We see new technologies emerging daily and new business models replacing the old ones at a rapid pace. Companies appear and disappear overnight, while the social and economic earthquakes consistently shape how people buy.
However, regardless of the uncertainty and the ongoing shifts happening worldwide, people’s need to connect, engage, and build relationships remains constant.
Our tendency to view the world in terms of social relationships guides our actions, including our engagement with companies and new product purchases. In other words, despite changes in business and consumer habits, people will retain an ongoing need to be part of communities and participate in emotional relationship-building. Knowing how to leverage this trait differentiates winning brands from the rest. How do they do it? Successful companies use engagement marketing as their main outreach and connection-building tool.
Luckily, engagement marketing strategies aren’t exclusive to a handful of professionals. You can also deploy the same tactics to connect with your audience and build a rich community around your brand so your brand will stand out from the competition.
One-Way Communication Is Outdated
Marketing professionals commonly see their audiences as passive information consumers and so rely on one-way communication channels. Tools such as email marketing, content marketing, and paid advertisement serve that purpose, allowing brands to communicate their value proposition. But considering the overwhelming amount of information companies generate daily, it’s become almost impossible for brands to break through the online noise.
On the other hand, buyers nowadays have different expectations; they seek to communicate actively with multiple companies. According to a Forrester report, “B2B buyers now demand an entirely different kind of relationship with your organization: They expect to be treated as equal partners, through experiences that are increasingly open, connected, intuitive, and immediate.”
The report states, “Connectedness is more than a strong one-to-one relationship with buyers. As the B2B buying ecosystem expands, third parties, not vendors, are becoming the buyer’s preferred sources of information, with customer references at the top of the list.”
Buyers have no interest in passively consuming company-centered information. They already have access to an overwhelming amount of high-quality information from third-party platforms to make up their mind about a purchase.
However, as the Forrester report highlights, buyers now want to be treated as equal partners, engaging in two-way communication with brands. Engagement marketing is the best way to meet these new expectations and strengthen customer interaction with your company.
What’s Engagement Marketing?
Engagement marketing is a model that focuses on building relationships with leads, prospects, and customers through two-way communication channels, such as marketing webinars.
The old marketing funnel is obsolete. Although straightforward and actionable, it lacks a human focus and treats leads like faceless numbers. The traditional B2B and B2C marketing funnels are more attuned to a company’s sales cycle rather than people’s experience researching and buying a product.
As a result, companies have minimal influence and face challenges like low-quality leads, lack of customer engagement, and fewer sales. So, instead of trying to force your corporate-centered funnel to work, it’s smarter to embrace people’s need to engage and build your marketing funnel around long-lasting relationships with your audience.
Put people at the center of their buying experience, focusing on client engagement and highlighting the emotional stage that guides them toward their desired outcome. Engagement strategy, or relationship marketing, has become crucial to designing satisfying buyer experiences.
Wait, Marketing Webinars Can Be Engaging?
The short answer is, “Yes.” Webinars help you build relationships with your audience over time as well as they are great customer engagement tools. Contrary to some past perceptions of webinars as long-winded lectures or glorified meetings, their full potential can be reached when designed to engage as they allow you to:
- Build real-time conversations with your audience
- Engage people before, during, and after webinars
- Implement interactivity tools to learn more about your attendees
- Reengage your online audience
- Gather attendee feedback
Compared to one-way communication, webinars provide the right environment to listen to your attendees and get to know them better. As a result, you gradually build trust, ignite long-lasting connections, and nurture relationships that’ll subsequently transform into conversions, sales, upsells, cross-sells, and advocacy. Moreover, you’ll always be in touch with your audience, uncovering their needs and improving your offer to maximize the value you deliver.
Use Webinar Marketing To Connect With Your Audience
You can leverage each stage in your webinar management process to utilize every environment you communicate with your audience as perfect engagement tools. Let’s analyze the stages separately.
➡️ Before the Webinar
- Ask people to vote on the webinar topic. Launch a poll on social media and engage people by asking them to choose the webinar topic. You can offer multiple options, ensuring you’ll tackle the subject that matters most to your community.
- Collect questions before the webinar. Although you’ll run a Q&A session, you can also solicit questions before the webinar to make sure you clarify people’s doubts. You can implement this user engagement practice for onboarding webinars.
➡️ During the Webinar
- Get everyone involved with live polls. Live polls are effective at reengaging your attendees during marketing webinars. Apart from being fun, live polls will help you get to know your audience better.
- Enable private and public chats. Foster public conversations and allow your audience to engage in private talks. This will strengthen your community and help attendees ignite meaningful connections with like-minded people.
