Sponsored Webinars for Marketing Clout
What do we mean by “sponsored webinars?”
This document describes Team Lightbulb’s assessment and experience with “sponsored webinars.”
A sponsored webinar is where the message is created and controlled by the sponsor and usually is about 60 minutes in length including time for questions and answers. We have found the most effective and efficient webinars (meaning those that produce the largest set of potential leads at the lowest possible cost) are those that are simple in approach. The webinars that we produce are usually simply including audio with a set of data images. We have also done webinars that included video (such as a thumbnail video insert of the presenter) but we have found little difference in the outcomes. Using or not using video is a matter of personal preference and, at least in our experience, does not result in greater impact than audio and data images alone.
We generally discourage webinars where the sponsor wants to produce a webinar that is longer than one hour.
The goal of webinars is to generate as many new potential leads as possible. If one agrees with this goal, then the goal of the webinar is to generate as many REGISTRANTS as possible. A webinar registrant is an end user that registers for the webinar. A webinar attendee is one who not only registered but attended.
The registration process is critical to the success of the webinar. Through the process of registering, the registrant is exchanging their information for the opportunity to attend the webinar. The registrant’s information is the currency that the registrant uses to gain access to the “free” information contained in the webinar. At a minimum, in the webinar registration process the intent is to collect a name, job title, company name, email address and possibly phone number. The email address is critical because it is the method that the registrant uses to access the live webinar or the archived webinar after the live event. If the registrant does not provide a legitimate email address, they will not be permitted to access the live or recorded webinar. With the email address provided by the registrant, they will receive confirmation that they are registered and they will use this same email address to get access to the live webinar.
It is important to note that the potential registrants are opting in to get access to the free information. They are self-selecting themselves to potentially be in the audience. However, by providing their email address then we do not care as much about whether they attend the webinar or not because the sponsor has now captured the email address to follow-up with the webinar registrant. Registration is the key!
- Not everyone within the sales target will be able or willing to attend a trade show where sales are often made. Their company cannot afford to send them or they cannot be away from their job for an extended period to attend a trade show.
- Since webinars are free they are more democratic in the sense that it is not just the sales and marketing or company executives who can attend the webinar, but the webinar can reach those deep within a company that never may see a demonstration or company sales person.
- The webinar can be accessed in most cases on company time as well as on personal time.
- In live webinars, there is the opportunity to ask questions and get direct answers from company personnel.
- The webinar can be reviewed after the fact in the archived or recorded mode.
- There are no fees associated with accessing the content. All the end user needs are a broadband connection and a computer.
- The end user can gain access to the data images used in the webinar and the sponsor can also distribute “white papers” or brochures and the sponsor/presenter can drive the end user to the sponsoring company’s web site.
- The webinar sponsor has no travel involved. The only cost beyond the sponsorship fee is the time devoted to preparing the data images and the time of the presenter(s). Most potential webinar sponsoring companies already have slide decks in their possession that only need some tweaking to make them useful for a wider audience.
- Webinars make it possible to deliver the same, controlled message to a very wide audience at the same time. This is not possible in almost any other context. In this sense, it is like a broadcast, but with the additional benefit of having reactions from the audience and collecting data about that audience at the same time.
- In the end, the sponsor receives a list of those who registered and a list of those who attended and the sponsor can see how many people were on the live webinar, how attentive they were to the webinar content, how long they were on the live webinar and a list of the questions that were asked.
- In terms of reaping the most benefits from a webinar, the most effective have been where the sponsor conducts a systematic follow-up with the webinar registrants/attendees after the live webinar.
- The webinar lives on after the live event. Usually these live webinars are maintained for access for up to three months after the live webinar. But, theoretically the sponsor can capture the live webinar and place it on their web site for continued use.
Should we use incentives to get people to register?
Another potential incentive is a discount code (for the sponsor’s product/service) for those who attend the live webinar. Again, these are useful for promoting attendance.
We have very limited experience with other financial incentives and it is not clear that these are effective at generating registrations.
What should be done before the webinar?
The sponsor should think about what they want the audience to learn from their sponsored webinar. What two or three items do you want the audience to learn from the webinar content? Also, is there some way to motivate the audience to learn more or contact the sponsoring company?
