All posts by Anita Wehnert

As ReadyTalk’s Director of Strategic Partnerships, Anita Wehnert is focused on understanding market needs and working with partners to solve customer problems through integration. Before joining ReadyTalk, she gained first-hand experience with the challenges of running a webinar program while serving as director of marketing at an IT analyst firm. When she’s not thinking about conferencing, she likes to ride her bike and spend time with her dogs. Connect with Anita on Twitter, @AnitaWehnert.

5 Things Every Marketer Can Learn from HubSpot’s 2014 Attempt at the World’s Largest Webinar

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.

engaging speakers and a compelling topic were key for #WLW14

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

Bonus Advice

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!

 

11 Fundamental Features to Look for in a Webinar Solution

Don't forget about the fundamentals when selecting a new webinar provider.

In a recent post on Content Marketing Institute’s blog, Hublished co-founder Nis Frome provided some great advice to help marketers select the right webinar provider to support their content marketing strategy. It’s easy to get distracted by the latest flashy bells and whistles, but Frome brings us back to earth by recommending that marketers evaluate a potential webinar provider based on these two fundamentals:

  • Will it help me seamlessly host webinars?
  • Does it play nice with my company’s overall digital infrastructure?

He also shared 5 helpful questions marketers should ask themselves to clarify their business requirements before selecting a provider:

Question 1: Who is my audience?

Does the webinar solution give you the features you need to effectively reach and engage your target audience?  Frome says, “No one is going to engage with your webinar content if they can’t easily attend — no matter how flashy your slides are or how much state-of-the-art, real-time functionality your solution provides.”

Key takeaway: Don’t create barriers to entry for the live event!  You invested a lot of time, energy, and money to get someone to register for your webinar.  You’re throwing it all away if you make it hard for them to attend.

Features to look for:

  • No downloads for participants
  • Support for participating on mobile devices

Question 2: When is my audience most likely to engage with my webinar content — on my schedule or theirs?

In a recent article, Salesfore.com Marketing Evangelist Mathew Sweezey shared that only 16% of marketers he surveyed expressed a preference to watch a webinar live. More and more people want the flexibility to view the recording when and where it’s convenient for them. 

Key takeaway: Don’t create roadblocks to viewing the webinar recording! You’ll miss out on reaching a large portion of your target audience.

Features to look for:

  • Industry-standard recording formats (MP4, Flash, etc.)
  • No downloads to view recordings
  • Ability to playback recordings on mobile devices

Question 3: Who will be presenting in my webinars?

Multiple presenters or non-traditional webinar formats like panel discussions or expert interviews are great techniques for keeping your audience engaged during your webinar.

Key takeaway: Don’t let your webinar platform limit your event format!

Features to look for:

  • No limit on the # of presenters
  • Easy transition of presenter control

Question 4: To what formats and platforms will I need viewer data exported?

More and more often, marketers are managing and reporting on campaigns from a marketing automation platform, CRM, or other marketing tool. Make sure your webinar data can be woven into this mix of behavioral data. Frome says: “Here’s a hint: If you find yourself running into the word “proprietary” too many times when exploring a webinar software product, my advice would be to look elsewhere. There’s no reason that, in a market with so many choices, you should get locked into a walled ecosystem.” 

Key takeaway: Don’t let your webinar data get siloed in a platform that can’t seamlessly integrate with tools like Salesforce, Eloqua, Marketo, HubSpot, Pardot, and ExactTarget.

Features to look for:

  • Open API
  • Integration with your key platform(s)

Question 5: How is my overall marketing infrastructure managed?

A priority for many marketers is to keep their audience on their own site vs. sending them to a third-party site. If this is important to you, make sure you find a webinar vendor who allows you to capture registrations on your own landing pages and embed webinar recordings directly into your website, blog, etc.

Key takeaway: Don’t get strong-armed into sending your audience to a third-party site!

Features to look for:

  • Option to use your own landing pages
  • Embeddable webinar recordings

 

Thanks to Nis for bringing us back to the basics! Are you happy with your current webinar provider or searching for someone new? What features would you add to this list? 

The Value of Robust Integration: ReadyTalk Wins ExactTarget Award for Best Use of the FUEL Platform

 
Last month, I attended my first ExactTarget Connections conference in Indianapolis. What a fantastic event! From a town hall meeting hosted by Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff and ExactTarget CEO Scott Dorsey and inspiring keynotes by Good to Great author Jim Collins and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to networking with 5K+ marketers and an unforgettable private concert with Imagine Dragons and the Avett Brothers, Connections was top-notch from start to finish.
 
Two other highlights for me were both related to ReadyTalk’s new integration between our webinar platform and ExactTarget …

Intro to HubExchange Session

Ian Murdock, ExactTarget’s VP of Platform, took to the main stage to introduce the crowd to HubExchange – ExactTarget’s new app marketplace. I had the opportunity to join him on stage to discuss ReadyTalk’s integration and our partnership with ExactTarget.  One of the questions Ian asked me during our conversation was about the depth of the ReadyTalk integration with ExactTarget and why I believe robust integration is important. For those of you who have read my previous posts on partnerships and integration, you’ll know that this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart.  
 
