But my favorite content type of all is the live webinar. Not only are live webinars fun to produce, but they provide the widest range of benefits.
The Many Benefits of Webinars
During the past four years, I have managed more than 50 webinars, in roles ranging from presenter to moderator to technical producer. These webinars resulted in thousands of attendees and hundreds of questions but more important, had a direct positive influence on closing sales.
Let’s take a closer look at the wonderful world of webinars by considering the following benefits:
Top-of-Funnel Lead Generation
We produce thought leadership webinars, which cover broad topics independent of our product, and product webinars, which show our products in action.
Thought leadership webinars are effective at generating leads to fill the top of our sales funnel. For example, our most recent webinar was titled “Google Analytics: 5 Web Design Decisions That Cause Big Analytics Problems.” Webinars like that one are designed to generate early-stage leads that require further nurturing before they’re passed on to our sales team.
Organizing the Content Calendar
When creating the content calendar for an upcoming quarter, the first thing I do is map out the webinar schedule.
First, I identify topics and presenters.
Next, I work with the presenters to identify and lock in the webinar dates. I place the webinar dates on the calendar, then slot in the rest of the content calendar around them.
Focused Attention Through Appointment Viewing
To get 200, 100 — or even 50 — people to spend an hour with you is valuable. They may not read your blog post or white paper, but for 60 minutes, you have their attention.
And if you provide the audience with helpful advice or show them a feature of your product they didn’t know about, you can directly impact the bottom line.
Storytelling Using Slides and Screen-Shares
While our thought leadership webinars are slides with audio, that format wouldn’t be effective for our product webinars. For product webinars, we include a few slides for background and context, then move to screen-share mode to demonstrate features of the product.
These demonstrations help accelerate deals and allow customers to see newly released features. Webinars are a rare content format that can generate new sales opportunities, while simultaneously improving post-sale metrics, such as adoption and retention.
A Great Way to Repurpose Content
Webinars can easily be chopped up and repurposed. Some of the options include:
- A Q&A with the presenter before the webinar, published on your blog
- A blog post addressing the viewer questions you didn’t have time to get to during the webinar
- Publishing the slides to SlideShare
- Creating a white paper from the webinar content
- Editing portions of the webinar into short animated videos
- Publishing a summary of the webinar to your blog
The beauty of repurposing content is that the core content is already done. If you produce high-quality webinars, the repurposed content can be equally good.
Generating Key Insights on Leads and Customers
You’d be amazed at the insights you can glean from webinar questions.
For a prospect, a question about product capabilities can clue your sales department in on buying criteria and priorities. For customers, questions can help uncover what’s holding them back from upgrading to the latest version of your product. Your customer success representatives can then follow up to assist further.
Creates Real-Time Presentation Flexibility
I’d like to see this done more often in the webinars: live-polling questions to garner insights from the audience. For example, What’s your skill level? What features are you using? What’s your biggest business challenge?
Based on the polling results, presenters can then adjust the focus or flow of the presentation accordingly. For instance, if the audience’s biggest challenge with Google Analytics was finding the right report, then the presenter could move to address that topic.
Webinars Tie Leads to Revenues
For us, webinars are the most effective content format for moving leads forward to capture opportunities and revenue.
If someone is willing to spend 60 minutes with you at a set day and time, they’re probably further along in the sales cycle than someone who downloaded your white paper.
Giving Product Launches More Visibility
For major releases of our product, we schedule a press release and launch webinar that both take place on the same day. We’ll provide a few background slides to set the stage, then dive into a demonstration of the new features we’re launching.
For a recent product launch, we had 700 live attendees. That may not be quite as large as Game of Thrones or the Super Bowl, but quite good for a B2B technology vendor.
Bonus Benefit: They’re a Fun Way to Connect
I love producing webinars.
If I’m not actually presenting a webinar, I serve as the moderator who handles the introduction, Q&A and closing call to action.
Any of those roles provides me with direct access to our audience of prospects, researchers and customers and what’s not to love about that?
See you at the next webinar!
Note: This post was originally published at CMSWire.