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How To Map Webinars To Customer Journeys For Funnel Optimization

After a long year full of disappointing webinars, it seems like a good time to re-evaluate what has passed for webinar strategy.

Many content creators have fallen into the habit of churning out webinars based on random ideas, regurgitated content from competitors, and attempts at newsjacking to trend in organic search.

Random approaches like these are focused more on topics than user, goals, needs, or search intent. Which often fails to attract and engage with qualified leads throughout their customer journeys. This does no favors for the marketing funnel where consistent, subsequent conversions are the primary objectives.

So, let’s step back and answer a fundamental question: “Why do people attend webinars?”

People typically attend webinars to solve problems. They are often seeking guidance, knowledge, and actionable insights from subject-matter experts. So, when they register for your webinar, they are placing their trust in you to deliver that.

Webinars that don’t live up to these expectations damage that trust, and often lead to low registrations, low attendance rates, and “funnel leak.

“Funnel Leak” is when leads stop engaging with a brand and have thus exited the marketing or sales funnel. These leads did not move on to the next, anticipated, conversion step and are then considered to be lost leads. Identifying where funnel leaks or bottlenecks occur is an integral step for Funnel Optimization.

Clinton Byrd – Growth Marketing Expert

Additionally, funnel leak can be an indication of deeper strategic issues:

Successful webinars meet users where they are in their buyer journey and guide them to their next steps. So, ideally, you should be able to map your webinars out and see a story unfold that leads users to your product or service.

So, to help you optimize your marketing funnel by improving conversions at these key touchpoints, I will explain how to align and map webinars to each stage of the customer’s journey.

These intent-driven guidelines will help you to make better webinars, support buyer journey mapping, improve the user experience, and attract more qualified leads.

Note: The terms “customer’s journey” and “buyer’s journey” are often used synonymously, so I will use them interchangeably.

Pain-Focused Webinars For The Awareness Stage

The awareness stage is where people are first becoming aware of a problem, as well as your brand. At this point, they are seeking to educate themselves on their pain and its causes. To meet this need, you should create “Pain-Focused Webinars.”

Pain-Focused webinars center around a problem that can be tied back to your solution and expertise. These webinars should identify a specific pain or question that they are addressing, and cater to users that have limited to no knowledge of the topic.

Users in the awareness stage often have informational search intent, and may use search queries with questions like, “Why is this happening” or “What is this.”

Since these users are both unaware of your brand and their pain, this places them at the beginning of the marketing funnel, also known as, top of the funnel” or “TOFU” subscribers or leads (depending upon your lead qualification model).

A best practice here is to incorporate “user storiesin the early stages of your creative process. In short, “user stories” are simple statements that indicate a specific type of user, an action, and a goal. While epics are broader, more generalized user stories that can be broken down into multiple user stories.

Both user stories and epics are often used in AGILE methodology and UX design.

A simple template for a user story would look like this, “I am a [persona], and I need to [action] so that I can [goal].”

Template of a User Story Mapping Webinars To Customer Journeys For Funnel Optimization Infographic Clinton Byrd Always The VIP
Template of a User Story – Infographic

If you can’t fill in the blanks of a user story, then you aren’t making your webinars for users – you are likely basing them on business or personal goals instead. If so, take a step back, and do some audience research so you can start creating from the user’s perspective. This is a vital step that you should not skip.

For pain-focused webinars, you want to do 3 things:

  • Offer a top-level explanation of a problem.
  • Explain the symptoms of their problem, so they may self-diagnose.
  • Explain potential consequences if the problem is not resolved.

A successful pain-focused webinar leaves attendees feeling educated and like they have taken a first step in the right direction. Ideally, they will now have the desire to learn more from your brand, engage with your related content, and work towards a solution.

While you could offer a top-level overview of potential solutions here, take care not to make the webinar come off as a sales pitch. If your content is designed and served to keep leads engaged, then you should have ample opportunities to pitch your product in the following webinars with better-qualified leads.

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Use pain-focused webinars to introduce your content as a valuable resource and attract leads that you can guide down a path towards your product. The next stages will surface users who are serious about pursuing a solution.

Example of a Pain-Focused Webinar

A good example of a “Pain-Focused webinar,” is Songtrust’s webinar “What Are Royalties?” This webinar targets musicians who are looking to monetize their music but have realized they lack some fundamental knowledge about royalties.

So, if we made an epic for this webinar, it may be this,

“I am a creator, and I need to learn more about royalties, so I can monetize my work.”

