Informa’s director of event marketing, Kathryn Frankson urges planners not to neglect webinars as part of virtual event programmes.
For #eventprofs, the last two years have spelled an unprecedented and rapid transition to virtual. From the now much maligned P word (#pivot) to the new talking points around #zoomfatigue, virtual event formats, data capture, digital footprints and 365 community development, the role of virtual is in constant flux. Add in the current transitional buyer behaviour as mask mandates are lifted and the recent omicron surge wanes and the question looms large – what’s worthy of a virtual event and where does the tried-and-true webinar fit into the mix? Yes, webinars!
Well, that’s where data and audience behaviour tell the real story. We know that attention spans have shrunk, there’s more digital content saturating the market than ever and to run an exceptional virtual event that truly meets audience needs, you need to invest in the right tech, creative and promotion. To ensure the right value exchange for your audience’s time, a virtual event needs to deliver both in live content and engagement opportunities, which can be a real lift from your team.
And yet, we know the way for brands to stay relevant is to provide incredibly valuable content, at scale, for audiences. So, where does that leave brand and marketing teams for options?
Webinars, when executed correctly, can offer more bite-size, consumable content and a more manageable lift for programming and execution teams; however, to get the best return on investment or effort, you want to drive maximum attendance.
How is that achieved with so much marketplace noise?
Our team recently ran a webinar with 2,369 people signed up and a 66% live attendance rate.
The promotional cycle was three weeks pre webinar. Why the strong results, I hear you ask? Because the speaker was that good. It wasn’t a celebrity but someone our audience revered. The marketing was solid but there are no secret channels. We used organic social, email and select partners.
The answer to getting results is simply knowing your audience well enough to create hyper relevant content that they actually want to consume.
The days of repeated speakers or general content that serves every persona are gone. You need to think critically and have an internal marketplace expert or repeatable process for deeply understanding buyers. Their needs have never changed faster. What was impacting them last month is not the case this month. If your competitors already covered it, they don’t need to watch. If the speaker is oversaturated through other events, they don’t need to watch. If they can google and find the topic covered in a blog post that they can read in one minute, they don’t need to watch.
You have to ask yourself – why are we asking for 45 minutes of their time? Every audience is one click, one Teams or Slack message away from just minimising the browser, promising themselves they’ll watch on-demand then dropping off completely.
Brands have to truly challenge themselves to deliver such relevant value, that your audiences will set aside everything else in their day to join live because they simply cannot get this timely information easily in other channels and formats.
Audience research, advisory boards, surveying, and market expertise will allow you to create a product and customer-led model for content that resonates in webinar formatting.
Then your marketing teams can do what they do best – deploy, distribute, and amplify. And by landing in this sharp, relevant topic, you can turn on a digital model, strategically select what is worthy of a virtual event, and lean into webinar creation that puts you front and centre with something to say while managing your team’s bandwidth and generating a strong return.