Perspectives on Marketo’s Product Release – Event Management and Webinar Integration

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I attended the Marketo product release webinar introducing Marketo’s new event management functionality as part of Marketo’s new pioneer program, for early adopters of the latest Marketo functionality.

Marketo’s event management allows users to set up templated event sequences for events such as webinars, and greatly reduces the amount of steps required to re-use assets from event to event. In addition, the first iteration supports direct API access with WebEx, with other integrations planned for the future.

The functionality is a good start and part of an overall development plan from Marketo to better automate event management tied to marketing automation.

It’s too early for me to review the functionality based on a brief introductory webinar – but it did get me thinking about some of the key drivers as to why Marketo has invested their product development team’s valuable time into this new set of features.

Two key reasons stand out:

(1) The volume of webinars required to fuel lead generation efforts is increasing

Webinars are a key marketing tool – particularly education-oriented, thought leadership webinars that help generate leads and fill the funnel for lead nurturing and the revenue engine. In the 2010 B2B Content Marketing: 2010 Computing Software Industry Report, computer/software companies ranked webinars as their most effective marketing tactic.

To maximize the impact of a webinar program, two key components are relevance and continuity:

  • Relevance — Like all good content, webinars must be relevant to their audience to maximize effectiveness. Relevance starts with targeting by role (e.g. IT vs. End-User; C-Suite vs. Line of Business), and by Existing Customer vs. Prospect.  So why wouldn’t a company run four versions of a webinar per month –  Prospect/Customer x Role 1 / Role 2?  And this does not even get into industry-specific targeting which many companies are facing.
  • Continuity — A webinar series needs to be delivered consistently to each target group.  If a company is creating only one webinar per quarter for a specific vertical industry, then it is losing out on many opportunities to engage that target and drive the revenue engine. Each target segment needs to be engaged at least once per month with the attraction of a topical, thought leadership webinar.

At this point, you might be thinking “I can barely get one webinar out the door each month, what the heck are you thinking with four or more webinars per month?”

The new Marketo functionality is a start to reducing the amount of work required to run a webinar, which will play a role in helping companies increase their webinar volume.

But fully executing on this requires a different process than most companies apply to their webinars today. This is why we have been advocating a publishing approach to webinars for years. This means shifting from “point production” approach to “thinking and creating like a publisher”.

There is a lot more than registration and email communications that goes into producing a webinar, and on this webinars microsite we have shared further ideas and practices on how to scale your webinar program to today’s volume requirements.

(2) Scoring and tracking all marketing activities in a marketing database is a B2B must-have

One of the key benefits that Marketo and other marketing automation software systems provide to their customers is a marketing database to capture, manage and measure lead activities.

For this to be most valuable, all lead activities need to be tracked in this database.

But to do this, that cookie has to go down. If you’re using WebEx, Citrix or any other platforms’ registration system without marketing automation, there are (at least) two major problems:

  1. The cookie doesn’t go down
  2. Spreadsheet reconciliation of data – messy and time consuming

This WebEx integration help to better automate lead scoring around event registration and attendance for Marketo and WebEx customers.

But, WebEx is just one of many web meeting platforms, so customers of Citrix/GoToWebinar or other web meeting platforms may be asking “How can we best connect marketing automation with webinar management?”

To do this we manage and deliver all webinar campaign communications via Marketo (not the Webinar platform) as part of a campaign approach, with specific touch points to Citrix / GoToWebinar:

  1. Include the “Join” URL in the confirmation/reminder emails and calendar notices
  2. After the webinar, export attendee lists and import to Marketo, and increment lead score
  3. Then de-duplicate by reviewing any non-matches to existing leads (to cater for typos or different email addresses supplied by attendees when joining the webinar)

A little bit of work, but far worth of it for the value of getting every webinar touch cookied, tracked and scored via marketing automation.

And in addition to the typical webinar-related emails (invitation, confirmation and reminder emails), we expand the webinar campaign via Marketo to include:

  • A webinar teaser vignette (1 min)
  • Pre-webinar emails inviting question submission
  • Webinar follow-up emails to non-attendees sharing shorter webinar segments (1-2 mins)
  • Webinar follow-up emails to attendees driving to a topical microsite
  • Calls to action including sharing a webinar executive summary with colleagues (5-7 mins)

So for us the key to Marketo’s new release is not so much the WebEx integration, it’s the ability to clone an event promotion and nurturing sequence, and greatly reduce the amount of time required to deploy for each webinar.  This benefits customers regardless of webinar platform, as the majority of work comes in scheduling the touches and updating content, which can be much better automated now through Marketo tokens and cloning of events.

This is all part of our approach of creating like a publisher when creating webinars.