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5 Things You Need to Know about Developing a Webinar Registration Page

When it comes to webinar marketing, there’s little more soul crushing than setting up what you believe to be an elaborate presentation only to have your registration page turn into a complete flop. Why isn’t your beautiful landing page converting?

While we could try to answer that by pointing out common mistakes many webinar marketers make, we’re going to give you five tips for developing a killer webinar registration page instead. That way you can compare your current attempt and make necessary changes, or start from scratch the right way.

1. Customize It

Webinar Landing PageAlthough many hosting services provide built-in tools for the creation of signup pages, they usually aren’t as effective as a customized landing page and form. Yes, you’ll need to do a bit more work, but the number of registrations a user-friendly page with relevant fields and a powerful call to action can yield is often well worth the effort. You can also embed the registration form directly on your website and track the performance of your signup page.

2. Keep the Content Simple

By simple, we mean clear and concise. You want to answer the who, what, when where, and why questions, but you also want to ensure your language is devoid of jargon and that you set the right expectations for potential registrants. Whatever you do, don’t use this as an excuse to create a page that’s thin on information. Your webinar registration landing page is a great place to provide brief and compelling bios of your presenters, as well as other morsels of information that explain the value of the webinar’s content. Use this space to build anticipation and encourage people to reserve their spot. Also, don’t forget to include the price of your webinar if you’re charging for it.

3. Keep the Form Simple

Have you ever come across someone who enjoys filling out long forms that require copious amounts of information and a crowbar to jog his rusty memory? Neither have we, so please don’t force your attendee to provide unnecessary detail right off the bat. Unless, of course, it’s crucial to your presentation. People will bolt in the other direction if your complicated registration process takes more than a few clicks, so plan it out properly before you put your landing page and signup form together.

4. Don’t Forget Optimization Basics

You’ll never drive enough registrations if your page barely registers in SERPs. Therefore, you need to consider all SEO factors while ensuring the content is still fit for human consumption. That means eye-catching headlines that contain a keyword or two, compelling copy that delights both readers and search engines, and optimized code.

5. Become Design Savvy

Webinar Registration Page DesignIn order to maximize conversions, congruency and the placement of certain elements is essential. You’ll need to test your page once it’s live, but be sure to follow best practices for things like CTAs, directional cues, supporting video, messaging, social sharing buttons, navigation, etc. All elements should align with the topic of your landing page, as well as your goal to generate registrations. You’ll also want to pay attention to branding elements during the design phase so that your page looks like it belongs to your business.

Ultimately, a targeted webinar registration page can make or break your event. Have a look at examples on the web and then figure out how certain elements may work for your page. You may find you like the idea of soliciting questions for presenters with an extra field in your signup form or that you have social proof you can incorporate into your copy. Keep your post-registration follow-up and reminder emails in mind, too, as you can use these to build excitement and provide additional details to signups.

 

Are there any tips you’d add to our list? Do you use the built-in tools provided by a hosting service or do you develop your own customized pages from scratch? Drop us a line and let us know your thoughts on this topic.

What You Need To Know About Webinar Dry Runs

Want to know how webinar marketing pros make the delivery of virtual presentations look super easy? The secret is simple: they practice. While you may believe that hosting this type of event is about knowing your content and cues, the reality is that managing a live webinar requires expert multitasking. After all, you’re dealing with technology that may just decide to abide by Murphy’s Law when you least expect it. For that reason alone, you need to schedule a run-through of your webinar a few days before the event to ensure you’re as prepared as can be.

What should you be doing during webinar dry runs?

