Using Webinars for Content Marketing
Webinars are a great opportunity attract an audience by providing useful information while also establishing your credibility and thought leadership. Here are some rules for making your webinar content marketing successful for you and your audience.
If you’ve read any of my articles here on Target Marketing or over on my own blog at Andigo, you know I sound like a broken record preaching about the bedrock of your marketing being great information. Webinar content marketing is no different. You can’t sell. At least, not within content that is aimed at an audience that doesn’t yet know you. (You have more leeway — and you actually should be pointing out the benefits of your own process and your services — in content aimed at mid-funnel prospects.) So make sure your content is of value to your audience and is presented in more of a journalistic mode than marketing mode.
An hour is the most common length, with a few minutes allotted at the beginning for late arrivals and “housekeeping items” — boy, do I dislike that phrase — and 15 minutes at the end for Q&A, leaving perhaps 40 minutes for the actual presentation.
This works well for many topics, but I would also urge you to consider a shorter format. There are very few things you can cover in complete detail in 40 minutes, so you'll already be condensing. And an hour is a sizable chunk of your audience’s day. Since our content marketing goal with a webinar is to entice our audience into further action, there’s no reason to worry about being fully comprehensive. To succeed as content marketing, our webinar needs to encourage further action. More on that below.
Just because your webinar is the most important part of your day doesn’t mean it’s going to be the most important part of your audience’s day. So while you may think that scheduling later in the day will decrease attendance because, well, things come up during the day, you'll likely find that even with that loss of registered attendees to life’s realities, sign-ups will be higher for afternoon sessions because many of us prioritize mornings for our most pressing work. As with just about everything marketing-related, your mileage may vary, so it really pays to test and to create your own benchmarks.
Getting the most marketing bang out of your webinar means getting the word out, and you'll need to kick your broader marketing machine into high gear. Don’t be shy about promoting your webinar, even if the initial response is positive. Webinars being used as content marketing, since they're generally free, are an easy yes to get from your audience, but it's also easy to get a lot of no-shows.
You may want to team up with another expert so that you get a multiplier effect — she brings her network, you bring yours, and you both are introduced to new people.
Don't forget to reach out to influencers in related markets. These won’t be competitors, but colleagues whose audience and clients overlap with yours.
Making It Work as Marketing
You can’t sell if you want your webinar to be effective. I said that just a few paragraphs ago and I’m repeating it because it’s that important. However, you won't be successful if you go into your webinar with a publishing mindset. That is, you need to present great information for your audience, but need to do so in a way that furthers your marketing goals.
So be sure to have your goals in mind before you start and be sure to build the tools you need into your webinar. It's not realistic for you to expect your webinar to result in a fluyrry of RFPs or signed blank checks. (If only ...) But you should expect to create the opportunity to create or strengthen an relationship as a prospect proceeds through their buying journey.
That means having content marketing machine in place with second- and third-level content appropriate for prospects who are moving through the funnel and gaining understanding. Your levels might look like this:
- The free webinar
- A free piece of additional content that requires them to visit your website
- Yet another piece of content marketing that requires an email subscription
From there you can continue to nurture the relationship until the prospect’s timing is right and you have the opportunity to make your pitch.
You won’t win all of those sales opportunities, but webinar content marketing gives you more of those opportunities to aim at, which will go a long way to keeping your funnel full and your bottom line healthy.
Looking for benchmarks for any of these ideas on timing, length, and promotional cadence? Check out the 2017 ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report.
Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured?
A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms encourage audience engagement through solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either.
His work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components, and he has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events. His writing appears in various online and print publications.
Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")