Content creators often fall into the habit of churning out webinars based on random ideas, regurgitated content from competitors, and attempts at news jacking to trend in organic search.
Random approaches like these are focused more on keyword volume than user pains or intent. Which often fails to attract ideal leads and does no favors for the marketing funnel.
So, let’s start by answering a fundamental question: “Why do people attend webinars?”
People typically attend webinars to solve problems. They are seeking guidance, knowledge, and actionable insights from subject-matter experts on a particular topic.
Webinars that don’t meet these expectations are bound to cause “funnel leak.“
“Funnel Leak” is when leads stop engaging with a brand and have thus exited the marketing or sales funnel. By not taking the next conversion step, they may be considered cold or lost leads. Identifying where funnel leaks or bottlenecks occur is an integral step for Funnel Optimization.Clinton Byrd – Growth Marketing Expert
And when funnel leak happens, it is an indication of other larger, strategic weaknesses:
- Siloed marketing teams with misaligned goals and campaigns
- A content strategy that disconnects from business goals
- The lack of an integrated marketing strategy to offer a cohesive user experience
Successful webinars are wstrategically placed at points in buyer journey to guide leads toward a purchase.
So, in this article I will explain webinar strategies for each stage of the customer’s journey that I’ve used to achieve 45% attendance rates, and 80% MQL to SQL conversion rates while leading marketing for various large companies.
These intent-driven guidelines will help you make better webinars for different target audiences, support buyer journey mapping, improve the overall user experience, and to attract and retain more qualified leads.
Note: The terms “customer’s journey” and “buyer’s journey” are often used synonymously, so I will use them interchangeably.
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 stories” in 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.
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].”
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.
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.”
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.
Webinars To Build Interest And Trust
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.
By explaining more about uncollected royalties, users can prioritize their pains, understand the solutions, and start considering those solutions.
Webinars To Position Your Solution
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 you offer 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 early 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). And at this point, you may determine these leads to be “sales-ready,” and assign a sales development representative (SDR), or a sales representative to make initial contact, nurture a relationship, and see if there is true buying interest.
The user interactions become very important here, as there could be false buying indications. For example, some technical professionals may just be researching new technology on the market for educational purposes, but not looking to replace any in their existing stack – giving a false indication of buying intent.
At this point, the 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.
Webinars To Close Sales
The acquisition stage of the buyer’s journey is where the user is assuredly “sales-ready” and is now “buying-ready,” which means that they are seriously considering purchasing your product, may currently be in a deal with sales, and are making their final purchase decision.
Search intent at this stage is commercial and transactional, as the user is looking for the detailed information they need to buy. So your content is all about your offering.
This is where lead nurturing tapers off or ends, and your sales team takes the reins with “Product Demo Webinars” to convince sales-qualified leads (SQLs) and opportunities to make that final purchase decision. The leads invited to these webinars should be vetted and preferably in open deals. No guest here should be “window-shopping.”
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 detailed sales pitches to the most qualified leads that will close deals:
- Walkthrough of your product features and benefits
- Explain pricing tiers, subscription, and membership options
- Discuss technical requirements and implementation
This is where you may have to answer tough and detailed questions from multiple decision-makers. And no one is likely more qualified to answer tough questions on the spot or know where to redirect those answers, than the sales team or your technical product team.
It is not a bad idea to use recorded technical product demos. However, live product demos should always be available for highly qualified leads. Also, a live demo with a ton of interested leads can add a layer of social proof that could make help a deal close.
Successful Product Demo Webinars end with either customer conversions, closed-won deals, or movement of deals in the sales pipeline.
[Note: I refrained from listing product-centric webinar examples for lack of finding public ones that met my standards.]
Webinars For New Customers
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.”
Search intent may now be informational, commercial, or transactional. As users will be researching various aspects of your product and resources from your website, blog, and help center. One day they may look for information about upgrading plans, another day it may be for technical troubleshooting.
Product Training Webinars should cover the basics that every customer needs to know to start using your product right away and incorporate it into their daily routine. This is an essential part of a product-led growth strategy. And, for this purpose, it is best to have a series of prerecorded onboarding videos for automation to serve every new customer.
Product Training Webinars are also where you should proactively answer frequently asked questions and concerns or inspire creative ideas:
- Onboarding Videos
- 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.
Webinars To Prevent Churn and Get Referrals
The retention and referral stage of the buyer’s journey is when users have become customers, and your efforts are geared towards customer satisfaction. Here customers have 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 turn them into evangelists who will be a champion for 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:
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.
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