A Webinar Dry Run ChecklistWebinar Dry Run

  • Introduce your webinar team members and presenters to each other if they haven’t already met. If guest speakers have any questions or require assistance, they should know whom to turn to for help. This is also a great opportunity to encourage participants and generate enthusiasm around the event.
  • Make certain everyone knows how the webinar software, tools, and features you’re planning to use work. You may need to pull out tutorials, user guides, and other training materials to conduct a quick recap for those who aren’t too familiar with the webinar service provider you choose.
  • Conduct a review of your webinar agenda and make sure everyone knows what their action signals are. If there are any persistent issues, now is the time to work them out and finalize changes. Ideally, you want to have your presentation materials loaded before you do a run-through so that there are few interruptions during your practice session.
  • Check your equipment to ensure everything is in working order. This includes an audio test, features check, and recording check. To avoid any nasty surprises, make sure everyone joins your webinar dry run from the computer they’ll be using for the live event. With the equipment check, you’ll need to test:
    • The compatibility of each person’s equipment with the web conferencing service you’re using;
    • Sound quality (use a good headset and eliminate background noises or echoes);
    • Phone-in options;
    • Plug-ins;
    • Recording abilities;
    • And features such as screen sharing, organizer or moderator controls, muting, and chat options.

If you have the resources, you might also want to consider having backup equipment in place if something malfunctions.

  • Run through your presentation and record it for reviewing purposes later. What you want to pay attention to here is the time it takes you to present your content, as well as the overall flow of your slides, visuals, and other materials. Ask yourself whether your webinar talking points are captivating enough, whether interactive elements such as polls are in an optimal position, and whether transitions between speakers is smooth. Also, take note of each speaker’s tone of voice and the pace at which the individual speaks.
  • Review your dry run recording and note down any problematic areas.
  • Adjust your presentation if needed, work out any technical problems, and answer any unresolved questions. Once everyone is happy with the outcome, you can wrap things up and wait for the real thing.

The last thing any webinar marketer wants is to be ill prepared or encounter technical glitches at the last minute. Practicing will ensure you know your content, cues, and webinar software. Be smart and schedule a dry run to eliminate unnecessary issues and ensure all participants are comfortable in their given roles.

 

Do you perform dry runs for your webinars? Is there anything you’d add to this checklist? Share your suggestions with us in the comment section below.

The Best Inbound Marketing Guides

inbound-marketingWe’ve written a lot on inbound marketing, specifically and indirectly, on this blog. Over the past year, there have been tons of posts created on our own views of what our inbound marketing philosophy is and how it should be implemented. I wanted to look for some of the best inbound marketing guides on the web, not only to validate some of what we believe, but also to offer a different perspective to our readers.

I did a little research on this, and one of my first steps was to look for some guides already in existence online. With more than 4 million results in Google’s index, I had no idea the topic was so popular. Ok, I had some idea, but how do you sift through and find “the best” guides? You don’t. You can’t! There is too much information out there, so the three companies and their guides I’ve highlighted in this post are by no means the end-all, be-all best guides out there. Instead, they have information that I think is pretty well-rounded and serves as excellent resources for those looking to learn more or have more data at their disposal to reference.

marketoMarketo – The Inbound Marketer’s Guide to SEO and PPC

Marketo is a marketing automation software company, and they produce content on similar topics at their website. The guide they’ve created (mentioned above) leans heavily on the roles that SEO and PPC play with inbound marketing (even though PPC is technically not inbound, but more on that in a moment).

The Benefits of Marketo’s Guide

Overall, you will see a lot of the same underlying theories and concepts in this guide that you see in content from other leading producers, but there were a few things that caught my eye as being unique and very helpful for readers.

Strategy:  I liked that there was an emphasis on strategy in the guide. SEO, social media and other components of inbound marketing (as well as the concept itself) are very new. Just like with any new practice or profession, you don’t really need to be an expert to say you are an expert. Marketo points this out in its guide, and mentions that a strategy should be the first thing you do.

Without a sound strategy, you will flounder with inbound. You will start tasks and not follow through. You will not have as much (or any) success where you might have if you were more focused. You will also become frustrated and lose faith in the power of this strategy for promotion.

An image representing creativityCreativity:  They also talk about creativity with inbound, which I like. Marketing is one of those services that is hard to pre package and sell to everyone. Marketing strategies must necessarily be modeled after the type of business and industry for which it is purposed.

