April 11, 2017
Case Study

Inbound Marketing: How Canvas drove webinar registrations 48% in 7 days using employee email signatures


Reviving a defunct company webinar, the Canvas marketing team knew they had to take a different approach with the revival. The team decided to focus on educating customers on the product, providing greater content value.

They also took a different approach to marketing it by utilizing employee email signatures, alongside regular email sends, to directly appeal to customers.

by Courtney Eckerle, Senior Managing Editor, MarketingSherpa


Canvas is a rapidly growing startup, according to Keith Bateman, Digital Marketing Specialist, Canvas.

“Some people don't like to call us a startup anymore, but we're close to 80-plus employees now. We work with mostly SMBs, but we also work with probably 40-plus Fortune 500 enterprises,” Bateman said.

Within that, he added, are multiple industries — around eight or nine key ones — across retail, construction and healthcare, among others.

The goal is to help these companies become more efficient and recover time lost through converting their paper forms to mobile documents and mobile work processes, he added.

What that means, he said, is taking in paperwork like work orders, JSAs, timesheets and converting them into mobile paperless forms that can be filled out on phones or tablets, and having all that data be collected and stored in the cloud.

From there, people can review it in real time and easily share it with clients and supervisors, while pushing all of that data into systems for accounting or backend project management, for example.

Then, he said, “it can be analyzed with one of the tools we provide or a data analysis tool they already use. That's our biggest goal.”

“It’s a great business to be in right now because people are trying to recover time they're wasting every day and are trying to find profit within their companies where margins may be really tight. They're realizing that they're spending money and time on paper forms, and realizing the true the costs of these on their business,” he said.

By reducing the time employees are spending on paperwork and manual data processing, the companies Canvas works with can invest that recovered money their other parts of their businesses, or just into improving their bottom line.


Bateman started as a sales person with Canvas, and when he moved into his current marketing role three years later, he said he understood the power of webinars when it came to educating the client base.

“Not just our existing clients, but prospective clients [too]. As a sales person, I used to push people to our webinars to say, ‘Hey, when we get off the phone, make sure you register for this learning experience so that when we're not talking, you can be learning more about our product,’” he said.  

The interesting thing he found when transitioning roles onto the marketing team, he said, was that “we weren't actually getting people signing up for those webinars. The traction was very low.”

Five to 10 people at most, he added, were attending weekly webinars. They were being promoted somewhat, but people just weren’t showing up — which led to less resources and time being invested into them.

“We were just wasting our time by putting them on because people weren't showing up,” he said. “So, we decided to scrap them all together a couple of months into doing them when I came on to marketing because it wasn't worth the resources.”

Then, Canvas began investing more into customer retention and expanding the customer success team, and Bateman works with them on client education.  

“I worked  to create a new webinar marketing strategy that would re-educate our client base and show that we're reinvesting in our product every single day, every single month, every single week,” he said.


Through that desire to educate customers, the webinars were reborn — this time at a quarterly cadence. The content focused on the latest updates to Canvas products every quarter, walked customers through the features, and answered any questions.

“[We made] it personal to them. Instead of doing daily or weekly webinars where they felt like they could sign up whenever they want to, we made them special to where they felt like they needed to show up to learn what they may have missed,” he said.

Step #1. Give the customer value

“Our whole marketing philosophy has been [that] we don't want to email people unless we have something valuable to show them, something that benefits them,” Bateman said.

Each email and webinar has to be valuable to the customer, he said, and “when we started doing these webinars, it was all about being value-focused and making people want to invest their time.”

For example, he added, for the recent Q1 webinar, the team is teasing an exclusive look at one of the biggest features released last year — a dispatch calendar.

By teasing that the feature would be delved into during the webinar, attendance jumped, he said.

“We had over 40 questions asked in the webinars about this new feature and about the various topics we were talking about,” he said. “That level of engagement shows us that this is great. They're asking these questions about what they can do with it. How can they better use Canvas or how do I do this and that? It shows us that they're engaged with us.”  

The team was excited, because “the whole goal is to do something that brings them additional value to their investment with us,” he said.

Instead of spamming customers about a certain product, they were educating the customer and getting them excited about it. 

“I think it's keeping that balance … and not just holding a webinar to show them how to build a Canvas application or how to share an email, something as simple as that. We want to make it worthwhile,” he said.

Step #2. Limit friction in the registration process

Bateman and his team began promoting the first webinar three weeks out, calling it the Q4 Year in Review webinar.

“Being [that] this was the first big webinar we had actually promoted, there wasn't necessarily a huge plan in place. It basically was ‘Here, we're going to do this email campaign. We're going to do some blog posts to promote it, and we're going to work together to reach a specific registration goal,’” he said.

