As the pandemic brought conferences, roadshows, networking and in-person sales calls to a halt, marketers doubled down on webinars and virtual events. According to research from Statista, between February and March 2020, the number of B2B brands offering webinars grew by 36 percent. Webinars and virtual events quickly became the only game in town, and the market was flooded with them, making it harder to come up with a standout offering. Suddenly, Zoom fatigue became a thing.
At the same time, people were being bombarded with digital promotions. New data shows that the average number of sales emails sent out has doubled since the start of the pandemic. Sales phone calls are up 65%; marketing emails are 32% more frequent and ad spend is up 52%. This information overload, combined with longer hours-- 48.5 more minutes per day compared to pre-pandemic workdays--has contributed to a rise in burnout. In our own Banzai mini-poll, 74% of respondents reported feeling burnt out at least once a week.
In short, the market is saturated with webinars, and competition for tired eyeballs is stiff. It requires serious creativity to drive attendance to your online event. We picked the brains of some savvy marketers to collect their top tips for getting people to their virtual events. Here are some of their strategies:
Nail the event name - Kris Sharma, Webinar Dude, WebinarGrow
My company promotes a lot of webinars for clients using outbound cold email, personalized event invitations, cross promotion with partner lists, and social media posting--a fairly typical mix. One thing that really improves results across all those channels is having the right title for your webinar. The title can do 90% of the work for you.
We'll A/B test two or three different titles for the webinar. Then we use Smart Traffic, an AI-powered landing page testing platform to then direct traffic to the best performing one. We put on a webinar recently where we tested two titles: “Building a virtual insurance agency,” vs. “Building a pandemic-proof insurance agency.” The pandemic-proof title had triple the conversion rates, so we filtered the traffic to that new title and it did great. You gotta pique their interest as quickly as you can.
Workshops, not webinars - Neha Pujari, Senior Marketing Manager, Field and Partner Marketing, Blazeclan Technologies
Our most successful promotion was for an Azure data modernization “In a day” workshop series with our partners at Microsoft. We surpassed our registration goal by more than 33%.
The workshop content was a combination of learning cohorts and hands-on lab --- offering a fast way to gain real experience with Azure within a live Microsoft environment. We created blogs, leveraged our success stories on the topic, and shared them with our prospects and customers to convey the value of the curriculum. Nowhere did we ask them to talk to our sales rep.
Our acquisition strategy was a mix of all touchpoints - email, power blitz, personalized invites to our customers, organic, and paid promotions. We stitched our content within all touchpoints, sharing blogs and case studies to ensure we provided enough value up front to trigger interest. Then we followed up on the email campaign with a calling power blitz. We called again with reminders to attend one week, one day and 90 minutes from the event start time. Our target was to get 30 accounts to the workshop. More than 40 accounts registered and on the day of the workshop we had a full house.
Create calendar holds for AEs and SDRs - Corrina Owens, Director of Marketing, Head of ABM and Demand Generation, Profisee
Our most successful event to date was a thought leadership webinar with Microsoft, one of our key strategic partners, around our latest product release--our most important one this year. We almost broke ON24 by maxing out the number of live attendees.
The key to success was alignment--both internally and externally with Microsoft. Internally, we made it an all hands on deck initiative with blogs and social posts linking to the event registration page. We ran an email campaign, and we also asked our AEs and our SDRs to send out personalized invitations. But we didn’t just ask--we got buy-in from our VP of Sales to add calendar holds for each AE and SDR to block time for them to send invitations and reminders at designated intervals. That personal touch made all the difference. We can have 1,000 people ON24 and we got 970.
Enlist bots to help - Nancy Mayo, AVP of ABM Technology & Partnerships, ROI DNA
We orchestrate virtual event campaigns for our clients. Two of our most successful ones have used co-branded partner pages that use each company's value to bring everybody to the table. Then we often recommend using a Drift chatbot in conjunction. You have two audiences--some who want to learn more, and then some who just want to register. We use the bot to strike up a conversation, which we write the script for to make it sound more human: “Hey, does this event sound like something you’d like to come to?” If the answer is no, the bot asks if we can send more information. If the answer is yes, then it says “great!” and takes you through the registration process--no need to click through to another page. That little nudge, and then taking the friction out of registering upped our registrations 33% the first time we tried it.
Run a paid search ad with a countdown - Lindsey Henderson, Digital Marketing Manager, Exabeam
One interesting thing you can do is add countdowns to your text ads on Google paid search. This is something that was popular for conferences, but it can work just as well for virtual events.
These are dynamic ads that will show up at the top of the search results, before the organic results, and it’s just a little more eye-catching. Be strategic about your keywords and how users are searching. You can test countdown customizers on existing branded and non-branded campaigns and compare performance against your current text ads. You could even try this with on demand webinars, making them available for a limited time only.
Give the people what they want - Todd Clouser - Global Growth Marketing Manager, CustomerGauge
We had a live in-person event that we ran every year, which we transitioned into a digital weekly event. It’s very much an educational event, kind of a Q&A with a panel of internal and external people.
One of the things that we found was really successful in bringing in new attendees is engaging both the sales team and also the CSM team. We created a one-page outline about the event, and had the sales team add it into their slide deck, so at the end of all of their prospect calls, they invite those prospects to come to the event. The same thing with the CSMs. Anytime they have customer calls, they invite the customers to that event.
We also ask the sales and CSM teams to help us source the questions for the events in order to help determine the panelists. Then we create images to help promote each event, dropping the graphics and pre-written posts in a Google drive that we’ve set up for each of our internal influencers to make it as easy as possible for them to share on social media.
The biggest success factor has really been the topic of conversation. We had a customer that achieved an 80 NPS (Net Promoter Score). That inspired a panel on "The Path to 80 NPS." Within less than a day, we had about 150 new registrants, about double our normal registration rate, so I’d say it’s really about honing in on exactly what the audience wants to hear about and then crafting a compelling event around that.