10 Best Practices Informational Webinars

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  • 1. WHITEPAPER 10 Best Practices for Informational Webinar Production October 2009 Mike Agron and Bret Smith, Co-Principals, WebAttract An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 2. WHY INFORMATIONAL WEBINARS? Before you can have a meaningful dialogue with a prospective client, you often have to get above the noise level. A webinar targeted to a demographically matched audience with the right message/content is a great way to establish your thought leadership and value. Furthermore, the “web” provides leverage from allowing a small organization with limited resources to rise above the noise level and reach out to an audience that in the past had been the domain of only the big guys. It also let’s you compress time zones and geographies with ease. Add the fact that the webinar is a “live” event, and you have created a sense of urgency for those wishing to attend. The idea of the digital campfire came to me six or seven years ago when I managed a large partner organization and realized that by hosting a monthly partner call, we would show our partners that they indeed mattered to us and we could keep them in the know with new product and technology updates and it was a relatively cost effective way to stay connected, and all the while it helped raise our thought leadership and brand. From a sales perspective, it really can help accelerate the sales funnel by using such an event to self-identify those prospects that would want to have a 1:1 or more in depth conversation with you and your company. When you consider the cost of a print ad in a trade journal or exhibiting at a trade show, the price of a webinar can be pretty cost effective. Brand Thought Sales Leads Awareness Leadership An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 3. WHY INFORMATIONAL WEBINARS? • Rise above the noise level • Target a demographically – matched audience • Web leverage levels the playing field • Digital campfire – Live! • Accelerate the sales funnel • Cost effective Brand Thought Sales Leads Awareness Leadership An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 4. PROOF POINT 1 According to a recent survey, if you want to reach technical buyers, use informational webinars! 29% of those surveyed will spend more than 50% of their marketing budget online this year, and 48% will spend over one-third online. An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 5. PROOF POINT 2 As reported in BtoB Magazine, VERTICAL MARKETING GUIDE, June 22, 2009: based on an online study that examined the media and usage preferences of 338 top global business execs, if you want to reach senior executives on the web, your best vehicle is webinars, which 77% of C-level execs listen to at work An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 6. INFORMATIONAL VS. SALES PITCH Not all webinars are created equal. There are some specific differences in focus, and between being informed and being sold. Another word for Informational could be educational, i.e., the real value in your audience attending is that we will provide them with something “new” that they didn’t know or hadn't considered before attending. So, in the case of the Sales Pitch, the focus is more on the product, features and benefits and maybe even pricing. In the Informational webinar, the center piece is around learning business value, which is nicely conveyed from a case study, where you have a client or partner share what best practices they implemented and most importantly, the audience gets to hear from a peer or colleague some valuable lessons learned. Generally, we don’t like being sold and there’s often a fine line between what is informational and a sales pitch, but if attendees can walk away better informed with some fresh new ideas that they can take action on, then it was well worth their time. After attendees are convinced there’s value in having a further discussion, then it becomes perfectly appropriate to discuss features, benefits and pricing. An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 7. BEST PRACTICE 1 YOUR AUDIENCE IS YOUR TOP PRIORITY I'm sure we all agree that, regardless of whether you're producing a theatrical event, a radio broadcast or an informational webinar, the audience has got to be your top priority. So before I start planning an event, I ask myself the following questions like: ...What do I know about them? Where are they from, what industries to they represent, and what are their job functions? With that information in-hand... ...what topic will my audience find most engaging? Clearly, this is not a decision I make without the advice and counsel of those whose opinions I rely on, but for instance... would the audience be more interested in a discussion of best practices? ...or an exploration of a topical concern around something like regulatory compliance? ...or a presentation of a case study where a useful new technology or process is demonstrated...and so on. And then a very important question:... ...What will I provide so the audience is certain they invested their time well with me?... ...for instance, shall I provide insights, best practices, tips and tricks, metrics, explanations of ROI, an interview with a subject matter expert, and so on. And then lastly... ...How do I assure they can extend the dialogue with me following the event?... ...What I mean by this is