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Nov 10, 2005
How To

How to Sell Sponsorships to Webinars Part II: Content, Marketing & Production Tips

SUMMARY: In part II of ContentBiz's special report on how to sell sponsorships to webinars, you'll find:

Strong content that's not advertorial
Production tips
How to get webinar attendees

Plus, samples of media kits, registration forms, and ads to get more attendees.
As we reported last week, B-to-B publishers are seeing Webinar sponsorship sales growth of 20%-30% year-over-year. Here's more practical advice for publishers who want to take advantage of this booming marketplace.

Developing webinar content without advertorial

Your sponsor will want to leverage off your publication brand name and editorial expertise. But how do you keep your editors from being seen as a spokesperson for the sponsor? Once attendees see one advertorial, they're less than likely to sign up for another webinar with your site again, and there goes the business model.

Here are three webinar content models to keep the line between editorial content and advertising clearly drawn. We've seen many combinations of the three.

#1. Vendor-focused webinar

In this model, the vendor has full control of content, and the panel usually consists of an analyst with an external view of the topic, the sponsor’s product manager and maybe one of the vendor’s happy customers. Adding a trade association president might also work.

Some publishers will allow a star editor to introduce the panel. However, never do this with a client who's new to webinars entirely because the chances they'll want to step over the line and either present too much sales hype or ask your editor to go on record saying inappropriately glowing things about them are high. Check out a few of the client's previously produced webinars (often available in canned version on their site) for quality.

Remember, even if your brand name isn't anywhere on the presentation and you're just an attendee feeder operation, your brand is still affected by the quality of the content.

#2. Editor-focused webinar

Here, your star editor runs the show. The editor selects the topic, which is usually a market challenge or trend. The panel discussion is vendor neutral (generally vendors are not mentioned at all), and it consists of an analyst, one or two experts and perhaps another journalist.

Key: the sponsor is *not* on this panel. And the sponsor has no ability to influence the content or structure of the event.

Some publishers opt to have a vendor “commercial break” in the middle of the show. But be cautious: make sure there is a clean separation from the panelists. Use a separate slide format, perhaps some introductory music or other differentiators.

#3. Training-focused webinar

“Our most successful format in terms of both revenue and audience acceptance is our training webcast,” says Paul Andrews, VP Interactive Sales Cygnus Business Media. “There is a thirst for training in some markets.”

Cygnus partners with organizations that require employees or members to be certified (such as public safety or aviation). These certification programs often require hundreds of hours of course time and are done online.

Then Cygnus divides the course into webinar segments, and a sponsorship is sold for each one. After the attendee completes the courses, the student gets an authorized certificate. (See link below for sample of this training program.)

How to get lots of high quality attendees

Generally, most publishers agree that “shotgun” methods of promoting a webinar (such as relentless email blasts to everyone on your list or overloading your web banner inventory with generic placements) are not as effective as targeted campaigns.

Tip: Segment your lists

Dice your readership database into segmented lists relevant to your sponsor’s buyer profile. Even a list as small as 5,000 names can be segmented down into niche groups who are more likely to respond to the offer by an order of magnitude. Plus, you're not annoying readers outside of that segment with offers of non-relevant content. If you plan to grow your webinars as a significant revenue stream, that's critical.

“We take a look at what kind of segmented lists we can pull from our large database,” says Michael Grover, Director of Marketing Online CMP Media’s TechWeb Network. “Tapping the lists of people that have expressed interest in a topic -- plus have a buying influence in that area -- is key.”

Examine who on your opt-in list has downloaded a type of white paper, or who checked off a certain demographic category on a magazine qualification card. If these actions match your sponsor’s definition of a qualified sales lead, then use these names as your primary promo list.

Tip: Create an “upcoming webinar” email newsletter

Establishing an opt-in email newsletter specifically for webinars will round up loyal and responsive candidates for all future events. It will likely become your most effective tool.

Yes, there are webinar junkies. Once folks attend one webinar, they are more likely to attend another one. Audience research from TechWeb shows that about 66% of their readers had attended one or more of their webinars in the last six months (and 16% had attended seven or more).

