June 20, 2012

Content Marketing: 21 ideas for planning, creating, and leveraging content from your webinars

SUMMARY: Webinars can help your content marketing and audience-building efforts. They are great tools to use in the complex sales cycle, including nurturing and generating leads.

In a recent webinar with ReadyTalk, MECLABS' presenters Todd Lebo and Daniel Burstein shared 21 ideas with the audience to plan, create and leverage webinars, including segmentation, repurposing content and multichannel marketing. Read on for those ideas, as well as the full webinar replay.
by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS

In a recent webinar, Todd Lebo, Senior Director of Marketing and Business Development, MarketingSherpa, and I shared 21 ideas for planning, creating and leveraging the content from your webinars.

Read on for a brief look at these ideas, along with the full webinar replay where you can find more information.

Idea #1: Focus on delivering value, not selling

It's no coincidence that this is the first idea in this article. This is the predominant mistake we've seen marketers make -- they simply sell too hard in their webinars.

There is a common misconception that webinars are free to your audience, and, therefore, you can sell to them as much as you want.

In reality, your audience purchases the webinar content from you with their time. And, for most busy professionals, one hour of their time is a significant investment.

This value exchange must occur with your webinars to keep and continually attract an audience -- valuable content in exchange for valuable time.

"The goal with nurturing is not just always be closing or always be selling. It’s really, always be helping," said Brian Carroll, Executive Director of Revenue Optimization, MECLABS.

Idea #2: Pick a target

"In today’s market, it is essential for all marketing communications to be focused on the buyer, not the organization," said Jen Doyle, Senior Research Manager, MECLABS. "Buyers do not want to be addressed as a mass audience, but as individuals with unique needs, concerns, interests and values. A traditional, one-size-fits-all approach will not be effective."

"By establishing buyer personas, organizations are enabled to deliver unique content to various personas that will attract and nurture new and existing leads."

Idea #3: Segment your audience

It is so helpful here to have a clear target. It allows you to segment your audience and deliver more content. And, in content marketing, relevance equals results.

Thanks to better segmentation capabilities, SciQuest was able to increase its invitation acceptance rate by 300%. An invitation for an advanced webinar for the healthcare industry, for example, achieved a 4% acceptance rate, quadrupling the 1% acceptance rate for the collaborative procurement and supplier management solutions company’s basic webinar invitation.

For more webinar ideas, you can read the full MarketingSherpa case study titled, "How to Use Fewer, More Relevant Webinars to Get Better Results: 6 Steps Lift Attendance 422%."

Idea #4: Test your title

We’ve found a title can have a major effect on how many people register for your audience. An example comes from a MarketingExperiments (the sister company of MarketingSherpa) Web clinic, where we tested changing a few words in the title, and were able to increase conversion by 92%.

For more webinar ideas, you can read the MarketingExperiments blog post titled, "Headline Writing: How a junior marketer beat the CEO’s headline by 92%."

Idea #5: Repurpose a proven topic

The topic is crucial to driving webinar attendance. HubSpot garnered just shy of 25,000 sign-ups and almost 10,000 attendees for a webinar on a similar theme to previous webinars that were popular with the marketing software company’s audience.

"'The Science of Timing’ kind of combined ‘The Science of Twitter’ and ‘The Science of Social Media,’ Facebook and blogging because it was all about timing. … This webinar was an aggregate of some of the questions that people really had burning questions to," said Jeanne Hopkins, former Director of Marketing, HubSpot.

For more webinar ideas, you can read the full MarketingSherpa case study titled, "B2B Webinars: How HubSpot drew 25,000 sign-ups, almost 10,000 attendees, and more than 3,500 new leads."

Idea #6: Repurpose live event content

If you have live events, or even guest speak at them, you might have some valuable content that only a select few potential customers have seen.

For example, Fairchild Semiconductor repurposed a daylong, in-person seminar into seven hour-long webinars. The repurposed content, which makes the webinars much easier to create, was sticky enough that 75-80% of live webinar attendees stayed through the entire presentation.

For more webinar ideas, you can read the full MarketingSherpa case study titled, "Results Data & Useful Ideas from Fairchild Semiconductor's Seminar and Webinar Tests."

Idea #7: Test frequency and timing

This tactic, in combination with others, increased viewership 422% for SciQuest. You can read the full case study in the previously mentioned link.

Idea #8: Think beyond the email invite

Email invites are very effective tools for pre-event promotion. However, you should consider a multichannel marketing approach that includes other elements as well, such as
  • advertising,

  • blogs,

  • phone calls (for example, calls from Sales to current prospects),

  • partnerships,

  • website and

  • social media.

Idea #9: Create a promotions template

A one-off webinar will not be nearly as effective as having a series of webinars. And if you do have a series, you will become much more efficient in promoting your webinars if you treat them as any other campaign.

By creating a template process, IDES was able to drive a 37% attendance rate for live webinars. The plastic industry directory was able to do so with a consistent, repeatable process.

"Like all things, the upfront investment is the hardest part -- creating all the templates, figuring out the process," said Nathan Potter, Marketing Manager, IDES. "But once it’s a process, it’s dialed in. One person can handle it and bang it out fast."

For more webinar ideas, you can read the full MarketingSherpa case study titled, "Webinar Promotion that Delivers: Use Email, Social, Viral Referrals and Video to Boost Attendance, Drive Lead Gen."

Idea #10: Every slide is a micro-conversion

Once you’ve finished promoting the webinar, the focus must shift to putting on a valuable event. Do you constantly engage your audience through the webinar?