not simply providing an email address and phone number for myself on the last slide, but also for the featured speakers, and links to presented collateral and to your webinar archive where they can obtain recorded copies. AND, I also expect to interact with the audience after the event...not just a "thanks for registering" email, but one that provides links to other related collateral as well as offers a poll so the audience can provide additional feedback. An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 8. BEST PRACTICE 1 YOUR AUDIENCE IS YOUR TOP PRIORITY • What do you know about them? • What topic will your audience find most engaging? • What will they get out of investing their time with you? • How can they extend the dialogue with you beyond the event? An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 9. BEST PRACTICE 2 WORK PLAN DEVELOPMENT I like to think of webinars as “mini events” and like all events, there are a lot of moving parts All webinars should be framed with a set of business objectives that becomes your roadmap for all of the best practices that follow Led by a strong project manager and production team as well as the key internal and external stakeholders, it’s important to know what each persons roles, responsibilities, deliverables and due dates are. I recommend weekly meetings to measure progress against the plan and to adjust priorities. Eight weeks seems to be just the right amount of time from creating your business objectives to going live….there’s just the right amount of creative energy to get it right…..yes, it can be done in a shorter time frame, but too much shorter, and you cause undue stress and produce sub optimal results. Finally, you should plan on investing a minimum of one plus hour for every live webinar minute. An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 10. BEST PRACTICE 2 WORK PLAN DEVELOPMENT • Lots of moving parts • Clear business objectives • Roles and responsibilities • Deliverables and due dates • 8 week planning horizon Metric Plan to invest 1+ hour for each live webinar minute An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 11. BEST PRACTICE 3 AUDIENCE RECRUITMENT Audience Recruitment consists of 3 main components, beginning with identifying the group you want to recruit to your event. Once done, the creation of an impactful series of messages to drive registration for the webinar follows, and then the development of an intelligent, adjustable "invitation strategy" so as to attain the optimum number of attendees. An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 12. BEST PRACTICE 3 AUDIENCE RECRUITMENT • Identify the value- proposition match group you wish to recruit • Create a compelling, multi- touchpoint message • Broadcast touchpoints over an informed, flexible invitation strategy An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 13. BEST PRACTICE 4 IDENTIFY TO RECRUIT ...so how DO YOU identify the group from which to recruit your audience? First, build a profile of the intended group... ...Which industries are you interested in connecting with?... And, within those industries, what departments, and what levels (c-level, director, etc.), and what functions, or titles, within those departments do you seek? Do you want Fortune 1000 companies, or those with revenues between 10 and 50 million? What geography do you want to pull from? What other aspects of the group could provide meaningful insight? Are they current customers, or fresh prospects? Next, what may seem like the obvious...and that's matching the value proposition to the group. The bottom line here is match it as granularly as possible. In other words...do you really want to communicate to ALL of marketing, or do you want to connect with marketing communications, product marketing, corporate marketing, and so on. This really is crucial for 2 reasons: 1) because you want this group to be receptive to future communications and 2) because you don't want to cannibalize the entire group for what might have been sufficient contacts to support multiple webinars. And last...consider the source for your group. Will you invite the right people from your own CRM, or your client's CRM? Will you rent a list for a certain number of uses? Or will you outsource the audience recruitment effort altogether, with the vendor providing both the group as well as the delivery? Clearly, there are several ways to go on this last part. Importantly, regardless of the source, the list must be accurate and it must be deliverable. An emerging approach to increasing both accuracy and deliverability is the methodology which WebAttract uses, which converges traditional subscription-based contact data with social media for highly accurate, highly-deliverable emailing. An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 14. BEST PRACTICE 4 IDENTIFY TO RECRUIT • Build a profile of the group to recruit your audience from • Match the value proposition to the group • Consider your group source: • In-house • Outsource • Rental Metric Registration = ½% - 1% of database outreach An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 15. BEST PRACTICE 5 COMPELLING MESSAGE DEVELOPMENT This brings us to the next step in the audience recruitment process, and that is the development of messaging which is compelling enough to secure your group's interest and attract them as audience members for your webinar. Apart from having the creative skills yourself, or