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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ ).

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 πŸ˜‰ ).

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: β€œThis 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 πŸ˜‰ )

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? πŸ™‚

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!

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.Β  (LTSE.com)

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

ABM Virtual Summit

ABM Virtual Summit was a remarkable experience – a conference, which could be set to auto-play at our leisure with easy access to presentations. Convenient. Simple. Inspiring!

A few interesting notes are below:

  • DemandBase: twice a year SDRs participate in Marketing Innovation Contest. SDRs present ideas on demand generation and how to engage target accounts. Each one present to Marketing and Sales leadership. 2 out of 3 last campaigns DemandBase marketing executed came from the SDR team.
  • Certification of target accounts. DemandBase has an ABM certification, which is used as a marketing tactic. The certification is offered for top target accounts (and valued at about $15,000).
  • Sendoso: can not send gifts to some organizations; this can be replaced with charitable contribution to the charity of their choice
  • How to encourage SFDC upkeep? Each specific entry milestone opens an additional benefit for the rep – an additional DM budget, for example

Interesting: collaboration between marketing and support is increasing. Today only 1/3 or marketing teams suppress messages to customers with open service issues. By 2025 2/3 of brands are expected to have fully integrated marketing and service teams with common metrics, goals, and programs.

Example of a highly beneficial service initiative: Salesforce Trailhead

Introduction of ABM at DocuSign

The initial program focused on Financial Industry and took 3 months to produce (6 months in market). All program materials were new and were created for this initiative.


  1. Identify priority accounts
  2. Map out the buying team
  3. Create the story
  4. Design the engagement plan (slide below)
  5. Enable sales to win (great example of sales materials in PPT)

Conversational marketing: book and 15 examples of very innovative ways to use Conversational Marketing approach (PPT).

  • One of the session attendees was able to make connection between Drift and Bizible to evaluate effectiveness of Drift as an application
  • The best approach to making conversational marketing effective is to designate an owner of the messages and conversions, similar to assigning ownership to other channels. Interesting: Drift itself started from “everybody doing everything,” which did not generate good results.

Webinar Benchmarks – BrightTALK

Every year BrightTALK shares Webinar benchmarks to help marketers evolve their programs. The interest to webinars as a channel is strong, which is reflected in BrightTALK content growth.

One of the most interesting insights BrightTALK shares is the rank of reasons why professionals attend webinars:

and what types of content they find useful:

Interesting: keeping up with industry trends is the top reason to participate in webinars, but tips, tricks and best practices is the most valuable content. The best is probably to share industry trends, and also give advice on how to take advantage of these trends in the most ‘tactical and practical” way.

We know that series of webinars are attractive for webinar attendees and efficient to promote. And again, “tips and tricks” was the most popular choice of content for webinar series.

A few interesting points from the presentation:

  • The content of the webinar (a title and an abstract) are the most important factor in the decision to attend the webinar, however the source of the content and the speaker also play a role.
  • Though use of live video is growing, the event attendees were questioning the ROI on the investment needed to produce a good quality video. A recommendation to experiment with video without a significant investment might solve this problem.
  • Majority of on-demand views occur within 3 weeks after the live event. To extend the value of the webinar, replaying recorded webinars as live events gaining popularity and generates good results.
  • Attendees are not quite “bringing” on webinars as marketers would like to see, but cross-promotion of additional content is beneficial. “On average, 50% of viewers will return to watch another piece of content, and 33% for a third.
  • Best time for a live webinar is 8:00 am local time, but the difference in live attendance during morning hours is not as significant.

As usually, useful content!

MarTech Conference

“Expo+” pass for MarTech conference was quite remarkable! It gave us access to the Expo and one free session of our choice. Thursday Keynote was an excellent choice! πŸ™‚

Scott presented major trends he observes while attempting to maintain the list and classification of marketing technologies.

  • Interesting to see that platform ecosystems allow us to combine “best-of-breed” with platform capabilities. Real Story Group also mentioned that in some cases platform tools are not as well integrated; integrating a different tool might require as much efforts – then… why not chose the best?
  • Blended models of software and service make sense! If the software is powerful, it is fairly complex and requires expert help to generate business benefit as soon as possible.
  • It was a pleasure to know that build vs. buy buttes were over. Now we can have our cake and eat it too with custom apps πŸ™‚

MarTech landscape did not significantly changed. At the same time, the creators of the document we were watching over the years admitted that not all tools were included. (MarTech 2019 with downloadable list)

MarTech tools in local markets/languages? CRM specifically designed for health clubs? And an ability to create “citizen martech” with no coding expertise? Note to self – check https://airtable.com/

Real Story Group gave excellent advice on how to select vendors in the Expo theater:

  • We are at the greater risk of over-buying of technology than buying insufficient technical capacity. Trying to compare features lead to over-buying.
  • We should evaluate usage scenarios which are important for our business.
  • Eco system of the tool is important; particularly user eco-system (user conferences, user events).
  • Never buy technology before trying (I should have asked for clarification – how can you try a tool which needs to integrate with other business systems… before integrating the tool with other business systems, which can be a serious commitment in itself?)

Ann Lewnes made the most profound point during the Fireside Chat: “Customers struggle the most with people and process, not the technology.” Ah, we are human after all… no matter how much we love to talk about AI πŸ™‚

ANA – Funnel Optimization

We did not talk only about the funnel… Though every marketer has a very passionate opinion about the funnel and rising expectations without rising budgets, the funnel performance is a result of many other aspects of the business.

Marketing technology is an excellent scapegoat. We often experience “analysis paralysis” in the avalanche of data, and the best approach might be the most simple option.

What is the trigger to buy? BDRs can ask customers this question and the insight from the conversations might be sufficient. We are dealing with complexity, but the needed insight might not be as complex.

Marketers are not satisfied with the technology they have; do not get the expected value from the technology.

Marketing technology is getting in the way of doing marketing

“We over-engineer our work…” “You can not have 45 KPIs, we need just 4…” “We are flying the airplane by instruments, why not look outside the window?”

Marketers overemphasize the data; sometimes, we are not willing to have a conversation until we have data. At the same time, because we are listening to data, we are plugging any data we have, even irrelevant, trying to make decisions…

If your spouse told you he/she was unhappy with something you did, would you require data?

Collaborate with sales on what is the most important to track. When you bring prospects to talk about their problems/needs, everybody is paying attention. This might be “small” data, but it can make a big difference.

Webinar Benchmark Report – 2019

Marketers watch carefully benchmark reports from different vendors, particularly the vendor they use. DECK 7 simplified our lives and created Webinar Benchmark Report – across several vendors.

The most insightful part of the report (from my perspective) is the registrants conversion to live attendees – across vendors and based on the webinar type.

The report also argues that the success metric of the webinar would be the number of registrants rather than live attendees, as all registrants expressed an interest in the topic and can be followed up as leads.

My guess, the best metric would depend on the company’s objective and specifics of a particular campaign. Webinar might be successful based on the registrants/attendees from specific accounts, or registrants company sizes, or actual engagement with the content, or even happiness of the sales organization with the quality of the generated leads πŸ™‚

Another interesting point: on-demand webinars viewed differently. Viewers can skip sections of the content (lower viewing time), but more on-demand viewers will see the end of the webinar and the next steps.

Great report!