[How-To] DIY On-Air Warning Light for Your Next Webinar

DIY On Air Light for Marketing Webinars

After participating in a fair amount of webinars, I'm always surprised at how few articles exist that talk about the most common webinar-related issue that marketing departments encounter: 

How to avoid having your live webinar interrupted by that one co-worker who always walks into your meeting room, telling everyone about how bad his hangover is.

The above is a working title of course.  

The solution to having your live webinar interrupted is usually a harshly written note taped to a door or a threatening look after throwing whatever is in arms reach at those near your cubicle.  The truth is, most marketing departments don't have ready access to a working Recording Studio, let alone a meeting room with a locking door.

Because of this, the running joke always seems to be "I wish we had an on-air light".   Yet, with most budgets, making the case for a $150 On-Air Studio Warning Light  isn't always an option.

Thankfully,  for those of us with a do-it-yourself attitude, the internet saves the day once again.

DIY On-Air Studio Light by TechnicallyCre8tive.com

While this video tutorial is from 2009, the end-result is amazingly simple and even better, costs around $20-25 and uses a set of very common materials:

(The video starts of a bit slow but the tutorial starts in around 0:53 seconds)

DIY Networked On Air Sign by MakeProjects.com

If you're looking for a more advanced project than the above but want to impress your co-workers with your DIY know-how,  MakeProjects.com created a Networked On Air Light that actually knows when you're broadcasting.  

While this one is pretty amazing in DIY terms, as someone who has to use a calculator to estimate tips, I'm going to skip trying to build this one for now as they use words I had to look up.

However, for those of you that are more science-inclined, I'd suggest giving it a look.

Have your own  DIY solution to having your webinars interupted by co-workers?  Let us know as we'd be happy to post it on our blog!

Is Your Webinar Audience Really Listening?

engage your webinar audienceYou have dotted the i's and crossed the t's so that your audience can hear your presentation, now it is time to implement strategies to encourage them to LISTEN to your presentation!

Today's post is about engaging your audience to ensure that your presentation makes an impact — whether the webinar is for sales lead-generation, marketing, training, updating or entertaining. What follows is an overview of features of the ReadyTalk platform that you can use to engage your audience and realize the ROI you deserve:

  1. Content Is King: You've got the most interesting and/or mandatory webinar on the block, so make sure that your audience knows that! Does your title grab their attention? Does your description entice? Think of this as your billboard — your audience is driving through their inbox — you have 3 seconds to convince them to pull over and click through.
  2. Early And Often: You're ahead of the curve and you've scheduled your Operator-Assisted Event with ReadyTalk with time to spare to build your slides and read this blog about engagement — great job! But don't delay! Send invitations through the ReadyTalk Conference Center as early as possible — your webinar is a big deal and it's important that your participants have it on their calendar.

    Send reminders through your Conference Center, too — we suggest a 2 week reminder of the invitation (upload your invitee list and resend the invitation), a 1 week reminder to your confirmed registrants (use the "Schedule Reminder" feature in your Conference Center) as well as a 1-hour reminder through the same feature.

  3. Teach Them To Fish: Give your audience the tools to make the most of your webinar. You can "Send Updates" to your registrants with attachments — take advantage of that feature (and send more than just a reminder) by sending white papers, part or all of your slide deck, links to videos or websites, updated speaker info, product or service free-trial offers or anything else that your creative team can come up with!
  4. Create a Custom Introduction: Your participants go to webinars all the time (maybe even YOUR webinars!) — grab their attention right off the bat with a custom-written introduction delivered by a ReadyTalk Operator! Reach out to your Account Manager or the Events Team and we can help you craft an introduction that will set the tone for your webinar.
  5. Interaction: Polls, Hand-Raising and the Chat Feature

