Building a Webinar Programme Strategy
A sustainable process is key
Webinars are generally considered a marketing tactic – which is exactly what they are. But we often see organisations implement webinar tools without first (or ever) developing a dedicated strategy for their webinar programme. Similarly, we see organisations add webinars to their overall marketing / leadgen strategy without adjusting the overall strategy accordingly on a macro level. The result? Webinars under-perform and operate in silos, independently from the strategy they are supposed to be a part of. The ultimate outcome is under-utilisation of the webinar tool’s capabilities and a poor return on investment in webinars. In this post we look at the core aspects of how to build a solid webinar programme strategy.
Understanding Webinar Capabilities
Any new tool or technology requires an internal owner or team that fully understands and owns the toolset. Based on their in-depth understanding of the capabilities, these internal specialists are responsible for advising the business on how best to use the technology for maximum gain. The primary differentiator between high-performing teams and low-performing teams is the level of granularity with which the team understands the available capabilities and their impact on the overall strategy.
Over the past decade, webinars have become increasingly user friendly and no longer require input from IT. Business users (usually Marketing) set up and run webinars for the organisation. During the same decade, the capabilities provided by webinar technology have increased – both on the front and back-end. However, the increase in user-friendliness has also resulted in the perception that adoption is simple, quick and easy. While there is some truth to that, high-performing webinar programmes go beyond a “simple and quick” adoption and spend significantly more time and resources on understanding the technology’s granular capabilities. This level of understanding enables organisations to define more accurate, realistic and relevant goals for their output from webinars.
Having gained a full understanding of your webinar technology, it becomes much easier to set accurate, appropriate and achievable goals. Without a good understanding of the capabilities, you may have defined goals that are too low, to high, or simply inaccurate. You may have focused on the number of registrations instead of number of attendees, you may have aimed for a good live performance, but ignored the much longer on-demand phase. You may have ignored in-webinar interactivity data, and instead focused on your email conversion rates.
Equally, you may have not focused on how webinars can be used throughout the sales funnel by adjusting their format and content. As a result, your goals may have been defined around Top Of Funnel activity, but not contributed to Mid or Bottom Of Funnel performance – i.e. the actual conversion to pipeline or revenue. If that had happened, it would become quite hard to show any return on your webinar investment, or indeed justify the budget.
Aligning capabilities and goals
With full visibility of the webinar capabilities and goals, it is now time to ensure they are aligned for maximum impact. This alignment should include, but also look beyond, the direct matching of capabilities and goals (e.g. measuring the attainment against attendance vs registrations, or unique vs repeat attendance). Going beyond these direct matches, marketers should allow for more metrics that require integration between multiple systems, such as webinar platform, marketing automation (MA) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools. Simultaneously, marketers should resist the temptation to set vanity goals that have no direct impact on ROI.
For example, while you may have set a goal for registrations and attendance, based on your new webinar capabilities, it’s important not to focus on this conversion rate at the cost of measuring what impact the number of attendees had on pipeline. The latter provides much more value than the former. With a full integration in place between webinar data and CRM systems, it is now a case of defining the relevant metrics, and the process with which to measure them.
Understanding where webinars fit into the wider strategy
Having understood and aligned the capabilities and goals, marketers need to develop an understanding of where webinars fit into the wider marketing and commercial strategy. The best webinar platforms are capable of supporting all stages of a marketing and lead generation strategy. It is up to the marketing team to create webinar formats that will support the Top, Middle and Bottom of the Funnel, while also implementing best practices that foster audience interaction. The latter produces the behavioural data, which allows marketers to gain valuable insight beyond the registration form data.
In this evolving process, webinars may start as tool to gather new leads through thought leadership content, but later develop into a way of providing specific technical insight for more mature leads during their evaluation and decision-making stages. Webinars may evolve from a communications tool for a wide range of target audiences, to one that is used to target only the highest value prospective accounts, as part of a dedicated Account-based Marketing (ABM) strategy.
The webinar programme strategy needs to find its natural fit within the overall marketing and commercial strategy. As such, it may take over from other assets or tactics where webinars are better suited to fulfil a certain aspect of the strategy. Equally, it may fill a void that previously couldn’t be filled by other assets or tactics. It is the responsibility of the implementation team to identify these gaps and opportunities.
How webinars are used, and where they fit into the wider strategy, can change. But it is the marketing team with the highest level of appreciation for the available capabilities that will see the most impact from the adoption of webinars.
Sustainable adoption of webinars
Any webinar programme strategy needs to be sustainable, if it is to have a true and positive long-term effect on the organisation. This requires organisations to follow the steps above, as well as starting with an initially more basic webinar implementation. Over a number of iterations, organisations can then build a more sophisticated webinar programme and strategy.
It is not sustainable to attempt to build a highly sophisticated webinar programme from scratch, without first having gone through more basic iterations. This approach is unlikely to gain the immediate support from internal stakeholders needed to make it a success. Equally, it is unlikely that the team implementing the webinar programme has full visibility of the various aspects and criteria that make the programme a success in their unique business environment. This insight only comes from running webinars and then building on that experience and insight. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to rolling out a successful, highly advanced, high-volume-output webinar programme, without first having done some investigative testing and due diligence.
Building a webinar programme strategy is one of the first and most important implementation steps for organisations adopting webinars. It should not be standalone or siloed, but instead consider all aspects of the wider marketing strategy. Understanding where webinars fit into the wider strategy, based on the technology’s capabilities, is key to a successful webinar programme strategy. Implementation should be based on a solid and sustainable process. The steps outlined in this post will help guide marketers on their way. For more detailed guidance, get in touch with WebinarExperts.
WebinarExperts supports organisations across a range of webinar topics, including webinar programme strategy, webinar programme design, and tactical webinar execution. To find out more, contact us or call today on +44 (0)330 001 5327.