Art & Science of Webinars: Fighting Webinar Fatigue with Gabby Torres-Soler

In this Art & Science of Webinars webinar, we cover webinar tips and tricks that we’ve gleaned through promoting over 1,000 webinars for our customers. In this recorded webinar, our guest speaker and customer Gabby Torres-Solar of DataCore Software shares her best practices when producing webinars to ensure a successful event with an engaged audience.  She shares her experience and best practices to:

  • Fight webinar fatigue
  • Leverage on-demand
  • Do more with less: simulated live events
  • Seeding questions directly from the field
  • Boosting engagement with an on-demand product demo video

Tom: Hi, everybody. This is Tom Riddle from Virtual Intelligence Briefing. Thank you for joining us today for another edition of the ViB success series webinars. Today’s focus is the art and science of webinars: top tips from ViB’S top performing customers. Today, we’re gonna learn proven tips and techniques from webinar pros with whom we’ve performed over 500 webinars. Some of the subjects we’re gonna touch on today are the COVID-19 effect and the associated effect of webinar fatigue, and how you can turn that into a competitive advantage actually, webinar promotion, which formats perform best, how do you increase engagement, which is a very, very important topic. You’ve done all this work on the webinar. Now you need to make sure people are locked in. We’re gonna talk about multiplying your webinar ROI, and we’re gonna close with a top performing webinar email subject line, which is the most often question we’re asked.

And so today’s speaker is myself. I’m the director of survey and research solutions. Joining us today is Gabby Torres-Soler, who is a field marketing manager for one of our customers, DataCore. And, so as a thank-you for attending today, everybody will receive an Amazon gift card. And at the end, we’re gonna have a drawing for a few DoorDash cards as well. You have to, need to attend to the end in order to be part of that drawing. And so we’re also gonna have a gift card multiplier today.

And you could chat these, your responses during the webinar, doubling it to $20 for if you can tell us your top three takeaways during the webinar. We’ll make that $50 if you provide us a great webinar tip or idea that we use on our next webinar, so just tell us the idea in the chat window and we’ll contact you. And then, we also have a $250 gift card if you present five minutes or seven minutes of a great tip, technique, case study on our next webinar. So, again, chat the ideas, and we’ll contact you after the webinar.

Today’s agenda in a little bit more detail. We’re gonna talk about the webinar information source today for all this information, which is our customers, feedback from them, and ideas that they’ve graciously donated to make this webinar today a success. Again, the COVID-19 effect, why webinars, webinar formats and topics. And then we’re gonna have Gabby talk about some really interesting insights and tips learned in the trenches from promoting many webinars. And then we’re gonna get in a little bit more detail about promoting webinars, what the data says. We’re gonna talk about attention science, how you drive strong engagement, multiplying your webinar ROI, and best practices. I should say the best webinar promotion email subject line.

And so, information sources for today’s webinars, again, are the real world experiences of our customers which whom we performed, promoted, I should say, over 500 webinars. So specifically, customer feedback on the webinar performance. And then what we did is we drilled down and had interviews with customers reporting the most exceptional results. And we could break that feedback down into two distinct areas. One, and I got this backwards here, the science, which is how you measure and optimize, and the art, which are creative, out of the box ideas, some of which Gabby will talk about today, and some others we’ll be presenting as well.

So, let’s start by touching on the COVID-19 effect. And the way we’re gonna show you this is through the lens of ViB, the demand that we’ve had for our webinar promotion services. So, you know, prior to COVID-19 really hitting the radar screen, we were experiencing normal year-to-year growth in customers asking us to help promote webinars for them. And what we noticed was interesting. We attended RSA, the security event, multi-day event, with about 600 presenters. And what we noticed, and we heard a little bit of buzz around RSA was that there was a lower foot traffic than normal.

And so then, in the early March timeframe, we noticed there was a start of event cancellations, and then got a little bit worse in the public consciousness, an event that I think everybody had heard about is major sports leagues were suspending their season. And so you could see, with these different events, it was a gradual or pronounced increase in the amount of webinars our customers are asking us to promote. And then again, the stay in place, and you think, boy, then it was real to everybody. And now we’re in a period which we see as maybe the new normal, depending on how COVID strikes, shakes out, I should say.