    1. Live Polling — Use the ReadyTalk polling feature to engage your audience throughout your webinar. Use a poll as your "splash slide" to collect some demographic information and allow you to customize your presentation. While your participants wait for the event to start (while they are hearing hold music) they can already interact with you through a creative poll question. Check for understanding, opinion or relevance with polls during the presentation (ie – "Have you experienced this phenomenon?" or "Which feature of our product helps you the most?" or "How well does your company use polling in webinars?").
    2. Hand-Raising — We rarely see this feature used at all, let alone effectively, by presenters but we see participants "trying it out" constantly! This tells us that this is an untapped resource for interactivity!  Use it for quick, informal polls, to check for attendance or understanding or for voting.
    3. The Chat Feature — Be prepared for the chat feature! One of the most common questions is "Can I get a copy of the slides or recording?" — answer this pre-emptively via the chat feature and invite questions throughout. It is a best practice to have someone logged in as a presenter who can focus exclusively on the chat feature — either to answer participants directly or to tee up questions to the presenters. Capture questions/comments/stories for future reference of follow-up or simply say "hello" to a participant you recognize. Solicit ideas without cluttering the audio lines and provide web-links or discount codes in real-time to accompany a presentation.
  6. The Post-Meeting Survey:  ReadyTalk has a very generic survey question asking for "comments" that defaults for every web conference. Your participants are pushed to it automatically when you (as the Chairperson) hits the "Stop Meeting" button. Take advantage of that post-event buzz and get some really good feedback from your participants!

    Build the survey in your Conference Center (second page of Edit Meeting Details) and ask about your presenters, the content, the company/product/service, the needs/interests of the audience or capture demographic information, referral information or just their favorite color!

  7. The Post-Meeting Follow-Up Email: ReadyTalk provides the ability to email registrants that attended and those that didn't show — follow-up with them! Tell them you appreciated their attendance and participation (or that you missed it) and send them a thank you gift (discount code, white paper, access to the recording) or an invitation to continue the conversation of Facebook, Twitter or your own website. You can also send attachments to these emails — include the slide deck, or a beautifully branded image for their desktop wallpaper!

So are they listening? Take some time to invest in your presentation and participants will take the time to engage it — show them you care about your content and about their participation and you will see stronger ROI from your audience.

You don't have to invest in branded pens or stress balls in the webinar world — just creatively and consistently provide value to your participants. Fortunately for you, ReadyTalk provides the tools 24/7 in your Conference Center. Have you found something else that helps to engage the audience? I love to hear about it.

Considering a vendor swap? InformationWeek shares some insight on transitioning

Choosing a New Conferencing ProviderWe recently teamed up with UBM's InformationWeek to discuss the (often dreaded) subject of conferencing service comparisons and what to expect when, and if, you decide to make the move from one vendor to another.

Most people are well aware that web and audio conferencing are a mainstay in today's workplace. Whether it's training calls, sales demos, collaboration with remote work forces, marketing webinars – people are using it on a daily basis and fortunately the providers that are available do free up some of the load from IT departments having to develop and deploy and in-house system. Yet, it does not take them off the hook for choosing the right one, making sure security is covered and often times the monotonous administration piece.

Do not fear – we snagged some great tips from the InformationWeek Team on what's out there, what you should consider putting on your checklist, and what to expect should you take the leap to purchase or transition to a new vendor. Check out some of the high level pointers below and then listen to the recording for the full rundown:

What should I be looking for when comparing potential vendors – what's my first priority?  Its going to be important initially to work on building the need within your organization. Don't just force a new solution on your workforce. Give them a reason of why the change will benefit them – make sure its something that's going to make their job easier. If you can create a value add then you've made your job a lot easier. The transition won't be successful unless they've bought into it. Also, make sure the vendor is willing to partner with you on the training side.

