Marketing tactics used successfully for other programs do not always work with webinar promotion. After $2M of promotional spend, 500 webinars and five years of analysis and testing of promotional options for webinars, I’d like to share what I’ve found that works and what doesn’t for driving webinar registrations.
At a recent conference at which I was speaking I had an opportunity to chat with a fellow marketer in attendance about her disappointment in the results of what she described as a ‘failed webinar program’ her team recently launched. After some investigation into the cause of her frustration, I was not surprised to uncover that the failing KPI was quantity of registrants.
The diagnosis? Failing promotion plan. Not failing webinar.
The mistake here was assuming the problem lay with using webinars as a tactic in general. Once we broke down the webinar program into its various pieces (promotion, registrations, attendance, in-webinar experience, post-webinar follow up), we were able to pin point the specific problem area.
Unfortunately, the fate of a new webinar program is often doomed from the start because a natural plan of attack for many marketers is to apply expertise and success in other areas to the promotion of webinars. This does not always translate. While SEM, social marketing, digital advertising, banner ads and other methods work great for driving website traffic or whitepaper views, they may not be the best drivers of registrations for a one-time event.
Would it surprise you to know that I have discovered that good old traditional email wins as the most effective promotional tactic for webinars?
When it comes to driving webinar registrations, the targeted and focused communication of an email invite to a webinar has worked the best. And I don’t mean newsletters – I mean a dedicated invitation to one webinar that is relevant to the recipient with a short and concise description of the value and the CTA.
Keys to email invite success for webinars:
- Relevance to target audience
Ensure that the webinar topic is of interest to the group receiving the invitation. This might mean a smaller more targeted list of recipients.
- List rentals vs partnerships/sponsorships
I found that renting a list and sending an invite to a list of people I do not have a relationship with did not work as well as if I partnered on the webinar with a group that already owned a relationship with my target audience or if they sent the email on my behalf (think of it like an introduction). I found the cost per registrant using partnerships to be 36% less than list rentals due to the better response rate.
- Building a database
As you build your database of contacts from various activities, such as whitepaper downloads, try to collect information about areas of interest – either via the content they’ve consumed or via registration questions. You can use this area of interest information to send relevant webinar invitations in the future for high response rates.
- Value focused
Focus your webinar invitation on the takeaways or value you will provide rather than speaker bio (unless the speaker is the big draw) or product/company information and features.
- Minimize focus on date/time
Leading with the date and time in the subject line or first sentence of your event description can cause a loss of interest prematurely due to availability. Keep in mind that providing a recording to non-attendees is always an option. Capture their interest in the content of your event and they may register regardless of availability to get the recording.
While I continue to include efforts such as social, banner ads, newsletters and SEM into my webinar promotion mix, they do not drive nearly the same response rate as dedicated email.
How many registrations are enough? The webinar content and the intended place in funnel will help you determine this. For instance, smaller registration numbers for a webinar at the bottom of the marketing funnel would be expected and healthy – in addition to allowing for more interactivity and personalized in-webinar attention for those prospects.