3 Ways to Nail Direct Marketing With Webinars
Webinars are the perfect tools for direct marketing. They let you talk directly to the customer, getting feedback as you go, and delivering valuable, targeted content to them. For B-to-B marketers they're ideal: B-to-B buyers are more content hungry than their B-to-C counterparts, partly because their purchase value tends to be higher and they prefer interactive content to make sure they're getting value for money.
Webinar usage isn't relatively low because webinars don't work: only 13 percent of companies polled said they didn't use webinars because they couldn't attract enough registrants. Instead, the main reason was either lack of funds and time for production, or experience using webinars for internal training and communication purposes rather than marketing. In other words, in well over three quarters of cases, the main reason marketing webinars aren't working is because they aren't being used.
Let's look at three ways webinars can be used to speak to B-to-B customers.
Webinars are ideal for use in the "awareness" stage of the buyer funnel, when potential customers are looking for a clearer understanding of their problem and a general idea of where it fits into the bigger picture of their business and their space. In fact, they're usually prescribed for this stage only, and they're a big success: between 20 and 40 percent of qualified B-to-B leads come from webinars.
Discovery webinars are about leading the prospect on a journey of discovery of their problems and pain points. The rules of social media marketing apply here: don't talk about yourself and above all — don't try to sell anything.
Webinar production is resource intensive. It's not like writing a blog post or even a white paper. So it has to be carefully targeted. You can't use something as valuable as a webinar in a scattergun way. For B-to-B customers, the best choice might be to identify and contact your desired audience through LinkedIn, possibly using the network's Direct Sponsored Content feature. Email lists and CRM data are another great source of targeting information and these should be consulted before the webinar is produced.
Like any form of content webinars work best when they're built into a carefully planned flow. Integrate your webinar into your marketing automation. Webinar leads should go into your CRM and email autoresponder automatically. Assign them email workflows and allow them to self-fork as you would any other marketing segment.
Remember, your Discovery webinar is content marketing, not just content creation. What is a conversion? What do you want from the customer who comes to your webinar? Decide in advance whether you want them to move down the funnel to another form of content, to download an e-book that complements the webinar, or maybe to give access to a library of whitepapers that expands on the webinar.
While the majority of B-to-B webinars focus on lead generation, lead nurturing is also an ideal role for this versatile content type. Yet, many marketers don't include webinar viewers in their lead nurturing figures! That means in many cases they're generating leads with webinars, with no clear plan for the next step. Webinars can be used to effectively nurture leads, including leads generated by other means.
At the Consideration stage of the funnel, potential buyers are thinking about the types of solutions available to their problem, whereas now they've defined it.
That's where your Discussion webinar comes in. You'll be talking about the solutions on the market, offering a guided tour of contrasting functionalities and differing feature sets. What you won't be doing is selling your product, but at this stage it's a good idea to mention it as one of several possibilities. Be careful that you don't come across as biased. Customer case studies can be an effective way of building Consideration webinars, as can a multiple-speaker presentation.
Again: what's a conversion? Have a clear vision of where this is leading. What do you want viewers to do next?
This is targeted at the final stage of the funnel, when you're talking to a lead who has purchase intent. They're looking for something to buy that's like your product. This webinar is all about your product. You're advocating to a prepared lead, who has already learned about the space you operate in and knows what your competitors offer, partly because you told them.
In many cases a Delivery webinar will take the form of a product demo, annotated with commentary and giving leads the chance to ask questions, ask for clarification or pose objections and have them dealt with.
It's clear what a conversion is here: you're gunning for a sale, or an appointment to discuss a sale, depending on your buyer funnel.
Remember a webinar is like a whitepaper: it is top-level content which can then be "chop-shopped" into other kinds of content later. The script can become blog posts and social media posts; the webinar itself can be sliced into videos (works best when under 10 minutes) and put on YouTube after the campaign has finished. Take advantage of LinkedIn's business impact by posting the webinar as still slides to SlideShare. Around 36 percent of registrants on average will attend a webinar, with 55 percent watching the recording afterwards, so it's important to make sure that recordings are available via email initially before being posted to YouTube, to maintain some exclusivity.
The Road Ahead
When you set up your webinars, remember not to have too much overlap between them in terms of content. Don't make your Discover webinar too in-depth and solution oriented, don't make your Discussion salesy, and don't hold back when you make your Delivery webinar. If it's too educational, too much like a Discovery webinar, it won't work.
Don't build a webinar campaign so inflexible that the only thing that counts as a conversion is attending the next webinar! Your customers might have a different preference at different stages of the funnel; allow for readers, who prefer the written word, and viewers, who prefer video, to swap places with webinar attendees at each stage.
Free tools like Skype and Google Hangouts aren't adequate for the majority of business' content marketing needs. They are difficult to pair with your slide deck application (like Keynote or PowerPoint) or any tools you may use to record screen activity. Alternatively, ClickMeeting is a full-fledged webinar suite you can use to carry out mid to end-funnel videoconferencing such as desktop sharing and recording, private meetings with vendors and partners, or moderated chats with focus groups, along with direct integration to Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Build a test webinar, as soon as you've decided on your webinar provider. Don't wait till you have your speaker lined up, your script written and your webinar campaign ready to be rolled out before you discover that login glitch. Test your webinar with multiple accounts from different devices.
We've seen how webinars can drive customer engagement and increase sales. While they're a classic customer service and internal training tool, they're also a powerful direct marketing method. And the good news is that hardly anyone out there is using them. So when you make the move, you'll suddenly be in a field with a whole lot less competition!
Rohan Ayyar is the regional marketing manager for India at SEMrush. His blog, The Marketing Mashup, covers digital marketing from the perspective of B2B, B2C, lead generation, mobile marketing, SEO, social media, content marketing, database marketing including predictive analytics, and conversion rate optimization. In addition, he'll look at emerging marketing technology and how marketers can use it. Reach Ayyar at firstname.lastname@example.org.