One side-effect of COVID-19 and its consequent social distancing guidelines and travel bans has been a steep rise in the use of virtual solutions. Webinars are among them; these days, it’s not unusual to be flooded with 10 to 20 webinar invitations every day as marketers consider them a relatively simple and low cost tool for collecting data and generating leads. As a digital-enabled brand activation company, Pico has some insights to share on the matter.
An effective lead-generation tool
Webinars usually work by providing an audience with valuable information in hopes that they will upgrade to a brand’s paid products/services. Along the way, webinars collect data which can make them extremely effective lead-generation tools.
As lockdowns began around the world, companies and brands started employing webinars out of necessity. Millions of people were already jumping onto free platforms such as Zoom anyway.
But even prior to the lockdowns, research by the Content Marketing Institute revealed that of the ‘Content types B2B marketers used in last 12 months’, webinars or online events had been employed by 57% of respondents. If they were asked again today, that percentage would surely increase. Pico’s COVID-19 Impact Research revealed a similar trend, with 82% of respondents considering online events as important.
Avoiding webinar fatigue
With the webinar field becoming increasingly crowded, the mediocre ones have little chance of standing out. Even worse, they can result in a greater rate of drop-off, poorer brand perception and decreased customer satisfaction.
So what should you do to create a really effective webinar?
1. Don’t just aim at going viral
This should be quite obvious without the need to explain further. But it's worth highlighting that it is best not to consciously design your webinar to ‘go viral’. Viral marketing frequently creates a false impression of success, skewing results while failing to obtain sufficient ROI. Remember, the ROI will be judged from the quality of leads generated, not their quantity. Just ensure that the content is relevant and will fulfil its purpose.
2. Dialogue, don't drone
Remember, an audience will be especially inclined to stop listening if the webinar host makes the mistake of ‘preaching’ to them. The lesson here is: your webinar is a dialogue. Interaction through Q&A sessions, live chat, polls and surveys and other tools can encourage an audience to stay engaged.
Pico’s recent ‘Let’s Chat: Global Insights to Webinar Success’ was an interactive webinar designed to provide a personal touch. Its goal was to deliver suggestions on creating effective webinars, and it paved the way to interactivity by ‘leaving no question unanswered’.
During the course of the webinar, the hosts received questions representing an engagement rate of 16% from a field of 200 participants with a drop-off rate of 20%. In written feedback, more than 60% of participants said they appreciated their webinar experience, with many offering referrals for potential cooperation.
3. Collect good data
An advantage of the online space is that data points from every part of the journey can be tracked. This can be very effective in helping you work through the marketing funnel and attract an even more optimised audience to your next webinar or event.
Collecting good data can be the key to:
- Following up leads and reaching potential clients
- Accurate customer analysis
- Generating remarketing data
So what is good data? There’s no definite answer to the question, other than to say that it corresponds to the insights you wish to gain. For example, the usual guest registration information such as name, company, email address, will be of limited use if your goal is customer analysis. If your goal is to curate webinar content with the ultimate objective of drawing potential clients and generating business, you could achieve it by simply adding one question about respondents’ key concerns to the registration form.
4. Think cinematically
As more people fall victim to ‘webinar fatigue’, it becomes more important to understand how a good webinar experience creates value for marketers.
Have you ever watched a movie that was so absorbing your eyes were absolutely riveted to the screen? A webinar should affect the audience in a similar way. So let’s expand the cinematic analogy to describe a formula for webinar success:
Our best example of this is our Virtuosity product suite demo to marketers, a webinar using animations, videos and sounds from the suite itself, with which the speaker can interact much like an actor interacts with a film setting.
The webinar demonstrated how different industries can leverage virtual events to deliver experiences that are even more engaging than live events.
A webinar setting, for example, is limited only by your imagination. With a simple gesture, it can look like a show flat; with another, the host can rearrange the furnishings and change the colour of the walls – just as an estate agent might when giving customers a virtual tour.
To further engage the audience, questions from the Q&A session were displayed onscreen rather than simply read out (main photo, top). As a result, even this portion of the webinar was powerfully visual and kinetic. The results were exceptional: of 800 invited guests, 700 turned up, and more than 20 leads were generated within 24 hours.
Planning a webinar is no different from planning a physical event; it entails the same process of planning, marketing, event design and execution. And as with a live event, the key to a successful webinar is keeping your audience engaged.
Tay Ling is general manager of TBA (Total Brand Activation) Hong Kong, a Pico Group Company.