So, what are the reasons? A big shift from expensive physical events to nimble virtual events. Now, that brings some issues with it as well. It’s an enormous opportunity, but Gabby’s gonna talk a little bit later about how that can cause a little bit of webinar fatigue, and how knowing some of these tricks in the toolkit will give you a competitive advantage to turn that into your advantage.

So, another driver for this is a realization that many prospects have that higher attention availability. And one of the interesting things we heard or read around this time that really correlated was, I think, “USA Today” did a poll that showed three out of every five Americans were using the extra time they had on learning and self-improvement. And we’ve seen this too with our customers’ customers, who have a little bit more time on their hand due to COVID. The data sources for today, our customer set, our customers range from startups all the way up to very large enterprises, and the areas that they sell into range from IT/OT and apps to marketing platforms, sales engagement platforms, operations, HR, finance, and more. And so, the common denominator here, and one of the reasons that our customers work with us, is we have a strong, two million-plus community that respects our brand and responds to our customers’ offers that are representative of these different company sizes, and also these different topical areas.

So, a little bit about the types of webinars that we perform for our customers, these webinars being the subject matter for these topics today, it ranges from, we’ve got customers that are very, very, very large companies, billion dollar-plus companies, that perform up to one webinar a week. And on the other end, we have customers that perform just one webinar a year. And these may be people that are either new companies that are starting out, or companies that are a little bit farther along, that are just now dipping their toes into webinars.

Number of attendees, kind of a similar chart. Our largest customers, billion dollar-plus corporations, are getting huge webinar attendees, about 2,500 or more per webinar. That’s a small percent. And on the other side, it’s interesting. There’s small, very focused webinars that attract about 50 or so. Now, you may say, wow, is that a really effective webinar if you attracted just 50? Well, it’s interesting, and we’re gonna talk about it. There’s a strategy now that people are employing is to focus sometimes on very, very niche webinars, a specific use case or a specific industry. And what they’re finding is they’re getting a larger than normal conversion rate.

So, why webinars? And Gabby can talk a little bit more about this, but what we hear, paraphrasing our customers, is the best way to develop quality leads. About 72% of our customers said that, and the ones that didn’t had webinars a strong second. Some of the things we heard is the “best way to establish trust and authority,” the “most effective way to secure attention for a productive amount of time.” And we’re gonna talk a little bit about how you make sure you’re securing those people from the attention, attentiveness perspective through that amount of time, to make it really productive. And also, customers say it “works across the entire journey.”

There’s a webinar topic that can align with the attention phase, the consideration phase, and also the decision phase, where the rubber meets the road. They’re about to either sign that check or not, and you can give them a little bit more affirming information.

And so now, let’s hear from Gabby. Gabby Torres-Soler, as we mentioned, the field marketing manager at DataCore, and here’s some of the topics Gabby will be covering.

Gabby: Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for having me, Tom and Sean, and I am excited to share my, you know, some of my tips and tricks. I’ve been doing webinars for quite a long time. And as Tom mentioned, I am the field marketing manager at DataCore Software. And we sell data storage software to companies of all sizes. What I love most about my role right now is being able to, I love that the webinar’s actually called “Art and Science of Webinars” because that’s how I think about marketing, and my role is mixing the data-driven elements with the creative aspects. So I thought the name was very suiting to the thing that I love about marketing.

So, I just wanna jump in first and talk about webinar fatigue. I think it’s pretty top of mind for everyone, and it’s been a term that I’ve been using or that I’ve adopted in recent months, because everyone is doing a webinar right now. We are all competing for our audience, and with the lack of in-person events, with the lack of road shows, or even doing small lunch and learns, you kind of have to turn to your next best option, right? And so, not only are companies competing for the same audience, but they’re competing for the same time slots. They’re competing for the best-performing days, for the best length of the webinar.

And so, having five, six, seven webinars in your inbox to attend can be super overwhelming. And at the beginning, and this is also anecdotally, but I’m sure a lot of people on the call might’ve seen it, seen a similar…had a similar experience, where, at first you might’ve seen a lot of people join and get involved, and, you know, a lot of people working from home, so they have more time to kind of sit and watch these 45-minutes webinars with you.

