Webinar Lead Generation: Is It Still Relevant?
You might consider webinar lead generation if you're looking for new ways to engage with your audience and generate leads.
This might have been the number one strategy for generating leads a few years ago, but is it still relevant?
We're going to explore that in this article with insights from Cognism's demand generation team!
👇 Let's get started.
Are lead generation webinars still relevant?
You may have heard of Cognism CMO Alice de Courcy's book, 'Diary of a first time CMO."
It details all the reasons why marketers shouldn't be invested in creating MQLs, but rather focus on creating demand and hitting a revenue number as a goal. This will ultimately lead to better sales leads and more satisfied customers, increasing your revenue as a whole.
Alice says, ‘Marketing today is not the same as marketing in 2010.’
Our focus as marketers shouldn't be on how many webinar leads we can bring in for sales to qualify and nurture. Instead, we should focus on the value we can provide potential buyers.
Senior Demand Generation Executive Ashleigh Frank says:
"You cannot assume where someone is in their buying journey based on attending a single webinar."
"Members of your audience may be less likely to show up to future webinars if sales teams are calling them after watching a webinar. It’s not a good enough intent signal for any sales conversation."
And as you can imagine, the Cognism team has put a lot of effort into testing what structure works best for generating leads from webinars. Ashleigh says:
"Our research has shown that while most of our lead gen webinars may have generated a lot of leads, most of these leads had very low intent and even lower conversion rates."
"Our sales team was getting inundated with large amounts of leads to follow up with and even worse, most of them weren’t interested - ultimately, a waste of time and effort for both sales and marketing teams!"
Here's a more detailed look into using quality content to drive hot leads and create demand:
With that said, is webinar lead generation still useful for B2B marketers in 2023?
Yes, but the focus should be on sharing quality ungated content rather than pushing B2B buyers into a sales funnel when they aren't close to making a purchasing decision!
Before planning your next lead generation webinar, read the chapter on 'going from lead gen to demand gen' in Alice's book. Click the banner to jump directly to it 👇
How to generate leads from webinars: five strategies that work
Instead of focusing on creating webinars to generate leads, you should implement strategies that create brand awareness, increase your reach, and enhance your customer relationships.
Think about this:
When you organise a webinar, you share your expertise with your audience.
They’re there because they want to learn more about specific topics, and often they’ll have questions only you can answer.
To give your potential customers the best experience, you must plan your lead generation webinars around these four integral questions:
Who are you selling to?
Why are you selling to them?
Can you answer their questions?
What gaps are in the market?
The more value you provide, the more likely they’ll want to share your webinar and brand with their network.
This will increase your reach. Opening your brand up to new audiences you may not have considered approaching before.
And you may find that your next webinar has even more registrants as word spreads.
Here are five proven strategies for hosting successful webinars:
1. Attract webinar attendees who want what you're selling
The first step to any lead generation webinar is to get your ideal customers to register.
You'll need to establish your ideal customer profile and create an email list for when you want to tell them more about your webinar.
This list can also help you create targeted ads on LinkedIn and Facebook to ensure the right people are aware of the event and excited about it.
You can also utilise intent data if you want to get really granular. With intent data, you can get the names and contact details of ideal customers actively researching a product like yours.
Sales intelligence tools like Cognism or Kaspr can give you access to intent data and a GDPR-compliant database to help you build your perfect webinar lead generation lists!
💡 Here’s an interactive workflow showcasing how tools like these can get you more webinar registrants.
Now whatever you do, don't fall back into the trap of the MQL hamster wheel. Just because a prospect is attending your webinar doesn't mean they will immediately enter your sales funnel, but it will ensure you remain top of mind as they explore all their options.
2. Choose topics your ideal audience is actually interested in
Think of your webinar topic as your marketing hook.
You want to keep it short and straightforward.
This way, you won't risk going off-topic or running over time.
Finding a topic means looking back at your published blogs to see which one did the best or scrolling LinkedIn for trending conversations.
Even better, send out a survey to see what your current customers want to know.
If you choose a classic topic like cold calling, try to think of a new way to do it that's engaging and fresh. At Cognism, the demand gen team tries to make each webinar a unique experience. They test topics, experiment with formats and speak to their audience to ensure they aren't repeating themselves and their content stays as engaging as possible.
