June 8, 2021

Marketing Foundations: Webinars are worthy stand-ins for live events

By Diana Ishak

The Marketing Foundations blog series aims to equip partners with marketing best practices and introduce some of the Go-To-Market with Microsoft resources available through your Partner Network membership.

Early on in the pandemic, in-person events were suspended even as rapid transformation led to a spike in hunger for information. Since then, we’ve seen webinars fill the vacuum and quickly become powerful tools in partner marketer arsenals. Webinars are wonderfully positioned to help partners move the needle on specific outcomes. Here are a few ways we’ve seen partners benefit from webinars:

  • Meet lead generation and customer nurturing goals normally achieved through a mix of in-person events
  • Achieve far-reaching engagement, share high-value content, interact with customers to better understand their needs, and identify high-potential leads
  • Deepen partner-to-partner (P2P) relationships and tap a new cross-section of audiences through co-branded webinars

Need inspiration? Check out our marketing campaign assets to find industry and solution-specific resources to build your webinar around.

6 best practices for successful B2B webinars

As more of our life shifts online, competition for attention is fierce. It’s more important than ever to ensure that the content you create will add value for your customers or prospects. Our shortlist of best practices will help you design a webinar that grabs attention and delivers results.

1. Choose a captivating topic

Choosing an engaging topic for your webinar is the best thing you can do for lead generation. Where does your expertise address a pain point for customers or prospects? Consider your solution or service offer as you decide whether to keep the topic broad – to attract a wider audience – or focus on a niche topic that will ensure the most relevant folks attend. Test topic ideas against what you know of your customer personas – will the topic resonate with them? Remember, the purpose of a webinar is not to sell, but to establish trust and a reputation as an industry thought leader.

2. Set a goal for webinar attendance

What are your conversion rates through the customer buying process? What level of attendance do you need to yield meaningful lead numbers? Keep in mind, only 40-60% of registrants will attend, so measure progress accordingly.

3. Map content to audience buying stage

Which decision makers are you targeting and what stage of the buying journey are they in? Tailor the type and depth of your subject matter to the audience you’re targeting. If you’re casting a wide net to attract a broad audience of early-stage prospects, try hosting an ‘introduction to the cloud’ educational webinar. If your audience is later-stage prospects or established customers, try a more in-depth product or solution demo.

4. Choose the right time

Timing is everything. With most people shifting to remote work, personal schedules and the amount of time folks are willing to spend attending webinars has fluctuated. Webinars that begin at 11am, 1pm, and 2pm yield the highest registrations. The best day to host a webinar is Thursday, followed by Wednesday. Typically, a 30-60 minute webinar is considered the sweet spot in terms of length.

5. Identify clear CTAs

The purpose of your webinar is to share information and move people forward in the sales funnel. Make sure your audience’s next step is abundantly clear and aligned across all messaging.

6. Make it mobile-friendly

Capture the maximum number of attendees by ensuring your webinar is mobile-friendly. Almost a full third of webinar attendees tune in via their mobile devices.

Bonus: adapt to the current environment

Best practices are only as good as the context to which they apply. The six tips above are fairly evergreen, however many partners and customers are currently in flux. Various stressors impact customer behavior, including proclivity to attend webinars. Digital fatigue and fragmented schedules, for example, have created an appetite for more bite-sized, on-demand content. Keep a pulse on your own audience and work hard to meet them where they are.

Turn webinar attendees into leads

A successful webinar converts attendees to leads. The steps you take after the webinar are as important to lead generation as the event itself.

Once the live webinar is wrapped up, repackage the recording as an on-demand webinar to create an ongoing flow of leads for your business. Share a short trailer on social media and on your website.

Pull together your marketing and sales teams to review the recording and assess attendee engagement. What questions did attendees have? What topics did they want more information about? Identify new content ideas to include in your webinar follow-up campaign or in your regular editorial calendar.

Keep the communication channels open and nurture your leads by sending a prompt thank you note to attendees. Consider sending a gift – such as exclusive follow-up content – to those who finished the webinar. This little bonus rewards participation and gated content is useful for identifying high potential leads. Score leads based on their engagement before, during, and after the webinar, so that you can include them in your broader marketing campaigns.

Takeaway

Webinars are a powerful tool in a partner’s marketing toolbox. Consider your current marketing strategy and how adding or increasing the use of webinars could help you reach new prospects, build brand credibility, move customers through the sales funnel, and help existing customers improve their proficiency and experience with your product.

Next steps

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