By Kendra Lee
“How are people generating leads?” It’s a question I’ve fielded frequently from business owners looking for lead generation strategies that will fill their sales funnel since the pandemic struck in March. They see peers and competitors finding opportunities. Meanwhile, they feel stuck, fearful, and unsure of how to find success in our new normal of social distancing and remote work.
Webinars for B2B Lead Generation
When I mention using webinars for B2B lead generation, an entirely new set of fears bubble up and the rapid-fire questions start. What if the technology doesn’t work? How many people do I need to manage one? Do I take questions in the middle and the end? What if nobody shows up? What if people show up and we don’t come across as professional? We’re consultative, not consumer-based; do I have to sell something in our webinar?
I understand. Ahead of my first webinar, I had many of the same worries, but I pushed past the fear of flopping and have successfully hosted regular Coffee with Kendra webinars since 2013. You too can push past whatever fear is holding you back – in fact, you have to if you’re going to add new prospects to your sales funnel. We’re not going back to the environment we had in early 2020 where respondents to our lead generation poll in early March reported they attended a variety of events.
Add Virtual Events to Your Lead Generation Strategy
The mix of events represented in the poll isn’t going to happen any time soon. Even if networking or other in-person events took place, can you picture trying to have a lead generating conversation while standing 6 feet away from everyone else? Conducting live events at an acceptable social distance isn’t conducive to forming real relationships. Today, the safest and most effective lead generating and networking activities are digital.
When you see other people generating leads, it’s because they fully and quickly embraced digital lead generation strategies. To replicate their success, take time you would have spent at in-person events and channel it into planning and hosting webinars and virtual events.
Unlike a one-time, live event, recorded webinars can be repurposed, shared after the event, and generate leads for you months later. Some ideas:
- Sales reps can use them as part of their cold calling.
- Promote them again and run the recording with question and answer follow up.
- Use them to generate excitement with stalled prospects.
- Give them to your lead generation company to splice key segments as part of future campaigns.
Webinars are a valuable asset you need to have in your virtual lead generating tool kit. It’s time to break past fears. Follow the seven steps below to host a webinar and capture leads.
1. Define Webinar Lead Generation Goals
People look at other business and thought leaders hosting seamless webinars and think they have a team of skilled staff managing the promotion and hosting. You may think you don’t have enough internal resources to pull it off on your own. More than half (58.9%) of the respondents to our webinar poll don’t have dedicated staff for marketing or hosting their virtual events. For many business owners, the responsibility of planning a webinar falls to them. They are the ones in charge of their lead generation strategies. Here’s how sales leaders and business owners answered the question: Who plans your company webinars?
You don’t need a large staff to promote or host a webinar. You do need to state your objectives, to identify why you’re hosting a webinar. Yes, you want leads, but that doesn’t help you select a compelling topic that will attract prospects.
- Think about your target market and their business problems.
- Define which of your solutions resolve your audience’s problems.
- Set success metrics.
The sharper your goals are at the outset, the easier it will be to promote your webinar, write your presentation, and follow-up with registrants later.
2. Select a Topic Based on Business Problems
I can see why 73% of respondents worried about selecting a topic. You want to provide consultative value to your audience and establish yourself as a subject matter expert they want to engage post-event. If you’re tuned in to your target market’s issues, topic selection is easier than you think and aligns with your overall lead generation strategy.
To host a webinar people attend, use the business problems you identified in step 1. Choose a topic your prospects care about, not what you think they should care about. Identify their struggles, feel their pain. Timeliness is key to your success. What pain are your prospects experiencing right now? Immediacy will generate interest and draw people to attend because they’re scrambling today.
Throughout the webinar, guide them to the solution. Show how they can resolve their struggles and empower them to take control of the situation.
- Discuss the problem your prospects are facing right now.
- Share examples and stories.
- Offer direction and guidance.
- Make it interesting and engaging throughout.
- At the end of the webinar, provide a clear call to action.
3. Build Promotion into Your Overall Lead Generation Strategy
Many business owners are reluctant to host a webinar because they think no one will attend. Even if they decide to host one, the concern that people won’t register or attend lingers and undermines their confidence.
On the plus side, unlike a poorly attended lunch and learn, no one knows if there are 2 or 200 people watching. First, reframe how you define success. Your goal is prospects. If you get 4 prospects who attend, or 4 clients who could use something new, that’s 4 more than you had before. You also have a webinar you can repurpose in many ways.
While 4 new leads in the sales funnel isn’t bad by any stretch, you want to draw in as many registrations as possible – then get people to view it live. To do that, build multiple types of promotion and one message into your lead generation strategy.
Give Yourself 2+ weeks to Promote Your Webinar
I know some people pull everything together at the last minute and promote their webinar the week of the event. We caution against this. It’s hard to get the word out with a one-week timeframe and these webinars usually have lower attendance.