Well, that’s not the case two months later, right? Everyone’s been working from home, everyone’s tired, everyone’s seen five, six, seven webinars maybe a week, and maybe in a month, which is just way more than what they’re normally used to. So taking a step back and trying to not overwhelm the audience and maybe leverage other ways that you can use the same videos that you have been using for your webinars is where I’m going to jump in and talk about these tips that I’ve started to adopt at DataCore right now, because we saw a significant drop in live attendance rates during our webinars. But surprisingly enough, we saw a huge uptick in viewed on-demand. And as a marketer myself, I love attending webinars. I find them super valuable. I find a lot of the information that I can use to put into practice from webinars, but, you know, I host two or three a week, so, and they all compete at the same time. So I’m not even able to join them when I want to. But I do check them out afterwards on-demand.

And one of the biggest stats that really, really resonated with me is that GoToWebinar recently put out that 84% of viewers actually prefer to watch it on-demand. And so how can we leverage that from a company standpoint to still get the same engagement right across the board and have a successful program like a webinar, but being able to do a little bit less work upfront? So, in that, I will jump into the simulated live and recordings, and how to do more with less in that aspect.

Prerecording your webinars, whether you’re the host or whether you’re co-hosting with someone or whether you’re working with a partner will give you a little bit more freedom into speeding up that process and having it done beforehand. And then you can upload it. We use GoToWebinar and we use BrightTALK. Both of them allow for this simulated live on-demand feel, so you’re able to just kind of set it and forget it. And you check in maybe on a weekly basis, depending on how often it’s running, to check in with your leads, check in with the questions after the 24 hours that it’s happened, and make sure that you leverage those questions as the follow-up for your leads and when you wanna talk to them.

Also, the prerecording helps you control, you know, those, kind of, day-of jitters and stuff. I know, I feel like I’m talking super fast right now, right, because we’re doing this live. But you have a little bit more control over what’s spoken, how the script flows, and what are the things that you really wanna highlight? I wanna stop there and make sure that I’m answering any questions, or if anyone has any thoughts on any of that.

Yeah. I see some about YouTube Live and Facebook Live. Yeah, those are all great ideas for doing that, to, staying away from traditional webinars. Another thing that has really helped from a tips perspective of doing more with less, or even just incorporating some good ideas into the content of your webinar is ask the field, ask your sales team, ask your product marketers, what are the questions that come up a lot during your calls and during research, that you can incorporate then and pack into your webinar when you’re simulating live, that you can have just canned questions that are normally asked about during your webinars to begin with, so you already have that dialogue at the end, so it doesn’t feel like it abruptly ends or anything like that, and it feels very seamless.

The simulated live, we actually, one of the major things that we did was during a weekly product demo that I host every week with my product marketers and some solution architects. And what we kept realizing is the attendance rate kept going down and down, and the return wasn’t being as good as it was. And so, not only is it taking an hour or two of my time a week, it was taking an hour or two of my product marketer and the solutions architect. And, you know, with everything that’s going on in the world, we’re being pulled in so many different directions, so my first instinct was, how can I streamline this process? How can I make it easier on everyone and still get similar or even better results potentially?

And so, we’ve actually switched to doing it on-demand, doing it a, you know, you fill out the form to register for the webinar and it actually automatically plays, like a video. And we’ve seen our engagement boost incredibly, you know, significantly. More people are actually engaging with the content, more people are actually signing up more often. You know, even if we do it on a weekly basis anyways, but now it’s instant, it’s in their hands, it’s when they want it, and they’re able to get all of the information they want when they want it.

And so, we’ve seen great success with that so far. So I highly encourage you all to try those out. And based on different topics and different ideas that you can do with these, you can even do, you know, chats, and, or like lunch and learn talks, fireside chats, round tables. It doesn’t have to be a slide show. It doesn’t have to feel stuffy or pre, you know, like it’s a video that you’re recording. Just keep it conversational, keep it exciting and fresh, and set it and forget it. And hopefully your engagement will increase. I hope.

Tom: That’s great, Gabby. I really appreciate you taking the time. Those are awesome tips. And we’re getting some feedback today in the chat from people like Leslie Gross, Mark Sakolivski [SP]. And I know I’m massacring that name, and I apologize. Mirza Bag talking about simulated and their use of those, great use of those. And some others as well. So please [inaudible 00:18:10]. So please keep your suggestions and tips coming, and don’t forget about telling us about your top three takeaways. And so with that, let’s talk about webinar formats and style. The best performing webinars tend to be thought leadership webinars. And there’s a couple of great tips here that Gabby had talked about us offline actually is try to one-to-one talks in interview formats. They’re great from an engagement perspective. And we talked a little bit earlier about how good focused, niche webinars can be. Maybe focus on one sector, one narrow use case.

