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Webinars: New Views To Creating Customer Experiences

Webinar tools have evolved – and marketers should evolve their use of them. Marketers should look at how webinars can be used as a tool for audience development across every stage of the buyer’s journey. By taking this approach and integrating webinars into more stages of the buyer’s journey, marketers have a much better reason to ask for an increasing amount of information during registration, and can begin to improve the quality of their marketing database.

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Webinars: New Views To Creating Customer Experiences

  1. 1. New Views To Creating Customer Experiences Mapping Webinars To The Entirety Of The Buyer’s Journey By Robert Rose Chief Strategy Officer, Content Marketing Institute
  2. 2. Citrix GoToWebinar is the easiest-to-use do-it-yourself event tool that projects your message to up to 1,000 online attendees. With GoToWebinar, you can reduce travel costs, generate more qualified leads at a lower cost and enhance communication with customers, prospects and employees. Host unlimited webinars for one low flat fee and give attendees the option to join from a Mac, PC or mobile device. GoToWebinar Premier Event is also available to provide custom-built solutions for thousands of attendees and available with video streaming. To learn more, visit www.gotowebinar.com ABOUT CITRIX
  3. 3. THE BUYER’S JOURNEY ISN’T PAVED WITH MEDIA TYPES One of the most common misconceptions we see at the Content Marketing Institute is this notion that the buyer’s journey is segmented by content type. It is still common to see customer buying journeys segmented where the “awareness” stage is populated by blogs and videos, and the “consideration” stage is all about webinars and white papers, the “purchase stage” is all about ROI Calculators, and the “loyalty” stage is all about the customer community. The truth is this: the platform of media has little or nothing to do with how much influence it has at any one stage. In a study conducted by Google, Ogilvy and TNS in June of 2014, researchers studied what they called “Generation C”, customers that are actually engaged in social media, sharing content and creating content around brands. In other words – they studied exactly the people that most marketers are trying to reach through content. They found that while consumers are “spoiled for choice” in content and media types, they are looking specifically for “media to match the purpose with which they lead their lives.”i From a B2B perspective, we believe this is meaningful because it aligns with our own research, as well as a study done in 2010 that found that 95% of INTRODUCTION
  4. 4. recent B2B purchases chose their provider because they “provided them with ample content to help them successfully navigate through each stage of the buying process.” But, further, the Google/Ogilvy study also found very little correlation between media type and influence. In other words, one of the most common mistakes a marketer can make is to silo a particular media type into one element of the buyer’s journey and assume that it has no other place. For content marketers to go from “good” to “great”, they must get out of the “medium first – message second” mentality and instead start thinking about the idea that it is the content’s purpose that should be segmented by the buyer’s journey – not its ultimate format. Time and again when we see businesses employing successful content marketing strategies, we see them creating a powerful story first, and then finding the right balance of platforms to create, manage, distribute, promote, then measure that story. In the 2015 edition of CMI’s yearly content marketing research, which we conduct each year in conjunction with MarketingProfs, webinars were utilized by more than 60% of content marketers. And, for the second year in a row, webinars were the second most utilized content type – just behind “in-person events”. ii So, it seemed like a good time to take a closer look at webinars - typically viewed as a content type only appropriate for lead generation and/or training – and how they might be applied and mapped across the entirety of the buyer’s journey
  5. 5. WEBINARS: FINDING SOLID FOOTING ON THE BUYER’S JOURNEY There is no doubt that webinars have been utilized very effectively to generate leads for companies. In fact, CMI’s own research shows that webinars are consistently rated in the top 12 most effective tactics for producing leads. And this aligns with research analyst firm Forrester that said that “webinars are the number one source of lead generation for B2B businesses”, with 51% of marketers generating new leads through them. iii But, we’ve also discovered that content marketers are finding tremendous success with webinars at other parts of the funnel as well. In a research study specifically focused on content marketers and webinar usage 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Marketers’ Goals for Webinars Lead generation Brand awareness Thought leadership Training/education Engagement Customer acquisition Customer retention/loyalty Product demonstrations Website traffic Lead management/nurturing 68% 63% 62% 59% 53% 42% 39% 36% 28% 17% CMI Research: Webinars - They’re Not Just For Leads Anymore - February, 2014
  6. 6. from earlier this year, CMI found that content marketers who are finding continued success with webinars are broadening the scope of how they use them. They are applying the concept of webinars across the full spectrum of the buyer’s journey. In fact, one of the most interesting results that came out of our study was how many marketers found success with setting webinar goals that stretched over every aspect of the buyer’s journey. From brand awareness, lead generation to thought leadership, customer acquisition and all the way down through customer retention and loyalty – successful content marketers are truly expanding the use of webinars for all aspects of the buyer’s journey. The research also suggested that, of those who don’t currently utilize webinars, the majority that had used them in the past, had only used them for the “traditional” applications (e.g. training/education) and then stopped because of a reprioritization and budget challenges. This suggests that if webinars can be shown to have value across a wider part of the buyer’s journey – that marketers that aren’t currently using them could reconsider their priority as part of their content marketing mix.iv So how do marketers begin to map Webinars across the entirety of the Buyer’s Journey? What are some of the best practices we’re seeing for approaching content by purpose – rather than by type – to make Webinars a successful part of the content marketing tool box. Let’s explore the new buyer’s journey and how webinars play an important role within it.