I see a lot of websites, email ads or posts on social media about inbound or inbound-related concepts. They say, “you need to have a blog” and “you need to be active on social” or “you must create ebooks.” While there may be consistent components to inbound that involve these tools, the same tools will not work for everyone. Businesses have to think about how they do business and who they do it with. They have to think about niche opportunities that are available to them only because of the industry they are in. They must then leverage those opportunities to their advantage while applying concepts of inbound at the same time.

For example, many businesses should blog but it’s HOW they blog that is important. A company may leverage social media, but they need to think about how to position themselves in social media in order to be truly effective. And they cannot be averse to ignoring some of these components altogether in an inbound strategy if they aren’t going to generate revenue.

Examples:  Along with their section on creativity, Marketo provides a lot of really great examples of companies who are being creative. This is another aspect of their guide that I like. That is because in most guides (even those from the thought leaders in the industry), companies ARE the experts and don’t offer outside examples or viewpoints. Two heads are better than one, and diverse opinions and examples offer users a clearer picture on how they can model their own strategies.

following-professionalsFollowing the experts:  The last thing I saw in this guide that made it stand out was that Marketo suggested a whole list of people and events that would be good to attend. Here again they are showing users a window into a world of other thoughts and opinions on inbound instead of cramming their own philosophy down the reader’s throat. One might think, “hey, they are sending their potential customers elsewhere.” I would argue they are strengthening their position as an authority in the space by being unafraid to let people explore other options.

Drawbacks

This guide has two bad things about it. First, it is heavily focused on SEO and PPC, and there didn’t seem to be a guide offered by Marketo (that I could find) that had a more holistic approach. Granted, the title does say its about SEO and PPC.

The other thing is that it includes PPC in an inbound marketing piece. Some people may disagree with me, but to my mind, PPC is not an element of inbound marketing. By nature, inbound is supposed to be marketing that draws people in because of content. Conversely, PPC is interruptive advertising and is typically presented when people aren’t looking for it or don’t want to see it at all.

Marketo doesn’t really offer a good explanation as to why PPC is included in their inbound guide either.

hubspotHubSpot — Inbound Marketing Kit

We have to mention HubSpot here because let’s face it, they are one of the driving forces behind inbound marketing online. They have also produced some pretty great content around the subject. When I looked for an inbound marketing guide from them, though, I had a mixed bag of disappointment, frustration and delight.

The Benefits of HubSpot’s Guide (err…approach)

So, HubSpot has the “Inbound Marketing Kit” as opposed to a “guide.” This has a glossary of terms, their State of Inbound Marketing Report as well as an interactive video on actually doing inbound marketing. It is also important to note that HubSpot has several inbound marketing guides that are tailored for specific organizations such as NPOs and large corporations. In this regard, they do a good job of avoiding the one-size-fits-all guide approach.

Hands representing a holistic feelHolistic approach:  The thing I like about the video is that it provides a very holistic approach to inbound. HubSpot always gives a bunch of great stats, and they touch on all the different elements of inbound and how they can be leveraged and/or integrated with one another.

Informative:  The glossary was very informative and has tons of definitions. Granted, they are HubSpot’s definitions to relatively new concepts on the Internet in general, but if you are new to inbound, you can get a good reference guide on what the heck everyone is talking about.

Actionable data:  HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing Report is great for making decisions on where to focus your time with inbound. If you are a data hound, it’s the perfect document to show you exactly where you should be placing the most effort.

With inbound marketing, collecting and analyzing data are particularly important tasks. The mere fact that you can collect so much data from online marketing makes it much easier to understand what is working for you and what is a waste of time and money.

Drawbacks

I don’t really like to knock HubSpot because they do what they do very well, and they are very thorough with their data. There were, however, a few things that annoyed me with their approach to making this guide.

