July 06, 2022
By Mason W. Stevenson, Senior Content Specialist
Just a few years ago, webinars were not the preferred choice of most businesses. In-person, face-to-face events were considered one of the most successful ways to build connections and generate leads. In 2019, On24 reported professionals dedicated about 43,000 working hours a day to webinars.1
That changed once the COVID-19 pandemic became realized. By April 2020, that number increased to 168,615 hours per day, a 295% increase.1
Now, webinars, also called digital events, are a massive piece of the overall lead generation strategy, especially considering the continued presence of the coronavirus and its impact on businesses. Technology watchers estimate by 2023 the global webinar market will reach $800 million, up $253 million from 2015.2
The benefits of switching from in-person to digital events are many, for both attendees and organizers.
For attendees, digital events are easier to access and commit to. Attendance at trade shows, summits, and other in-person events is often limited by venue capacity and cost. Additionally, host organizations often only invite potential attendees who meet a certain threshold, such as revenue, number of employees, etc., to stay within their budget.
Digital events create almost unlimited access for professionals around the globe. Even better, without the burden and expense of travel, potential leads are more willing to register for the event and attend. With a digital event, registrants can attend while in the office or at home. Lower costs and a less intense commitment make digital events more appealing to attendees.
Digital events also cost less for businesses hosting them. The cost is limited to the ideation and creation of the digital resources for the event and the cost of software used to host the event. After the event, digital white papers, reports, or infographics can be shared with a simple link with a call-to-action form.
Finally, digital events, unlike live events, have a life that extends well past the presentation itself. Digital events can live on in an on-demand format, which marketers can share and market strategically to drive post-event views and lead generation. On-demand audiences can sometimes even be larger than those who attended a live digital event.
It can also allow those attendees who did attend to review an informative session multiple times and even share it with colleagues, making that information readily available to high-value leads who registered for the event.
When choosing digital events topics, choose a topic that speaks to your target audience and addresses a challenge or pain point attendees are dealing with. With that guideline in mind, you can use several different strategies to ideate topics.
Your products and services is a logical place to start. You can frame your offering as a solution to challenges your potential buyers and high-value leads experience. You can also look at what’s happening in the industry your buyers are a part of. Researching market forces can help you uncover digital event topics that appeal to and attract high-value leads. Topics focused on a problem with a solution increase the likelihood that the digital event will attract and engage high-value leads.
Webinar attendees are also a potential source of topics. You can automate an email that goes out to attendees after they register asking if they have questions or topics they’d like to learn about. Their answers can inform future events or even the content of the event they’re attending. A post-event email with a strong call-to-action can do the same.
Sales team members are another source of topics and ideas. Generally speaking, the sales team is in contact with potential customers regularly and understand their challenges and questions. Aligning an event with those challenges will help you attract high-value, high-intent leads.
Many B2B organizations have have a healthy base of contacts generated through content downloads or email lists. Start with these contacts to form the first line of promotion. Email is the top promotional channel for webinars.3 Furthermore, up to 57% of registrations come for email, and the conversion rate is 27% higher.4
Promotional emails will almost always generate registrants for the new digital event, and oftentimes the first leads to receive the email will forward it to others within their organization or industry.
You can also generate attendees through social media marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Again, these lean heavily on a well-established audience. Introducing topics to people who are already aware of your brand and have a positive impression will make them more likely to register for the event.
Marketing your event — and generating leads — should continue even after it ends. As we mentioned earlier, you should make your your recorded webinars available for on-demand consumption. The process should happen relatively quickly following the end of the event. You can use some pre-event marketing momentum to drive views and registrations and encourage those who couldn’t attend to watch the webinar.
Create some post-event content reviewing the event and enticing readers to watch it. Consider an infographic highlighting the top 10 quotes from the event or a Q&A review with questions asked by audience members and answers from the presenter(s).
You should also continue nurturing attendees through nurture emails. The goal here is to nurture these leads so that they can be connected with a sales team member and converted from a high-value lead to a paying customer.
Tracking attendee engagement leading up to the event and their engagement with post-event marketing will help you understand where they are in the funnel. For example, a lead who registered for the event, attended, asked questions, and engaged with digital resources available after the event can be considered a high-intent lead.
It’s also important not to forget those registrants who didn’t attend. Those are still high-value leads who need some nurturing. A post-even email with a link to the recording of the event is and the digital resources available during the live event is a great place to start nurturing these leads. This helps you continue the line of communication established and creates an opportunity to provide information at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Some marketers measure the success of a digital event based on the number of registrants or the percentage of registrants who attended. And while those numbers can be significant, neither paints a complete picture of whether your digital even was successful.
First, remember that many B2B companies have buyers in multiple time zones. A 10 AM event in one country could be happening at 2 AM in another, so low attendance could mean that part of your target audience will engage with the on-demand version of the event. Additionally, you have to consider the size of the industry. If the topic is only relevant to an industry of 200 engineers, there won’t be 1,000 registrants.
If that data isn’t as important as originally thought, what data can be used to measure success?
The length of time people watch the event is an important metric. If a person leaves three minutes after an event starts, the content may not be relevant, but if they stays for the entire event, that means they’re interested in the topic. The same can be said for questions asked as part of the Q&A portion. Were attendees highly engaged, or was it difficult to get questions from the audience?
Also, consider asking for questions in pre-event communication, like emails or the signup page. When a person registers, allow them to enter a question for the presenters and look at how engage potential attendees are. Consider:
Whether the event is a single webinar dedicated to one challenge or a series of webinars highlighting solutions, digital events are an excellent option for B2B companies to engage and convert high-value leads.
1On24, On24 Webinar Benchmarks Report: COVID-19 Special Edition, 2020
2 MarketWatch, Webinar and Webcast Market Analysis 2020-2023, December 30, 2020
3 GoToWebinar, The Big Book of Webinar Stats, 2020
4 BrightTalk, Building Basic Email Nuturing Skills, 2019
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