Why don’t more B2C marketers use webinars to generate new leads and data? The 2014 CMI B2C Content Marketing study reported that only 42% of B2C marketers reported using webinars as part of their marketing mix, with 58% of those rating webinars as effective.
One problem is the fact that webinars have an image problem with B2C professionals. I asked a few B2C-focused friends and colleagues what they thought about webinars, and how—if at all—they fit into their marketing mix:
- “Webiwhats? Joking, joking … but seriously, we don’t use them.”
- “How would webinars help me sell more hats and shoes?”
- “Oh, you mean videos? Yea, we kinda do the same thing … it’s called YouTube.”
- “Oh, you mean training? We use WebEx for staff meetings. Is that what you mean?”
- “We post how-to videos on our community and through social. They bring in a lot of traffic.”
- “Webinars work for B2B marketing, but B2C is different. The interaction is much more emotional and immediate. Plus my customers do their homework, so I don’t know what a webinar would teach them that a video can’t.”
- “They’re expensive, right?”
It’s a shame, because webinars offer B2C marketers numerous benefits that can boost the results of many other marketing initiatives. There are many free or low-cost services can make sense for smaller businesses and/or companies with solid in-house marketing capabilities.
Here are four ways webinars can benefit B2C marketers:
1. Reach a larger audience
B2C is a volume game whose goal is to convert shoppers into buyers in the highest numbers possible, as fast as possible, and continuously. This is why aggressive, impressions-based tactics work: bulk emails, promotions and coupons, and eye-candy packaging and displays.
By their very (virtual) nature, webinars are great vehicles for reaching target audiences—from prospects, leads and customers to thought leaders, investors and employees—on a grand, even global, scale. With most webinars lasting about an hour, that’s a ton of visibility and reach in a mere 60 minutes.
2. Increase revenue
Ever watched an infomercial? Whether you love them or hate them, they tap into emotional triggers and reach millions of views with testimonals, immediacy, product demos and colorful pitches.
If you think about webinars as being really great infomercials that are live (and can later be served on-demand) and allow real-time audience participation, they become pretty compelling deliverables with very real short- and long-term revenue potential.
In addition to pre- and post-presentation sales spikes, webinars can boost your sales streams by:
- Generating leads. Webinars are registration-gated. This means people who register are already somewhat pre-qualified as potential customers interested in your products and services.
- Building your mailing list. Even more than B2B, mailing lists are holy grails for B2C marketers, driving as much as 30%-50% of revenues. The takeaway is that webinar registration means opt-in names that are receptive to your products, and can are immediate marketing prospects. Depending on the nature of your webinar, you may be able pinpoint specific interests and with personalized messaging.
- Improving employee productivity. For companies with geographically dispersed staff, webinars are wonderful tactics for easily and efficiently communicating business-critical information to internal teams in one fell swoop. This saves incremental budget from several buckets, including resource time, travel, and duplication of effort. It also underscores consistent messaging across disparate groups and helps keep departments in step, increasing efficiency and productivity.
3. Establish brand trust and long-term relationships
Webinars give B2C marketers a prime mechanism for helping audiences get to know their brand on a personal level thanks to their interactive nature—real time conversations with experts, product and service demonstrations, Q&A sections for addressing audience concerns and questions. A webinar helps your brand look warm, real, and authentic.
The more customers get to know you, the more likely they are to trust you, buy from you, and become repeat, loyal customers.
4. Improve and expand your content marketing
Content is still king, particularly when it comes to ecommerce, where customers are increasingly on the hunt to find meaningful signals from the cacophony of cyber noise. And the “signals” are pieces of quality content that deliver value.
Thanks to technology, webinars are essentially videos. Meaning they open up a birthday box of opportunities that support your content marketing plans, deliver value, drive visits, drive sales, and generally don’t require additional budget.
In a nutshell, this means repurposing. When it comes to content, the perpetual challenge is keeping the pipeline filled for your distribution channels.
At 60 minutes and chock full of visuals, audio, and most likely a few interesting questions from participants, a single webinar can be broken into all kinds of content, including
- A series of blog posts
- Shorter videos for your resources page or nurture campaigns
- An eBook
- Create separate, deeper-dive papers from the topics covered
- Tweetable quotes
- Gate the webinar on your site and promote registration
- Post it on YouTube and Vimeo
- Use attendee questions and comments to inform future campaigns.
Ensure Webinar Success
Like most everything else, creating successful webinars comes down to good preparation. Obviously there are a lot of dependent factors, including the topic, audience, business type, and technology platform.
There are numerous ideas for B2C marketers who want to utlize webinars. For example, an outdoor company could create a webinar offering tips on the best tents and how to pack or assemble them; or a primer on rock climbing for beginners, with tips on training, equipment and resources. A food company could do baking demos, while a healthcare firm could offer forums on anything from Celiac food dangers to gastric bypass.
But there are key elements that are consistent for effective webinars, no matter what the market niche:
- Get top-notch speakers. We’ve all attended them: presentations that quickly become big snores due to unengaged, disengaged, or otherwise non-dynamic speakers who don’t capture our attention. Choose your speakers wisely, be they C-level rock stars, product experts, actors, or comedians. Make sure they’re polished and engaging.
- Promote the event. Use every channel that makes sense to best reach your audience. You may also consider offering incentives such as credits or certifications, discounts, or chances to win something.
- Be well prepared. This is the “measure twice, cut once” philosophy. Comb your presentation for typos, grammar mistakes, alignment and spacing issues. Double check your facts, figures, and math. Anticipate what will be asked and have answers at the ready. Create seed questions to get the Q&A portion started. Make sure the operational stuff is tested and ready to go: recording equipment, microphones, cameras, lighting, no background noise.
- Have the right infrastructure. Webinars (webcasts, web events …) can now be pretty easily managed on a host of platforms, some free, some not. The most effective platforms are marketing automation because they provide all of the tools in a single solution, including email, web forms, visitor tracking, social push, database integration, segmentation, data tracking and reporting.