Software companies have a variety of promotional opportunities available to fill the sales pipeline and move prospects along through it. The particular techniques used and their individual priority depends upon a number of factors, including but not limited to market segment, product complexity, price points and length of the sale cycle.
One of my favorite techniques for companies with more complex products, higher price points and typically longer sales cycles is webinar marketing. This is a promotional technique that is mostly used in B2B marketing. Compared to a lower cost promotional method that might be optimal for a large consumer market or even a broader B2B market, webinar marketing appears to be very labor intensive and somewhat inefficient. So it’s not a great fit for large, low-priced markets. But in comparison to the high touch “one-to-one” selling that is commonplace in enterprise software markets, the “one-to-many” webinar can be seen as an efficient use of resources, while providing relatively high touch interactions with prospects early in the sales cycle.
Once you’ve decided to embark on a Webinar Marketing campaign there are two important components to consider: Attracting attendees and creating compelling, engaging content for the webinar that will move prospects to the next step in your sales funnel. Let’s take a look at each of these important activities:
Creating Webinar Content
- This is obviously key–attracting a lot of attendees but then presenting a weak webinar serves no purpose whatsoever. It’s important to take webinar content creation seriously–plan the best webinar you can since you will be touching many prospects at once.
- Segment your market and create individual webinars for distinct segments. The tighter the target audience, the more familiar and compelling the created content will feel to them.
- It’s usually best that the webinar is highly educational in nature, as opposed to a hard-core product pitch. Attendees will be most open to attending and actually sticking around (as well as paying attention!) for the entire webinar if you are teaching them something new. They will then be more open to a soft product pitch interspersed with the educational content or presented at the end–once you’ve established the presenters as thought leaders on the topic.
- Keep introductions to a minimum–get right to what the folks have come for as soon as possible. A short introduction to establish presenter qualifications along with a very brief bit about the company is fine, but keep any longer materials on the company’s business and product offerings for the end.
- Keep it short–these are all business people who have real jobs to get back to. I find an hour to be ideal, including at least 15 minutes for Q&A.
- Use available tools to qualify the audience. For example, you can create a poll asking the attendees if they are looking for to purchase a product in your category for the first time or are they replacing an existing application. Qualify the attendees upfront so you can slant your presentation in the appropriate direction.
- One of the major advantages with respect to webinar marketing for a software-based company is that it’s very easy to incorporate product demos into the presentation. Per the comments above, it’s important that the webinar isn’t simply a product demo. But with a software-based product you can easily weave the software’s capabilities into an educational presentation using demos as part of “show and tell”. Or a short demo can be given near the end to demonstrates how the product solves some of the issues that have been discussed in the presentation.
Attracting Webinar Attendees
- It’s important to know that statistically only 40-60% of those that signup will actually attend the webinar! So you need to attract many more than you believe is the minimum attendance required to make it worth your while. Modern webinar software will provide multiple prompts to those signing up to minimize this issue, but in any event don’t dispair. You can still MARKET to those that don’t show up via sending them a recorded version of the webinar, sending them an email special offer, etc. – making those signups very valuable in their own right.
- Use any and all methods available to you to alert target attendees of the upcoming webinar
- Send an email to your existing house list including prospects, partners, resellers, etc.
- Consider teaming an organization (media, analysts, etc.) with a large list of target prospects
- Consider teaming with a co-presenter with a complementary/non-competitive product or service to drive higher attendance.
- Use PPC advertising with the webinar signup as the call to action.
- Post the webinar announcement on target social media sites such as specific Linkedin Groups, Twitter and Facebook as well as target market-specific online discussion forums and community boards.
- Use a cost effective “PR” service such as webwire to put out a low cost, SEO-optimized announcement of the webinar.
- Make sure that there is a prominent webinar link on your home page as well as detailed information on the webinar’s focus on a webinar-specific page.
That’s a quick primer on some key steps to consider in creating successful webinar marketing campaigns. Leave a comment below with your own thoughts and experiences on the benefits of this marketing method.