By Joshua Baez, Engagement Manager at Heinz Marketing
So much of what constitutes sales and marketing today is noise, and while noise may keep prospects busy sifting between what’s important and what’s not, it doesn’t do much to tip the marketing scales in your favor. Noise doesn’t stand out. It doesn’t get noticed. It doesn’t drive interest, engagement, urgency, or, most importantly, action.
But as we all know, creating content that resonates with one persona is hard enough. Doing so for multiple, across companies and industries? Well, that’s another story altogether. When today’s buying committee is made up of at least 6 people, and 1 in 2 consumers completely disregard content they deem irrelevant, what’s needed to drive meaningful, scalable engagement? How can you take into account your targets’ different roles, responsibilities, preferences, and concerns? How can you be sure what you’re sending prospects is actually valuable?
These are just a few of the questions we, as B2B sales and marketing professionals, must consider. But the answers are much harder to find. And while there may not be a silver bullet to solve all of our engagement woes, there is tactic that can, at the very least, help to point us in the right direction — webinars.
With ON24’s Webinar World right around the corner (which you can get free tickets to using code “Heinz_VIP” at checkout!), we’ve been thinking a lot about the usage and effectiveness of webinars as a means to drive meaningful, scalable, and profitable engagement. In fact, according to ON24’s 2018 Webinar Benchmark Report, 95% of practitioners agree webinars represent a key part of their marketing and lead generation efforts, as well as:
- 76% reporting webinars enable them to reach more leads
- Over one-third (38%) considering webinars to be ‘critical’ to their digital communications
- Half of those surveyed consider the quality of leads generated through their webinars to be above average
- And eight in ten respondents report webinars help lower their cost-per-lead
Clearly, webinars possess a lot of value. The question now is: What are the different plays, tactics, and strategies around webinars you can utilize to uncover this value for yourself?
To help you get (and stay) on the right path to achieving webinar success, we’re excited to announce our new blog series — The Road to Webinar Success. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll share with you a new webinar tactic to help you do everything from planning, measuring success, and integrating a webinar program into your larger marketing strategy.
Here’s a calendar of what you can expect:
2/20 The Power of Panel Webinars
2/26 Streamlining Webinar Operations with Integrated Technologies
3/05 Driving Webinar Success with Your Internal Teams
3/12 Building an ABM Program with Webinars
3/19 Using Webinar Data for Research and New Content
Upcoming: Tracking Webinar Performance
Upcoming: Extending the Life of Your In-Person Conferences
Upcoming: Developing Webinars for Key Opinion Leaders (KOL)
And now, with all of that out of the way, here’s the first blog in our series: The Power of Panel Webinars.
An overview on panel webinars
With a panel webinar in your tool belt, you can give your prospects, leads, and customers a more authentic experience while engaging them far more meaningfully than with traditional assets. And, all while demonstrating your organization’s thought leadership with the added bonus of third-party endorsements from your panelists.
Why should you care about panel webinars?
To stand out
Webinars have been done the same way for a long, long time, essentially comprised of one-sided PowerPoints, linear presentations, and a feeling of being lectured at. With a panel webinar, however, you’re able to foster much more fluid conversations not just between your panelists, but with the audience as well.
To drive authenticity
With a panel webinar, you become more approachable, more interactive, and more conversational. And these, in turn, highlight the more human, the more authentic, side of your organization.
To gain actionable insights
Panel webinars allow you to engage leads in a much more powerful way — to make them a part of the conversation. And the more you involve them, the better you’re able to qualify them based on questions they ask and polls they respond to.
Through their interaction on the webinar, you are able learn more about them and move them through the funnel more effectively. And with this data, you’ll also have an easier time handing these leads to sales.
To save time and resources
Most experts find panel discussions much easier than presentations. They’re more conversational, require less prep, and aren’t nearly as demanding as more traditional webinars are. Because of this, it will likely be much easier to get speakers to participate.
When should you use panel webinars?
As Mark Bornstein, VP of Marketing at ON24 says, “No matter where a lead is in the buyer’s journey, a conversation can be just as effective as a presentation.”
Top of Funnel
At the top of funnel, panel webinars can be used in a number of ways:
- To establish your organization as a thought leader and trusted adviser
- To generate net new leads with value-added content
- To generate demand for and awareness of your organization’s expertise and focus areas
- To drive deeper, more meaningful engagement amongst top of funnel leads
Middle of Funnel
In the middle of the funnel, panel webinars should be used to further qualify lead intent with more technical, educational topics that work to differentiate your brand. You can also use them to address use cases and scenarios by hosting a panel of customers who speak about their experiences with your product.
Bottom of Funnel
And at the bottom of the funnel, panel webinars can be used to speak to your core product capabilities with a panel of engineers or product managers, up-sell or cross-sell by promoting new features and product launches, and validate your organization with customers speaking to your expertise.
How much time do you need to prepare a panel webinar?
When planning a panel webinar, you should give yourself between 6-8 weeks to prepare. This will ensure you have your resources planned, promotions mapped out, and topics and speakers confirmed.
Like most webinars, a panel webinar should be between 30-60 minutes. This will help ensure the audience stays engaged the entire length of the session and reduces the possibility of drop-off.
Who are the key stakeholders involved in a panel webinar?
Who’s responsible for what in a panel webinar? Here’s a quick view of the roles and responsibilities:
- Marketing: Strategy, Planning, Production, Promotion
- Sales: Promotion, Lead Engagement, Follow-Up
- Moderator: Discussion Guide, Time Management, Audience Input Management
- Panelists: Subject Matter Experts, Strong Speakers, Engaging Perspectives
Now that you know the principles of producing a panel webinar, it’s time to put it all together. To learn how to do this and much, much more, join us at ON24’s Webinar World 2019 from March 11-13 in San Francisco, CA! PLUS save $500 and get free tickets using the code “Heinz_VIP” at checkout!
Watch keynote presentations, join breakout sessions, and participate in interactive labs all designed to help you utilize webinars and engage for action.
We’ll see you there!
Can’t make it to Webinar World? Join me with a panel of experts from ON24, Netline, Sketchdeck, and DemandBase for our Panel Webinar to Drive Engagement, Action, Conversion, and Loyalty. Learn More >>