5 Things Every Marketer Can Learn from HubSpot’s 2014 Attempt at the World’s Largest Webinar
In August 2011, HubSpot set the Guinness World Record for hosting the world’s largest webinar with a whopping 10899 attendees and 31100 registrants. In April 2014, HubSpot set the lofty goal of “blowing up the internet” with a webinar that tapped into the collective social media expertise of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (disclaimer: HubSpot is a ReadyTalk customer and partner but this particular event was not held on our platform). In the end, “The Secrets to Success on Social Media” drew in a huge and engaged crowd, but missed the record by a few hundred attendees. However, every marketer can take away some tidbits from HubSpot’s experience to help get better results from their next webinar.
I chatted with Amanda Sibley, Co-Marketing Manager at HubSpot, for a behind-the-scenes at #WLW14. Here is some of her advice for other marketers:
Tip #1: Pick a Compelling Topic
Back in the Fall of 2013, the marketing team at HubSpot saw an opportunity to make some noise by leveraging partnerships with social giants Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. They thought that marketers would jump at the chance to hear the secrets to social media from the companies themselves. By partnering with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, HubSpot believed that not only could they offer great content to their audience, they also had a shot at breaking the record for world’s largest webinar, again. The goal of HubSpot’s webinar was to generate as many attendees as possible. If your company is looking to generate a high volume of leads at the top of the funnel as well, select a topic for your webinar that is top-of-mind.
Tip #2: Go Beyond Email Invites
HubSpot calculated that they would need an astounding 50-60K registrants to break the Guinness World Record. While emailing their extensive database of marketers was an effective tactic, they created a broad promotional campaign across all inbound marketing channels to drive registrations:
- Including slide-in calls-to-action on related posts on the HubSpot blog
- Creating buzz on the #WLW14 hashtag in the weeks leading up to the event
- Leveraging the social reach and reputation of their partners and speakers
- Sprinkling webinar CTAs throughout the HubSpot website, customer sign-in page, etc.
- Engaging key HubSpot influencers and speakers to start talking about the event 24-48 hours beforehand
One unique tactic they used was the World’s Largest Webinar VIP Program, which rewarded registrants who referred colleagues with customized advice from experts at Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Tip #3: Sometimes, Less is More
The folks at HubSpot are obviously experts at optimizing landing pages to drive results. Amanda recommends that your webinar registration page:
- Provide concrete details about the event itself (date, time, time zone, etc.)
- Make it clear whether the event is live only, on-demand, or both
- Highlight what the audience will learn or be able to do after the webinar
- Include the minimum # of form fields required for sales to qualify the lead (5-6 max, if possible)
- Make it easy for your audience to share the event with their social networks
One creative angle that HubSpot used was displaying the number of registrants on the landing page once they reached critical mass. This added credibility and cache to event, giving people the sense that they were missing out on something big if they didn’t register.
Tip #4: Get Creative to Drive Attendance
Getting registrants is important for a successful webinar, but getting registrants to actually attend is just as important. As attendance rates decline, marketers must get creative to incentive people to attend webinars, especially a webinar that may be live only. The Guinness World Record is based on the number of people who attend the webinar, not the number who register, so driving attendance was a key goal for the HubSpot team. They were able to outperform their average attendance rate by ~10% by getting creative:
- Billing the webinar as “live only” with no recording available after the fact
- Relying heavily on word-of-mouth and social media in the 3 hours leading up to the webinar
- Offering giveaways to attendees:
- Incorporating a number of contests:
- 10 random attendees received a free full copy of Dan’s book
- Top 10 tweeters got a coupon for HubSpot swag
Tip #5: Be Prepared for Anything
On a related note, one snafu that HubSpot encountered on the morning of the big event was a rush of registrants who were confused about how to join the webinar. Amanda recommends that marketers:
- Clearly communicate when (time zones) and where (how to sign in) the webinar is on the conversion page/thank you page and in email
- Include an add to calendar option in the registrant’s local time zone (for both Google and Outlook) on the confirmation page and in confirmation and reminder emails
- Ensure your customer care team knows what to tell people who call in with questions about joining
In the end, Amanda had a few pieces of advice for other marketers:
- Be prepared for anything – so many little things can go wrong
- Get creative – don’t be afraid to be scrappy and hack things together
- Plan ahead of time to get others on board and excited
- Provide weekly updates to keep the team engaged
- Tie the webinar to corporate, team, and individual goals
So, with these tips in mind, go forth and conquer your next webinar and blow away your own records. Have other tips to share? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!