Look for flexible pricing models as well, but know that the size of the deal may impact that variable. Be wary of vendors that are strictly focused on price – they should be selling value around their product as well. If its just a commodity to them then you may run into issues with quality or support in the future

Who are the stakeholders that should be involved in the decision whether to choose or change current providers?
IT drives the decision for the most part (CIO, etc.) but buy-in from end users is crucial. How do they use it, have their needs changed at all from when you first purchased the tool? What's valuable to them? Don't just purchase what fits the decision maker's checklist in order to mark off boxes. Users being forced into new software certainly won't ease the IT department's administrative duties – it could make their job a lot more difficult. There may be features that simply over complicate the training process on a new tool that will never be used anyway. Interview the people that spend the most time in the platform and then decide whether your existing vendor still meets those needs or moving to another is in your organization's best interest.

Do I need a transition manager when switching from one vendor to another?
Start with a remote training and if someone is available to visit your office to address additional questions you might have then certainly take advantage. If a transition manager is offered, you know you've got a good support team on hand. There may be things that the providing vendor can learn in a live setting of your day to day operations in the platform that help them better understand your particular need and further assist you if future questions arise.

Why should I switch if it's going to be a hassle to re-train my current employees on a new product? Are there on-demand tools that can help with that process? Use the conferencing platform to create on-demand trainings for users. Some integrations are available that allow you to track on-demand recordings to see if employees have listened and even test their knowledge of the new product. ReadyTalk recently launched an integration with SurveyGizmo that allows you to quiz listeners on embedded recordings and then guide them to additional recording based on their answers if they need to learn more and view how long they listened to it.

If you'd like to view the full webinar recording, click here. Are there other questions you've come across when looking to make the switch? Or maybe you have additional tips for our readers – please share with us!



Cloud Marketing & The Value of Integration

As marketing moves into the cloud, companies have access to an ever-expanding landscape of applications that promise to help them get more from their marketing investment. Your toolbox is likely already packed with cloud solutions – from your CRM system and your marketing automation platform to tools for managing webinars, content, events and social.  Here’s an image (borrowed from Scott Brinker, President and CTO of ion interactive) that illustrates this explosion of technology:

The Exploding Landscape of Marketing Technology

Each of these applications plays a role in your marketing process – helping you fill the top of the funnel, nurture and qualify leads, or move prospects through the sales cycle.  And, each of these systems houses valuable data about buyer behavior. However, if these applications can’t communicate with one another, it’s hard to put the pieces together to drive marketing results. Plus, you are stuck with the mind-numbing task of moving data between platforms – something no marketer wants to add to their already-long to-do list.

That’s where integration comes in …

When SaaS vendors invest in integration, marketers win. You have the flexibility to choose the right tool for the job without sacrificing the efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing programs.

ReadyTalk is on board. We have already built out-of-the-box integrations with some of the tools that marketers rely on most, including Salesforce, Eloqua, Pardot, and SurveyGizmo and we are partnering with other vendors to build additional integrations.  Plus, our open API gives our customers the flexibility to integrate our webinar platform with other business-critical applications.

So, how can integration help you drive better results?

Here’s one example …

With ReadyTalk for Salesforce, you can allow your sales reps and account managers to invite customers and prospects to your webinar in seconds directly from the Lead or Contact record. This expands your reach to help you drive more registrations. Then, after the event, you can instantly capture data like whether or not someone attended your webinar (and how long they attended) and even that person’s specific responses to polling questions asked during the event. Use this valuable insight to measure engagement, ensure timely and relevant sales follow-up, and, ultimately, drive better conversion rates.

Interested in learning more about the value of integration? Read the American Marketing Association and ReadyTalk white paper “Convert Leads Faster by Integrating Webinar, Marketing and Sales Platforms.”

Want to hear more about ReadyTalk for Salesforce? Visit us in booth #1429 at Dreamforce or sign-up for a demo here.

MECLABS asks: Are you losing 95% of your leads?