If we made a user story for this, we could go into further detail:

“I am a songwriter, and I need to watch a webinar to learn what publishing royalties are.”

Songtrust What Are Royalties Pain Based Webinar How To Align Webinars With Stage Of The Customer Journey Always The VIP
Songtrust What Are Royalties Pain Based Webinar

This webinar speaks to users in the awareness stage because it doesn’t assume that the audience has any prior knowledge of royalties – It starts from scratch. For example, technical terms are not used until after they are explained. Which makes this webinar a necessary prerequisite before the attendee can delve deeper into their pain.

This webinar type is a building block for relationships with audiences that are just coming to realize their pain exists and filling their knowledge gaps.

Lead Nurturing Webinars For The Interest Stage

The interest stage of the buyer’s journey is where users have chosen to commit more time and attention to researching their problem. At this point, they are likely putting a priority level to their pain, and ready to see how deep the rabbit hole goes. Since they are ready for deeper dives, you should offer, “Lead-Nurturing webinars.”

“Lead-nurturing webinars” are the next conversion after the pain-focused webinar, where you offer users more informational content on the pain:

  • More technical explanations and related topics
  • Perspectives from experts or peers
  • Insights about solutions

Users here are more vested in understanding their pain and its solutions, so they could be considered to be middle of the funnel,” or “MOFU” and marketing qualified leads (depending upon your lead qualification model).

Successful Lead Nurturing Webinars position you as an authority on the user’s pain, reinforces their need for a solution, and fluidly incorporates your brand into the conversation. They also encourage other engagements, like content downloads or page views to further build trust in your brand as a valuable resource.

Example of A Lead Nurturing Webinar

A good example of a Lead Nurturing webinar is Songtrust’s webinar “Where are My Royalties?” This webinar works for lead nurturing because it directly addresses the natural question that comes after a musician has a fundamental knowledge of what publishing royalties are.

An understanding of royalties is an essential prerequisite before they get to this “middle of funnel” point. This next step in their journey takes them deeper into the esoteric world of music publishing.

Lead Nurturing Webinar - Songtrust Where Are My Royalties Webinar - How To Align Webinars With Stage Of The Customer Journey- Always The VIP
Lead Nurturing Webinar – Songtrust Where Are My Royalties Webinar

By explaining more about uncollected royalties, users can prioritize their pains, understand the solutions, and start considering those solutions.

Product-Related Webinars For The Decision Stage

The decision stage of the buyer’s journey is where the user has a firm understanding of their problem and is now researching solutions. Since they have learned about their problem from you, you have an advantage over your competitors. So, this is your opportunity to offer, “Product-Related webinars.”

Product-related webinars introduce your value propositions and explain why your product is the ideal solution. So, this is where you can now discuss your technological advantages, industry experience, and offer content like case studies and white papers.

When a user attends a Product-Related Webinar, this is an indication of buying intent, which often categorizes them as a bottom of the funnel” or BOFU sales qualified lead (depending upon your lead qualification model).

At this point, their search intent is often in the realm of “commercial investigation” or “transactional” since they’re researching which product/service is the “best fit” for their needs. Now they are likely using specific branded keywords in their search queries to find product information and comparisons.

Product-related webinars should communicate your strengths and competitive advantages:

  • Real-world scenarios where your products would offer an effective solution.
  • Competitive comparisons.
  • Panel discussions with existing customers explaining how they use your product to solve their problems.

Successful product-related webinars convince users that your solution is the best option to meet their needs.

Example of A Product-Related Webinar

I found a good example of a product-related webinar by SEMrush. This is a marketing tool that I frequently use for competitive analyses and content creation.

This webinar, “How to Land 200+ Links with Free Data and One Great Story: A Case Study”, would attract an audience that has preexisting knowledge of link building, their need for it, and an understanding of its value. It represents a real-world application to convince users that the SEMrush’s service is an ideal solution for this purpose.

The value proposition is ingrained in this content, which makes it perfect for “bottom of funnel” leads as well as existing customers looking to get the most out of the service.

Product Demo Webinars For The Acquisition Stage

The acquisition stage of the buyer’s journey is where the user is almost assuredly “sales-ready,” which means that they are seriously considering purchasing your product or service. This is where lead nurturing tapers off or ends, and your sales team take the reins with “Product Demo Webinars” to convince sales qualified leads (SQLs) to take the leap and make that final purchase.