The promotion started with a list of current customer accounts that the team wanted to reach out to.

“We had a GoToWebinar setup, sending clients and prospects a link via email that essentially said, ‘Hey, exclusive webinar coming up, make sure to register. We're going to be going over these four topics. Register now.’ We sent that out every week or half-week,” Bateman said.

That webinar got around 75 registrations from that, he said, which the team was happy with, but not satisfied.

“Our target was to get over 100 registrations and then get an attendance rate of over 25%, which would be bigger than we've ever done in the past,” he said.

Bateman designed the registration page himself and kept it simple as to not bog down Canvas’ design team.

“I created a special email signature design using [our vendor]. It was very simple and had the date, time and details of the webinar. It even included a CTA to register right from the email signature,” he said.

The team had also enlisted a vendor to help them take advantage of employee email signatures, in terms of using it as ad space to direct people to wherever they want them to interact on the website. In this case, they wanted to drive traffic to the webinar registration page.

Getting closer to the date, Bateman started converting employee email signatures to promote the webinar. He first used all of the customer success team members, then the sales team members’ signatures, and anyone else who was client-facing, like the support team.

“Registrations started trickling a little bit more,” Bateman said.

About a week before the webinar, a customer success manager sent an email out to his target accounts directly about the webinar, and he spoke briefly about the value. He told them to click the link in his signature to register.

“After he sent that … I saw that his signature was going up and up. It went from 10 to 15 to 20 to 25 clicks, and no other email campaign we had run in the month or two we had [been using the signature] was getting that many clicks. It just kept growing from 30 to 40 to 50 clicks until it reached a final clickthrough rate of 4.5%. And that's incredible,” he said.

By the end of it, he said, that team member had over 75 registrations for the webinar through his one email.

“That really helped boost up our webinar attendance just by that [email] alone ... Then with the blog post we had accompanying our email campaigns, we were able to draw in another 75 to 80,” he said.

Bateman said there has been some discussion about whether sending personal emails like that to clients specifically pushing the webinar would be “bugging them and asking them to do something they don’t want to do.”

It was a fine line, he admitted, but as long as it was only one email explaining the value of learning about the product, he believes customers respond positively.

“I think we were actually missing some of that in this last webinar. We didn’t send that one compelling message personally from our sales team. Instead, we focused on doing more targeted list emails... Overall, we were able to still able eclipse our goal.” he said.

Integrating the link in employee signatures has been key to these results, he said, because “we didn’t have to keep bombarding them over and over. We gave them an easy way to see what was going on, when it was going on, and where they could easily click right in their email to get started.”

The combination of registrants and then the attendance percentage shows Bateman that “[customers to do see value in this, and customers do want to see what we are developing and how they can get more value out of the product,” he said.

Step #3. Continue content momentum

For the most recent Q1 webinar wrap-up, the team kept the same premise as the Q4 webinar — an educational focus for prospective and current clients.

Bateman had lists based on the previous webinar, and he targeted two groups with messaging specific to them: 

  • Those who had attended the last webinar
  • Those who had opened the emails from the previous webinar but did not attend

The team then went after highly qualified users, knowing that they would most likely want to learn more about the products. They developed emails inviting them to register for the webinar, based on them wanting more knowledge around our product.

“We had a more organized plan of messaging and messaging towards different cohorts of people around our product. That was one way we really did try to get our target audience, not just send a big open net to people,” he said.

Bateman also evolved the employee email signatures, changing the visual with different wording, like adding, “Limited Spots for the Webinar Remain!” to the top.

Driving that urgency helped boost clicks in the email signatures, he said, and increase overall awareness about the webinars.

After the webinar ended, the signature was modified to drive clicks to a replay on the company blog. The old messaging is swapped out to read, “Did you miss the webinar? Click here to watch the replay.”

“We can track it back to our blog to launch the replay. They can watch everything they may have missed and get educated. Now they're back on our website, and they're learning more about Canvas,” he said.


For the most recent Q1 2017 webinar, Bateman and his team saw a nearly 100% registrant increase from the previous webinar, with around 300 total registrants, which translated into a 49% attendance rate.

For the initial webinar of Q4 2016, the team saw:

  • 154 total registrants
  • A 63% attendance rate
  • 102 clicks on email signatures in 7 days — a 48% increase

“We definitely learned a lot. Things got better quarter to quarter, which we're all really proud about,” Bateman said. “We're trying to still grow this process … but the results so far have been really great.”

Creative Samples

  1. Q1 webinar email
  2. Webinar questions blog
  3. Employee email signature
  4. Limited spots email signature
  5. Webinar replay blog post



Sigstr – Canvas’ email signature vendor

Related Resources

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Email Marketing: 5 actionable tips and tactics from your peers at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016

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