Did you know that:

  • 80% of marketing leads wind up lost, ignored or discarded
  • 80% of B2B marketers pass raw leads to sales
  • Long-term leads (future opportunities), often ignored by salespeople, represent 77% of potential sales
  • 73% of companies have no process for re-engaging and nurturing leads after sales

If these stats make your hair rise on end, don’t worry. Last week, Brian Carroll, Executive Director of Revenue Optimization at MECLABS, outlined the key components of a successful content-driven lead engagement approach in his webinar entitled “The One-Two Punch of Effective Lead Nurturing: Accurate Lists & Powerful Content.”

We’ve asked Brian to share his key takeaways and links to resources he mentioned during the webinar in this post. Here’s what he had to say:

MarketingSherpa ROI bar chartLead nurturing pays off. According to the 2012  MarketingSherpa Lead Generation Benchmark Report, companies that nurture leads report a 125% return on lead generation investment, compared to a mere 86% for companies that don’t.

In this post, I am going to outline the most basic elements of lead nurturing. I advise you to watch the webinar to learn more.

Lead nurturing is made up of four key steps:

  1. Set a foundation
  2. Design a content library
  3. Measure and tweak
  4. Circle back to improve

1. Set a foundation. Create a single nurturing database that is the hub of all communication. Include:

  • Leads your sales team hasn’t touched in months
  • Past customers
  • Past event participants
  • Newsletter subscribers
  • Inbound inquiries
  • Direct mail and teleprospecting lists

Only 5% to 15% of leads are ready to speak with a sales person. Create a Universal Lead Definition (ULD) with Sales that will signal when a lead is ready to be passed along to them. A ULD:

  • Fits the profile of your ideal customer
  • Has been qualified as sales-ready
  • Spells out the responsibilities and accountabilities of Sales and Marketing
  • Makes Marketing and Sales more efficient

Get the basics of how to move forward here: Universal Lead Definition: Why 61% of B2B marketers are wasting resources and how they can stop

2. Design your content library.  Content is required to nurture lead, and at the early stage of the buying cycle, that content should include information that will benefit them regardless of whether they buy from you. Here are the content-creation basics: 

  • Create personas. These are profiles of each person who is involved in the buying process – their roles, and the questions and issues they’re facing. Use personas to clarify what’s relevant to your target markets as they progress along the sales cycle.
  • Harness knowledge in your organization by developing thought leaders and a process to share that knowledge, whether that’s through, blogs, whitepapers, webinars or on social media like LinkedIn.
  • Leverage third-party content. Go to http://www.google.com/alerts. Enter keywords relevant to your industry to receive updates of the latest news and information than can be used in your nurturing campaigns. You can also purchase third-party content Go to timestamp 20:00 in this webinar to learn how ECI Telecom went about it: How Content Strategy is Transforming an Entire Marketing and Sales Organization.

3. Measure and tweak. Use analytics to determine what kind of content drives the most leads. Pay attention to comments and shares on social media. Ask your sales team to forward content to their customers and prospects for feedback. Look for patterns of what’s working and what isn’t.

4. Cycle back to improve. Connect your content touch points to your database to measure how efficiently prospects are advancing on the sales cycle. Make sure your universal lead definition aligns with reality: that the right people in the organizations are being nurtured, and that they are being passed off to sales at the right time.

If you missed Brian’s presentation, you can view webinar recording. How are you planning to nurture your leads?

Brian Carroll is Executive Director of Revenue Optimization at MECLABS and CEO of InTouch, part of the MECLABS Group. Author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, Carroll is a leading expert in lead generation and he's profiled and regularly quoted in numerous publications. Carroll also speaks to 20,000 people a year on improving sales effectiveness and lead generation strategies. He's been profiled and regularly quoted in numerous publications such as BtoB Magazine, Selling Power, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Target Marketing, Inc. magazine, Marketing News, DM News, MarketingProfs, MarketingSherpa, Software CEO and CMO Magazine. If you’d like to learn more about MarketingSherpa and MECLABS visit http://www.marketingsherpa.com.