When I first entered the promotional products industry in 2017, I kept hearing people say “this business is all about relationships.” It didn’t resonate with me fully until I had the opportunity to meet and get to know more of our clients, fully understand their needs, and understand how important building trust is to doing business successfully and sustainably in the promotional products industry.
During the pandemic in 2020, this element of the personal relationship was challenged. In a world where even our personal relationships with our friends and family are hard to maintain, how do we keep enriching our personal relationships with our clients?
The answer came to me in the form that most answers took in 2020 - a Zoom call. There was so much trust lost specifically in the promotional products industry because everyone was making, buying, and selling PPE when they had no experience with it.
If I could get in front of our clients and potential clients through virtual events, and be as much of a person selling to other people as I could at that point, I had a feeling that I could use that as a trust-building opportunity as well as a marketing opportunity.
As it turns out, I was right! Not only did it build new relationships and enrich existing ones, it also converted into revenue for the company. Adding a post-event webinar to our virtual trade shows doubled our contact-to-customer rate, at a cost of just the webinar platform and my time.
Even the addition of a post-event webinar to our live events allowed contacts that we met at the show to invite their friends and colleagues, increasing our new contact count at those events by an average of 13%.
Sock Club is not the only company who has incorporated webinars and webinar virtual events into our ongoing client engagement strategy. According to Zippia, “at least 83% of U.S. marketers find webinars effective.” Additionally, the global webinar market size reached $1.57 billion as of 2020.
However, online events do have their downsides. For example, according to The Voice Project, only around 35-45% of registered attendees actually attend a webinar. Also, attendees are more likely to try to multitask and complete work or personal tasks at the same time.
It’s not enough to simply host a webinar. If resources and time are going into hosting a webinar, the webinar needs to convert. Below are five tips for virtual event planning that I have put together based on my personal experience that have helped Sock Club host successful webinars.
1. Have a personal incentive.
A major part of the theory of “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them” for presentations is that people want to know what’s in it for them. What can they personally expect to gain from spending their time listening to the presenter instead of doing something else?
Of course, the reason the attendees engaged with the webinar in the first place is because it is relevant content that is going to help them do their job better, but that incentive has no immediate gratification. There is no time-bound way for that incentive to be delivered. There is no physical, real time sign that incentive has been realized.
When we first started our virtual meetings, we offered 60 free pairs of socks to one attendee to help them promote their company. While this did drive some sign-ups, it did not have the bang for our buck that we wanted.
This year, we started offering a free iPad to one virtual event attendee. Not only did this ultimately cost the company less money than the socks, but it also tied the attendees more personally to the webinar than something that would benefit them indirectly. The iPad was a personal incentive rather than a company incentive.
2. Send same-day reminders and invitations.
In-person event planning is a large part of my job, so it seemed counterintuitive to me at first to expect people to make room in their busy schedules to spend a virtual hour with me on the same day that the live streams occur.
However, according to 99Firms, 33% of registrations occur on the day of the webinar. Promoting your webinar in the weeks prior to your event over social media and email is definitely valuable, as 47% of attendees register at least eight days before the webinar date, but same-day registrants can make the difference between a webinar that breaks even and a webinar that has a positive ROI.
One tactic we employ is encouraging people who have not signed up on our events platform on the day of the webinar to sign up to receive a recording of the webinar even if their schedule does not permit them to be there. This allows us to target those contacts with their own specific drip campaign even if they are not present to hear the webinar messaging.
3. Convert them on the call.
Having excellent, clear, and relevant content to offer during the presentation is incredibly valuable to your customers. However, according to the Harvard Business Review, “the number of people involved in B2B solutions purchases has climbed from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today.” By the time the webinar ends, how can you assure that potential customer will engage with you again?
The answer to this is micro-commitments. Boomtime says that micro-commitments “create tangible next steps for the prospect to follow that pull them further into the funnel and increase the likelihood of a purchase. They let you collect ‘yeses.’”
When you are planning your content, identify one micro commitment that holds a benefit to your client that is relevant to your content, and can be completed in a virtual environment. For Sock Club, that is getting free designs from our incredibly talented design team. Once someone gets designs from us, they are 50% more likely to convert into a sale, so that is a micro commitment that is a benefit to the client and to the ROI of the event.
In our webinars, I end the presentation with a few slides on how to get started. During that time, I ask for audience participation (in the form of emojis!) to ensure that the audience is engaged and following instructions. Then, I walk them through uploading a logo to get started on their free custom sock designs. Generally, this has a success rate close to 100%.
What would the difference to your ROI be if you were able to get 100% of webinar attendees to make a micro commitment to your product or service while on the call?
4. Follow up.
According to IRC Sales Solutions, only 2% of sales are made during the first point of contact. By not following up with your attendees and registrants who did not attend after the event, you are leaving 98% of potential sales on the table.
5. Leverage your content for future use.
You have created your webinar to be such an engaging event experience that people are devoting close to an hour of their time to hear you speak, so why would you not maximize the impact of that effort by turning that one webinar into an omnichannel marketing strategy?
Zapier takes this approach for their webinars. According to Deb Tennen, content marketer at Zapier, “We've seen great engagement with the content we've pulled from our webinars. Instead of a one-time event, we now have a few evergreen pieces of content that people keep coming back to."
TwentyThree gives just a few examples of how this content can be leveraged:
Get it transcribed and use various snippets as part of a social media campaign to draw attention
Create blog posts that focus and elaborate on key sections
Convert the webinar into a slideshow presentation and share on Slideshare
Post prominent links to the webinar on all of your web properties
Investigate co-promotional opportunities with joint-venture partners for additional exposure
Share and promote your video on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
In conclusion, like most things in marketing, paying attention to the details and the opportunities for conversion throughout the entire virtual webinar and post-event follow-up can maximize the impact of your effort not only through a higher conversion rate, but a higher possibility for impressions and exposure.