On24: How to Create Amazing Webinar Experiences

Webinars are moving from “one-off” events to programs. “We need to become producers of serialized programming…” Useful, educational programming rather than promotions.

Slides are going away, videos are becoming more prevalent. However, the events do not need to have high production cost; basic equipment is sufficient.

Webinars are successfully used by many “boring” industries, which can easily find engaging content. A good recommendation is to create monthly series and brand them. The goal is not registrations, but an audience engagement. “Webinar experience is primary, white paper is secondary as an additional resource…”

Should we provide additional materials? Webinar attendees could be distracted… “If people are going to be distracted anyway, let them to be distracted by your content!”

  • add a subscription to a newsletter
  • promote the next webinar before you start the current webinar
Example – EllieMae webinars

Interesting: On24 MQLs webinar attendees very conservatively – a webinar engagement score is an activity considered in the overall scoring.

Interesting: On24 finds somewhat less engagement in on-demand webinars, but this difference is not significant. Recommendation to remind on-demand viewers about engagement options during the live event: “By the way, if you are watching on-demand, you can still do x, y, z…”

Registration sources: email typically generates over 90% of registrants. Recommendation for email promotions:

  • Use both HTML/text email promotions
  • Send an invite from the speaker
  • “Creepy email:” a special message to those who clicked, but did not register
  • “The first sentence in the email should be your point…” you have 5 seconds to convince the person to register

Too many questions? Put SDRs on the call to answer!

Interesting: the length of “watched” webinar increased over last several years from 38 minutes to 56 minutes... even if short form content is becoming more and more important, webinar viewers are actually stay longer.

What is the best webinar length? Give webinar in the amount of time you need to communicate amazing content!

  • C-level: no slides, C-level speaker
  • Thought leadership: about 1 hour
Example of an award-winning webinar

BrightTALK Local

BrightTALK Local events are becoming a part of “marketing habitat” across US and the world. I attended 3 of about 50 events (one in San Francisco and two in Mountain View), and looking forward to the next one!

Interesting: a webinar platform company is running in-person events to “bring professionals together” and discuss how we can use webinars to help our companies grow. Brilliant idea! Delicious food! And a pleasure to chat with industry friends 🙂

Observations from the panel and comments from the audience highlighted marketers’ concerns and offered tips for solutions of every day challenges.

  • Webinars are one of very productive channels for generating business; comparable with paid search (most event attendees are marketing to IT and cyber security audience, where BrightTALK created a sizable professional community)
  • “People want to know how others solve their problems” – companies typically start from a company-centric webinars and then proceed to a more customer-centric
  • Qualification: companies typically start webinar program from MQL-ing all attendees and sending them to the SDR queue. After a period of time following this approach, companies realize that it is a “waste of SDRs time,” and start to follow up only with webinar attendees who either raised their hand or qualified to be an MQL based on additional activity. (Presenters at other events were using Conversica to follow up with all non-qualified attendees and found this approach very successful)
  • Webinars are used in GDPR territory to promote content (through BrightTALK offering)
  • Interesting: promotion of on-demand webinars convert better (what could be understandable, as only about 30% of typical registrants join live webinar)
  • Companies like to use pre-recorded webinars, but lose interactivity (may not be the case depending on the platform setup)
  • What to do with boring speakers? An energetic moderator can save the show and make the webinar more engaging.
  • Marketers highlight webinar value: changing title “Product Marketing Manager – Solution X” to “Security Solutions Manager – Solution X”
  • Two approaches to content creation:
    • Starting with a “Big Rock” content: creating a 15-20 page e-Book, which will become a source of content for a webinar, a couple of blog posts, multiple social promotions, etc.
    • Selecting a topic and creating multiple pieces of content (a few blog posts, a webinar, etc.) and then combining the materials into a thoughtful 15-20 pages e-Book
  • Customer case studies can become webinars. This type of webinars are also popular with sales, as reps can send a link to a prospect with a case study of the company in the similar situation.
  • Does a product release warrant a webinar? Panelists indicated that they run product release presentations on different platforms and make them available only for customers, however, a product release webinar could be an interesting options to try. “IT folks want to know how their peers are using the technology…”
  • Attribution and measurement: most measure pipeline, and also engagement. “We can buy inquiries, but not engaged…” Typical webinar measurements are marketing sourced and accelerated. MQL is “soft” metric, “I can make more of MQLs now by changing scoring…” Another interesting metric: “Closeable pipeline in the next quarter.”

At the event BrightTALK celebrated a 10 year anniversary of its platform and also the launch of new iteration of the BrightTALK platform with video content.

