Tradeshows were once the most important way for those in the B2B sector to bring in leads, make deals and get their product or service in front of the right people. The energetic environments and often ideal get-away locations have always been attractive features of trade expos for both business professionals and potential clients alike.
Tradeshows were once the most important way for those in the B2B sector to bring in leads, make deals and get their product or service in front of the right people. The energetic environments and often ideal get-away locations have always been attractive features of trade expos for both business professionals and potential clients alike. However, those who participate in trade shows know that the handshake is the real reward and that an exchange of a business card coupled with human interaction are key parts to the conversion funnel.
With COVID-19, however, we have seen one trade show after another canceled to the dismay of many B2B professionals. Active atmospheres, company cards and the human handshake all seemed to disappear overnight. CEOs, COOs, managers, sales teams and marketing leads have had to scramble to find and develop new methods for reaching their target audiences, in addition to innovative measures to make that critical handshake and “seal the deal” or gain a critical lead.
The move towards online “coffee meets” and larger webinars is, surprisingly, not a new adjustment in the B2B world. In fact, according to Google Trends, the search term “webinar” essentially replaced “whitepaper” and “eGuide”, in terms of popularity, in 2008. In our current work-from-home and distance learning stage, webinars have successfully substituted for school lessons, cooking classes and fitness sessions. In the B2B space, webinars have become the new tradeshow.
As the new tradeshow, webinars, in their various forms, have become ideal for many B2B companies; the sheer volume of webinars increased significantly in the last few months. According to ON24, “the number of webinars hosted on the ON24 Platform [has] jumped by more than 330%” from March 2019 to March 2020. Yet the multitude of webinar choice has not overwhelmed potential clientele, but rather encouraged further participation. As of April 2020, analysts are reporting a 33% increase in webinar attendance.
Popularity aside, B2B professionals want to know: Are webinars actually a beneficial investment? In this blog we delve into the top 3 benefits of webinars for B2B businesses and ways your company can get started today.
Drive more leads
Today, webinars are an attractive and ideal marketing strategy for both B2B professionals and potential clients. Attendees have the ability to absorb from the comfort of their own home, as well as avoid costly travel-and-stay expenses. B2B marketers can capitalize on using webinars to drive in more leads.
76% of marketers say webinars allow them to drive more leads and extend their brand reach altogether.
This comfortable, digital platform provides necessary leverage to reach an even broader target audience than at a traditional trade show. Furthermore, those who sign up and participate in webinars are already highly-invested upon registering – an amplified aspect when compared to those traditional trade shows. Analysts argue that between 20% – 30% of the participant leads become qualified leads, which is comparable to that of tradeshows, if not higher for many B2B companies.
Importance of Lead Generation
Based on the chart below, 63% of B2B Marketers use webinars for lead nurturing and reactivating existing leads. Why is there such an emphasis on lead nurturing? In short, successful lead generation positively impacts a company’s growth and profitability. Effective lead generation creates a steady flow of leads, many of which become qualified leads and continue through the conversion. These qualified leads soon become valuable customers.
Longer buying cycle than B2C
B2B marketing is sometimes incomparable to B2C because the buying process in the B2B marketplace is much longer. The B2C buying cycle often relies on trends and impulse, whereas the B2B decision process is founded in research and evaluation. B2B decisions are solution-based and meant to complete long-term aspirations for customers.
Due to the long buying cycles, B2B marketing requires substantially more attention to the user experience than B2C. This timely investment makes lead generation and nurturing a necessity for B2B companies. Webinars are shown again and again to produce qualified leads.
Strong Gated Content
Gated content has long been an effective strategy for generating leads; gated content being any content that is only accessible by visitors who provide their information, like an email address. Gated content is so successful because it entices the visitor and becomes an incentive for supplying information.
Recently, B2B marketers have been adding not just videos, but webinar series to their gated content. Instead of TV binging, visitors are eager to register or signup for a webinar series in order to learn a new skill or see behind-the-scenes footage of a well-known brand. With the promise of more, webinar series keep participants active and provide another avenue for valuable leads for B2B companies.
Relationships are Key
In their Webinar Benchmarks Report, ON24 continues to asses that many B2B organizations “are using webinars as a platform to establish reputation as a credible and trustworthy brand, foster strong relationships with trading partners and add value to their bottom line.” It is critical that everyone involved in the B2B market continues to foster supportive relationships with clients as they are key to a successful business – it ultimately means returning and happy customers.
Lower cost-per lead
In the last few months, blogs and YouTube videos everywhere are highlighting the “cost-efficiency” of webinars. Yet few go into detail: It is obvious right? Less money on registration and travel! Almost – but the important factor of “cost-efficient” webinars is the actual cost per lead.
Traditional Tradeshow Expenses
The traditional tradeshow or exhibition is infamously costly for companies, since they have to pay for their employees to physically attend the show. Costs include not only required expenses, like registration fees and ticket, but also hotel stays as well as flights. Here are some statistics on how trade show expenses rack up:
- On average, it would cost a company roughly $1,375 to send a single employee to a 1-day trade show – which seems surprisingly affordable considering travel and hotel expenses.
- Companies participating in an expo with a small booth spend a median of $4,045 – which includes booth fees, lodging and transportation.
- Based on the 2009 study “The Cost Effectiveness of Exhibition Participation,” the average cost per lead at an exhibition is approximately $96 and the average cost to close that sale is roughly $2,200. If the company only acquired one or two leads, the cost to participate clearly outweighs the revenue per lead.
