Lead generation through webinars

Using Webinars as a lead generation tool

We’ve recently seen a surge in interest in using webinars as a source of lead generation so I thought I would jot a few lines down about how best to use them as a potential for lead generation. This isn’t mean to be exhaustive but a pointer to how it might work for you. Just give us a call if you’d like to know more.

What’s a Webinar?
Webinars are a relatively new phenomenon in terms of lead generation. It’s short for Web Based Seminar. In these times where cost is an issue, running webinars instead of seminars or other face to face events seems like a sensible thing to do. Because Webinars occur over the Internet, attendees don’t have to travel in order to participate in one. You can take part in a Webinar from your desk.

But it isn’t just a cost-saving measure. Webinars potentially have huge benefits in terms of integrated marketing and lead-generation.

Attending a webinar is like attending any seminar except that instead of meeting in a meeting room attendees meet in a virtual conference room on the web. Once they have logged in attendees can sit back and listen to a presentation on the phone or through the speakers on their PC while watching it on their screen. In many webinars, they can ask a question through a ‘live agent’ which is basically a type of instant messenger. Once the webinar is over, they can generally access information through an email from the host where they send you a link to slides and audio.

What are the advantages of running a Webinar?

From a marketing standpoint what are the advantages? Briefly the advantages and opportunities can be summarized as follows. You can:

  • Promote webinars on your website to drive traffic
  • Integrate webinars into any email or mailshot marketing campaigns
  • Promote and create links to other marketing activities white papers and other webinars
  • Create dialogue with prospects (and current or lapsed customers)
  • Deliver relevant and topical communication
  • Engage and build rapport with attendees
  • Create opportunities for refining sales messages
  • Generate opportunities for PR
  • Build a prospect email database
  • Generate hot and warm leads
  • Put your company on the map for the attendees who may not have heard of you.
  • Position your company as relevant and current.
  • Position you as a source of information.
  • Drive traffic to your website through links on other sites.
  • Communicate with multiple prospects at one time.
  • Generate snapshot research that can prove valuable.
  • Enable a cost-effective way to offer training.
  • Include hyperlinks to real-world examples, which are far more effective than static screen shots displayed as part of live PowerPoint presentations.
  • Add value for customers (e.g. through running training events or topical presentations) that create opportunities for upsell and cross sell.
  • Provide information after the webinars for people to come back to. If it isn’t too large (audio files can be hefty) you can put the info on your website or hosted elsewhere for people to access and / or download.

There are many more uses but the above gives a flavour of the many advantages

How long should a Webinar last?
Webinars generally last for 45-60 minutes. Clearly, the more relevant and interesting the longer they can last and the more engaging they become.

Who should run a Webinar?
Any organization or individual can run one. Traditionally, webinars were used as training events. Nowadays, they have become a fully-fledged marketing tool that integrates into other activities and provides lots of benefits.

How should we promote our Webinar?
The place to start, as with any marketing, is to define the audience.

  • Current clients
  • Lapsed clients
  • Prospects

Then identify how you’re going to invite them. A few options are shown below:

  • Email marketing – Do I have a list of emails or do I need to purchase a list?
  • Build a list via a link to the webinar registration on a website home page through links on other sites
  • Promote in literature, newsletters or white papers you send out online or by post
  • Telemarketing
  • Place a banner on a site that targets my audience (e.g. a trade association or other company that serves the same prospect audience).
  • Search engine optimization or pay per click.
  • Add the information to any blogs or social network sites

There are lots of ways to promote webinars. It’s important to think about all of the ways to make people aware of the date and time and where they go to gain information for their business.

And make sure your call to action is compelling. There is a world of difference between the following titles for a webinar. I know which one I’d attend.

  • Learn about the benefits of webinars for your business
  • The future of lead generation – How to build relationships with prospects through webinars.

Registration information
Registration should be quick. It should take the registrant no more than 60 seconds to register. You don’t want to make the registration process onerous; yet you also want to learn more about the attendee. Using three to five relevant questions strikes this balance.

Attendance
It’s difficult to estimate attendance levels. It very much depends on the content and relevance to the target market. So if I offered a webinar on the top 10 ways for small businesses to survive the credit crunch, I’m likely to gain more attendees than one which promotes itself as finance for small businesses.

Timing
You should aim to begin promoting the webinar 3-6 weeks before the live event, with ongoing communications to registrants once they have signed up to remind them and keep them engaged. You don’t want to start earlier than that because the message will get stale. You don’t want to start much later, because you want to give yourself adequate time to react and make changes mid-campaign.

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are best. People may be busy on Mondays and leaving early on Friday. A 2pm start is good. For an hour long webinar, content should be no longer than 30–45 minutes, depending on the number of speakers. Q&A should be another 10–15 minutes. The general rule of thumb is simply to keep it succinct and compelling.

Who should present?
A short presentation by the host, an industry speaker and / or a panel discussion is generally the most relevant.

This options depend on the subject matter, but more credible content is likely to create better results. Whether it’s a CEO of a FTSE 100 company giving the presentation, a respected industry analyst or the leading editor or expert in your field the credibility of the content of the Webinar is key to its success. Hence, think about who could add most value.

Ending the session and what’s next?
Managing the output is crucial. Build up to a strong conclusion. Ask for feedback (you can do this in a pop up) but also use the opportunity to ask if they’d like a demo or a meeting or a quotation. Take them off somewhere by offering them a link to something of interest or an offer.

Timing is everything. Communicate with people soon after the event by acknowledging their attendance or their inability to attend. To those who attend, send an e-mail to thank them for attending and to promote any additional events, give them more information and invite them to download the presentation or view an archive of the event.

For those who did not attend, send a different e-mail telling them you are sorry they couldn’t attend and encourage them to view the archive of the event. These immediate follow-ups can also be used to fulfill special offers or other promotions. Your sales team should follow up one-on-one with your hottest leads 24–48 hours after the event. Rank your leads and communicate with them via phone or e-mail.

For more information on how to run a webinar, contact us on 0845 658 8192 or

newbusiness@getsoundadvice.co.uk or visit http://www.getsoundadvice.com/ for more information on lead generation.

Jonathan Silverman
GSA Business Development Ltd

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