those that can provide them, there are 4 important elements to remember, particularly as they pertain to email-based messaging... First, write your message in the language of your expected audience. That is, take the time to understand the vernacular of your profiled group, and use background information, press coverage, white papers, etc. to provide a "language framework" around your topic that will best resonate with your audience. Next, "Invite, enthuse, excite - but don't sell, and don't be over-exclamatory". Naturally, in inviting your prospective audience to an INFORMATIONAL webinar, you most certainly do not want to be commercial in your outreach to them. However, projecting a degree of enthusiasm about the subject matter is important. Spark their interest, provoke their intellectual curiosity and make sure they understand how excited you are to engage them. It also goes without saying that you need to communicate "what's in it for them". Why will this time be valuably spent with you? Again, in an informational webinar, the value is in learning best practices, "lessons learned" and shared, metrics, ROI and case studies. You absolutely do not want to be product-specific, delve into pricing or relate "features & benefits" the way you would in a straight sales message. Lastly, use a combination of HTML and plain-text messaging across multiple touchpoints. Think about it... HTML messaging is excellent for communicating your brand through the use of logos, colors, etc., and you don't want to lose the opportunity for raising brand awareness in recruiting your audience. BUT, HTML messaging, which contains HTML coding, is one heckuva spam trigger. So by sending one or more of your messages in HTML, and the remainder in plain-text, you assure the best that each can afford...getting your brand effectively in front of the entire group, while making certain that the majority of contacts SEE your message. An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 16. BEST PRACTICE 5 COMPELLING MESSAGE DEVELOPMENT • Author in the audience’s jargon • Invite, enthuse, excite – but don’t sell, and don’t be over-exclamatory • Be sure to express “what’s in it for you” • Utilize a combination of HTML and text Metric 57% higher response rate when HTML and plain-text messaging used across multiple invitations An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 17. BEST PRACTICE 6 COST EFFECTIVE E-BROADCASTING So, we've identified the group we're going to recruit our audience from, and we've developed some highly-impactful messaging. Now it's time to deliver that message to market. Clearly, there are many ways to deliver invitations to your group. However, the most cost-effective by far is the one which best leverages the Web itself...email or, as I call it, e- broadcasting. For optimum effect, plan to deliver multiple messages over a reasonable period in advance of your webinar. Typically, three invitations at more or less weekly intervals beginning no longer than three weeks prior to the event is best. Remember, too, that you want to have an adjustable invitation strategy. What do I mean by that? Fundamentally, I mean you should use the intelligence you're collecting from your audience along the way to the event. For instance, each time you do an e-broadcast, and a number of people then register on your landing page, utilize their answers to expand or refine your eventual presentation, and to enhance your invitation's effectiveness. And, of course, it goes without saying...if you're using email to invite your potential audience, be CAN-Spam compliant! An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 18. BEST PRACTICE 6 COST EFFECTIVE E-BROADCASTING • Deliver multiple touchpoints • Start promoting 2 ½ weeks to 3 weeks before webinar • Have an adjustable invitation strategy • Always be CAN-Spam compliant Metric Maximize registration with 4 well timed e-Broadcasts An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 19. BEST PRACTICE 7 ANALYTICS When you are planning your registration landing page, develop a few questions that will help you gain some better insights into your audience’s interest and goals. There’s a fine balance between asking too much, or sounding like you are trying to qualify them as a sales prospect, but asking non invasive questions such as which industry best describes your organization, what city or state is your business in, and especially What would you like to learn from this webinar, are great ways to get a profile of who is planning on attending your webinar. Obtaining answers to your registration questions is extremely helpful in developing not only a compelling message, but can help readjust your messaging strategy. It’s not unusual to make changes after the 2nd or 3rd e-broadcast. This info is also extremely helpful in developing content that is relevant to your audience too. For example, though you may have a general idea of what you want to present, it is the accumulation of your registrants' responses that helps shape your webinar. We recommend using a tool such as a Pivot Table or Business Intelligence tool to help you slice and dice the info, as you’ll be amazed at the insights you can observe such as tracking and graphing the daily registration counts. And make sure to share this info with the other stakeholders on the webinar team to help them validate their presentation sections. An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 