Flash logoVideo was in Flash:  Ahhhh!  I can’t comprehend why people are still using this technology. Adobe is huge and well-ingrained, so I get it. It’s hard to stop using what was once so ubiquitous. In some websites I’ve built, I’ve reluctantly had to use Flash for some elements. But when you are making a core piece of content for your viewers to see, it should not be displayed in a proprietary technology. When I went to see the video, I was unable to view it because my player was out of date. Had the video been on YouTube or Vimeo or any other way that didn’t include using Flash, things would have been fine.

Lack of actionable strategies:  Since I couldn’t see the video that was there as the guide, my only go-to docs were the glossary and the (lengthy) State of Inbound Marketing Report. Neither of these documents provide any kind of actionable strategy information.  They are mostly bare-bones definitions and data.

impact-logoImpact Branding and Design — A Beginners’ Guide to Inbound Marketing

I haven’t heard a lot about this company, but I saw that they had a beginners’ guide to inbound. In my experience, it’s good to give less well-known things a try once in a while, and this time I was pleasantly surprised.

The Benefits of Impact’s Guide

simpleSimple:  A lot of guides are good, but they can easily go off on a tangent and talk about theory and philosophy behind their concepts. That’s all great stuff, but sometimes (and especially if you are a beginner in a time crunch), you just want to know what to do.

Impact’s guide does that. They tell you exactly what you need, where to get it and what to do with it. Of course, they include some basic stats at the beginning of their guide, but for the most part, it dives right into what should be happening at your desk instead of theories on consumer buying habits.

Well-rounded:  Another thing I liked about this particular guide was that it adequately hit on key points of inbound marketing without being too detailed about any one concept or task. They start off with what business-related things someone would need to get started with inbound, what tangible tools they would need, how to implement those tools and then how to convert leads to sales.

At the end, they wrap up with how to measure your activities, which is always a crucial component. An added tidbit that you don’t always see in some guides is a section about the website, which is central to any inbound marketing campaign.We are trying to drive people to a website so they can perform some action or see our brand.

Drawbacks

Really the only thing I didn’t like about this guide was that it relied heavily on HubSpot’s data and general stature in the inbound industry. The company was mentioned a number of times, and there weren’t many other outside resources for people to follow up on.

I think it’s good to provide more perspectives than just one, and to definitely use more examples than just a single, leading company. HubSpot does what it does very well, but there are also a lot of other companies that are doing inbound well, too.

 

Are there any inbound marketing guides that you have found useful? Please share in the comments below!

Webinars: Selecting the Right Presenters and Planning Your Agenda

As with any event, certain moving parts need to align in order for a webinar to run smoothly. Today we’re focusing on just two of them: engaging presenters and your webinar agenda. While you may believe these are simple issues that need to be addressed, the reality is there are several aspects you need to consider when it comes to organizing your presentation and finalizing decisions around these elements.

Follow along as we provide useful tips for presenter selection and agenda planning.

Selecting the Right Speakers

You can have all the pretty pictures and fascinating data you like, but you’re wasting your time if your guest or host is a sleep-inducing talker. Not only will you likely fail to reach the goals you’ve set for your webinar, but your attendees will also drop out of the event like flies.

Webinar guest speakersTherefore, you need:

  • A recognized speaker who possesses a passion for the subject you’ll be talking about—someone who is a great teacher and will help your audience understand the key points you’re hoping to convey.
  • Someone who can attract and hold fast the interest and attention of your viewers for an extended period (40 minutes or more).
  • A credible presenter who not only has the necessary knowledge on the topic at hand, but also lends their marketability to your webinars. Ask yourself whether this is someone who has established online communities and strong social connections, as well as whether they’re able to attract your target crowd. Can you leverage the individual’s name to boost attendance? Is the person willing to help you promote your webinar through his or her own social channels?
  • Someone who is able to answer questions off-the-cuff.
  • A person who creates a valuable experience for your attendees by bringing their own opinions, viewpoints, and experiences to the table.
  • A speaker who can fit in with your webinar format whether you’re hosting a moderated panel, live debate, or interview-style presentation. If you’re already dealing with a niche topic in a somewhat dull field, consider forming a panel with two or more engaging presenters so you avoid monotony and give your webinar flavor.