  7. 7. UNDERSTANDING THE BUYER’S JOURNEY BY CONTENT PURPOSE At Content Marketing World 2014, there was a tremendous amount of discussion about the new “marketing funnel” and whether it was even an appropriate metaphor any longer. Keynote speaker Andrew Davis called the new strategy “meeting the moments of inspiration” and discussed how the new non-linear nature of search, social and content on the web made even creating a funnel an almost impossible task. But, the reality is that marketers do need to map content against stages of a buying journey. The key is that content marketers should map it against those “moments of inspiration” and the desired impact of the experience rather than the classic content types or calls to action that have so long been part of the sales and marketing process. So, as an example – if we look at a very basic, and traditional, buyer’s journey we might assemble it along the lines of: Awareness – of our product or service Consideration – of our product or service Decision – in our favor – a purchase Loyalty – to the purchased product or service Evangelism – of our product or service 1 3 4 5 2 The Traditional Buyer’s Journey
  8. 8. 1 AWARENESS Value Delivered: Illumination of a new way a problem can be solved, or a desire met. 2 CONSIDERATION Value Delivered: Education about new approach, regardless of product, but alignment between brand value and purpose of the customer. 3 DECISION Value Delivered: Compelling illustration of how product or service actually solves the problem and makes people’s lives better. Showing – not telling. Selling the hole, not the nail. 4 LOYALTY& EVANGELISM Value Delivered: Aligning brand values with customer, demonstrating value beyond the product or service. In this classic buying process, marketers frequently take an inside-looking- out view and insert “proof points” or “reasons to believe” at each of the stages – and then assemble content that focuses on those unique propositions. This is, sadly, where the silo effect of content types at the various layers comes to play. For example, because webinars are often seen solely for the “consideration stage” – they often only get used at that stage – and then only for “educating” prospects on products etc… Instead, content marketers might view the simple buying journey as a way to deliver value to the customer at that stage – and how to match content (in varying types) to the customer’s purpose while they are in that stage. So this buyer’s journey might resemble something like the following: The New Buyer’s Journey - Value Delivered
  9. 9. The theme, of course, in each of these is a customer-centric view that helps to direct the content purpose and what the marketer can deliver at each stage. And each then creates a discrete experience that, on its own, may be the catalyst to actually generating business value. In short – if a brand can focus on delivering high-impact value at the “awareness stage” – there may be no reason the customer has to go through the “consideration” stage. They may move directly to purchase, or will at least move through consideration with a much higher bias in the brand’s favor. MAPPING WEBINARS TO THIS BUYER’S JOURNEY When we look at then how to map Webinars to a purpose-driven content experience – what are some of the opportunities a brand may want to examine as part of this process? Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online and author of Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing framed this well. He said: “looking across the customer lifecycle from awareness to purchase to retention and advocacy, webinars provide a content experience that closes the gap between prospect and customer, customer and advocate like few other content marketing tactics.”
