As I’ve covered in a previous blog post, inbound marketing, in its “truest” form, started out as “growth hacking”. In essence, growth hacking was a way for start-ups and small businesses to grow without having to have a hefty marketing budget. This methodology involved writing and distributing blog content, giving away ebooks and whitepapers in exchange for email addresses, and hitting social media hard. Sound familiar?
Inbound still resembles growth hacking in many ways – with a few extra bells and whistles to boot. It’s undergone what the youths of today (and people who are nearly 30 but desperately trying to stay relevant) may call a “glow up”.
Where am I going with this then, other than to try and shoehorn in some cool internet lingo to show I’m down with the kids? Well, inbound, as was growth hacking, is really about streamlining the process of attracting, converting, closing and delighting customers. Inbound is a great play for selling services that don’t need a lot of 1:1 sales time – and have a price point reflective of that.
The best example of this is probably in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) sector. If you’re selling a basic or starter package at £10 a month, it doesn’t make commercial sense to have a dedicated salesperson following up on leads for that package. Using inbound, you can automate a lot of the process to guide people through the funnel, meaning you keep your cost-per-acquisition down and actually get some ROI.
And therein, after 250 words, lies my point. There’s no doubt that humans value the interaction of other humans, but when it doesn’t make commercial sense, you have to lean on a bit of automation and preplanning in order to give them the information they need.
Enter automated webinars
You’re almost definitely familiar with the webinar. Webinars are one-to-one or one-to-many (usually one-to-many) video broadcast or seminar (webinar = web + seminar, see?) conducted over the internet. Traditionally, they have been live broadcasts, with a presenter sharing their screen or video conferencing, taking a group of interested parties through a product or service. They can also obviously be instructional, but we’re focusing on commercial ones here.
A few years ago, once people had thoroughly cottoned on to the power of the webinar as a selling tool, automated and “like-live” webinar tools started cropping up. There a few initial disruptors, such as Demio, but now the big boys like GoToWebinar and WebEx have joined the automated bandwagon too. These tools allow you to record and store a webinar which can be accessed on your website when a visitor registers. They then join and experience the webinar as if it were live, but can do this at any time. Some tools also allow users to ask questions via the webinar chat functionality, which will come into your inbox in real-time. Very handy.
So, as a business trying to convert visitors into leads, leads into customers and ultimately flog your product or service, how does this help you?
Using automated webinars in your conversion process
First of all, you need to identify whether your business model, or a particular product or service, is actually a good candidate for automated webinars or not. If you’re selling big ticket, long-term service contracts with a lot of moving pieces and input from the customer, probably not. If it’s a relatively simple proposition with a predefined process, then yes.
Planning your content
In order to pre-record a webinar that will actually be useful and ultimately convert, you need to have a good grip on what needs to be covered in your webinar. A common practice is to run a live webinar, record that as you go, and store that as your like-live webinar. And the good thing is, if that feels like a bit too much pressure, you could alternatively use your live webinar as a “practice run” for recording your like-live one. Use the feedback of a live audience to tighten up and hone your performance – trim down bits that went on a bit too long, add more detail to other sections, etc. Obviously the main aim of creating a pre-recorded webinar like this is to give the user all the information they require in an engaging way. You could also use other insight like FAQs about your product or service to inform and structure the content of your webinar.
The important thing to remember with your like-live webinar is that it should be treated like you would any consideration or decision content – meaning that the content you have on offer is providing the user with some value, so there should be some sort of value exchange in order for them to access it. This could be simply their name and email address, or you might want to go a bit more in-depth – maybe getting their job title, organisation and other information for further qualification and segmentation. Whichever route you decide to go down, remember that this in opportunity to capture this person’s details, and use this information and their engagement with the webinar to drive them further down the funnel.
Don’t forget follow-up
Just because a user has registered for and engaged with your webinar, doesn’t mean they’re instantly ready to buy. This is where the automation stuff becomes a bit more prominent. You’ll want to keep your prospect warm in the days following their engagement by contacting them with potential next steps: are they ready for a free trial of your software? Or should you point them in the direction of some case studies to sweeten the deal? Using lead scoring will also help you identify how engaged the lead is with your content, and help you identify what the best next step would be.
If you would like any more advice or guidance on using automated webinars and other fancy marketing web-based tools to engage your prospects and close your sales, check out Inbound Marketing packages. From just £2500 per month we could give you all the tools you need to run inbound in your business – we’ve even got a webinar programme bolt-on.