As work from home continues, online events are just about the only business events happening. Unfortunately, these are now a dime a dozen, and many of our desired audience members are dealing with acute cases of webinar overload and Zoom fatigue. That means presenters have to work harder than ever to attract people to their online and virtual events. If you’re going to go to all that effort, you want to make sure you get the right audience and you’re generating the right pipeline opportunities.
The best way to do that is to make sure that your virtual events are mapped to the buyer’s journey, and deliver the learning and growth your audience is looking for as they move forward.
In a Banzai webinar on that topic, I spoke with Jason Rose, CMO at Pure Storage, one of the fastest-growing enterprise IT companies in history, and Nick Bennett, Director of Field Marketing for Logz.io and marketing host of The Revenue Podcast to learn how they’re approaching this. Here are some of their top tips:
Incorporating the Buyer's Journey Into Virtual Events
1. Don’t confuse the buyer’s journey with your funnel stages
There are essentially four parts of the journey: awareness, consideration, decision, and purchase. Your funnel could have each of those broken down more, or differently. You don’t need to get that fine with it. You should be building content for the buyer’s journey, not your funnel. The important thing is to understand how long each part of the buyer’s journey is, and how many times you need to touch the prospect to move them to the next part of their journey.
2. Understand your buyer personas
Especially in the enterprise, there are going to be multiple people involved in purchasing decisions. You need to know who they are, and what each needs to know to decide for your offering. If you already have buyer personas, double-check with customers, partners and your sales organization to make sure they are still the right ones, and that you still understand their needs. COVID has changed buying requirements and decision urgency, and some new buyer personas are emerging.
Make sure you know what the journey looks like for each of your personas and tailor your content for them. For example, the storage administrator might be highly interested in a demo to see how a product under consideration meets their technical requirements. The CIO probably won’t come to a demo, but might be interested in benchmarks, maturity models and partnership SLAs.
3. Work with your partners and analysts
Industry analysts can provide current, detailed insights into who’s buying by segment, region, etc. They could also provide valuable intelligence on how your buyers are changing due to COVID and other factors impacting markets. Talk to your partners to understand who they’re targeting, and what they see resonating with decision-makers.
4. Educate and align with Sales
There’s never been a better time for Marketing to align with Sales because their whole world has changed. Unless you’re in an industry where COVID has created a tailwind, salespeople are likely facing strong headwinds and they’re ready to listen.
Help them understand the “dark funnel,” i.e. the awareness and consideration part of the journey where the prospect is out on their own, in the wilderness of the internet, conducting their research. It’s estimated that this accounts for up to 70 percent of the buyer’s journey.
Educate Sales on the digital tactics you’re using to connect with different personas during this part of the journey. Show them how search terms can offer clues into what prospects need to learn. Show them how “digital exhaust” on which accounts are visiting the website can help them prioritize their prospecting time.
Be a proactive partner. Speak their language. Present marketing data in a way they can understand. Find out what they’re running into in the market and design online events to support them. Invite them to attend, so they can hear what prospects are hearing, and what kind of questions they have. Now is the time to build those relationships.
5. Evolve your attribution model
Attribution models designed for in-person selling may need tweaking for the all-digital selling environment. For example, a model based on “high-quality touches” within 30 days of opportunity, where a high-quality touch is an in-person meeting or attendance at a roadshow, won’t accurately reflect how webinars or demos are contributing to, or accelerating pipeline. Make sure you understand what the touch points are now, and are recording them properly.
6. Create SLAs for personalized follow up
There’s nothing worse than putting in all the work and getting all the right people to your virtual event and not converting any to leads. This should be more personalized than just throwing someone into an automated cadence and pushing out the next piece of content.
In the absence of in-person meetings, if someone spends a half-hour or an hour attending your webinar, that is a very strong signal of intent. Certainly, a followup email needs to go out, but you need to put service level agreements (SLAs) in place around that, and around phone follow up within a certain time frame, ideally 24 hours. Marketing’s SLA can help with those scripts: “Hey, you spent an hour with us yesterday. How did that content resonate with you? What problems are you trying to solve for?” They should also create a framework for what piece of content comes next, depending on how that conversation goes.
For the foreseeable future, all sales and marketing have to be done virtually, so online events have taken on new importance. That represents an opportunity to up your game, both in terms of aligning content with the buyer’s journey, and aligning Marketing and Sales to be more strategic about using events to drive pipeline and accelerate deals.
It’s no longer, “Hey, I’ve got a problem in this region. Can you put on a field event?” You do lose something by not being able to share a meal or a beautiful day on the golf course. But with all the attention and resources going into events, if we make the right adjustments, we can create content and processes that are scalable and sustainable post-COVID.