Webinars are the perfect tools for direct marketing. They let you talk directly to the customer, getting feedback as you go, and delivering valuable, targeted content to them. For B-to-B marketers they’re ideal: B-to-B buyers are more content hungry than their B-to-C counterparts, partly because their purchase value tends to be higher and they prefer interactive content to make sure they’re getting value for money.
Webinar usage isn’t relatively low because webinars don’t work: only 13 percent of companies polled said they didn’t use webinars because they couldn’t attract enough registrants. Instead, the main reason was either lack of funds and time for production, or experience using webinars for internal training and communication purposes rather than marketing. In other words, in well over three quarters of cases, the main reason marketing webinars aren’t working is because they aren’t being used.
Let’s look at three ways webinars can be used to speak to B-to-B customers.
Webinars are ideal for use in the “awareness” stage of the buyer funnel, when potential customers are looking for a clearer understanding of their problem and a general idea of where it fits into the bigger picture of their business and their space. In fact, they’re usually prescribed for this stage only, and they’re a big success: between 20 and 40 percent of qualified B-to-B leads come from webinars.
Discovery webinars are about leading the prospect on a journey of discovery of their problems and pain points. The rules of social media marketing apply here: don’t talk about yourself and above all — don’t try to sell anything.
Webinar production is resource intensive. It’s not like writing a blog post or even a white paper. So it has to be carefully targeted. You can’t use something as valuable as a webinar in a scattergun way. For B-to-B customers, the best choice might be to identify and contact your desired audience through LinkedIn, possibly using the network’s Direct Sponsored Content feature. Email lists and CRM data are another great source of targeting information and these should be consulted before the webinar is produced.
Like any form of content webinars work best when they’re built into a carefully planned flow. Integrate your webinar into your marketing automation. Webinar leads should go into your CRM and email autoresponder automatically. Assign them email workflows and allow them to self-fork as you would any other marketing segment.
Remember, your Discovery webinar is content marketing, not just content creation. What is a conversion? What do you want from the customer who comes to your webinar? Decide in advance whether you want them to move down the funnel to another form of content, to download an e-book that complements the webinar, or maybe to give access to a library of whitepapers that expands on the webinar.
While the majority of B-to-B webinars focus on lead generation, lead nurturing is also an ideal role for this versatile content type. Yet, many marketers don’t include webinar viewers in their lead nurturing figures! That means in many cases they’re generating leads with webinars, with no clear plan for the next step. Webinars can be used to effectively nurture leads, including leads generated by other means.
At the Consideration stage of the funnel, potential buyers are thinking about the types of solutions available to their problem, whereas now they’ve defined it.
That’s where your Discussion webinar comes in. You’ll be talking about the solutions on the market, offering a guided tour of contrasting functionalities and differing feature sets. What you won’t be doing is selling your product, but at this stage it’s a good idea to mention it as one of several possibilities. Be careful that you don’t come across as biased. Customer case studies can be an effective way of building Consideration webinars, as can a multiple-speaker presentation.
Rohan Ayyar is the regional marketing manager for India at SEMrush. His blog, The Marketing Mashup, covers digital marketing from the perspective of B2B, B2C, lead generation, mobile marketing, SEO, social media, content marketing, database marketing including predictive analytics, and conversion rate optimization. In addition, he'll look at emerging marketing technology and how marketers can use it. Reach Ayyar at firstname.lastname@example.org.