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Sean Hargrave
Sean Hargrave 14 April 2020

Coping with Coronavirus Part 5: Produce Killer Webinars by Concentrating on Audiences

In part five of our ‘Coping with Coronavirus’ series, we talk to a leading webinar expert on how to deliver great experiences that produce the best leads.

As events are cancelled, postponed or taken online, marketers are looking to fill the top end of their sales funnels with a combination of webinars and content marketing. The assumption is that great webinars need great content which can subsequently be repurposed and shared with a target audience through social, email and content syndication.

As they are tasked with creating compelling webinars, many marketers will be left with just one question – how exactly do we do that? So, Digital Doughnut decided to round off this Coping with Coronavirus series with key insights from Mark Bornstein, VP of Marketing at webinar platform and content hub provider, ON24.

His first message to businesses is to not lament cancelled events for too long but rather embrace webinars for two very simple reasons. More people turn up to webinars than events and you get to find out more about them.

Marketing leaders back webinars

ON24 worked recently with Digital Doughnut’s sister company, London Research, to produce The State of B2B Lead Generation 2019 report which found striking differences between marketers at the top of their webinar game and the chasing pack.

When it comes to the best possible quality leads, 60% of lead generation leaders say webinars perform better than any other kind of content asset, compared to 26% of execs from mainstream businesses. Furthermore, three in four leaders revealed webinars are effective in driving high-quality leads, higher than the two in three at mainstream companies who agree.

Six Top Tips for Success

So, what are the leaders getting right? For Bornstein there are some very clear tips for webinar success.

1. Be conversational, avoid death by PowerPoint

Nobody wants to give up an hour of their time to watch talking slides delivered by what Bornstein refers to as “the headless voice”.

There is nothing wrong with some slides if they truly get over some valuable information, such as a chart or a statistic you want people to remember. However, they should be kept to a bare minimum and a lot of webinars now don’t feature any charts.

“The best webinars are more like conversations, than presentations,” says Bornstein. “They’re more like an interview over a coffee than someone running through a bunch of slides. Charles Schwab is great at this. They just talk to experts and interview customers about investments. It makes it far more real.”

2. Multiple presenters

Nobody would tune into a TV show where they only listen to one person for 30 or 40 minutes, or even an hour. So, Bornstein suggests you shouldn’t assume that’s what webinar attendees would like to do either.

“You need to avoid relying on the same presenter,” he says.

“Where possible, consider having presenters from different parts of the organisation joining in and taking over for a part of the webinar. Have customers and experts you want to talk be part of the webinar join in, regardless of where they are, just get them on the screen too.”

3. Audience participation = Great data

Far too often marketers fret about getting the right people to attend a webinar before they do something very odd – virtually ignore them.

“You’ve got to get the audience involved, it’s a golden rule,” reminds Bornstein. “It’s so important I always ensure I’ve asked the audience a question before we even start to say our introductions.”

Audience participation does not only get an audience more involved it delivers what a marketer wants more than anything else from a great webinar – lots of detailed data.

“If someone turns up at an event, you may know they picked up their badge but you might not know which talks they went to, which topics they found interesting and what questions they may have asked,” Bornstein continues.

“At a webinar you can do all this. You can ask leading questions to get people involved about what issues they face, how they feel about a topic, what timeframe they are looking at for their next digital marketing investment.

“Polls are a great way to solicit data but so too are Q&A opportunities and encouraging people to tweet about the presentation they’re participating in. Put all this together and you get some great leads you know way more about than if they’d attended a road show or watched one of your presentations at an industry event.”

4. Brand it

It is very easy for a martech or adtech webinar to look as if it is coming from their webinar platform provider. So, make sure your branding is in there and is clear.

5. Make it focused

If you need to remember one thing about webinars it is Bornstein’s mantra – “never boil the ocean”. A deep and narrow dive into a particular topic, issue or pain point is always far more valuable than going wide and shallow.

Health business Red Whale are his top tip to watch out for here because their webinars are always about a particular ailment or issue, they never deal with more than one condition.

Follow this strategy and you will need to accept what at first appears to be a counterintuitive proposition. Bornstein’s advice is you are always better off running a series of webinars with focused, engaged audience than one massive one. A series of five webinars with 50 viewers each is far better than getting all 250 people on the same webinar because many will not be fully engaged in a topic that is too all-encompassing.

6. Personalise for ABM

Account-based marketing (ABM) will often see execs pore over a list of key accounts they would dearly love to get talking to. Here, Bornstein believes, the power of the webinar comes into its own, so long as you are content with a small, highly-defined audience.

“You can do some great things by making webinars so focused, they’re actually personalised,” he says. “If you’re involved in account-based marketing, you may have some top priority companies you really want to get in front of but you’re getting no traction.

“So, what you can do is take a webinar and then fit it around the company you’re trying to talk to. If you have a dozen email contacts or so at the company and just two or three watch the webinar, that’s two or three people you’ve started a conversation with that you wouldn’t have had a chance to otherwise.”

Above all else, Bornstein’s advice is to focus on the audience. Give them a great experience that picks out a particular discussion point and make sure to gather lots of data to follow up on.

Ahmed Ghani
Ahmed Ghani

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