BrightTALK is trying to “kill” the term “wbinar” and replace it with something more inspiring, such as “talk;” it will be entertaining to watch this development.

ABM – SiriusDecisions Roadshow

High performance ABM teams are:

  • more likely to personalize
  • more likely to spend more on tech

CMOs want to provide a better customer experience; technology is considered the top constraint. (Very interesting – we, as an industry, might have made some progress with “people and process” over the years to find the technology our top constraint 🙂 ).

The question of opportunity creation started to appear when the Demand Unit Waterfall was introduced, as some of early adopters of the approach even removed lead object from their SFDC. This thought process now evolved into several step leading to marketing responsibility for the opportunity creation.

A larger picture of the slide (below)

Would marketing organizations change to take advantage of the new opportunities? SiriusDecisions observing a closer move of marketing and marketing operations.

Another great image of the Demand Unit Waterfall

Webinars, webinars…

On24 Chief Webinerd emphasized evolution of webinar programs into serialized programming.

Currently, most of webinar attendance is driven by email. In the future, webinars might become a subscription channel. (I must admit I doubt it would be the case… Webinars is one of the channels to deliver a content related to a certain topic, and the person should not have to “subscribe” for each channel independently when he or she would like to see a content on this topic. But I might be wrong 😉 ).

Interesting: average webinar viewing time is going up.

Case Study webinars are useful for sales: “I have a couple of companies like yours…”

Interesting: industry-based webinar “segments” did not work for On24. Could it be because webinar platform need is similar across industries? (Cyber security in my experience also did not rely on industry verticals, beyond “this industry must have $$ to spend on security…,” as the concern was identical across industries.

Video webinars seem to be challenging for some organizations, which do not invest in studio setup and qualified personnel.

Interesting usage of calls to action below

And a promotion of the next webinar in the series

Interesting combination of slides, questions, and video below

A possibility for bottom of the funnel approach (below): a video with the demonstration of the product use, additional materials, and Q&A.

And Customer Marketing example

Buyer’s Journey with PathFactory example

As a former user of PathFactory, I miss the functionality dearly!! The platform also evolved during the last year to give better view to the sales organization based on the contact and account level.

Fireeye, a PathFactory customer, found enthusiastic support in the sales organization for its new tool. Sales were supportive and excited: “This is something I’ve been asking about for years.”

The data is aggregated on the account level (beside a robust individual level) and presented in SFDC for sales convenience. PathFactory aggregates contacts associated with the account, known visitors, and also unknown visitors (screenshot below).

An individual engagement insights give an at a glance view of which pieces of content an individual accessed and how much time had been spent reviewing the asset.

PathFactory can also automatically serve as an internal “resource library,” which allows to easily find content items associated with a specific persona, stage of the sales cycle, etc.

Excellent event!

Top Four Things to Do Differently in 2020 to Accelerate Growth

Dun & Bradstreet hosted a wonderful breakfast event for local marketers, where we learned insights from an industry research and reviewed examples how other companies are solving business challenges at the intersection of strategy, content, technology, and data.

Some of the insights:

  • Despite all the efforts from both sides, Sales and Marketing alignment is not there yet, because the data is not connected.
  • And when you have all data you need… the most important question is how to find an insight related to revenue? This is the “last mile of the data.”
  • As prospects prefer to do their research longer before reaching out to the sales person, this “education period” is filled with content. However, content does not meet customer needs.

Interesting: ROI-based info is valued at the beginning of the sales cycle

As always: prospects want to see insights backed by research

Technology: “You need to talk about the business… not only technology, but the business issues your technology allows to address…”

Interesting perspective: Infographics can help to explain contrasts (before and after).

VidYard has video personalization – check (note to self 😉 )

70% of B2B consumers find that the materials companies offer are more focused on style rather than substance. Can companies transfer their energy and resources invested into style to the area of substance to avoid wasting resources? 🙂

Business buyers don’t buy your product, they buy into your approach to solving their problem

What kind of content do B2B buyers want?

  • 79% want content tailored to their industry, role, or department
  • 74% would like to see content that showcases their country or region
  • 71% prefer content showing that the vendor understands their business or industry conditions

Creative ideas: cartoons can be used to poke fun on industry frustrations. Cartoon-based LinkedIn advertisement performed 3x of an average ad (the audience noted that the performance in this case is not related to inquiries, but a purely awareness metric – clicks).

Example: Thomson Reuters Transformation

Thomson Reuters was organized as a collection of multiple business units pursuing the same customers with different products, which was, understandably, confusing for customers. Product-based organization resulted in multiple instances of CRMs and Marketing Automation, and multiple data repositories. The company reorganized around the customer, starting with merging all business unit-based marketing groups into one entity. Only after this change the consolidation of technology and data became possible.