For the host, the key is value, value, value. Every minute they remain on the webinar is a micro-sale to get them to stay on for the next minute.

Your audience has limited time and even more limited attention. Present your content with this in mind. Continuously provide value to your audience, to overcome the inherent friction of staying on any webinar.

Idea #11: Start a conversation

During MarketingSherpa webinars, not all wisdom comes from our end of the webinar platform. We have an extremely knowledgeable audience.

And, you likely do as well. Encourage them to have a conversation with each other, and back to you. A great way to do this is to set up a Twitter hashtag for your webinar, and have your presenters (and others in your company) actively answering questions and encouraging interaction between your audience.

Not only does it help presenters gauge how the audience is receiving the webinar (as they would be able to do at an in-person event), it also allows them to connect and network with each other (another benefit of an in-person event that you can bring to your virtual event).

Idea #12: Go light on the selling …

Your audience tunes in for valuable information that will help them do their job better. If you sell too hard, they will leave.

Idea #13: … or create a second tier

At the end of the day, a webinar is simply a channel to your audience, and despite what I said above, it can be a good way to get a sales message to your audience.

Here is the most important point -- you must be clear to your audience about what you are delivering. Most of this article offers ideas about content marketing webinars.
These should still focus on delivering value to the audience. They are also good for earlier stages of the funnel, like lead generation, and lead nurturing, which helps pull prospects through the funnel.

Once they’re closer to that purchase decision, they likely want more detailed, specific information about your solution. You can create a second-tier of webinars that focuses solely on this sales message for leads that have been nurtured by your content marketing webinars.

Just be sure to make a clear promise to your audience about what they’ll get from your solutions-focused webinars. You’ll get a smaller audience than for your content-focused webinars, but they will be a very valuable, sales-ready audience.

If, however, the audience feels tricked -- they thought they were getting content and instead got a bait-and-switch sales message -- you will likely lose most of them in the first few minutes.

Idea #14: Don’t overlook showmanship

For the webinars referenced in the IDES case study, the sponsoring company provided two presenters: an expert and a personality to add flavor and interest.

At the end of the day, a webinar is a show of sorts. You want to keep your audience’s interest, so you likely need two types of presenters: a subject matter expert(s) who can provide valuable information, and a personality/moderator who can serve as a proxy for the audience to ask questions and keep everything moving at an interesting pace.

Idea #15: Have a support team

Have staff on hand to handle questions through your webinar platform since the presenters themselves will likely not have the time to address every question on the webinar. Encourage them to have a conversation with each other by using a Twitter hashtag. Assign staff members to answer attendee questions and monitor tweets.

Arm the staff with answers to address common problems:
  • I can't get in

  • I can't register

  • I don't know what the telephone number is

In a nutshell, do everything you can to help your audience and address their challenges. If your Q&A is active enough, you can even have sales reps and subject matter experts answering general questions about your industry and specific questions about your products or services.

Again, your focus is not the sale; it's helping and providing value to your audience.

Idea #16: Easiest way to share slides is on a slide hosting service

Once the webinar is over, reuse the content in as many ways as possible. One easy way to do that is on a slide hosting service. In fact, you can view the slides from this webinar here.

Idea #17: Have a follow-up campaign

In the MarketingSherpa case study on IDES (previously referenced and linked to above), the team achieved a 55% lead capture rate from visitors who viewed an archived version of the webinar presentation.

Idea #18: Attendee thank-you gift

Reward attendees … while continuing to nurture and repurpose. All attendees of this webinar received a free copy of a MarketingSherpa special report that included two of the case studies covered in this webinar.

Idea #19: Upload the replay to a video sharing website

This is another important reason to focus on valuable content and look beyond just pushing product on your content marketing webinars. If the content is valuable, potential prospects whom you’re not currently speaking with will view it and share it within their social network.

Uploading the recorded replay is a very easy way to repurpose content you’ve already created. In fact, in 2008, ComScore found that YouTube was the second-largest search engine in the world. You can also view the replay of this webinar on MarketingSherpa's YouTube page.

Idea #20: Anywhere you share content, you can repurpose

While slide hosting services and video sharing websites are perhaps the easiest ways to repurpose your webinar content, you can repurpose webinar information in many more ways as well. Be creative. A short list would include
  • blog posts,

  • photos,

  • podcasts,

  • e-books and

  • news releases.

Idea #21: Communicate hidden value

Now that you’re creating really valuable webinars, you have to communicate that value to your audience. If they understand how much more helpful your webinars are than the average webinar, they will be more likely to attend. It may take more than a standard webinar platform template to do that.

Treat your webinar like a product and promote it. Create a custom landing page explaining the value they will get from attending. Perhaps create a video or other content showing how you make webinars, giving your audience a behind-the-scenes look of what goes into making your webinars.

Watch the replay

To learn more information about these ideas for improving your webinars, you can watch the full replay of "How Webinars Should Fit into Your Content Marketing and Audience-Building Efforts: 21 ideas for planning, creating, and leveraging your webinars."

Creative Sample

  1. Tactics for Driving Attendance

Related Resources

Marketing Webinar Optimization: Five questions to ask yourself about webinars

New to B2B Webinars? Learn 6 steps for creating an effective webinar strategy

MarketingSherpa shares 21 rules for great webinars (and a free whitepaper) - via ReadyTalk

MarketingSherpa's 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report (free excerpt)

MarketingSherpa's 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report (free excerpt)

Special Webinar: How to engage with MECLABS (example of a second-tier webinar)

MarketingExperiments Web clinics (an example landing page that promotes the hidden value of our Web clinics)

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