Webinars, on the other hand, have a much lower cost per lead than traditional tradeshows. Recently 80% of manufacturing companies reported that webinars help lower their cost-per lead (ON24 Webinar Benchmarks Report 2019). With the addition of wallet-friendly platforms such as ON24 and Zoom, manufacturing a successful webinar is surprisingly inexpensive. In ReadyTalk’s webinar on “The Top 8 Webinar Myths”, analysts explain that a simple and personal coffee meet webinar can cost as low as $100. Larger webinars that generate more qualified leads cost between $1,000 and $3,000 depending on outreach and technological expenses.
Lower Cost per Lead
Because B2B companies are cutting costs by switching from the traditional tradeshow to webinars, there is much greater return on their investment (ROI). John Tyreman explains the value of a webinar lead best:
With webinars, B2B businesses can provide personalized information in multiple areas of the conversion funnel, while simultaneously increasing their audience reach and ROI.
Lifetime Value (LTV) of B2B Customers
While popularity in webinars for lead generation has increased rapidly over the last few months, perceptive businesses continue to keep this channel of marketing open for their current customers as well. Most B2B professionals and thought-leaders will tell you that existing customers are the heart of the business, so keeping those customers engaged in our socially distant marketplace is vital. Webinars provide productive involvement beyond buying a product and staying up-to-date. Webinars can strengthen the customer relationship into a supportive and long-term partnership, which will last across contracts and companies.
B2B companies can use webinars for various purposes from introductory content lessons to behind-the-scenes tours. Connecting with customers who are interested in learning more about the webinar subject can help achieve a better LTV.
Effective webinars are shown time and time again to increase a company’s ROI. As a result the Lifetime Value of a B2B customer also improves because the expenses needed to engage and support that customer are reduced.
Visual content is king
2019 was a paramount year for visual content. Changes in visual content were seen in both social media platforms and brand awareness advertisements worldwide. The digital realm made a huge leap as video became the primary form of media in content marketing. As we continue to work from home, even virtual reality (VR) has made its way into the B2B marketplace. Needless to say, visual content is gaining momentum in the marketing world.
Using long form content fused with key visual content within webinars themselves: fosters increased engagement, creates thought leadership, encourages case study utilization and cultivates community.
Foster Engagement with your Audience
Webinars provide an easy platform for B2B companies to engage with their target audience and potential leads. Typically, in webinars, professionals tend to move away from sales pitches and towards a place to share expertise and insights with future customers. This shift enables business to engage with audience members, who ultimately leave the webinar feeling better informed which opens new conversion levels.
ON24 mentions in their 2019 Webinar Benchmarks that “video is a particularly effective format for bottom-of-the-funnel-campaigns” and many B2B companies see benefits right away from using videos. These videos and webinars could include brief demonstrations of products or behind-the-scene tours. Since many audience members are working from home, interactive how-to-sessions and Q-&-A webinars fill up quickly – tradeshow or webinar, consumers are eager for human interaction.
Create Thought Leadership
Many B2B companies are already the “go-to” organizations of their specific product or solutions. Webinars help these “go-to” businesses to distinguish themselves as thought leaders to a wide audience platform. They also help companies tell their story through interactive elements. Important content coupled with key visuals makes a webinar an excellent platform for thought leadership.
Utilize Case Studies and Critical Data
Participants are well-prepared to watch an hour-long engaging webinar, otherwise they would not have signed up! Because participants are eager to learn and are prepped for long form content, B2B companies have the opportunity to present significant case studies to a wide audience, one that likely has extended beyond that of a trade show. Case studies that use engaging visual content are more effective in generating qualified leads.
Cultivate your Community
Webinars allow B2B companies to nurture leads and customers at every level of the conversion funnel. Strong and supportive business relationships turn leads into valuable clients and foster a sense of loyalty with returning customers. When developing your webinars, remember to choose topics that are the most supportive or interesting for your current customers and target audience in general.
Some B2B companies are taking relationship fostering to the next level by hosting online conferences or virtual workshops that cover advanced trainings or include industry leaders. Participants are drawn to the personalization of similarly styled webinars and appreciate access to key speakers and leaders.
Create Conversions and Generate Leads with a “Digital Handshake”
Webinars create more and more opportunities for B2B companies to generate and nurture leads into valuable customers while simultaneously creating a lower cost per lead and increased ROI. They are an ideal platform for personalizing content and fostering relationships, as well as reaching a larger audience, which in turn increases the number of qualified leads. Potential leads may register for an online conference because they are interested in the topic, but find themselves becoming loyal clients based on the support they received at each level of the sales funnel.
B2B professionals can begin to put these marketing trends into practice for their next campaign by:
- Choosing topics the intended audience is interested in
- Creating accessible webinars through a specific platform
- Engaging audience members with content videos that include demonstrations or Q-and-A Sessions
- Foster Thought Leadership by inviting other industry leaders to co-host a virtual conference
- Showcase important case studies and data to engage audience members
- Share the company’s story through interactive elements
- Always be prepared to cultivate the brand’s community
Today webinars have become the new trade show. Digital platforms stand in for the get-away locations of yesterday. Hotel stays are substituted with behind-the-scenes tours. Informative fliers swapped with video demonstrations. Business cards replaced by live Q-and-A sessions.
As the B2B marketplace takes its place as the innovative forerunner in the technological world, marketing strategies have to adjust in order to continue generating leads and fostering customer relationships.
How will your company adjust its marketing strategy to establish a “Digital Handshake”?
At Dream Factory, we specialize in process-driven, ROI-focused B2B marketing initiatives. Your bottom line is as important to us as it is to you.