As this step was implemented based on an executive mandate, the change generated little resistance from the organization. However, how exactly the processes and technology can merge generated more questions. Some business units were more advanced in their use of marketing technology and data, and, in some cases, they had to take a step back to align with the rest of the company.

Excellent event!

Book – The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success

This fascinating book explains the “why” behind many intuitive questions we might have about success. All of us observed seemingly strange distribution of the success in different areas of our lives. Now, with the help of data, we can understand the forces behind this phenomenon. We have an advice which can help our products, companies, and even personal endeavors to reach higher potential.

We also have a choice. We can chose industries, projects, and paths where some of the laws are more likely to be effective. Plus, a little encouragement with solid scientific base that our personal innovative abilities do not disappear with time as we grow older.

Blomberg summary provides an excellent outline of the book, including some of the most colorful examples.

Five laws of success:

  1. Performance drives success, but when performance is immeasurable, networks determine success.
  2. Performance is bounded, but success is unbounded.
  3. Fitness x Previous Success = Future Success.
  4. While team success requires diversity and balance, a single individual will receive credit for the group’s achievements.
  5. Success can come at any time as long as we are persistent.

The last law is the most encouraging. Even if more “success” in scientific and business world can be “allocated” to young people, it correlates with productivity. Young people are more productive in trying, but a statistical probability that the initiative could become successful is exactly the same. The author’s Ted Talk on the topic articulates the point with lovely humor and impregnable data.

Eric Ries – Long Term Stock Exchange

Lucky to work for Flexport, we can attend interesting industry events right in our office. During one of these sessions Ryan Petersen, Flexport founder and CEO, interviewed one of my favorite authors, Eric Ries.

Eric’s first book, The Lean Startup, found many fans in different areas of the business. I listened to this book more than once after overcoming the idea that insights expressed in the “startup” volume could not possibly be applicable to large international enterprises where I worked. Actually, the insights were universal, and bureaucratic organizations could probably benefit from them more than nimble startups.

Another book, The Startup Way, addressed exactly this question: how to apply the principles of the first book to the enterprise. I listened to this book also a couple of times.

During his recent presentation at Flexport, Eric Ries explained the “evolution” of the adoption of business principles he advocated in The Lean Startup. As his first book gained popularity, he was invited to massive, and sometimes centuries old, enterprises, where he could meet with management and employees. He could observe the challenges these companies faced, which became the basis of his next book, The Startup Way.

Now he was observing the startups he knew, who adopted modern business principle long time ago, growing into slow bureaucratic organizations. Amazingly, this change could creep into companies still lead by the founders, who were puzzled to discover this transformation in their own organizations.

Eric also noticed that one important idea in his first book received very little attention. As “going public” step not only raised needed capital for new organizations but also encouraged short term thinking, the author advocated Long Term Stock Exchange as a possible solution. Few people noticed. Eric started organizing the new type of the stock exchange himself and recently the organization reached an important milestone:

On May 10, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the Long-Term Stock Exchange’s application for registration as a national securities exchange, making the exchange one of only a handful of U.S. exchanges qualified to conduct listings and authorizing the company to operate a platform for buying and selling shares.  (LTSE.com)

This is definitely an interesting development to watch. I am also hoping for another book (or two)!

Book – Radical Candor

This book was not quite what I expected. It is a very practical guide on management, and not only management, but a work life in general. The author emphasizes honest but encouraging feedback, and also understanding the human aspect of management.

One of interesting aspects was a definition of “career trajectory,” which can be different for the same person at different parts of his or her life. Fast career trajectory might be desired when the person is striving for promotion, and slow career trajectory might be perfect at time when other aspects of life become more important, such as family or external interests. Each person might react differently to the same event; one new parent might want to spend more time with the child (shifting to slow career trajectory), and another one might strive for career progression as a means to provide for the needs of a growing family.

Another insight was movement of internal employees to roles, which may not be a good fit, even if the person thinks that this highly desired role might be his or her dream job.

  • One successful manager was pursuing a position, which the book author did not think was a good fit, as it required significant political skill set the individual did not have. The manager got the desired position, fell into a political trap soon after that, and was fired eventually from the organization.
  • Another successful manager was moved into a position, which was more analytical than her preference and interest, did not perform well, and later was reassigned to a more suitable role, where she thrived.

“Radical Candor” site has a wealth of the resources on the topic of management and, simply, our work habitat 😉