Webinars — Voluntary Marketing for Qualified Leads

We’re no stranger to hearing the phrase “our product is different.” Considering ReadyTalk’s experience vetting vendors and agencies, we’ve learned that everyone says it. Including us. As B2B companies clamor for the attention of decision makers, is there any way to guarantee you’re buying a solid lead gen solution? That’s a tough one. There are tons of options in the digital marketing space and everyone claims to offer the best. So at the risk of promoting our solutions in a similar we-solve-all-your-problems statement, let me explain why webinars are the ultimate form of voluntary marketing.

Time is more valuable than data

Banner ads, pre-roll video, and even PPC are all examples of involuntary marketing. That’s not meant to be read negatively — we use these methods (and so do you). In other words, the images appear on your screen based on your search history and profile, rather than from a formal exchange of data to obtain the content. Downloadable content like eBooks, case studies, and infographics are voluntary marketing channels. Meaning, in order to read or view the content, a lead needs to provide their name, email, phone, etc. They’ve volunteered their info in exchange for your asset.

Webinars go one step further. Unlike the downloads listed above, webinars ask for something much more valuable — time. Registrants have agreed to give you 30–60 minutes of their day! I mean, wow. That’s a lot to hand over to a complete stranger. Their likelihood of conversion hinges on whether or not they believe it was time well spent.

This means it’s up to you to provide value-rich content. The relationship between your brand and the prospect begins with a memorable impression that they carry through the rest of the buyer journey. Use the following tips to keep them focused on your event, and more importantly, deliver on your promise that it’s worth their while.

Don’t be lame, break through the boring

Make your presentation thought provoking, educational, and valuable for your audience. Don’t ever let your webinars become a placeholder on your marketing calendar. If you treat every webinar like an event, chances are you’ll have higher turnout and create more buzz. Remember, webinars are the first chance that your prospects literally hear the voice of your company. Another reason they’re a great form of human-to-human, voluntary marketing.

So, how do you make sure they walk away with something new? Part of it comes down to your choice of presenters. Choose people with a charismatic delivery, conversational yet intelligent, and with a knack for drawing the audience closer. Your audience can spot passion from a mile away, so use the opportunity to turn more heads with an engaging speaker.

Think podcast, not lecture

Have you ever attended a snooze fest webinar? They’re the worst. And usually it’s because the speaker is reading directly off the slides. In this case it’s not a two-way street. The presenter is talking at the audience rather than pulling them into the content.

Remember, people attend a lecture. But they subscribe to a podcast. Want to evangelize your database? Turn them into brand advocates that spread the word on their own.

Pro tip: Podcast style is easier when you co-present with another speaker. Bounce ideas off of each other during the presentation, be fun, challenge each other’s thoughts, ask questions when they come up. Don’t be afraid to deviate slightly from the script. Sometimes the best comments are made when people go rogue. Podcast, not lecture.

Webinars Create Connection

That’s what it’s all about. Given the interactivity of a live webinar (Q&A, chat, polling, and surveys) you get to establish a deeper understanding of individual audience members. Other forms of content marketing and lead generation don’t capture the same insights. In addition to the standard name, phone, and title you collect from a registration form, you get to survey and chat with attendees to qualify leads during the event. Wouldn’t you rather hand off more complete contact records to your sales team? What interests them, what is their buying timeline, what products are they currently using? Webinars are an undeniably different marketing channel — capitalize on voluntary lead generation today!

5 things to know about GDPR

There are some big changes on the horizon for how companies handle users' personal information. The European Union General Data Protection Regulation will go into effect on May 25 and will impact not just European companies but those in the U.S. as well. The rules reign in the free-wheeling relationship some organizations have had with user data and instead create more accountability in terms of how that information is used. 

With just a few weeks to go before the GDPR is official, it's important that all companies get up to date on the upcoming changes in how they collect and use individuals' data. If companies fail to be compliant, they may face some hefty penalties – up to $25 million or 4 percent of global revenue, whichever is greater, according to IT Pro – we're not talking pocket change here. 

We break the changes down below with five things you have to know about the GDPR:

1. It affects U.S. companies, not just European ones 

If you're a U.S. company that markets its products or services to consumers in Europe, then you must comply with the GDPR. As Yaki Faitelson, CEO of Varonis, explained in an article for Forbes, the GDPR casts a wide net with its stipulation that if a U.S. company targets consumers in EU countries – through having marketing campaigns aimed at EU consumers and through translating web pages and marketing copy into EU languages – then they'll be subject to the regulations. 

It's not just corporate behemoths that need to take another look at their data processing practices. CSO noted that organizations with fewer than 250 employees are still subject to the GDPR if their data usage is not "occasional," collects personal information and "impacts the rights and freedoms of data subjects." This may sound highly specific, but it's not: As the site noted, this is nearly all U.S. companies. 