20. BEST PRACTICE 7 ANALYTICS • Use your registration landing page strategy to understand your audience’s interests and goals • Start tracking & graphing daily stats after e-broadcasting • Cross check & publish daily results to stakeholders Metric Ratio of attendees to registrants will vary 30% - 60% An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 21. BEST PRACTICE 8 DRESS REHEARSALS Now that we’ve developed the content, delivered the message, it’s time now to do a table read and start to assemble the content from all of the providers. First, start with a time line to examine the flow and order of the presenters. Then take a hard look to make sure that the content supports the messaging in the invitation and that the flow is of interest, relevant and something that, based on what you know about your audience, will engage them. Usually it takes a few table reads to get the rough edges off, but its well worth it. Once you have the flow and content down, then it’s time to insert transitions, and cues so again, the flow is natural and any “dead or awkward air” is eliminated. A professional moderator is a good investment as they can be the orchestra leader and keep the rhythm and energy moving in the right direction. An experienced moderator can also play the role of a coach to help and motivate presenters to net it out and be as engaging as possible. This is especially important with presenters who aren’t used to this Type of medium Oh yes, as they say when you are about to take off on an airplane….in the unlikely event of an emergency landing….we’ll all of this webinar stuff is technology driven, and technology can surprise you when you least expect it, so have a back up plan if something goes south on you. Audio is the "Achilles heel" of all webinars….VoIP, speakerphones, noisy headsets….. So, you should budget a minimum of 2-3 dress rehearsals to practice not only a crisp delivery, but your transitions and cues should be nailed down too. An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 22. BEST PRACTICE 8 DRESS REHEARSALS • Does the content support the invitation messaging? • Is the flow interesting, relevant and engaging? • Practice cues and transitions, eliminate “dead air” • Technology familiarity and have a back up plan • Audio is often the Achilles heel, VoIP, Speakerphones, noisy headset, etc. Metric Budget for 2-3 Dress Rehearsals An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 23. BEST PRACTICE 9 SOUND CHECK – GO LIVE! Always start with a sound check, and I recommend you have all presenters and panelists login an hour before going live….to both check out the technology, learn about any updates, and make sure everything works. A few things to always do: Show respect for your audience by starting as on time as possible and end on time Since your only real connection to your audience is your voice, use it as an instrument as it will help you project your natural self….and keep a glass of cold water handy, as it’s important to keep your throat moist. Since you can’t look at your audience in the eyes, you can interact with them through the use of 1 or 2 Polls. Try to budget the hour including the welcome and other parts to end with about 10 or so minutes for Q/A. A back of the envelope metric that I’ve found is that attendance will peak as you get into 1 or 2 questions, and it’s not unusual to have people leave, as they are busy too. A good target is to hold onto about 90% of your audience into the Q/A An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 24. BEST PRACTICE 9 SOUND CHECK – GO LIVE! • Audience respect means you start and end on time • Use your natural voice as an instrument • Interact with your audience through Polls • Budget a min of 5- 10 minutes for Q/A Metric Attendance will peak at the Q/A with 90% retention as a good target An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 25. BEST PRACTICE 10 EXTENDING THE DIALOGUE (POST WEBINAR) Ok, the webinar was a big hit and the recording sounds better than you thought it would. Now it’s time to do the final analytics that include not only the registration, but attendance and performance stats. How long did they stay? How did they vote in the Polls? Answers to these questions indicate how well you did in achieving your webinar objectives. Always make a recording of the webinar, and consider “airbrushing” out any audio imperfections and then posting it where it can be retrieved as an on demand viewing. We’ve found that this can generate another 10% to 40% of fresh new interest. Also, make sure that you follow up within 24 -48 hours after the webcast of all warm leads. An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 26. BEST PRACTICE 10 EXTENDING THE DIALOGUE (POST WEBINAR) • Do final analytics on registration, attendance, and performance objectives • Post a copy of the recorded webinar and track on- demand viewings which can be 10% - 40% of registration • Post webinar registrant Metric enhancement Follow up on all warm leads within 24 – 48 hours of webcast An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation
  • 27. An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation 10 Best Practices for Informational Webinar Production and Audience Recruitment Principals Mike Agron Bret Smith WebAttract WebAttract For more Information on WebAttract call us at 1.866.467.0003 or visit us at www.webattract.com An End2End Solution for Webinar Demand Creation