How to prove the benefits of webinars with engagement data

Here are some ways brands can prove the effectiveness of webinars.

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The digital-first strategies many companies are adopting have removed countless in-person interactions and sped up sales cycles. This makes marketers’ online customer engagement more important now than ever.

Elena Hoffman, Sr. Director of Platform Product Marketing at ON24, while speaking at our recent MarTech conference, pointed to a Gartner report that found B2B buyers spend just 17% of their entire purchase journey with sales representatives. Marketers have their work cut out for them in terms of making an impact on buyers well before the sales stage.

“Digital-savvy B2B buyers are researching, they’re self-educating, and they’re making decisions based on our marketing material and the way we engage with them well in advance of a call with the sales rep,” said Hoffman.

She directed an important question at marketers: “How can we optimize this conversation to really get the most out of these engagements and really provide that data back to our sales teams?” It appears marketing professionals have found using webinars can foster high-quality engagement with their customers before sales interactions.

Here are some helpful ways marketing ops can prove the value of their webinars to sales teams and their organizations as a whole.

Focus on audience engagement

Engagement with target audiences will prove fruitless if marketers fail to provide meaningful digital experiences. This is where webinar engagement tactics shine.

“It starts with those digital experiences — those interactions that you can provide through virtual conferences, webinars, content hub, and landing pages and breakout rooms,” said Hoffman.

Marketers can enhance these experiences using webinar formats, especially those offering Q&A hubs, polls, and other resources. The goal should be to prove your brand’s value way before moving buyers to the buying stage.

Understand audience interests

“In order to create successful webinars, you have to keep your audience’s attention during that experience,” said Shalini Mitha, VP of Product Marketing at ON24, in the same presentation. “It’s important that you’re providing ways for them to engage.”

She added, “You don’t want to lose that engagement. You want to hit them right when they’re interested in talking to you.”

Maintaining engagement is vital when researching audience interests. The more customers use your webinar technology features, the more you can learn what matters to them.

Generate audience insights

Understanding the interests of an audience is half the battle — marketers must generate insights from their data.

Mitha says her organization classifies each customer into one of two data sets: engagement data and buying signals. This categorization can help marketers gain actionable insights from their customers. The engagement data helps score users based on behavioral information, and the buying signals offer actionable insights into their likelihood of purchase.

She went on to describe an example of this data collection process with a fictional buyer named Paula: “What we see is a 360° review of every interaction that Paula has had. For example, if she answers polls or downloads white papers — all the clues that can turn this customer engagement into rich insights. The more content they’re engaged with, the more likely they are to buy, and that increases their engagement score.”

gathering audience data using webinar marketing strategy
Image: ON24

She added, “You can see her buying signals. She’s requested a free trial and a meeting. This is someone that’s really interested in your product and services.”

Personalize audience experiences

“When you can bring experiences, coupled with engagement data, and deliver those personalized experiences, that’s where you generate results,” said Mitha.

Using audience insights to craft digital experiences can help improve customer engagement and retention. Marketers can create relevant content hubs and landing pages within webinars based on this data users have consented to share. This can help increase audience trust and interaction, providing marketers with more engagement opportunities.

Share customer insights with sales teams

integrating webinar marketing engagement data with sales systems
Image: ON24

“As marketers, we’re really trying to break the mold on marketing and sales relationships,” said Hoffman. “We can do this by having a unified view of the data and providing it to the sales teams.”

She added, “Instead of a salesperson routinely sifting through leads, they can use integrated marketing data to provide more qualified leads and really drive conversion.”

Aligning the operations and goals of marketing and sales teams is one of the more pressing challenges organizations face. Webinars, with their assortment of engagement features, can help bridge this gap and close more sales. The key factor is demonstrating that value to your business.

Watch the full presentation from our MarTech conference here (free registration required).

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Corey Patterson
Corey Patterson is an Editor for MarTech and Search Engine Land. With a background in SEO, content marketing, and journalism, he covers SEO and PPC to help marketers improve their campaigns.

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