- Add emotion with emoji gestures and mentions. You can diversify your audience’s engagement experience through emoji gestures and the ability to mention other participants.
- Encourage people to vote. At Banzai, we run Battle Webinars, where top industry leaders debate about different revenue topics. The audience then votes for the winner. It’s an excellent engagement practice that lets people have a say in the webinar’s outcome.
- Offer goodies and downloads. Feature handouts such as eBooks, reports, presentations, and templates that people can download during the webinar. Along with providing your audience a valuable resource, you’ll optimize engagement by identifying the names of those who interact the most with your brand. As a result, you’ll be able to send them personalized emails and keep nurturing the connection you established with them during the webinar.
- Highlight a Call to Action (CTA). Another way to engage your attendees is by including CTAs in your webinars, such as “Sign up for a free trial” or “Access a discount.”
- Boost Q&A participation. Involvement in the Q&A session is the ultimate proof of attendees’ active participation in a webinar. After all, your attendees won’t ask questions if they didn’t pay attention to your webinar or weren’t interested in the subject.
- Bring attendees on stage. You can engage your attendees in real-time conversations, encourage them to share their knowledge, or make a point adding value to your webinar.
➡️ After the Webinar
- Send knowledge-packed follow-ups. As you likely know, webinars shouldn’t end once the session is over. Afterward, you can reengage attendees by sending them a follow-up communication that includes elements such as a thank you note, the webinar recording, the presentation deck (if you had one), a conversation summary, and any other content pieces related to your webinar’s topic. You can close your email with a CTA asking people to share any questions or doubts they have.
- Give post-webinar gifts. Engage people by sending them a gift. This can be a discount code, a downloadable, or free access to a future event.
- Follow up with detailed answers to questions. Reengage and reconnect with the attendees who asked questions during the Q&A session by following up with a detailed answer.
- Invite people to new webinars. Another way to engage with your audience is by sending them an invitation to a future webinar.
- Engage non-attendees. Remember to interact with those who registered but didn’t attend your webinar. Engage with them by sending the webinar recording or asking them to attend your next live session.
If you consider and take the above actions, you’ll enjoy the results of a robust engagement marketing strategy, ensuring a strong, long-lasting connection with your audience.
Build a Community With Webinars
You can also use marketing webinars to build or strengthen your community; they’ll help you transform followers and attendees into community members.
For example, you can run a webinar cadence: Build a series of webinars around one subject or format, transforming them into a media product. As we mentioned in one of our articles, more and more companies are moving from earned to owned media, investing resources into creating bingeable content like TV shows.
Compared to regular content, media products have a well-defined concept and a recognizable format — with a twist. Hot Takes by Thought Industries is an excellent example: Instead of simply launching an interview-based webinar series, Thought Industries constructed a unique content model that features interviews with experts and spicy wings. Instead of regular conversations, the interview guests answer industry questions while eating increasingly spicier wings.
It’s a memorable format, and Hot Takes also creates an excellent post-webinar environment for conversations, engagement, and community-building dynamics on social media.
Access Engagement at Scale
Compared to other two-way communication platforms, webinars allow engagement at scale. The session format enables dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of attendees to interact with you and the rest of the audience. Whether you launch a live poll, offer a handout, or include a Q&A session, people can actively participate by:
- Engaging with the webinar content
- Sharing thoughts, ideas, and doubts
- Igniting conversations with the webinar hosts
- Interacting in real time with the webinar speakers
One webinar is enough to engage your entire audience and later leverage the trust and connection you’ve established with your leads.
Also, recall that webinars are conversation starters that later transform into one-on-one interactions with leads, prospects, customers, and users. However, you can’t guarantee a high level of attendee engagement without the right webinar platform.
Luckily, webinar platforms such as Demio are carefully designed for user engagement. Apart from a robust webinar infrastructure, Demio provides multiple attendee engagement tools accompanied by a solution dedicated to analytics, which will help you evaluate your webinar ROI metrics and improve your future sessions.
Demio is the only webinar platform that offers an engagement experience unlike anything you’ve seen before. Its wide range of tools and functions helps your revenue team foster long-lasting connections with your leads, prospects, and customers.
Engagement marketing is the best way to differentiate your brand from your competitors, build trust, and connect with your audience. Unlike traditional marketing strategies, engagement marketing is based on two-way communication, which facilitates fruitful interactions between your potential buyers and your company.
Marketing webinars are one of the most effective two-way communication practices, allowing you to engage your audience in meaningful conversations and interactions. Moreover, you can take advantage of different stages in your webinar planning and live launch to deploy multiple engagement tools.