  10. 10. But while closing the gap between the brand approach, and the customer’s need is a top goal for marketers who use webinars, this is also one of the biggest challenges. In fact, CMI discovered this explicitly in the research we conducted earlier this year. The study showed that the biggest challenge for those marketers that felt like they were “most effective with webinars” was “developing the content”. However, the biggest challenge for those marketers who felt like they were “least effective with webinars” was “securing enough registrations and getting them to attend”. Basically, marketers that are successful with Webinars are challenged on the right thing – how to develop content that will be most resonant, and are not then challenged with developing an audience that will view it. To put it even more simply: if a marketer consistently creates great content at a variety of stages in the buying journey, developing audiences becomes less of a challenge. So – how can marketers begin to develop great webinar content specific for other parts of the buyer’s journey. Let’s look at our sample, and some specific examples:
  11. 11. Webinar Mapping Across The Buyer’s Journey AWARENESS Illumination that there is a new way or that a problem can be solved. ᮣ CONTENT NEEDED: Storytelling – bonding emotionally as well as intellectually. High-level education about the topic in general – but engaging to get an emotional reaction as well to drive not only awareness, but interest. ᮣ EXAMPlE: A startup B2B marketing software company created a series of webinars and engaged thought leaders from the industry in a spirited discussion/debate about new ways of structuring the process the company’s software helps manage. They didn’t even participate – they just hosted, and facilitated the discussion. ᮣ RESUlT: They received hundreds of new registrants to their marketing database. CONSIDERATION Education about why this new way, regardless of the product chosen, aligns with the purpose of the customer. ᮣ CONTENT NEEDED: Deeper dive about a specific approach, and tactical information about how it solves an unmet desire or need. ᮣ EXAMPlE: An IT professional services company partnered with a well known industry analyst with a series of webinars going through – step by step - a very specific approach to modernizing the business user’s ecosystem of technology. ᮣ RESUlT: They maintained a 40% return rate of webinar registrants that attended all three webinars – which produced much higher lead quality for sales enablement.
  12. 12. Webinar Mapping Across The Buyer’s Journey (cont.) DECISION Compelling illustrations of how this product or service is actually making other people’s lives better. Showing – not telling – how this is valuable. ᮣ CONTENT NEEDED: A reason to believe in the brand’s approach, as opposed to the product. ᮣ EXAMPlE: A Safety Device company created a series of educational webinars including video interviews that illustrated the stories of actual doctors who saved lives, and some of their “best practices” for doing so (one of which was the use of their product suite). ᮣ RESUlT: This webinar (and subsequent ones like it) became the company’s top method of closing prospects who were in the midst of RFP review and were on the fence about the brand. lOYAlTY & EvANGElISM Aligning our values with the customer to demonstrate that we care about them beyond our product or service. ᮣ CONTENT NEEDED: Value beyond the product or service. ᮣ EXAMPlE: A financial services company created a monthly Webinar bringing in thought leaders from outside the financial industry to educate clients on separate, but related topics, such as international economies and politics, the future of technology, art and pop culture etc… ᮣ RESUlT: The series of Webinars (and the physical events it has inspired) is consistently mentioned as one of the top five reasons that clients renew each year.
  13. 13. As you can see, one of the keys to all of the success of these webinars and how they mapped to each stage – was not only an approach to the content itself – but how the story was told and who told it. At the awareness stage, the B2B marketing software company engaged thought leaders to have a spirited debate about a particular process and then acted as host. They didn’t try to direct the conversation to their “sales pitch”. This accomplished two goals. The first is that they could stay unbiased and let all of the variety of strong opinions of the thought leaders “raise the tide” of the brand. The second is that by drawing in as many third party thought leaders as they did (who themselves have audiences) – they take advantage of reaching new prospects that may be unaware of the company. This was a webinar with very few slides – and more like a “talk-show” format – where the excitement and emotion was with the panelists – not in a flat series of informational or educational slides. Then, illustrated at the loyalty stage – the Financial Services company actually hosts and provides this wonderful event every month by serving as host, facilitator and even offering some opinions in the discussion. But, by far, the draw to the Webinar is the out-of-the-box thought leader that the company brings in to talk about something very interesting. By doing this, the company can align its own point of view on the topic with the guest –
  14. 14. thus demonstrating its own differentiation that “we’re the people who bring you this interesting content” and aligns with their customer’s purpose of being more well rounded and informed people. Getting beyond the “death-by-slides”, “voice-only” and “product demo” aspect of webinars is an extremely important key here. Mike Agron, a webinar expert summed this up well in an eBook that he wrote on the best practices called Webinar Ready – A Step-by-Step Guide To Hosting Successful Webinars. He said: “If you don’t engage the audience, they’ll ‘turn the channel.’ The webinar event has to be polished, entertaining, and stimulating. You’re creating a ‘one-act play’ that has theatrics involved, so your players have to be well-rehearsed, relaxed, professional, and on message.” CMI heard this time and again in our research earlier this year. One participant to the study even said that she has found success in what she called the “flipped webinar” – where content is sent to participants in advance – and “then the interactive session is solely devoted to Q&A.”
