Megan Hannay, head of content for Citation Labs, shares the lessons she learned about webinar content marketing:
Last fall at Citation Labs, CEO Garrett French and I made a goal to hold one webinar per month, and we’ve kept this promise for six months and counting. I come from a B2C social media background, and Garrett comes from link building; neither of us had much webinar creation or promotion experience. So we did what newbies do best—we dove right in.
Sometimes we had guest hosts and interviewees; sometimes Garrett spoke solo. Sometimes we planned content ahead of time, and sometimes we used our webinar as a “brainstorm session” with participants. The past six months have already taught us much about video event promotion and strategy, and I’ve summed up some of our favorite learnings to share here.
Almost any tutorial content needs examples. Early on, we realized we could invent our own “Joe the Plumber,” or we could ask our webinar audience for their real-world problems and show off the effectiveness of strategy by solving them on the fly. So for most of our webinars, we include an optional pre-webinar survey where participants can provide their SEO keywords and business needs, in exchange for a possible free live consultation.
Not only have personalized examples allowed us to better connect with our audience’s needs during the planning process, but they’ve also given us a reason to follow up with dozens of our attendees, thanking them for their submissions and letting them know we featured their site in our webinar.
Each new webinar means another chance to split test webinar marketing copy via our ~14,000 subscriber strong email list. Our findings weren’t shocking, but they’ve helped us optimize and have given us confidence in our marketing going forward:
“You’re Invited” Works
“You’re Invited” has resulted in more opens for 85 percent of our A/B tested email campaigns. We’ve tested “You’re Invited” against “Announcement”, “Your Invitation” and against leading with the webinar topic. “You’re Invited” wins almost every time.
(Note: The time “You’re Invited” lost the A/B test, it was up against “Try our new tool.”)
Webinar > Q&A
We also tried battling the term “webinar” against “Q&A”, figuring that if interactive sessions work best, “Q&A” would appeal to more people on our list. But in a limited test, this was not the case. Use of the word “webinar” resulted in 17 percent more opens during our A/B split.
As you can see from the screenshot above, we’ve tested reminding our email list to tune in to our webinar. This is one area we’ve gone back and forth on—wanting to make sure our list was aware of the webinar versus not wanting to over-email and decrease our returns. But the results have been undeniably positive, sometimes doubling our RSVP count from one reminder.
Some webinars were more successful than others in terms of real-time numbers. But all have found an afterlife on the Citation Labs blog. According to our YouTube stats, the view count for each webinar has more than doubled since its original posting, largely thanks to embedded video views on our blog.
As members of a small agency, our time is valuable. The hours spent preparing, marketing and making webinars wouldn’t be cost-effective if we couldn’t give these videos an afterlife. We send webinars as tutorial videos to new customers, recommending strategies and examples to users with similar questions.
For some, treating webinars as a one-time event may raise response numbers, but we’ve found that building an evergreen attitude into our webinar creation strategy not only maximizes our time, but it also encourages us to think of topics that truly matter to many of our customers.
The screenshot below is from our YouTube Analytics backend. It’s only showing the views that came from within YouTube to our videos (from YouTube search, suggested videos channel page views, etc.). By putting our webinars here, and optimizing the tags and titles, we’re giving a Citation Labs a place in Google’s other search engine site.
Viewers that found our webinar content from within YouTube, month-over-month.
People like presents. In addition to free consultation, we’ve wrapped up some of our webinars offering additional content to people who send us an email request. These email follow-ups have been another great way to build a rapport with our audience post-webinar.
A funny thing happens when you start creating 30-minute presentations on topics you’re passionate about and practices you’ve developed for years—you learn even more about your own industry. For Citation Labs, that meant developing a better understanding of the audiences our clients and customers make content for. It’s helped us refine our processes for link building and content creation, and our thinking is even turning into new tool ideas.
Blog posts serve a similar function, but there’s something about the act of speaking, of creating a deck and preparing for a Q&A that challenges us to develop air-tight ways of talking about our strategies. You can always edit a blog post, but webinars are in the wild. They demand serious preparation that we’re always thankful for later.
For six months, we’ve kept our promise to make webinars a monthly habit, and we’re starting to see the results: more educated users, invitations to join webinar panels and guest post on blogs, etc. Our webinars have transformed from an experimental project to a staple in our content strategy—every major Citation Labs blog post now has an accompanying live how-to. This is a component we couldn’t have foreseen until we started working webinars into our strategy.
So my biggest advice for teams just starting out would be to experiment. Yes, strategy (and goal-keeping) is important, but with new forms of content marketing, sometimes the best ideas come from lessons we’ve learned along the way.
Megan Hannay (@mahannay) has more than five years’ experience with content and marketing strategy. As the head of content for Citation Labs, she develops webinars, website and blog content and digital marketing strategy. Citation Labs is an SEO & Link Building Agency that specializes in authority content creation.
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