Webinars are certainly not a new tool in a marketer’s arsenal. After all, they’ve been around for almost as long as there has been an internet.
However, B2B marketers that take this type of content for granted are doing themselves a disservice. Webinars truly are a unique content format, something that has become increasingly valuable in the marketing world where the buyer’s journey is now filled with pieces of cultivated content.
Research from Sirius Decisions has shown that business buyers on average are consuming content online roughly two-thirds of the way through the buying process. Webinars offer B2B marketers an opportunity to reach out to potential buyers, but they have to be used as an effective tool.
Webinars make the top five
Many marketers may already understand this fact. A study from the Content Marketing Institute found that marketers rate webinars in the top five in terms of most effective tactics they use. Despite this value, many B2B marketers ignore the positives of the webinar, regarding it as an old-school strategy and discarding it in favor of the new and flashy methods seen in digital marketing today.
Though it may be more traditional, webinars still have plenty to offer, provided marketers understand the best way to use them.
Webinars basically function as a way for companies to show a piece of themselves to a targeted audience. Part of the appeal and attraction of this method is it allows potential customers to get a taste of content at no cost. “Webinars have been part of our marketing strategy, and the most effective way to use webinars was to not hard sell but to give away a lot of free content,” says Anthony Myers of BookPrimo.com. “Essentially, we use the webinars to build trust and give away as much value as we could to prospects.”
This aim of using webinars can’t be understated. For many marketing campaigns, the goal is to establish that relationship of trust, thereby helping customers feel more comfortable with the idea of working with businesses in the future. Free content contributes to that feeling, and any calls to action should usually come at little to no cost.
Frank Klesitz, founder of Vyral Marketing, agrees with this concept. “The call to action from every webinar is to schedule a free consultation,” he says, “and this is the #1 way we drive requests to speak with a new business representative.”
Other avenues can also be opened up via webinars. As digital marketing consultant Ross Simmonds explains, webinars can work as a gateway to getting even more detailed information on prospects. “The attendees typically sign up for the webinar in advance,” Simmonds says, “allowing you to capture their email and name prior to the webinar’s delivery. A series of webinars can act as a great lead generation tactic for brands that are looking to fill their funnel.”
Of course, this all requires that marketers get this information up front, so creating several webinars that require viewers to input this data is a smart step, one that can be used to understand prospective customers more closely. This in turn can be used to help create more content better suited to those who will respond favorably.
“The key to attracting the interest of potential prospects,” Simmonds adds, “is the delivery of webinars that are built on insights and information your target audience seeks.”
Delivering the goods
The true effectiveness of a webinar really comes down to what it delivers and how much customers can apply it to their current needs and problems.
“The highest converting webinars are 100 percent educational and solve a problem for your ideal client,” Klesitz continues, “ideally by telling stories and real life examples of the execution to solve the problem.”
This also means expanding the scope of the typical webinar. Instead of focusing solely on training webinars, for example, product demonstrations and most importantly thought leadership webinars can grow the audience and invite more active engagement from potential customers.
The ultimate goal for B2B marketers using webinars is to get more eyes on a business, industry leader, or product. Whether it’s software defined storage, a new cloud solution, or a consulting service, webinars have been shown to be effective at getting conversions, making for a cost-effective strategy for all marketing teams to follow.
As long as marketers understand the effective way to use webinars, they will continue to be a useful tool that will keep companies successful for years to come.
Photo via Flickr, Creative Commons