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How to run a successful webinar


There are many sources of qualified sales leads and in recent years webinars have become one of the more popular ones. Why is this, and are they a good idea? How can you help make sure your webinar eventually results in sales pipeline success?

When it comes to marketing, it could be argued that webinars are a curate’s egg. They can deliver results, but as often as not they don’t. At eCS, we frequently hear webinars described as an apparently great idea about which everyone was optimistic, but that the end outcome didn’t live up to expectations. Therefore, for enterprise marketers the challenge often lies not primarily in executing the event itself, but in assuring its success. Success, we think, is best measured in terms of the number of qualified leads that emerge from it.

Talking about webinars is timely

Webinars are a subject worth discussing not least because over the past three years, they’ve become increasingly popular. Not surprisingly, the pandemic boosted the medium as has the rise in home working COVID also spurred. Where there were barriers to people getting together face-to-face, webinars between 2020 and 2022 became a logical alternative to cancelled trade shows and other meetings. Since then, while traditional in-person forums have returned, the “new normal” has nevertheless remained more accommodating to online meeting alternatives.

Webinar specialist companies will, of course, tell you that webinars are great and an extremely effective means of communicating with your desired audience to drum up interest in your product. If you want the full sales pitch, a quick Google will list the benefits! The purpose of this blog isn’t really to do that or argue whether that’s really the case or not. What we’d say on that score is simply that webinars are an established source of sales leads and, as such, it’s worth finding out whether they’re an effective one (or not) for your company. The answer might be “yes” or “no” but either way, if you haven’t tried delivering a webinar already you need to find out.

What makes a webinar work?

Holding a webinar is simple enough. In very basic terms, you choose a topic, target an audience, and “sell tickets” which is to say persuade your targets to attend. Obviously, the choice of topic is important (the more it’s timely and resonates with the intended audience the better) as is the choice of webinar presenters (if you have a client willing to engage and to deliver a case study, so much the better). There’s also the question of partners. Many organisations choose to host their webinars in tandem with a media or analyst firm, for a fee and partly in exchange for the ability to promote the webinar to their subscriber list.

This step broadens the prospect pool you can promote to and gives an imprimatur of independent expertise (particularly if the partner provides a speaker – for example an industry analyst), but it doesn’t always result in any improvement in outcome. In fact, in our anecdotal experience such arrangements come at a comparatively high cost and are more like to disappoint than pay off.

Telemarketing is key

The real key to webinar success is telemarketing. A webinar in itself, advertised and backed by a couple of mailshots to a large prospect list is unlikely to deliver the desired returns, yet this is how many events are marketed. To get results, investment in a direct, one-on-one calling campaign to explain the benefits of attending to a small, highly targeted list of, say, 25-50 key prospects will almost always make the difference between success and failure for the event.

The numbers are striking and explain why. A mailshot to 10,000 high-level prospects might reasonably be expected to get a half a percent return registering to attend (that’s 50 prospects promising to show up to your event). Of these only half are likely to appear on the day. But in contrast and in our experience, a one-on-one calling campaign to just 50 carefully chosen top prospects will result in around 60% signing up to attend (30 people), of whom the vast majority will really be there on the day as a result of the direct interaction you’ve had with them leading up to the event. Furthermore, these telemarketing-acquired attendees have been pre-qualified; they’re not random respondents to a mailshot; they’re coming because they know what they’re going to learn, and they’re interested in the subject matter.

Summary: Webinars + Telemarketing = Success

The reality is that if you’re going to make webinars a part of your marketing strategy, you need to be prepared to invest time and budget in ensuring their success. That means backing up your event with a telemarketing campaign. Webinars have the potential to make a contribution to sales success, but without telemarketing, they’re likely to disappoint. If you’d like to learn more on this subject, please get in touch. At eContact Services, we’ve been successfully building qualified webinar audiences for two decades.

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