[NEW RESEARCH] Content Marketing Institute on Webinars

Last week, I read a new Content Marketing Institute research report (generously made available by Adobe) that summarizes findings from a February 2014 survey that support CMI's hypothesis that webinars can be an effective way to engage prospects throughout the funnel. CMI states: "Webinars present myriad opportunities for marketers to change and interact in experimental ways. You just have to think beyond the traditional uses (simple screen sharing and demo-types of interaction) and find new ways to use webinars to build and engage audience to ultimately drive marketing success."
 
Here are a few key takeaways from the report:

Create a Webinar Strategy to Drive Results

Instead of treating each webinar as a one-off program, CMI recommends that marketers document a high-level strategy for their webinars and tie their webinar goals into their organization’s overall content marketing strategy. The study found that only 38% of marketers surveyed have a documented webinar strategy, but those that do are more likely to cite webinars as “effective” than their peers without a documented strategy (71% vs. 42%).

Think Beyond Lead Generation

68% of survey respondents cited “Lead Generation” as a goal for their webinars. However, CMI found that “Content marketers who are finding success with webinars are broadening the scope of how they use them and are applying them across the full spectrum of the buyer’s journey.”

Think beyond lead generation and look for ways to incorporate webinars throughout the buyer's journey:

  • Thought leadership and brand awareness at the top of the funnel
  • Engagement and product demonstrations mid-funnel
  • Training/education and customer retention at the bottom of the funnel

Marketers' Top Goals for Webinars

“Webinars can be a great way to explain valuable concepts your buyers care about throughout the entire buying process. With audio, visual, and (hopefully) not too much text, they can help your customers become more engaged and spend more time with your company’s ideas every step of the way.”
—Ardath Albee

Broaden Usage to Drive ROI

80% of marketers surveyed said they view webinars as a cost-effective tactic and 61% says webinars produce a good return on investment. CMI found that leveraging webinars at the top of the funnel, mid-funnel, and bottom of the funnel can help marketers drive better ROI and make webinars more cost-effective. By expanding the use of webinars to all stages of the sales cycle, you can do more with your webinar platform and drive more value from that investment.

“We shouldn’t be looking at a delivery mechanism as a content type. Just because webinars are great at delivering demonstrations and trainings, it doesn’t mean that’s all they should be used for. We’ll get the greatest value out of our tools if we figure out how to continually focus on building a more engaged audience.”
—Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute

Top Challenges for Webinar Users

The Top Challenges are Connected

The CMI study found that marketers conducting webinars consistently cited their top challenges as driving attendance (58%), securing registrants (44%), and creating compelling content (43%).
 
To address these top challenges, CMI recommends: “Instead of looking at webinars as an end point, view them as another channel where content can be repurposed across different phases of the consumer’s engagement journey. When you have a documented strategy in place outlining how you will distribute content across all channels (including webinars), your effectiveness increases and audience development becomes less of a challenge, which gives you more time to focus on content creation.”
 
Developing high-value content that resonates with your target audience and finding expert speakers who can deliver that content in an engaging way can help you solve the problems of attracting registrants and driving attendance.

In which stages of the buyer's journey are you using webinars? What are your top goals and challenges?

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