  15. 15. WEBINAR SUCCESS: INTEGRATING OTHER CONTENT TYPES TOO Webinars are great – but they are even greater when conducted in concert with other content efforts. In all of the examples above, and in what our research illustrates, all content types are a means to an end – and not the end itself. In other words – success is about starting with an idea – and then determining the right story, place, and platform to tell each part of that larger story. In the case of the example above in the Consideration stage, the IT Services company first worked with the Industry Analyst to develop a White Paper that went deep into the practical applications of this specific approach. Then, the company developed the concept of the Webinar, which would speak to the themes of the White Paper, and establish it as the call to action (desired impact) from the Webinar itself. Then, they created a series of blog posts out of the White Paper that would create some emotional and intellectual curiosity about this particular topic – and promote the Webinar specifically. They also created a strategy for another series of blog posts that would follow on to promote the re-broadcast download of the webinar – and a plan to revisit the entire lifecycle in the next quarter. So, ultimately they created an entire ecosystem of content from one story idea – and placed each at the right stage of the buyer’s journey – and planned for a story arc that would last six months.
  16. 16. For this particular story and idea – Webinars sat at the Consideration stage. But one could easily see how the company could bring the story idea to life in a Webinar in the Decision stage with a customer that had actually implemented this approach – and the pitfalls and best practices they learned along the way. This is the key. As CMI Founder and CEO, Joe Pulizzi said: “Just because webinars are great at delivering demonstrations and trainings, it doesn’t mean that’s all they should be used for. We’ll get the greatest value out of our tools if we figure out how to continually focus on building a more engaged audience over time.”
  17. 17. CONClUSION Webinar tools have evolved – and marketers should evolve their use of them. It is no longer the case that businesses have to stick to the “traditional” screen-sharing, product demo-centric, static Powerpoint slide webinars. Rather, those that are finding success are utilizing capabilities such as video conferencing, polls and surveys, online collaboration, mobile capabilities, integration with CRM systems and more to drive more creativity and visual storytelling into this classic content delivery type. Additionally, by taking an “audience development” approach and integrating webinars into more stages of the buyer’s journey – marketers have a much better reason to ask for an increasing amount of information during registration, and can begin to improve the quality of their marketing database. For today’s content marketer, webinars shouldn’t be left on the island of “lead generation” or “training/education”. There’s no doubt that they’ve proven their worth at this stage, but instead marketers should look at how webinars can be used as a tool for audience development across every stage of the buyer’s journey. They can be an incredible way to integrate a story much more fully – and make the great content being created work much harder than it is already.
  18. 18. There’s a wonderful quote by the author Reif Larsen that says: “a map does not just chart, it unlocks and formulates meaning; it forms bridges between here and there, between disparate ideas that we did not know were previously connected.” For content marketers, mapping the purpose of content and looking at the content delivery types we have - including webinars – across the entirety of the buyer’s journey will unlock so much more meaning. It can truly be the bridge that connects the ideas that we had no idea were previously connected. RESOURCES i. http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/the-path-to-purpose.html ii. Content Marketing 2015 Study iii. https://www.forrester com/2012+Tech+Marketing+Planning+Guidance/ fulltext/-/E-RES59694 iv. CMI Webinar Study From June, 2014