving webinars about webinars; if we didn’t give the best webinars, it would be a crime.

Sign up for ON24’s ‘Webinars that Rocked 2016‘ and find out how to drive more pipeline with an interactive, engagement-based webinar.

 

Sponsored content in collaboration with ON24. Views expressed in this article are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect ClickZ’s opinions.

Related reading

Flat business devices communication with cloud services isolated on the light blue background.