Those have a very, very high lead conversion ratio, for the reasons we can all imagine. Also, virtual lunch and learns is a great way to do demos, and it could be instructional or best practices. The key is if your story describes their problem, they’re gonna automatically assume you have the best solution. So with that, there’s really no need to start talking about yourself. And so with that, the worst-performing webinars tend to be ones that are about you and your product. And a interesting thing some of our customers had said that they’ve heard about other webinars, or people that are end users on webinars say, that somebody may talk about, wow, this is gonna be about ideas and all that, and then it’s really about the product and they get product pitched, and they feel like they’ve been ambushed. So that’s something you wanna make sure doesn’t happen. It could be a real recoil effect from that.

What we see with startups that’s a big mistake, especially startups founded by technical founders, are they focus on their technology rather than the business value it enables. So again, if your story describes their problem, they’re gonna automatically assume you have the best solution.

Webinar duration. We’re seeing a huge uptick in the 20 to 30-minute format. Forty-five minute format, little bit downward trend, and the 60-minute format is going down at a pretty big rate. And this is all about, has to do with attention science and people’s behaviors today and such, and the 20 to 30 minute works out great, because people do schedule on a 30-minute boundary typically. So 20, 30 minutes is now the number one format.

Another point about that is you wanna keep your audience engaged and focus on giving them the necessary information. Too much information is gonna bore them. It’s gonna reduce the retention, but even worse, the most important thing about webinars are the takeaways they have, that they can communicate with their peers, or they can use to start to justify your solutions. So you wanna make sure that recollection doesn’t get diluted by extraneous facts.

Best time and day for a webinars. Now, these are basically for webinars that are focused across many time zones. So Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are great. Thursday happens to be the best, Wednesday, second. Avoid Monday at all costs. We’ve got a lot of customers that do these demo webinars on Friday, and many of these are in that simulated live format. 1:00 p.m. Eastern is a great time, but you can’t go wrong with 3:00 p.m. Eastern as well. And the reason these work good is because of the time zone shifts. It works in every time zone.

So, what are the highest performing days for webinar promotion and webinar attendance? So, register, excuse me. Best registration day is actually the day of the webinar. The best time is an hour before the webinar. The best registration-to-attendee conversion is also an hour before, and think about it. People know what they’re gonna be doing in that short period of time, if they just signed up. So the odds are highly likely that they’re gonna attend. The best day to actually promote a webinar is Tuesday. And this is based on data that report through from our customers, and it averaged out that Tuesday was the best.

The best time to promote a webinar is 8:00 a.m. in that prospect’s time zone. So if you have the ability to segment by time, and then by those time zone they’re in, and then fire off those emails within those times, that works great. So, one of the interesting things we also found out is that there’s really no difference between starting three weeks out or six weeks out. And so, drop the six weeks, because you wanna minimize those touches in fatiguing your community. So, those are some factoids that we thought you may find interesting. And well, I’m sorry, last, and we touched on it, I guess, is of that best day, 78% are an hour actually before the webinar.

So, what we did is try to segment, in order to make sense of this following data, into three groups. Industry leaders, their challengers, and emerging companies, mainly startups, and to look at what webinar promotion channels worked best for them. And so, we could see that leaders got a lot of organic traffic for their webinars, and it stands to reason. Their websites are highly trafficked, because there’s high awareness of them, but a close second was email. And for challengers, it’s a little bit different, because they’re not getting that traffic organically to their website, so emails are number one. Now, emerging companies, they have very little awareness of them, so email’s almost the exclusive strategy for them. And so, interesting, email dominates in virtually every case here. And what we found is that social is actually an important contributor, but paid LinkedIn really disappointed.

And so, now let’s drill down on the email channels themselves. So, of course, in the case of ourselves, all of our customers use a third party to help promote those webinars. Leaders, a lot of it was, most of it was from their own list, but they also use third parties, and at a pretty high frequency, rate. Followers, their lists aren’t big, so they use third parties more. And emerging companies, well, they don’t really have a community, so almost exclusively third parties. But it’s interesting that all company categories heavily leverage third parties, but you have to work with a third party that has very strong affinity with their community.