Identify who within the company is the best presenter or presenters. We typically discourage having too many presenters. Two is nearly an ideal and three is near the maximum number of presenters. One very effective technique is to have one of the presenters be a customer of the company and the customer describes how they use the product/service. Customers are extremely helpful. Nearly every webinar attendee is interested in hearing how the product or service has been used by someone like themselves. Promoting the name and company of the customer before the webinar is also a great way to increase registration and draw attention to your webinar.
Put together the data images. Many sponsoring companies obsess over the number of slide images and usually err on the side of having too many slide images. For a 50-minute webinar, the recommended number of slides is not to exceed something in the low 20’s. If you have 30 slides for a 50-minute webinar, you probably have too many.
Recall that the webinar attendees will want access to your slide images. We can distribute the slide images in two ways: (a) send them the slide images before the event which we do not recommend, or (b) have the slide images available for download during the live webinar which we do recommend. A third option is to send the slide images after the live event but we have had mixed results with this option. Attendees are quite insistent that they have access to the slide images during the live webinar.
On at least one slide the sponsor should insure that they have included the full contact information for the company and the presenter(s). This is important information because in the recorded version the viewer may have questions and they will want an address to where they can send their question.
Be aware that you may be using jargon or terms unfamiliar to your audience. Take the time to describe terms and jargon. Keep the webinar as simple as you can in terms of the language being used.
The sponsoring company may wish to identify some questions that they want to have asked. This can be done by thinking about these questions prior to the webinar and the moderator can then ask these pre-planned questions.
Attendees do not always ask questions until they see others asking questions, so having the moderator ask initial questions will serve to prime the audience for asking additional questions.
Typically, Team Lightbulb gives the sponsor one or two of the registration lists before the live webinar (one list from about one week out from the live webinar and the second a day before the live webinar). The sponsor should review this list to see the kinds of people (from the title) and the companies that are likely to be represented in the live webinar.
Now, what do webinars really cost?
Back to the cost per lead. If you have 600 registrants and the sponsor pays $10k for the webinar sponsorship, then the cost per potential lead is about $17. If we discount 20% of the 600 as not qualifying as a lead, then the cost is less than $21 per lead. he point is that the cost per lead is extremely low and extremely low by comparison with other vehicles.
For example, the cost per lead for trade shows ranges from a low of about $94 to a high of over $250. Now, granted, the leads are different in terms of how qualified the lead might be, but in terms of comparing to any other vehicle, a webinar is down there with direct mail or lower.
In short, webinars are just great ways to engage with a community of potential leads and to even stroke some current customers in the process.
How do we acquire webinar registrants?
The message of the promotional email is simple and direct and needs to be relatively short. The magic is in some combination of the webinar title, the short description describing what the potential registrant will learn if they watch the live webinar and the subject line of the promotional email. Another key here is that it should be clear that the email recipient should feel free to forward the email to other professional colleagues that the email recipient believes might find this webinar to be of interest.
The email recipient needs only to click on a link contained within the email message to access the webinar registration page and begin to enter their information. Do not force the potential registrant to click more than once.
The key in drafting the promotional email message is that the webinar cannot sound as if it will be a pure product pitch. Product pitches do not work for most webinars. The goal in the promotional message is to describe what the potential attendee will learn or how the sponsoring company solves a unique problem facing an industry or an industry segment. Descriptions of new technologies or new approaches to old problems also usually produce large numbers of registrants.
How far in advance of the live webinar should the promotion begin?
If after the first blast at three weeks out there are several registrants, you will feel more comfortable that you have identified a hot topic or your marketing message is working.
How many can I expect to have on my sponsored webinar?
Not all registrants will attend the live webinar. Our experience is that about 50% to 60% of the registrants will attend the live webinar. And usually there is at least an additional 10% of the total registrants that will watch the webinar in the archived/recorded mode. About 5%-10% of the live webinar attendees will watch the archived webinar again.
What to do after the webinar?
To get the most from the sponsorship, the sponsor needs to carefully review these lists.
Does the sponsor wish to follow-up with all registrants or only the attendees? Should some people be deleted from the list (such as competitors or others)? How will you follow-up (email or phone or direct mail)?
The follow-up process should be thought about before you do the live webinar. Again, some of the most effective webinars (effective in terms of generating new business) have been those where the sponsor had a specific plan for follow-up.