With this year’s shift to virtual work during a global pandemic, B2B marketers and audiences have seen an increase in virtual events—particularly webinars—as companies scrambled to pivot their planned marketing strategies for 2020. Webinars were already a staple of inbound marketing—a go-to tactic to generate leads and engage audiences—but with everything moving online, we began to see an influx of webinars as they started to replace everything from tradeshow events to traditional face-to-face sales operations.
But have you ever signed up for a webinar and ended up feeling like it was a waste of time or, even worse, a 45-minute sales pitch? We’ve been there and wanted that 45 minutes of our lives back. Yes, marketers and sales professionals started doing more and more webinars, but were they doing them well? Enter “Webinar Fatigue,” a new phrase we’ve coined to describe the overall feeling toward the over-saturation of webinar offerings resulting in a lack of interest.
There’s A Better Way To Webinar
Webinars as a format are definitely still valuable, but if you’re going to incorporate them into your strategy you have to work even harder to convince your audience that giving up a portion of their day is going to be worth it. How do you highlight your value proposition and have a successful webinar when you’re battling this webinar fatigue? Start by setting expectations.
Define what success means for you and know what to expect
Keep in mind that many people register for webinars with the intention of watching the on-demand recording on their own schedule rather than attending the live session. This means you should be prepared to deliver as much value in the recording, slides, and any other assets to everyone who registered, even if they didn’t attend live. Average live webinar attendance is 40% to 50% of those registered, a large portion of which will likely not sign up until the final day or two before, so be sure to engage non-attendees just as much, if not more, than your attendees as they’re likely still interested enough to potentially become a qualified lead.
Unless your content is extremely compelling, plan on nurturing the leads you generate to warm them up rather than immediately passing them into a sales process. With the exception of a product demo, most webinar audiences are going to need to get to know you better, so get that tailored email drip campaign queued up!
Be helpful and add value
Nothing is worse than blocking off 30 minutes to an hour of your workday to attend a webinar then feeling like you didn’t get any actionable takeaways or value from the session. When you’re planning your content, or even just brainstorming webinar topics, it’s vital to understand your buyer personas and how they progress through the buyer’s journey.
Ask yourself: does my topic address an issue or pain point my target audience typically experiences and provide valuable ways they can address it? If yes, then great. You’re on the right track! If it’s more geared towards a product demo or sales pitch, make it obvious that’s the case. Be sure to tell anyone registering for your event exactly what they can expect when they attend or watch the recording.
Pro tip: Be careful about gating future content you send them behind another form. If they have already given you their information, make it easier to engage with you by removing those barriers to engagement.
Best practices attendees want to see more of
Use features like polls & chat throughout the session to keep your audience engaged and facilitate dialogue about the topic you’re covering.
Make it clear at the beginning whether you’ll be leaving any time for Q&A or discussion at the end of the session.
Don’t just read text off of slides. Use your presentation to show compelling visuals and examples.
Change up the format. Consider panel discussions, interactive sessions, or other formats that don’t depend on a single speaker for the entirety of the presentation.
Putting Best Practices To Work
Our clients are no stranger to the world of webinars. So far this year we have helped a few of them successfully execute their virtual events to pivot their marketing strategies when they could no longer attend industry trade shows, which traditionally accounted for a large portion of their sales pipeline. Here are some of our takeaways:
Partnerships: Leverage your strategic partnerships to open your potential webinar audience beyond just your company’s database. Engaging your partners means a lot more opportunities for promotion and getting your content in front of people that might not already be familiar with you.
Promotion: Get creative with where and how you promote your webinar. Aside from email marketing, PPC ads, and social media, consider having employees share the event on LinkedIn, add it to their email signature, or add a pop-up registration invite on your website.
Personality: Just because you’re trying to reach other professionals to talk business doesn’t mean you can’t make your event fun and engaging. If you have a dynamic presenter, highlight their personality in a quick promo video. People want to engage with content that they will enjoy as much as provide value, so don’t be afraid to show some personality.
Virtual events are likely going to be around for a while longer, so if we’re going to do more webinars, we might as well do them in a way that makes people excited to attend, or at least curious about your content.
Kady is a digital native marketer that has spent the past several years in the B2B technology space on the brand side until joining Idea Grove in 2018. She serves clients as a Digital + HubSpot strategist and is Idea Grove's resident HubSpot evangelist. In 2019 she started leading the DFW HubSpot User Group after almost a decade of using HubSpot's tech stack to help drive marketing programs. She has a BBA in Marketing from the University of North Texas and an MA in Communications from the University of Texas at Arlington.