And why do people mainly, if we break it down, one, they’re seeking that news. But what’s interesting is we have a lot of customers that just say, “Hey, you know what? It doesn’t matter if you email to the same people we do.” In fact, they don’t give us a suppression list because they understand that if people see this from two sources that they trust, there’s almost double the chance of conversion. We’re gonna move along here at a little bit faster rate, because we’re running close on time.

Interesting factoid from one of our customers that measures everything, that regardless of the length of the webinar, the falloff started at 22 minutes. And there’s a couple of solutions here that are real killer points, that, we’ll be providing these slides, you can take a look at in more detail. And so, engagement science really drives attention at webinars. And so, there’s a seminal study that’s on, and this is one of the few pieces of information that did not come from our customers, this came from academic studies, is that attention wanes every two and a half minutes, about every two and a half minutes.

So you really need to hit that at resend on a regular basis, and you can hit the reset, re-get their attention by a poll question. Make them laugh, do something kooky, like show a picture of your dog, just out of the blue. A pop culture reference, or a crazy poll question, which we actually used on an earlier webinar that performed great, “When did you take your last shower?” And this was really applicable during COVID-19. So these are some great, simple and fun ways to reset somebody’s attention.

So, you wanna stimulate excitement building up to the webinar, so one way you can do it is have an automated slide roll at the beginning. What’s in it for you, who the guest speaker is, housekeeping, and combine it with a little high energy music, and it gets people really excited and anticipated going in right before the webinar. So, engagement, other things we’ll touch upon here really quickly are polls. Polls are important for a bunch of reasons. One is interaction causes more engagement from doing, but it also reinforces important points. So it strengthens their recall, which is really important, we mentioned earlier, but another reason, it’s a great source of intelligence. Respondents are more likely also to be honest and accurate during live polls. You’re gonna collect a lot of great information about what they care about, things that help shape your content around their personas, and things like that.

Q&A, and Gabby touched a little bit on this, that some of your best ideas come from the field. You’ll always want questions cued up in case there aren’t enough from the audience. But those questions have to be authentic, or people can see through them a mile away. And so, what we’ve found from our customers, including Gabby, what she had to say is the most authentic source for these questions, if you have to cue some up, are your salespeople. They’re getting these questions asked all the time from the customers.

So, increasing your webinar ROI, other ways you can do it is, this is another fact I found one of the most interesting is that actually the highest content conversion, to lead conversion, actually occurs in a webinar, rather than all the emails you send out for nurturing and all that. So, you can show links to content in chat windows, or below the viewing area. And again, you wanna mine those chat and Q&A logs, because they provide very valuable insights, perceptions, misnomers, to be mindful when you’re developing content.

Increasingly derivative content. So, many of our customers thought at one point that developing blogs from webinar content would be a great. A great idea, but it really rarely happened, because they had to go back and watch that webinar. But if you storyboard your webinar ahead of time, so it can be chunked into segments, it makes it super easy to develop a series of snackable content. Easy to do, highly effective. And because they’re a series, if somebody watches the first one, the probability is they’re gonna watch the next ones as well. Works great with interview style webinars, but also for best practice demos as well. So, Gabby touched upon these, so I’m not gonna really spend any time on it.

I guess a key point I’d say though, is most all of our customers now, the ones that are performing the best, are allocating some budget to the promotion of the replay upfront, when they’re costing out and budgeting the whole webinar. And so, then again, Gabby talked about the power of the simulated live format. So, with that, what you’ve all been waiting for, in addition, of course, to the raffle, is that the number one email promotion subject line. And so this, out of analyzing a ton of these, with results self-reported by our customers, believe it or not, the number one title is, “Can you join us in an hour?” And the really interesting thing about this is that it doesn’t even talk about the topic of the webinar itself. So with that, we’re gonna, you can go over this recap in the slides.

One point I do wanna mention is we’re webinar pros, promotion pros. We can help you, like we’ve helped out customers that, results that we talked about today. So please reach out to us, and we’ll reach out to you about that. And quickly, we’ve got a refer friend program. Satisfied customers are our best salespeople. If you like what you heard here today, or you’re working with us today, refer us to somebody else within your organization, or a friend, and we’ve got a nice thank you for you for that.

So, I wanna thank everybody very much for joining Gabby and I on our webinar today. I hope you have a great rest of the day, and we’ll be reaching out to you with the slides and the recording, and hope to be able to engage you in follow up meetings, to talk about how we can help you promote your webinars and get the very most out of those as well. So thanks again, everybody for your time today.

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