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While “Product-Related Webinars” are often led by your marketing team, “Product Demo Webinars” should be led by or involve members from the sales team, and possibly the product team depending on the topics covered.

After all, Product Demo webinars are where you make your sales pitch:

  • Walkthrough of your product features
  • Explain feature benefits
  • Discuss technical requirements

This is where you may have to answer tough and detailed questions. And no one is likely more qualified to answer tough questions on the fly, or know where to redirect those answers from, than the sales team.

Successful Product Demo Webinars end with either customer conversions or new deals in the sales pipeline.

[Note: I refrained from listing product-centric webinar examples for lack of finding public ones that met my standards.]

Product Training Webinars For The Loyalty Stage

The loyalty stage of the buyer’s journey is for users who have now become new customers, and where you make your important first impressions as a service provider. For this purpose, you will provide “Product Training Webinars.”

Product Training Webinars should cover the basics that every customer needs to know to start using your product right away. For this purpose, it is best to have a series of prerecorded onboarding videos for automation to serve to every new customer.

Product Training Webinars are also where you should proactively answer frequently asked questions and concerns or inspire creative ideas:

  • Important features that are often underused or overlooked.
  • Step-by-step walkthroughs of technical/intricate features.
  • Features that are critical to getting the most out of your product.

Successful Product Training Webinars ensure that new customers understand how to fully utilize your product/service, apply it in their environment, and hopefully get them even more excited about their purchase. And any customers who still have questions are directed to where they can get answers.

These webinars are also your chances to show users that they are a part of a larger community of active and new customers, which adds a layer of social proof to your webinars.

Pro Tip: This is a prime opportunity to create webinars for various audience segments of your customers that use specific features to garner high engagement levels and positive feedback.

Product Update Webinars For The Retention Stage

The retention and referral stage of the buyer’s journey is when users are existing customers, and your efforts are geared towards customer satisfaction. This is where your customers have enough experience with your product to make a solid judgement call whether they will remain customers in the long run or would refer your product to others. “Product Update Webinars” will play a big role in this regard, and in proving to your customers that you are still the ideal solution.

Product update webinars should include,

  • New features and improvements.
  • User Experience enhancements.
  • Platform, service, pricing changes inspired customer feedback.

Successful Product Update Webinars prove that you are listening to your customers, improving your product to meet their needs, and worthy of their continued business and referrals. “Word of mouth” is one of the most powerful marketing channels, and this is one key way to encourage it.

These “bottom of the funnel” webinars are just one way to keep customers inside your marketing funnel and make them into customer evangelists who vocally champion your brand. This reminds us that marketing funnels, like the customer journey, are flywheels – Winning over your customers is a never-ending task.

Infographic: Webinar Types For Each Stage Of the Customer Journey

After applying my methodology and matching these webinar types to stages in your marketing funnel, it should like the following infographic:

Webinars Types For Each Stage Of The Customer Journey Infographic Mapping Webinars To Customer Journeys For Funnel Optimization Clinton Byrd Always The VIP
Webinar Types For Each Stage Of The Customer Journey Infographic

At this point, you should now be able to easily spot the gaps in your webinar strategy and if it has been aligned with your business goals.

So by following these guidelines, you should not only be able to make the necessary improvements to your webinars, but can also enhance your overall marketing strategy:

  • Incorporating user intent into your creative processes.
  • Ensuring that webinars align with your target audiences’ pains.
  • Creating content that supports lead qualification

And this may even inspire ideas for repurposing your old webinar content!

I can tell you from experience – while leading growth marketing strategies for various companies – that the buyer’s journey seems simple in discussion. But when you begin mapping it, and as your marketing strategies, tactics, and channels expand, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep your entire team aligned with it.

So, I highly recommend that you periodically revisit your customer journey map as you introduce new marketing tactics and different types of content. Then you will always have the user’s experience as your guiding light – as it should be.

If this article was helpful, please share it to support the blog. The more support you give, the more I give to it and share ideas like these.

And feel free to shout me out on LinkedIn with a share – We can chat it up.

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About Author
Clinton Byrd Headshot

A growth marketing expert, nightlife and events consultant, and fashion producer. He is the Founder of Always The VIP and has led omnichannel marketing, sales operation, and CRM strategies for various companies. He has written authoritative articles on data-driven lead nurturing, SEO due diligence, and lifecycle marketing to earn the well-deserved moniker of “growth hacker.”

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