Webinars are a critical, proven lead generation tactic that can fuel your pipeline with buyers across all stages. Here at Salesforce we are on track to deliver 100+ webinars by the end of the year, and along with it some critical takeaways you can implement now to elevate your own program.

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Promotion: The Basics  

It’s no secret that webinars are a time consuming endeavor, so start early. In order for your investment to pay off, an end-to-end lead time of 5-6 weeks is ideal. Limit your go-live dates to Tue, Wed, Thurs, and start times to morning only. Know your audience demographics when picking a start time; for example, of your story applies to Europe in addition to the United States, accommodate their time zone to double your reach.

Though ample lead time is critical, we continually see nearly 20 percent register within the last 48 hours, and another 10-15 percent register the day of. Keep promotion momentum on fire until the minute you go-live – whether it is a “last chance” e-mail or “join now” tweet 15 min before. Last-minute efforts yield a return.

Before you optimize your existing channels or pursue new ones, implement a methodology to track the registration source, and illicit buy-in from the team executing the promotion. Cross collaboration amongst internal marketing teams can double your results — if your webinar features multiple products, or an industry angle, build one strategy across these teams. One key takeaway for successful promotion is to understand that internal promotion is just as important as external.

Promotion: Email is King  

Our top drivers at Salesforce are (1) Email marketing and (2) Sales invitations to customers and prospects.

E-mail is king when building your audience. The optimal days for email promotions also match those for go-live: Tue, Wed, Thurs. A single email drop will provide some return but you will not yield the best ROI.  However, a second and third follow-up to your segmented list will magnify results. It is best to send the first drop 2.5-2 weeks prior to go-live, followed by the second one week prior, and a third within the last 72-48 hours. To avoid inundating your audience with the same offer, include a secondary offer that relates to the theme of your webinar.

Webinar as a Sales Touch-Point

Understand how your sales teams are measured, and communicate to them how webinars will enable them to achieve their goals to ensure their buy in- and subsequently a boost in your registration. Create a pre-populated email template your sales teams can leverage to invite their prospects with one click.  Provide a calendar of all upcoming events that is easily accessible within the internal resource centers your sales teams already access.  

Social Promotion

LinkedIn has demonstrated the best return for Salesforce webinar registration for both paid and organic social. One recent innovation was a paid Instagram campaign to promote our thought leadership webinar — How to Use Instagram Ads to Reach and Engage Your Audience. The campaign resulted in over 20% of the broadcast’s registrations with a low cost per lead. Over 300 million users makes Instagram one of the world’s largest mobile advertising platforms and a new avenue worth exploring.

Mobile First

We engage in life through mobile devices, and the expectation of your webinar audience is no different.  Each touchpoint of your webinar needs to be mobile enabled. Twenty-five to 30 percent of our audience opens promotional e-mails on a mobile device, so if your targeted audience cannot complete the CTA on mobile, you will lose a significant number of registrations.

Audience Engagement: Webinars are a Two-Way Dialogue

In marketing your webinar, clearly highlight to your audience what they will gain with the investment of their time. Our webinars deliver the resolution critical business problems — customer service, employee engagement, security — with the journey to that resolution told through our customer’s success stories. In order to get your audience to engage at the onset, ensure your title and abstract define the benefits gained.

No matter how compelling your content is, you have stiff competition against workday noise. Unlike a live speaking engagement, you do not have the luxury of receiving cues from the audience to understand if they are engaged, bored…alive?  

To maximize engagement during the live broadcast, think about your webinar as a two-way dialogue between you and the audience. Incorporate a transition point every 10-15 minutes, whether it’s between speakers, slides to a live demo, or a poll. Avoid numerous slides or deadly verbose bullet points; you should leverage slides to enhance your content, not present it for you.

Prepare for the Inevitable Technical Failure

Technical failures are inevitable; it is how you react to them that matters. Implement a plan B and C, and mitigate risk by always conducting a dry run. When selecting a webinar platform, choose one that has live technical support a click away. Ensure you have the capability to push out a notification to your audience should a failure occur; sending a simple message allows you to retain your audience through a technical failure.  

The On-Demand Asset – A Missed Opportunity

A common missed opportunity is leveraging the on-demand asset to build incremental pipeline after the live event. Our program yields on average a 50 percent live attendance rate, and over time on-demand views of our content exceed live views.  Ensure your content is readily available in an engaging and searchable archive on your domain, our example here.

Repurpose your 30-40+ minutes of content into infinite secondary assets: blog posts, an infographic, eBook, or sound bites of the most compelling segments of your webinar. Include the on-demand version into your next email nurture program, or re-broadcast it as a “new” resource on your homepage.  

Leverage your assets as a sales enablement tool to equip sales with the latest customer success talk tracks. Build a similar content archive into your sales enablement resource center to maximize internal visibility.

Contribution to the Bottom Line

Webinar leads are hot. In today’s world of instant gratification, you have successfully captured your audience’s attention for a seemingly impossible amount of time. To ensure that your sales team pursues these leads in real time, it is essential to build an automated integration to pass the leads from your webinar platform into your CRM and marketing automation system. The integration should not only capture leads from your live broadcasts, but from your on-demand assets as well. Without an automated way to deliver your webinar leads into the right hands for immediate follow-up, you will not be able to progress your pipeline nor scale the potential of your program.

Educate your internal stakeholders about the impact the program has at an aggregate level to your bottom line. Address not only how your webinars generated net new prospects, but also how they matured existing deals. Internal promotion of the program’s impact will secure continued buy-in from the village it takes to produce a webinar, allowing your program to reach new heights year over year.

About the Author

Lauren Collopy is the webinar lead at Salesforce in Corporate Campaigns. Connect with her and other webinar enthusiasts for a series of upcoming networking events in San Francisco, California to exchange best practices with others in the industry and elevate your next webinar. E-mail lcollopy@salesforce to sign-up.

Register for the live webinar here.