From Woe to Whoa! How to Make Your Webinars Win Again

Old and stodgy? For all their real (and necessary) value in filling their pipeline, that’s how many sales reps and marketers might view the webinar platform. Some old-school marketing tactic that’s missed the latest waves of marketing innovation. But that assessment would be unfair.

The Webinar’s Back Story

A bit of history here: The webinar seminar’s roots go back to the 1960s when students at the University of Illinois quietly collaborated on a shared network of computers. Then, some thirty years later, once the World Wide Web became a staple of practically every culture around the world, webinar platforms rose to become the hottest ticket in marketing techniques. And they’ve been a mainstay ever since.

But just because the webinar channel is relatively old (in the tech world of things), it doesn’t make their value obsolete. If you refer to Wikipedia, you’ll see how there’s been some type of development in web conferencing technology pretty much every year since inception, from video-conferencing and application sharing to real-time polls and private text. It’s clear, this technology has adapted to our needs and is deeply ingrained in contemporary business communication. It’s a mainstay; integral to a successful integrated marketing strategy. So, why the bad rap?

Woe was yesterday’s webinar.

I think it has more to do with bad practices than the channel itself. Over the years, marketers have taken webinars for granted. We’ve plodded along—often more out of a sense of duty than inspiration—creating webinars for distribution to our entire house list, webinars that don’t get past the surface of a topic, webinars that promote self-serving interests more than education and information sharing. For all their perceived (or theoretical) value, many webinars of late have not been giving people what they want. With such a generalized strategy, it’s no wonder that many businesses burn through their leads because of webinar overload.

Whoa is the new webinar.

Fast forward to today; heck, let’s fast forward to just a few minutes ago. The global (COVID-19) pandemic has quite literally put an abrupt halt to all offline engagements and social gatherings with no end in sight. Marketing strategies and budgets swiftly shifted overnight.

As a manager of a digital engagement channel, I will admit, I had a moment of panic. My inbox filled up with (more) great webinar ideas and event updates from our partners and industry colleagues than I thought I could handle. Marketing campaigns somersaulted from live to virtual formats.

After I shook off my initial shock, I realized that, for whatever webinar woes I may have experienced in the past, we are now in a moment of whoa!

Given the uncertain long-term impact of the pandemic on the global community, as B2B marketers, we should double down on creating meaningful brand experiences through content that supports and empowers our online communities. Webinars are an opportunity to innovate with prioritization, personas, personalization, intention, and engagement—we call this P3.I.E. at Demandbase—all parts of an effective Account-Based Marketing strategy.

P.I.E. Explained (personalization, intent, and engagement)
Here are three recommendations on how to leverage P.I.E. to breathe new life into your webinar campaigns:
1. Leverage Personas.

I’ve taken just one of the Ps for this post (for brevity’s sake). Though, certainly, all three Ps are equally worthy. But before we can move forward with any webinar, we must ask this basic question: Do I know what my target accounts care about? By identifying the personas of our best customers, we can understand their pain points, their challenges, and their values. This will illuminate the type of content we’ll want to create for the accounts we want to target—content that they are interested in and they’re likely to engage in. Check out our Tips and Trips for Every Marketing Role to understand how we do it at Demandbase.

2. Lean in on intent.

As marketers, we find out how our target accounts are navigating the web for the types of services we provide. Understanding the intent signals and keyword searches of the buyer’s journey helps us map out a webinar strategy that responds to their needs through every step of conversion and better informs our follow up strategies. Bottom line: Teams that leverage intent data are engaging with their prospects with more precision and more engagement. Check out our webinar, where we break down how Intent Is the New Lead.

3. Engagement is Queen.

It’s no secret: To win over new B2B customers, we increasingly have to deliver content that engages on an individual level. To underestimate the power of personalization is to close the door on our target customers. In this great race to conquer the digital space, webinar content has to be more meaningful than that of our competitors. Want to make sure your content counts? Leverage Site Analytics and other data insights to curate and deliver powerful integrated ABM campaigns and webinar experiences.

A Bright Future on Our Screens

Now more than ever, audiences are receptive to personalized content. Webinars not only serve as an education and engagement tool, but they also build a sense of community. In this new normal, where the primary way we’re staying connected is through the digital space, webinars can take back the spotlight they so rightfully deserve.