"Our accounts are on four continents, and anywhere from less than $100,000 per year to several million per year," says Fairchild Semiconductor (NYSE:FCS) Market Development Manager Claudia Innes.
In winter 2002-2003, Fairchild tested running a series of free day-long seminars around the world. The idea was to present such compelling content for design engineers that they'd eagerly attend, build face-to-face relationships with sales reps, and be more likely to include Fairchild's products in their design specs from then on.
Results were mixed.
On one hand, only 30% of RSVPs actually showed up, which meant the average seminar might only have 10-15 attendees instead of the optimum 40-80 Innes was hoping for.
On the other hand, sales showed the seminars were worth investing in. So, for winter 2003-2004 Innes was determined to tweak every aspect of Fairchild's seminar program to get better results. CAMPAIGN
Because the idea was now a proven one, Innes first focused on how she could promote the seminars and coordinate with sales in a more streamlined, measurable fashion. So, she invested in a lead management system that would allow her to collect registrations online, email segments of the registrant list easily, measure results, and share contact data with the sales department. (Link to vendor below.)
The in-person seminars were scheduled to run in the US, Europe, Asia and South America from October-December. Innes began heavy promotions across multiple media in July, including:
o Printed invitations inserted into a related trade magazine's entire circulation as "tip ins" (link to sample creative below.)
o Ads in related third party email newsletters
o Dedicated promotional email broadcasts to house and third party lists
o Banners on related Web sites
o Links on the Fairchild site
o Hand-delivered printed invitations in China (which Innes notes is what works best there.)
In each case (except for China), respondents were primarily asked to register online. Innes created a separate URL for each media and campaign so she could track how many visitors each registration form got, how many converted into actually registering, and later how many attended.
To involve sales from the start, she also kept them updated on results. "Because we could see by location how many people registered, and then attended, it inspired a little competition between locations."
Next, the marketing team sent a scheduled series of emails to registrants including an automated confirmation, a reminder, and a post-event thank-you with a link to download PDFs of all materials presented.
(Yes, these materials had already been distributed in print to everyone at the event, but Innes wanted to test sending a follow-up link because she had heard that Macromedia had gotten as many as 30% of seminar attendees to use these links or pass them along to colleagues.)
Innes knew that no matter how well the seminars went, she couldn't get her entire prospect and customer base to attend because (a) some people just won't, and (b) it's too expensive to put on seminars in every corner of the earth.
So, she decided to repurpose the content the team had developed and presented in person, into a series of webinars. She cut the content into seven hour-long chunks, each to be presented by the top expert Fairchild had on that topic.
Then she repurposed her seminar registrant database to get attendees. When people had signed up for the in-person seminar they'd been asked if they'd like to have their name added to the list for future events. Innes sent out a broadcast email invitation to all of these names, including folks who'd signed up but not attended the in-person seminars.
The copy was crisp and brief. (Link to sample below.) Prospects were simply given a list of topics such as "Practical aspects of feedback control" and dates. They were also reassured the presentations were not sales pitches: "These free events feature experts who will provide solutions through technical presentations and application examples."
Each Thursday in January and February 2004 a new topic would be presented, until all seven were done.
Plus, Innes repurposed the content one last time, by posting an archived version of each webinar on the site. She included several versions, including a typed transcript and an audio-version, to please every audience. (She suspected people for whom English is a second language, and people in countries with low broadband penetration would prefer the transcript.) Webinar archives took about 24 hours to post, transcripts took about three days to create, proof, and post.
Again, Innes had an automated thank you email sent to each webinar attendee including a link to PDFs of handouts immediately after they virtually attended.
She expected to get roughly 50-100 attendees for live webinars, but was very doubtful when her vendor told her to expect two-to-three times as many to access the archives over the next six months.
Innes was delighted to be proven wrong -- early indicators show that four times as many people will access the archives as the 40-120 who attended a live webinar. Fairchild's winter 2003-2004 events have proven more successful in other ways as well:
- Due to increased emailed reminders, attendance at in-person seminars doubled to roughly 60% of RSVPs. Lowest attendances at around 50% were in Southern California, highest at 102% were in Sao Paulo Brazil. Stockholm and Stuttgart were also above average.
- On average 50% of seminar attendees clicked on the thank-you email's download link to get PDF hand-outs. (Some of these clicks may have been from email pass-alongs instead of attendees themselves.) This metric held up for webinar attendees as well.
- Of the outbound campaign for in-person seminars, dedicated email blasts performed best (no surprise.)
- Interestingly while the tip-in printed invitation in the trade magazine got a less than 1% response rate, 33% of these responder converted into registrants. Prospects driven by other media converted as low as 15%. This makes sense, because anyone who would take the trouble to type in a URL is more likely to convert than someone who simply clicked on a banner link.
- 70% of people who registered for an in-person seminar checked the box saying they would like to continue receiving information, thus growing Fairchild's house list.
- 30-50% of live webinar registrants actually attended, but of the remainder, 80% checked in later to access the archive.
- A remarkable 75-80% of live webinar attendees stayed through the entire presentation, even though one presentation ran over by 30 minutes because there were so many questions. This shows the power of highly relevant and valuable content.Useful links related to this story:
Samples of seminar and webinar invites and registration pages:
LeadGenesys - the tech Innes used to power and measure her registration forms and contacts:
TechOnline - the service Innes used to power the webinars