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#MPForum: Speaker Lisa Horner Shares 4 Main Tips for Wrangling With Webinars

by Jesse Noyes  |  
February 3, 2011

This morning, I sat in on Lisa Horner’s presentation “Using Webinars to Generate Spicy New Business” at the Digital Marketing Forum. Nothing against Lisa, but I was expecting a rather dull discussion given that webinars are not exactly my passion in life.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Lisa’s talk might ostensibly about webinars, but in reality, she connected webinars to content marketing, lead nurturing, and social media. For Lisa, director of Campaigns for Citrix, webinars don’t live in a box. They are intimately related to sales opportunities, and they should live or die based on the revenue they bring in. (Full disclosure: Citrix is an Eloqua client.)

Here are the 4 key elements I took away from her presentation.

1. Webinars are a part of your storytelling.
Lisa spoke at length about creating personas to tell stories in your marketing campaigns. For instance, Citrix created its own persona for a campaign called “The Entrepreneur.” The concept behind the campaign was to educate companies on how to think like an entrepreneur regardless of their age or size.

For the webinar, Citrix recruited Lane Becker, co-founder of Adaptive Path and a well-known entrepreneur. It was a hit. Attendees asked hundreds of questions of Lane. But rather than shut down the conversation with Lane afterward, Lisa and her team did a video with Lane responding to many of those unanswered questions, then posted it to YouTube, effectively extending the campaign's shelf-life.

The webinar was tied directly into the larger entrepreneurial persona Citrix developed, not housed on its own. As Lisa put it: “The value of your storytelling will drive the rate of conversions in your funnel or tunnel.”

2. When you think webinars, think SEO.
“If you are not thinking about SEO while you are building your content strategy, you are missing a key element,” said Lisa. To get optimal value out of your webinars (and to drive attendance), you need to use every form of promotion at your disposal. Lisa provided this simple equation that anyone who finished grade school can follow: YouTube + SlideShare + Twitter + Facebook + email + website + blog = SEO. In other words, if you want to maximize not only promotion of your webinar, but your general SEO strategy as well, then you need to be hitting all social and marketing forums.

Lisa also suggested hosting as much content as possible, including your webinar, on your website. This will guide traffic, as well as inbound links, to your most valuable piece of online real estate.

3. Webinars are part of a happy marriage with buyers.
Lisa spent a considerable amount of time emphasizing the value of webinars to lead nurturing, and measuring the impact of them on them on revenue performance. The metaphor she used was that of a happy marriage. You not only want to win the heart of your prospect, you want to ensure a happy marriage, too. Providing a steady stream of educational content, such as webinars, shows that you care about the continued success of your clients. “Content is about giving your customers a leg up.” Loyalty is just as important, if not more important, than passion.

Another argument she made was keeping regular measurement of the impact of your campaigns, not just on the quality of your storytelling but on the quality of business you are drumming up. “A lot of marketers believe they are in the lead-generation business, when in reality, they are in revenue generation business,” Lisa said. That means keeping track of how your webinars' drive conversions.

But don’t be overly simplistic. “Your cheap demand may never convert,” Lisa said. You can drive down the cost of demand, but if that demand doesn’t lead to closed business, what’s its value? Instead, don’t be afraid to invest more in demand if it leads to actionable opportunities, because at the end of the day, this could drive down the cost of your overall pipeline.

4. Use data to liven up your webinars.
As Lisa says: Find a way to “get Lawrence Welk swinging.” You can use the questions being asked during your webinar to adjust the tone and strategy of the event in real time. Adapting your performance as you move through it will spark excitement among your attendees---who will then spread that excitement to their communities.

Additionally, don’t limit yourself to just the basic info like the number of registrants and attendees. Do you track how many of your attendees jumped off the call after 5 minutes? How about after 10 minutes? That data is gold because you can use it to see where you lost attendees attention and adjust your strategy the next time around.

A few questions from the session:

How long should a webinar be?

A good average is 30 minutes for sales and 45 minutes for marketing. If people are thrilled by the conversation, extend the Q&A. But increasingly people are pressed for time. Experiment with creating more snackable content.

Have you found a sweet spot in terms of a frequency standpoint?

You can easily saturate your audience with too many webinars. Citrix's motto, according to Lisa, is to do fewer, but grander, events. “If we get 45% attendance and then do another and get 35% attendance rate, there’s no reason to do  another one so soon."

In terms of promoting your webinar, how many times should you touch your audience?

Probably no less than five times. It’s good idea to start promoting it at least one to two weeks ahead of time. Day-of promotion can be really effective as well. People might have added it to their Outlook calendar but forgotten about it. A reminder on the day of the event can help remind them.

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Jesse Noyes is Corporate Reporter for Eloqua. A former reporter for the Boston Herald and Boston Business Journal, he now writes about marketing and technology for the It's All About Revenue blog. If you have a good story to tell, hit him up.

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