Tip: Make it easy to register

Don’t blow it at your registration page once you’ve spent all the time and money to get them there. (On average 94% of clicks to sign up forms for webinars bail instead of completing the registration.) Here are five ways to beat the odds:

o Keep your registration form light. Don’t ask for any info you don't really need (and push back on sponsorship clients who request the sun and the moon, as some invariably will.) Remind folks they can ask questions on the sign-up thank-you page, in a poll at the immediate end of a webinar, and in thank-you emails as well.

o Pre-populate the form with contact info if the person clicking has registered for something before on your site. That alone can raise response rates by 20%.

o Don’t give visitors any other options to click on at the registration form. Example: mention the sponsor but avoid clickable logos to the sponsor’s home page.

o Include a snapshot of the presenter and a brief (50-100 word) bulleted description of the presentation in easy-to-read typeface at the head of the form or to the left of it. Don't send people to a bland registration form without any marketing copy on it. They'll bail.

o Tease them with an audio/video intro box. Consider recording a one-to-two-minute recorded introduction given by your star editor (or other moderator) in a box on the registration page. Note: this should *not* be a Flash Intro that requires the person to watch or skip it to get to the form. Instead, it should be a part of the page so visitors can start filling out the registration form while the rich media plays if they desire.

“We have increased registrations to some webinars by up to 25% using this tactic,” says Kevin Normandeau, EVP Business Development & GM Online, IDG’s Network World.

Tip: Build strong content

Your sponsor will want to leverage off your publication brand name and editorial expertise. But how do you keep your editors from being seen as a spokesperson for the sponsor?

Here are three webinar content models to keep the line between editorial content and advertising clearly drawn:

o Vendor-focused webinar
In this model, the vendor has full control of content, and the panel usually consists of an analyst with an external view of the topic, the sponsor’s product manager and maybe one of the vendor’s happy customers. Adding a trade association president might also work.

Some publishers will allow a star editor to introduce the panel. If you are worried about how that will affect the editor’s ability to stay vendor-neutral, then consider using a freelance editor instead.

o Expert-focused webinar
Here, your star editor runs the show. The editor selects the topic, which is usually a market challenge or trend. The panel discussion is vendor neutral (generally vendors are not mentioned at all), and it consists of an analyst, one or two experts and, perhaps, another journalist.

Key, the sponsor is *not* on this panel. And the sponsor has no ability to influence the content or structure of the event.

Some publishers opt to have a vendor “commercial break” in the middle of the show. But be cautious: make sure there is a clean separation from the panelists. Use a separate studio set, backdrop or other differentiators.

o Training-focused
“Our most successful format in terms of both revenue and audience acceptance is our training webcast,” describes Paul Andrews, VP Interactive Sales, Cygnus Business Media.
“There is a thirst for training in some markets.”

Cygnus partners with organizations that require employees or members to be certified (such as public safety or aviation). These certification programs often require hundreds of hours of course time, and are done online. Cygnus divides the course into webinar segments, and a sponsorship is sold for each one. After the attendee completes the courses, the student gets an authorized certificate. (See link below for sample of this training program.)

Should a webinar be live or on-demand (recorded)?

Most publishers offer both, archiving the on-demand version for three-12 months, depending on the evergreen nature of the topic.

There are advantages to each:

- On-demand allows you to avoid the potential technical mishaps of a live event, and gives you elbow room to edit the content.
- Live events allow immediate user feedback (like questions from the audience) so that speakers can alter the content to address attendee needs on the fly.

Either way, the on-demand format is critical for generating sales leads for the sponsor. If the lead guarantee is not met from the live event, you can archive the on-demand and continue to promote it.

Tip: Gird the sponsor with production and technical help

There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of things that go wrong during a webinar. To successfully sell webinar sponsorship packages, you’ll need to take the pain out of the experience for them.

Key: hire a full-time “webinar coordinator.” After the sale, these folks become the single point of contact for the sponsor, coordinating the the content agenda, rehearsals, editing, audience development campaigns, and delivery of sales leads and reports. A coordinator is also the primary contact to your webinar host company, handling all tech issues for the client.

(See link below for an article on other webinar production tips)


Useful links related to this story

Samples of seminar and webinar invites and registration pages:
http://www.marketingsherpa.com/fcs/ad.html


Registration page sample:
https://www.cmpnetseminars.com/BTG/default.asp?K=3TW6&Q
343


Media kit sample:
http://www.techweb.com/mediakit/techwebcasts.html

Cygnus’ AMTonline training (FAA-approved) seminar program
Ad box on home page:
http://www.amtonline.com/


Part I of this story:
Special Report: How to Sell Sponsored Webinars -- Pricing & What Sponsors Want
http://www.contentbiz.com/sample.cfm?contentID=3109


How to Produce Better Webinars for Fortune 500 Exec Prospects: 7 Tactics & 3 Worksheets
http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article.php?ident=23779


Webinar tech companies used by publishers interviewed in Part I and II of this story:

Accela Communications
http://www.accelacommunications.com/


Macromedia Breeze
http://www.macromedia.com/software/breeze/


On24
http://www.on24.com/


CMP’s TechWeb Network
http://www.techweb.com/


IDG’s Network World
http://www.networkworld.com/


Cygnus Business Media
http://www.cygnusb2b.com


See Also:

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