"Our strategy has revolved around using webinars as brand awareness, creating a sense of community and authority for our brand around certain topics, especially in the B2B sales and marketing circles."
"The key to this has been varying our content, testing new themes, and using a webinar platform like Goldcast to create the most engaging sessions possible!"
"Because of this approach, our webinars are doing the hard work for us, and we’ve noticed that our audience members are more interested in having sales conversations with us when they are ready."
By having a great topic your audience is interested in, you aren't only making an impact on how your company is perceived, but you're also engaging with potential customers in a way that isn't pushing a sale.
What's more, you’re showing prospects that you value their relationship, have much to offer them, and are an expert in your field.
This will do more for your revenue numbers than overdone lead-generation webinar tactics.
"Over time, your goal is to build better brand association with your webinars and create a strong community without lead gen tactics."
3. Reach out to industry leaders
The key to building an engaging lead generation webinar will be the quality of the content and the speakers.
You'll want to invite industry leaders, LinkedIn influencers, and other B2B companies experts to drive the discussion.
"Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to people who are thought leaders in your space and ask them if they’d like to join a webinar."
"These leaders are often keen to participate in sharing their views and engaging with an interested audience for nothing more than a shoutout or some video snippets in return."
"The key is to give them content they can use for themselves at the end of the webinar."
But reaching out to thought leaders isn't always easy, especially if you don't have a great partner network. Marketing agency Project36 faced this problem. They wanted to invite senior-level prospects as guest speakers on industry webinars but needed the right data to prospect to them.
They looked at various B2B data providers before settling on Cognism, which helped them:
Achieve 70% engagement rates.
Reach 800 webinar registrations.
Acquire 500 webinar attendees.
And it's not only our clients who use Cognism to get fantastic industry speakers. We use our tool too!
"We know which companies we want to invite to speak on our webinars, so all we need to do is put the company name into Prospector and get a list of job titles."
"Then we can go, 'oh okay, there's 'name' who is 'title.' They'd be perfect for inviting to speak about this topic. Then it's just a matter of sending them a message."
This is also where networking is key.
The more you build relationships with other industry experts, the easier to invite them as guest speakers.
"When another company invites you to speak on a sales podcast or webinar, always ask if the person who invited you would like to return the favour."
Turn your future webinars into a success with quality B2B data from Cognism. Click to book a demo👇
4. Create hype
You aren't going to get many attendees if you don't promote your demand webinar.
When should you start creating hype?
Two to three weeks before the big day is best.
And this typically starts with sending out emails to let your audience, old and new, know what's on the horizon. Here’s an example:
Liam explains how we do it at Cognism:
"We send inbound emails to people who want to hear from us. Then we send outbounds to prospects who would find the topic valuable."
For outbound leads, the demand gen team generates a list of people based on job title; job join data or industry and automates a custom campaign for them. They'll also check to see if anyone has searched for the webinar's topic and will send out another campaign based on that intent data.
If you’re not using a prospecting tool like Cognism, you can take a similar approach by segmenting your email lists for personalised campaigns.
Another useful marketing tool is Mailtastic; with this, you can share your event on your company's email signatures. Here’s an example:
Not all hype needs to be a paid campaign. You can also:
Set up events on LinkedIn.
Share posts on Slack channels.
Create content guests, and your team can share across social media.
- Get guests to film video snippets on topics and the event for further content distribution.
5. Think about brand awareness
If you want high-quality leads from webinars, you must think about building brand awareness.
When word spreads that your virtual events are not to be missed, then more B2B buyers will sign up and become aware of who your company is and what you're selling.
This leads to increased referrals, and your current customer base will continue to find helpful information they can use to achieve sales goals with your product or service.
"When it comes to focusing on leads for webinars, you’re often compromising on the quality of your webinar by putting together a boring slide deck and not creating content that your audience engages with."
"The key to creating a successful webinar for demand generation is asking yourself how to provide value to your audience. Webinars should be entertaining - so it’s time to ditch the long slide decks!"
Slide decks are great for slapping on a logo and reading from during a lead generation webinar. But you'll lose your audience.
"People have a short attention span and may be dedicating some of their work hours to your webinar. Most lead gen webinars aren’t memorable, so you will struggle to create a repeatable audience that subscribes to your content and enjoys showing up to your webinars."
