You guys! This is a really exciting milestone for me, and for you!
Today I hosted my 30th webinar for Trada. (Ed. note: at press time, Ms. Sawyer is wrapping up her 33rd Trada webinar – golly gosh is she a machine.)
Webinars are a lot of work. I develop a concept, decide where it fits on the calendar, find a partner or guest (or choose to go it alone), write an abstract, put together copy for email invitations and build landing pages, design all the slides and accompanying materials, and write and design a best practices guide.
Then I moderate or host the webinar. Strive to be charming, knowledgeable, engaging, helpful, witty, centered and valuable. Remember to breathe. Don’t let my chair squeak. Don’t space out looking at the volumes of chat messages coming through in the webinar interface. Keep my cool presenting for hundreds of marketers who’re dedicating an hour of their time to hear me speak.
Finally, follow-up. With the help of an excellent intern, this has been whittled down to a frenetic half-day, but it’s still a formidable time investment. And when this is all over? I plan the next one.
So why do we do this week after week? Yep, I love doing webinars. As a marketer, I get to have fun. I run a complex nurturing engine that tickles my creative fancy and allows me to build something that I believe is powerful and helpful. But most importantly, it works!
At Trada, we are passionate about measurable results. If a program doesn’t get us customers, we ditch it faster than mystery leftovers. We must constantly prove – with data – that the way we spend our time is the best possible use of that time.
So yes, webinars help convert leads into customers. We provide education and offer a solution, and some of our leads turn into Trada clients.
Of course, there are many that don’t – and many that never will. I have a large, engaged base of Trada webinar attendees who may very well never become Trada clients for myriad reasons. And that’s cool! Our engaged webinar fans add immense color to the conversation and help me to make our content better. Plus, they’re thankful and interested and outspoken: what could be better?
I want to share with you today how I take webinars and turn them into lead-generation machines.
Set goals, and live and die by them.
I have met with other marketers on occasion to discuss how we run our webinar programs. The conversation usually goes something like this.
I’m in no position to cast aspersions. When we began our webinar program a year and a half ago, the strategy was “let’s just try to get through this and then see what happens”. But I’d really all prefer if you didn’t have to learn the way I did. So let’s talk about goal setting.
For each webinar we have two basic goals: opportunity generation and content amplification.
We offer educational content about paid search, Facebook ads and digital marketing for the bulk of the webinar. At the end of the webinar, we show that Trada can be a solution for online ads – and then we hope that some people will become Trada customers. It seems pretty simple.
Through a great deal of trial and error, testing and continual refinement, we’ve turned that hope into a specific goal that we pursue aggressively – presumably while maintaining the quality and value of the webinar for folks who aren’t interested in or ready for our solution.
1) We leverage the chat interface to solicit Trada demos. Did you know that Trada can help you with online advertising? If you’d like a demo, just type “I’d like a demo!” into the chat box. Our opportunity rate from webinars has increased 4x since employing this simple technique.
2) We conclude the webinar with a 1-minute Trada case study within the slides, rather than a pitch. During this 1 minute we usually collect several demo requests.
3) In the follow-up email, we include calls-to-action to make it easy to request a demo.
4) This one’s really important. We work hard to educate the sales team about what we’re doing in the webinar and what the message is, and to give them the tools they need to speak knowledgeably to a sales prospect. We hand off demo requests to sales team members within one hour of completion of the webinar, and we include any questions an attendee may have asked, poll results, and any other information that will help them understand the needs of a given prospect. Since instituting the 1-hour rule, we’ve seen demo requests become qualified opportunities at a dramatically increased rate.
Remember up there where I talked about all the work that goes into an event of this size? Well, we strive to make sure that that work is used as much as possible. Forever. And we cross-promote our other content channels: the assumption is that webinar attendees will probably be into our podcasts, right?
5) Before the webinar begins, we make the slides available on Slideshare and promote them via social media channels.
6) The presentation slides include information about upcoming webinars and series, our podcast channel, our blog, and collateral offers. We use the chat feature to invite attendees to join our Trada Webinar Series, which automatically adds them to upcoming webinars. If they aren’t able to make each one, no problem! This automatic registration means that they will get the follow-up email with all the materials. At this time, we have several hundred series registrants – after running this program for only a couple months.
7) At the beginning of each webinar, we invite attendees to tweet what they’ve learned in the webinar with a distinct hashtag for the chance to win a gift card.
8 ) Email follow-ups – discrete for webinar attendees and no-shows – contain a link to the webinar recording, a link to Slideshare (where a PDF of the slides can be downloaded for free), a best practices guide and links to future webinars.
9) We’ve seen that webinar signup pages get traffic long after the date of a webinar has passed. So we redesign a webinar’s landing page after its completion, adding buttons for the slides and video, and we sometimes add tabs with the transcript and Q&A session.
10) Finally, all materials are available on our website, and we often use the best practice guides as email nurture offers.
If this seems like a lot – well, it is. And we’re still learning. We’ve come incredibly far in the 18 months since we launched our webinar program, from hosting one every few months to hosting seven in a single month (I still have nightmares about October 2011).
But it’s incredibly rewarding. I love my role as an online advertising educator. I get such positive response, and it’s the most multifaceted part of my job in terms of sheer moving parts and skills required and craziness and creativity and room for error and improvement.
What do you do to increase the traction you get from webinars, and do you have any suggestions for ways that we can improve ours? Let’s keep the conversation going!