• When planning webinars, determine their relevance to the buyer by aligning each to a stage within the buyer’s journey
  • Considering and agreeing on the context of a webinar helps drive content selection and determine the required skills of the presenters
  • Current webinar technology helps support improved audience experience – use in-solution tools to drive appropriate viewer engagement

SiriusDecisions benchmarks show that marketing functions are spending between 6 percent and 9 percent of their demand creation budgets on webinars and online events. Given the relatively inexpensive nature of this tactic, this level of investment equals a considerable number of events being offered. There is a good number of vendors that offer webinar and conferencing software to ensure a positive experience for attendees and reduce anxiety for presenters.

Making Webinars RelevantBut even with suppliers taking care of the technological ability to deliver webinars, it’s up to us marketers to ensure we use this delivery mechanism to its greatest advantage by maintaining content relevance and offering a great audience experience.

Align Your Webinar to the Buyer’s Journey

Organizations can best ensure webinar relevance and value by helping buyers move along their journey. We recommend aligning webinar content to match each stage of that journey:

Education phase. In this phase, buyers recognize the problem and the need for change and have committed to do something about it. Thus, webinars aimed at buyers in this stage should be change-focused and educational in tone. Presenters should be thought leaders who focus their content on articulating the problem to be solved, the need for change and the consequences to the listener if he or she does nothing. It is likely that the majority of the time will be devoted to the presenter’s agenda, and while questions may be asked (e.g. via chat panels), the audience interaction will be minimal. It is of vital importance that the speaker is chosen for his or her talent for delivery using this medium and has an ability to help frame prospective buyer’s needs and provide compelling reasons for change.

Solution phase. During this stage, buyers must articulate what their needs are, and then match those needs to a solution type so that specific vendor selection can begin. Webinar listeners are looking for the variety of products or services that may work for them. Thus, the tone should focus on problem solving, meaning that the webinar should be demonstrational in form, listing both issues and solutions. Outline the issues that buyers must consider when formulating their needs, provide an optimized process for uncovering these needs, and clearly link the solution type to a certain group of needs. Consider a series of webinars that cover the range of issues that need to be addressed, and use available technology to make the sessions more intimate than during the education phase. Choose presenters who are either customers who have solved the problem or subject matter experts who can match the needs and benefits.

Vendor selection phase. During the third and final phase, potentials buyers choose a preferred vendor and then finally make the decision to sign on the dotted line. Webinars must be highly personal and engaging, and give a sense of urgency to the decisionmaking process. The potential audience could range from a single person to a few. Given the late stage in the buying cycle, the audience may be well known to the presenter and, in some circumstances, the agenda may have been jointly agreed-upon prior to the webinar. Before the event, ask for any key questions that need to be answered during the session. Use the webinar to attack common objections and unfavorable comparisons to any remaining competition. Presenters must realize that sales, sales support (engineers) or even champions within an opportunity may be involved, so training or supporting materials may be required.

As with any other tactics, success with webinars and online events is largely determined by whether or not an organization can provide the right message to the right audience at the right point in the buying process. This requires creating, delivering and refining a portfolio of webinars and coordinating resources to successfully execute these events internally and externally.