We recommend 2-3 weeks of promotion and reminder activities including:
- Cold calling
- Social media posting
- Social ads
Tie Your Message to the Problem
When you create your email invitations, use the topic you selected based on the business problem your prospects are experiencing. You’re running a B2B lead generation promotion, not a B2C sales campaign. Frame your promotions using the issue and solution they care about. In your lead generation messaging:
- Tell them what they will gain if they attend.
- Sprinkle in a little of what they’ll lose if they don’t come.
- Use a direct call to action to register right now.
Include the main message in all your promotions and adapt it slightly to fit the medium you’re using.
4. Keep Your Audience Engaged During the Event
Like speaking before a crowd, you’ll probably experience pre-webinar jitters and some of your old doubts may start to creep into your mind. Will anyone listen to me? What if people drop off?
Ways to Engage Before a Webinar Begins
Squash these questions by giving your audience ways to participate. For instance, I start every Coffee with Kendra webinar a few minutes early. I use the time to engage attendees, encourage them to ask questions, chat about the topic with my co-host, and share exclusive information. It sets the tone I want all our webinars to have: informational, warm, conversational, and inclusive. This short, informal chat will put you at ease and lessen any lingering concerns about a webinar flop.
When the webinar officially begins, I address the biggest part of the problem they’re feeling right away. This is why they signed up and attended. Use it to grab their attention and reassure the audience you’ll help them solve their problem. It will make them want to stay.
7 Ways to Engage During a Webinar
As you work through the problem and its solution, engage your audience consultatively. There are many ways. You don’t have to do all of these, but you do need to employ several of them:
- Chat function
- Chat as they enter and throughout
- Start early
- Live tweet
- Use your video camera
Gather as much real-time feedback as you can and be flexible with your topic. Either monitor the chat yourself or have someone do it for you. Take a pulse of the room based on what people are saying. Bounce backward if you need to and skip over content that suddenly doesn’t feel relevant. It’ll keep you in-line with what your audience really wants to know and guarantees you provide information attendees value.
5. End With a Clear Call-to-Action to Build Your Sales Funnel
You’ve reached the end, but you’re not done. Throughout the webinar you’ve established yourself as a trustworthy expert, capable of navigating the attendees to a resolution to their immediate problem. Take advantage of this position! Tell your audience what to do next with a strong call-to-action. Make it clear how they can:
- Work with you by sharing the services you provide
- Schedule a meeting
- Reach you with unanswered questions
- Access a resource you mentioned
- Attend another webinar you’re hosting
- Connect with you on LinkedIn
Add a call-to-action when you send the recording of the webinar to everyone who registered. Make it easy for people to follow through on your offer. For instance, if you want to quickly set meetings, send a Calendly link with the post-event email so recipients can instantly schedule a time to meet with you.
6. Follow-Up to Continue the Conversation
Yes, you finished with a strong call-to-action, but no matter how compelling and useful your presentation, you can’t sit back and wait. Your attendees could jot down your contact information and then dash off to back-to-back video conference calls. When they emerge, drained, 3 hours later they’re thinking about closing their computers for the day – not setting up a call with you. You need follow-up lead generation strategies that are easy and continue to provide value to registrants.
5 Lead Generation Strategies for after a Webinar
- Add registrants to a special follow-up email campaign. Align it with the same business problem. Have your lead generation company write it for you.
- Offer a resource or service. This could be free or fee.
- Call the people who were most engaged. These aren’t cold calls. They’re warm.
- Connect on LinkedIn with target contacts who attended.
- Suggest a meeting to continue the discussion.
You’ll inevitably have people who register but don’t attend. Here is where webinars have the edge over in-person events. Unlike a conference or networking event, you aren’t limited to interacting with the people who attended. You have the contact information for everyone who RSVPed. Email everyone. Send the recording, any free offer you promoted during the webinar, and ask for a meeting.
7. Turn the Recording into an On-Going Lead Generating Resource
Your follow-up email is only one way to share your webinar.
- Send the recording as a free resource in other lead generation campaigns.
- Post it on your website.
- Re-broadcast it.
- Upload the video to YouTube.
- Use it in your sales process.
As you repurpose the recording, think of your long-term goals. How can you incorporate it into your longer term lead generation strategy?
- You can keep the recording behind a registration page and continue to gather contact details and grow your lists.
- Or, un-gate the webinar and use the freely available content to demonstrate your authority and entice your audience to give up their information to download other assets you created, like guides, checklists, and white papers. For instance, we un-gated this comprehensive checklist to help you plan, promote, and host a webinar.
Sales Opportunities are waiting to be seized by savvy sales leaders and business owners
You have to stay visible and keep marketing. You can shift from in-person to digital lead generation strategies and incorporate virtual events. If hosting a webinar still sounds daunting but the opportunity to fill your sales funnel is appealing, we can help you plan, promote, and run one. Book a meeting with me today or call us at +1-303-741-6636 and let’s discuss your vision and how we can help.