by David Kirkpatrick
, Manager of Editorial Content
One source of powerful B2B marketing messaging can be third party validation in the form of customer testimonials.
SAP, a global enterprise software company, took this idea to heart with a campaign launched in 2012 that focuses on its SAP HANA product, a new memory technology.
The campaign is an ongoing series of webcasts featuring SAP HANA customers talking about their experience with the product, explaining how the product solves customers' technology pain points and a Q-and-A based on questions the audience submits via an online chat function during the live webcast.
Scott Feldman, Global Head of the SAP HANA Customer Community, SAP, said, "We needed to really spread the word, get a good idea of what [SAP HANA] was, educate the customer base — why this is of value to them and the importance of it."
The team decided the best way to cover these customer information areas was to have the webcast series present customer success stories told in the customer's own words and voices.
Read on to find out how, in 2013, SAP achieved $100 million in bottom line sales influenced by webcast attendees.
Feldman said SAP HANA executes around 20 webcasts each year, although there is capability to run more if the marketing department decides there's a need to increase the volume.
Step #1. Determine the appropriate vendor
When marketing this effort began in 2012, SAP had a webcast technology vendor that wasn't a perfect fit for a number of reasons, including:
- Attendees were not able to use any device they wanted to log into the webcast. In order to actually view the webcast, attendees had to have a laptop or desktop with a standard browser. Mobile users — with an iPad using iOS, for example — could only call in on a telephone to listen to the webcast.
- The tools available for the presenters were not sufficient for what SAP wanted to get out its webcasts, and those limitations led to some technical issues that frustrated everyone involved in webcast production.
- It became clear the vendor wasn't going to be able to meet the level of scalability SAP HANA was going to require with the webcast effort.
It became known that SAP was already using another vendor at other business units within the company. In 2013, a switch was made to the new technology vendor, solving the issues that previously affected the webcasts.
Step #2. Choose and prepare webcast presenters
Feldman explained that the process of uncovering customers willing to become webcast presenters was fairly simple.
"Ours is a pretty narrow focus. We're looking for customers that are using our technology successfully and are willing to share their story," Feldman said.
Once the team finds a customer who meets their criteria, they get a profile from the presenting customer, work with them internally to help formulate the presentation for the webcast and promote internal marketing through SAP HANA marketing contacts.
The webcasts typically happen on Tuesdays, so the Friday before each webcast, the presenter goes through a 30-minute prep call session to try out the presentation tools and practice a mock webcast without recording.
"We get them familiar with the tools, so it's fresh in their mind," explained Feldman. "They go on the weekend, and then they come back and do the live webcast."
Step #3. Execute the webcast
With a presenter in place, the webcast is then scheduled and registration is posted on SAP HANA's virtual briefing center, which is found on its website. Links to the webcast are also included in any communications with the SAP HANA audience.
Registrants are sent a reminder a couple of days before the webcast, and then another reminder is sent a couple of hours before the webcast.
Each webcast runs for one hour, with the first half hour focusing on the customer presenting their story. The final 30 minutes features Feldman asking the customer questions curated from a list sent in by attendees via a chat feature in the webcast.
After the webcast, the presenter is sent a follow-up, including feedback from webcast audience.
Feldman said during the webcast the team is tracking:
- Who registered
- Who attended
- Who registered, but did not attend
Since the virtual briefing center archives past webcasts for on-demand viewing, anyone who registers but doesn't attend receives a follow-up asking them to return and watch the replay of the webcast.
Along with attendance metrics, each event is tracked through an event ID and CRM number for registrants so that the team can track revenue.
Step #4. Maintain the webcast archive
The SAP HANA website includes all the webcast content, and Feldman said the site has over one million users.
The virtual briefing center (VBC) can be found on the SAP HANA site, although it's hosted by the vendor under the hood and can be accessed after a one-time registration that asks for what Feldman describes as "full business card information" instead of simply a name and email address.
The VBC includes both information on upcoming webcasts as well previous webcasts archived for on-demand playback. Feldman said the site currently includes about six months of webcasts, although the team has plans to resurrect some of the older webcasts that are still of value.
One reason all webcasts aren't available for on-demand viewing is that the SAP HANA technology is continually evolving, so a webcast on a version from over a year ago would be obsolete from a platform version perspective.
The main goal of the website and archive is to provide a location for SAP HANA customers and prospects to congregate.
"From our perspective, we have customers going to the SAP HANA website and the blog and also to social media. We want to keep people focused there for strategic reasons," Feldman said.
Looking at 2013, the first year SAP HANA utilized the new vendor, the basic metrics included:
- 2,500 webcast registrants
- 710 webcast attendees
- From attendees, $100 million in revenue influence
Feldman said getting that validation from existing customers is powerful marketing messaging.
"By putting an intelligent campaign together to hear the story about your solutions and how they're impacting customers — but hearing that story directly from the customer and not the vendor — really resonates with other customers," he stated.
Feldman continued, "You can do this in a very intelligent way. Because we are very careful about whom we select, whom we put on. We qualify the speaker, make sure that they're very comfortable presenting their story. We work with them to create the story, but it's really their story. It's not our story."
— SAP HANA's webcast vendor
Related ResourcesTesting: A discussion about SAP's 27% lift in incremental sales leadsCustomer-centric Marketing: Adding fun to B2BCustomer-centric Marketing: Learning from customers helps increase lead quality 130%, Sales-accepted leads 40%Testing and Optimization: SAP's Test Lab increases digital leads 27%, leads to 20% budget savingsCustomer-centric Marketing: How transparency translates into trust