Webinars represent prime opportunities to generate more leads, nurture audience members, and deliver useful content, but they rarely reach their full potential. Unlike other traditional video marketing content, like product videos or testimonials, webinars are often treated as opportunistic, isolated events, separate from larger strategies.
Until recently, this was our approach to webinars at Wistia.
A few months back, we began experimenting with our webinar strategy and applying some of the tactics we use for other video marketing content to webinars. It didn't take long to recognize exciting opportunities for improvement.
The webinar challenge
This past spring, I ran a skunkworks project at Wistia. I wanted to jumpstart our webinar strategy and do at least one webinar per month with partner companies. Aside from the basic goal of teaching people about video marketing, I also set a goal of generating at least 1,000 leads from each webinar.
In 3 months, I did 5 webinars, each with a different strategic partner: Sprout Social, LeadPages, Uberflip, Telestream (the makers of ScreenFlow), and Celtx. These are the leads that resulted from each respective webinar:
These webinars collectively yielded about 8,000 leads—not bad in terms of ROI, considering the time I put into these wasn't that significant.
I know what you're thinking. How many of those leads actually converted? The following chart displays conversions to trial accounts as well as conversions to paying customers:
If you do the math on the conversion rates, you'll notice that they're not so hot. Since this was a skunkworks project, and I'm not a lead nurturing expert, these results were not all that surprising.
Still, the customers and long-term value that these webinars generated made this project worthwhile. Not to mention all of the new things I learned along the way!
Where to Optimize
Aside from creating a strong nurturing campaign, there are a number of other ways to optimize a webinar program.
Choosing the right webinar partners impacts the number and quality of the leads you'll get. It also impacts your brand identity and image, so choose wisely.
Topics and slides
Ideally, you want to choose a topic that's appealing to the audience you want to reach and aligned with your strategic goals. One of the webinars that didn't perform as well for us was about "Scripting a Video." We found that the webinars that were more targeted towards video marketing performed better for our business.
We didn't "own" the landing pages for any of these webinars. In the short term, this made our project easier, since there was one less piece for us to deal with. Unfortunately, it also meant that some of the landing pages weren't up to Wistia's standards, and we couldn't keep a close eye on lead collection.
Video on registration page
We used video on almost all of the webinar registration pages, and received great qualitative feedback from attendees. Adding these videos gave life to our webinars by making them feel more human and personable. We tied it all together by using the video thumbnail image as the CTA within most of the email invites.
For the sake of experimentation, we tried sending some invite emails with regular buttons instead of the thumbnail images, and we saw that on average, emails with video thumbnail images had higher click-through rates. There's a certain je ne sais quoi about that tempting play button over a friendly face. We're excited to properly A/B test these CTA options and report back!
Because we were merely co-hosts and guests on other companies' webinars, we didn't "own" the webinar recordings. Had we run and hosted the webinars ourselves, we could have leveraged the recordings as evergreen assets and used them to drive new leads. In fact, while conducting this project, I learned that webinar recordings—not the live events—tend to capture more leads.
Getting extra mileage out of webinars
Webinars should be a key part of our lead generation strategy. We're making strides in this direction and building it out as a core competency. Heck, we're a video marketing company, and webinars are videos!
I also learned that many companies think of webinars in the same way that we once did: you do it when the right opportunity presents itself. They're opportunistic, rather than a regular facet of your marketing strategy.
At Wistia, we try to work against a "one and done" approach to video. We argue that videos are like blog posts or other content. You don't write one and consider yourself finished. You point back to them, reference them in other content, and ensure they get the mileage they deserve.
Like other video content in your funnel, webinars should be part of your larger marketing strategy and integrated into marketing automation.
An expert's opinion
Mathew Sweezey, Principal of Marketing Insights at Salesforce, visited Wistia recently, and we talked all about optimizing webinars for lead generation. He also agreed to jump into the studio for a few minutes, so we could share his thoughts with a wider audience! What a champ.
Though they feel different at first blush, webinars and other standard marketing videos drive towards similar goals. At the end of the day, it's all about generating good content and distributing it efficiently. So, leverage those great webinars you're making, and let us know if you've discovered any useful best practices!