“The How” – More effective execution around webinars and event marketing

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I have been asked to instruct an upcoming Marketo University course on event management as part of Marketo’s Revenue Rockstar Roadshow in Boston.

The course will cover how to leverage Marketo’s programs & “my tokens” functionality to best manage lead generation events, both offline and online/webinars. By using a set of database-driven templates to manage all event web pages, emails and rules, you (marketers) can spend less time on event setup and operations, and more time focused on event promotion  — and therefore, getting more out of your events.  And this return on event investments (success rates and new lead acquisition) is rolled up into a single, management report compiled in real-time.

Moreover, this approach means you can more easily incorporate best practices into your event and webinar programs.  When it comes to marketing, most of us know what we should be doing, but effectively operationalizing it (and ensuring it sticks) is where most companies fall short with their marketing programs.

Here are two examples of applying best practices to event marketing and how they can be applied through marketing automation — one for pre-event and one for post-event activities:

Automate Event Invitation from Sales

Senior level executives are very unlikely to respond to a marketing invitation to a webinar or event. In fact, our data shows that executives are more likely to unsubscribe from your list, rather than register, as a result of a marketing invitation.

So as part of our event program template we set up invitations from sales people to executives from their major accounts. The email includes a message “from the salesperson” communicating why the webinar is relevant, with the event information and promotional message below in the email.

In order to execute this, the steps are:

  1. Ensure executives are tagged (based on title rules)
  2. Use lead tokens (database-driven content) to ensure emails come from the salesperson (the lead owner in SalesForce)
  3. Setup a sales version of the webinar invitation, re-using the same token-driven marketing assets
  4. Setup the executive list to receive the sales version of the invitation (and be excluded from the marketing version)

Nurture After the Event

Let’s start with what you should NOT do after the event (HINT: it’s what most marketers are doing today and therefore not getting the results they should from their webinars and events):

#1 – DON’T hand over the entire registrant list to sales and consider all of your registrants to be leads, without properly considering both their demographic and behavioral activities (digital body language).

#2 – DON’T send the webinar archive as a full video after the event and consider this to be an effective follow-up or post-event nurturing strategy.

So what should you do?

Most companies are trying to reach a c-level or executive audience… who may  be interested in a webinar topic or ask one of their colleagues to attend but likely won’t have the time themselves.

We know that the webinar attendees may be open to sharing content on the topic with their executives… but only if the content is short and relevant…. A 45-minute GoToMeeting or WebEx webinar archive video will not make the cut.

What does work is an Executive Summary video vignette – a 4-12 minute, well produced summary of the webinar, covering the key points and targeted at the executive.  It begins “We recently ran a webinar in depth on this topic, but as an executive we thought you’d be most interested in these key points…”

This executive summary video vignette becomes a key part of the follow-up strategy. As part of each webinar program, we setup a nurturing campaign, where the flow and framework for the campaign is templated, and the appropriate content or links are populated per topic.

So a typical post-webinar nurture flow is:

1-hour after the webinar:  Send a featured webinar segment or executive summary. Unlike most, our first touch after the webinar is NOT the webinar archive — we want something short, engaging and different than what they saw in the webinar. We also want this to be very timely and relevant… and receiving an archive for a webinar you saw an hour earlier in not relevant.

1 day later: Send a link to a landing page which has the archive, along with mp3 and transcript versions and a set of webinar highlights. Webinar highlights are much more shareable than a webinar archive – you are not going to share a full length webinar with a colleague (in respect of their time), you’d much rather give them the highlights version.

2 more days later: Share curated content on the topic, with a call to action.

2 more days later: Share bonus content (not included in the main webinar), with a call to action.

The latter touches are backed up by a microsite to allow prospects to self-select areas of interest as a way to both serve your buyer and get a better understanding of their needs and interests.

What’s exciting is that with the combination of the right technology and the right expert resources, you can take your programs such as lead generation webinars and automated lead management to the next level.