How do we get an audience to show up for an event? How do we get the busy executive to attend, the person who barely has enough time to get through their most pressing daily tasks?
Webinars are a key piece in the B2B marketer’s toolkit. They are a great way to promote thought leadership and generate leads. We pick topics relevant to our audience, arrange for engaging speakers, build landing pages, develop email campaigns, and promote it all on social media.
Part of a webinar’s success depends on finding the right audience to promote it to. Using lead management and marketing automation systems, we can narrow our focus and choose a target audience based on industry, job role, and previous interest.
But registration doesn’t necessarily lead to attendance. We want people to attend, especially when we consider engagement as a way to build the prospect relationship.
I’d like to share some of the webinar promotion techniques we’ve used at Marketo, our top 5 ways to increase webinar attendance.
1. Give webinar attendees access to the speaker
One of the biggest differences between a live webinar and a recorded one, or other media like white papers, is the ability to actually interact with the expert. Nearly all webinars have some sort of chat feature which can be used for live Q & A. In your promotions, stress the fact that your audience member can have their question answered. Additionally, consider allowing registrants to send questions to the speaker in advance, e.g. on Twitter or via a central email address. This makes the registrant a stakeholder in the event, and much more likely to attend.
2. Have a prize draw during the webinar
Prizes can sometimes be all the extra incentive that’s needed to turn to that tentative webinar calendar appointment to a confirmed one. Choose prizes that match your audience’s interest. The prize of choice in 2011 is the iPad2. In 2009, it was the Kindle. But in order to stand out, try something different like a book related to the webinar topic. Even a whole set of books doesn’t cost as much as an iPad, and winning them looks better in front of the attendee’s boss.
3. Give attendees access to other attendees
Webinars are traditionally a one-to-many communication medium, instead of many-to-many which is characteristic of social networks. Have a live Twitter chat during the event, or a Twitter after-party. This allows audience members to see who else is attending and make meaningful connections with peers. At Marketo we also invite webinar attendees to join our LinkedIn group where they can get access to webinar slides, plus interact with speakers and each other. This strategy has led to a significant increase in our LinkedIn group membership and user engagement.
4. Have an exclusive offer for attendees
Scarcity drives demand. Let your registrants know that by attending, they are getting access to important information before others. Consider having an exclusive offer such as an e-book or special report which only they can access after the webinar.
5. Call attendees to remind them
We recently conducted an experiment to measure the effect of a calling campaign on webinar attendance. Using a service called Boxpilot, we pre-recorded a voicemail message which was automatically sent to 967 webinar registrants. The script went something like this:
“Hi, this is Andrew Spoeth from Marketo.
I’m calling to remind you of our March 23rd webinar titled… that you’ve already registered for. The speakers include… , and the event takes place this Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. Pacific. You will be receiving a reminder email with instructions on how to access the webinar.
Thank you. We look forward to seeing you at the event!”
The experiment wasn’t a true A/B test as the people we chose to call weren’t picked at random. But the results are encouraging, and well worth the investment (less than $2 a call).
Why calls matter
Our customers and prospects respond to different types of media, e.g. email, social networks, in-person events and video. Successful lead nurturing will incorporate several channels, including those that bring out the personal element. If you’re interested in learning more this topic, be sure to register for our upcoming Revenue Masters series webinar with Brian Carroll and Jon Miller, titled the Human Touch in Lead Nurturing.
A final note on webinar attendance
Not everyone will attend your webinar. And amongst those that don’t attend, some will be future customers. Sometimes it’s just a matter of personal preference, and that is why we’ve recently started giving prospects a ‘slides only’ option when registering. By choosing ‘slides only’, they are excusing themselves in advance for not being able to attend the webinar, while still showing interest in your content.