ReadyTalk On Stage at ExactTarget Connections 2013
 
Sometimes, companies treat integration as a "check in the box" – they do the bare minimum to be able to say they integrate with Product X. At ReadyTalk, we approach integration differently:
  • We want to build solutions that solve real problems for real users 
  • We dig in to understand users' current pain points and desired workflow 
  • We build integrations that allow users to leverage the strengths of each application
We took the same approach with our ExactTarget integration. Our goal was to allow marketers to leverage ExactTarget's customizability, deliverability, and advanced reporting features for their webinar-related communications while using ReadyTalk to conduct the live webinar and capture valuable behavioral data. Luckily, ExactTarget exposes a lot of their platform via APIs, so this gave us what we needed to build a robust integration right out of the gate. We were able to tie into a number of areas in the ExactTarget platform, including Contacts, Emails, Landing Pages, Calendar, and more.  
 
And this leads me to my second highlight from Connections …

HubExchange FUEL Award

During a Partner luncheon at Connections, ExactTarget announced the winners of a variety of partner awards, including three new awards for HubExchange partners. ReadyTalk was thrilled to win the inaugural HubExchange FUEL Award, presented to the HubExchange partner with the integration that best leverages the functionality that the ExactTarget platform and APIs have to offer.
 
ReadyTalk Wins ExactTarget HubExchange Award at Connections 2013
 
The fact that our application stood out in a field of 60+ integrated HubExchange applications reinforces the value of building integrations that serve end users and leverage the strengths of both platforms vs. settling for a simple “check in the box.”
 
At ReadyTalk, we're committed to continuing to integrate web conferencing and webinar data with other applications to solve real-world problems. What other integrations would make your life easier?

Mutually Beneficial Partnerships, Part 3: How to Launch & Nurture a Successful Partnership

In the first two posts in this series, I shared my thoughts on identifying opportunities for partnership  and pinpointing the right partner.  Now, let’s talk about how to bring that new partnership to life! 

Mutually Beneficial Partnerships

What Does Success Look Like?

Unless you simply have a lot of time on your hands or are looking for a random hobby to complement basket weaving and underwater geocaching, there’s a business reason you created this partnership. Remember the high-level goals you established back in part 1 ? Revisit the “why” (e.g. new business acquisition, customer retention) and consider the key metric(s) that will help you gauge the health of the partnership.

Here are just a few examples of what we consider at ReadyTalk:

  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) sourced by partner programs
  • # of installs of a partner integration
  • Value of ‘Closed Won’ opportunities tied to a partner
  • Trailing 12-month revenue (TTM) from integrated customers

Like any goal, make it specific and ensure you have mechanisms in place to measure it. Don’t go overboard by trying to track everything; save your sanity by focusing on 1-3 key metrics. Get buy-in from your partner: remember, this is about a relationship that drives value for both parties. Finally, be transparent: put your goals in writing and share progress updates frequently to keep them top of mind.

3, 2, 1 … Launch (and Beyond)

So, now that you know where you’re headed, how are you going to get there? Work with your new partner to identify the right mix of assets and activities to get the partnership off the ground. Then, pull together a detailed plan that covers specific items for the first 3 months (including who is responsible for what) and manage to it. 

Here is a brief laundry list of things to think about:

  • Sales enablement (e.g. training, cheat sheet)
  • Lead hand-off plan (e.g. referral process, landing page)
  • Joint marketing programs (e.g. webinars, events)
  • Co-branded content (e.g. data sheets, web content)
  • Announcements (e.g. social, PR, customer emails)

Schedule a weekly check-in call in the period leading up to launch and continue to touch base regularly during the honeymoon period of your relationship to tie up loose ends and keep tabs on initial progress. Be honest with each other about what seems to be working (and what isn’t) and don’t be afraid to adjust and refine your plan. 

In the long-term, work with your partner to continue to plan, execute, assess, and adapt on a regular basis. Keep the momentum going with a steady drumbeat of programs and content throughout the year. 

Avoid Being Barney!

Mutually beneficial partnerships take ongoing investment and energy! Don’t expect to send out a press release, check it off the list, and move on to the next shiny object.  “I love you. You love me” (the infamous “Barney partnership,” or – as I like to call it – the “check-in-the-box partnership”) doesn’t really do anything for anybody, so why waste your time?

Here are a few candid tips on how to be a good partner:

  • Don’t phone it in: Show up! Go to events. Visit in person. Be human, be engaged, be genuine and be willing to put in the work to truly make your new partnership mutually beneficial.
  • Don’t be single-threaded: Respect your primary contact and go through all the right channels, but don’t let your broader partnership hinge on a single individual. Get to know others in your partner’s organization. Network and ask for introductions to expand your reach.
  • Deliver on your promises: If you commit to a deadline, meet it.  If you say you are going to do something, do it. Keep your word and be someone your partner knows they can count on.
  • Show your appreciation: A simple “thank you” can go a long way. Take the time to send a piece of swag or catch up over a cocktail (or a cup of coffee). These things can help develop and nurture a long and fruitful relationship.

Hopefully, the tips I have shared in this series will help you find ways that partnerships can make a difference in your business. Good luck!

Just starting a partner program? What other questions do you have? Already running a successful program? I’d love to hear your own tips.