GDPRCompanies need to explain their data usage in clear terms.

"The GDPR gives consumers more of a right to their data."

2. The GDPR considers a wider range of information types to be 'sensitive'

There are certain classifications of user data that the general consensus says is sensitive – financial data and social security numbers, for example. However, the GDPR broadly expands the category of information that companies need to be more careful handling. 

Under the GDPR, "personal data" now includes IP addresses as well as cookie data, in addition to information related to mental and physical health, sexual orientation, race and religious and political beliefs. 

As the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement at the New York University School of Law explained, this broadened category essentially means that the majority of companies' online activities will collect and review data that violates the GDPR. 

3. Companies now must receive active consent to collect users' personal information 

Another major change the GDPR will bring about is that companies must now actively acquire a user's consent to use his or her information. Gathering consent in vague, roundabout ways – like having a terms and conditions box pop up on a website with the "I accept" box already checked – will no longer be allowed. Instead, under the GDPR, companies must actively have users opt in to having their data be used, as IT Pro detailed. 

Under the GDPR, companies must also state exactly how they plan to use a person's data and in what specific ways, such as email marketing, for example, as Faitelson explained in his Forbes article. Furthermore, organizations must use clear, straightforward language to explain their terms and conditions, according to IT Pro. 

4. Consumers will have more of a right to their data 

The GDPR gives consumers more of a right to their data as well as a louder say in how their information is used. People can ask for their company to no longer use their data, and the organization must comply within a specified period of time or face consequences. Similarly, individuals will have the right to view the data that a company has collected on them at any time. 

In addition, the GDPR also strengthens "right to be forgotten" rules, which decrees that companies are obligated to promptly remove the data collected on an individual as well as notify third-party sites that may be using the information to clear it. 

5. Companies need to be more on top of their data protection activities 

The GDPR examines the ways a company collects and uses personal information by three main actors: the data collector, the data processor and the data protection officer. 

The data controller is the company using the data – an e-commerce site, for example. The data processor is the party actually evaluating and analyzing the data, typically a technology firm. And the data protection officer is a new position that all companies are mandated to oversee and manage compliance with the GDPR. If you're an e-commerce site and your data processor screws up, you'll be on the hook, according to CSO Online. This type of accountability will hopefully help avoid incidents such as the recent Cambridge Analytical and Facebook scandal. 

The GDPR significantly changes how companies use personal data – make sure your company is up to date on the specifics of the regulations to avoid hefty penalties. 

4 productivity hacks that actually work

There's no shortage of so-called "productivity hacks" on the internet – one Google search will give you no fewer than 2 million results.

Though pointers abound, many of these tips just fall flat when applied IRL, though they sound smart and snappy in theory. They may be unrealistic, out of touch, too complicated or end up causing you to create more work for yourself instead of less. 

To help you save time and work smarter, not harder, we've taken it upon ourselves to dig through the buzzwords and pie-in-the-sky ideas to give you a list of four productivity hacks that actually work:

1. Tune in to your energy levels 

Everyone has an individual energy rhythm. While not everyone can switch up working hours to suit personal preferences, you can make some tweaks to the ways you tackle your to-do list to be more in line with the natural ebbs and flows of your energy levels throughout the day. If you're highly alert in the morning, that may be a great time to work on projects that require lots of critical thinking, while the slower afternoon period may be a good time for more routine tasks. 

2. Capture that flow state 

Much has been written about the flow state – that golden period when you get so absorbed in your work that you don't even realize that time is passing. As Zen Habits noted, key to getting into this magic state is eliminating distractions – and anticipating those that will arrive unexpectedly. Clear your schedule, and make sure others know you're not available for meetings for a certain period during the day. Then, put some ambient music on and get going. And don't, we repeat don't, succumb to the temptation to check your email!

3. Plan for tomorrow 

Ernest Hemingway used to stop writing in the middle of a sentence each day so he would know what to get started with when he sat down at his desk the next day. Apply the same concept to your work to improve your productivity and reduce the time you spend each morning getting up to speed on what you need to accomplish. At the end of each work day, make a list of everything you need to tackle tomorrow. 

4. Rely on robots 

There are some apps and technologies out there that claim to make your life simpler but become only another unnecessary distraction. However, there are tech tools out there that can help you work faster and smarter. Personal web conferencing, for example, can help you easily share presentations and images with co-workers to help meetings run more smoothly, and messaging apps can help you coordinate projects among teams, even if members are remote. 

Hacks can be trendy, but the four tips above are proven ways that you can improve your productivity and work smarter.