You can combat this by making your webinars as entertaining as possible. Many webinar lead generation software includes options to create polls, ask trivia questions and more. Do what you can to gamify your events, and you'll receive a full house next time around.
At Cognism, we've been experimenting with live cold calls, which you can watch in this video 👇
How to convert webinar leads in three easy steps
As mentioned earlier, webinar lead generation is dead. It’s all about what you do after the event that matters.
Yes, webinars can bring in targeted leads, but creating on-demand content and distributing your content from your webinar will be the driving force behind converting leads attracted to your brand via these assets.
Creating a follow-up email cadence is one way; lead qualification is another.
Let’s break these steps down into detail:
1. Create on-demand content
Gone are the days when gating content brought in sales leads.
Share your knowledge and expertise, and the hot leads will come!
And that's where distributing your webinar content after the fact comes in, as Ashleigh explains:
"Think of webinars as the first cog in your content machine. You can repurpose webinars into multiple formats you might not have thought of, including youtube videos, blogs, social posts and more."
The new assets you extrapolate from the webinar can fuel other demand generation activities, e.g., using a repurposed webinar video for a paid ad to capture demand."
The benefits and opportunities of hosting webinars are endless.
Just don’t think small.
For instance, what happens when your guests ask questions you don’t have time to answer?
You create content out of it, of course.
An older lead generation webinar tactic would be to create a drip email campaign that provides your audience with answers to those questions while building a relationship.
But, the more modern idea is to create LinkedIn posts, YouTube Videos and blog write-ups from those unanswered questions. That way, anyone who wants to find the answer can - even if they didn't attend your webinar. Here’s an example of a LinkedIn post from Cognism:
Other repurposing ideas include:
Uploading podcast episodes.
Sharing snippets on social media.
Creating YouTube videos.
"Webinars are a catalyst for content generation and a lead generation tool. When other experts contribute, you can create spin-off content that can be shared organically, as part of awareness campaigns, on blogs and other lead generation assets."
2. Lead qualification matters
Don’t forget that if any leads reach out to your marketing team after a webinar, lead qualification still matters.
3. Think of a clever follow-up email cadence
It’s an excellent idea to email everyone who attended (and didn’t attend) a link to the recording.
And if you can think of a clever way to do that, even better!
Some ideas include:
A Vidyard from one of the speakers personally thanking them for attending.
Ask if they’d be interested in any other content - like your newsletter.
Include a voucher for a coffee to say thanks.
Some of these ideas might be better suited to an ABM campaign but work wonders for converting enterprise leads.
💡 P.S. These B2B marketing strategies might inspire you!
Top tips for planning a webinar
Here are six bonus tips to help you reap the benefits of webinar lead generation:
1. Always have video on
Your guests will appreciate being able to see who is speaking to them, and then you can also use the recording to create content later on.
2. Include a moderator
You need someone to be in charge of directing the conversation, watching the time, making sure that each person gets to speak enough etc.
3. Create an order of play
You’ll need a slide-by-slide breakdown of how the webinar needs to go so your moderator can see what's coming next and guide the conversation there.
4. Get someone to check the chat
Besides your moderator, you’ll need someone behind the scenes checking the chat for questions and comments.
Then they can answer anything like, ‘will there be a recording of this?’ and pass on any interesting questions for the moderator to redirect to the speakers.
5. Don’t be boring
Do your best to engage with your audience by including live polls, answering their questions, showing videos, or asking for reactions to trending tweets etc.
6. Keep to the time
Your webinar shouldn’t last longer than an hour. This way, you’re not taking up too much of anyone's time, and you won’t have too many people leaving early.
Most of all, don't stress too much.
If you can’t get to everyone’s questions, use it as an excuse to engage with them afterwards.
And have fun!
Get higher-quality webinar leads with Cognism
Webinar lead generation might not be the go-to for quality leads, but you can still drive demand with quality content.
And, Cognism can help you do that. Just like we helped Netradar:
- Drive on average 25 webinar registrants per day.
- Generate 5 RFQs (Request for Quote) in three months using Cognism data.
- Reach more mobile operators across the world.
"Not only have the webinar registrants been phenomenal, but because of Cognism, we have created five new RFQ (Request for Quote) opportunities. One is likely to sign very soon despite our sales cycle being on average nine months."
"Without Cognism, we wouldn’t be in this position; we wouldn’t have been able to find the correct mobile operators to target and would have wasted time trying."