Planning Your Agenda

webinar agenda meetingSuccessfully orchestrating a live webinar requires everyone involved to be well prepared, aware of their roles, and in the loop with respect to the timing of certain agenda items. As a result, you’ll want to assemble your team of speakers, facilitators or moderators, assistants, and other support staff a few weeks beforehand to discuss and plan your webinar agenda.

Factors you’ll need to plan and agree upon during the meeting:

  • Key questions or points that need to be discussed during the presentation;
  • A time to review questions and develop answers prior to the event;
  • The order and duration of each webinar element, including a welcome message, introductions, the topic presentation, audience Q&A’s, interactive content (polls, surveys, etc.), a CTA, and closing;
  • How and when you’ll create opportunities for dialogue;
  • Deadlines for the submission of a general script, bio photo and details, slide decks, videos, visual aids, references, and other presentation materials;
  • Social media and hashtag monitoring for audience input or feedback;
  • And a time to conduct a dry run.

Ultimately, you want to ensure you’re working with the right people and that they’re in agreement in terms of the best direction for your presentation. A concerted effort by all parties will ensure you have an engaging webinar with few timing problems.

 

Have you ever attended a really bad webinar? What would you change about it? Share your stories with us below.

Personal Challenges in Writing an Inbound Marketing Guide

challengeMost of my writing has a strict goal or purpose. In the posts we push out on this blog, it is our intention to inform and educate readers on concepts of inbound marketing, social media, web development and similar topics. Rarely do we get the chance to reflect on the process of accomplishing that goal. Over the past several weeks, we have made a variety of posts related to inbound marketing and its different steps. This post is more of a reflection of what it was like to compose information like that.

philosophyPhilosophy

The term “inbound marketing” was coined by HubSpot’s Brian Halligan back in 2005. Despite its very specific definition, inbound is one of those concepts that is still in its infancy. The term and the practices it refers to are still so new in terms of marketing businesses that many agencies and individuals have come up with their own personal meanings for the phrase.

For the most part, there is agreement on what people mean when they talk about inbound, but in writing these posts, it’s easy to lose sight of the rigid framework. You have to be honest with yourself in the fact that this entire business is new, ambiguous and hasn’t really found its place yet. Therefore, it is hard to say there is a right and wrong way to do inbound marketing.

Marketing in general varies based on the industry you are in. The same is true for inbound. There really isn’t one right way to do things. What I’ve learned is that you have to be creative. You have to constantly look around you at what is working for others and what is working for yourself. The best strategy I have found so far is to learn about best practices and then formulate your own philosophy for inbound. If you adopt someone else’s philosophy, it may not work as well for you as it did for them.

crutchThe Google Crutch

As a blogger, you want to be original. Maybe you want to make a name for yourself or perhaps you are just trying to pay the bills. Whatever the case may be, the more sophisticated writers want to do something unique.

There is always that temptation, though, to hop on a search engine and read some other post that addresses exactly the same topic that you want to write about. I’m no better, and I often browse the web to see what other similar content is out there. I do this both for inspiration, as well as to see how I can make my posts better than the others that pop up near the top of search results.

You have to be careful, though. When you are in a pinch and the deadline is coming up, it’s all too tempting to emulate word for word (technically) what someone else has already written. What I’ve learned here is that you can’t be afraid to fail. I’ve done a fair amount of study on inbound marketing, worked with a number of different clients and have a pretty broad knowledge of inbound and online marketing in general.

Therefore, I like to rely on my own opinions and experiences, and then find data to support those experiences. This has helped me write more original posts and provide another diverse point of view for web searchers to find. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it’s ok to use search engines for research and inspiration, but don’t rely on them as a crutch.

timeFinding the Time

This is a challenge that resonates with any person who is either writing or blogging for a living (or at all on a consistent basis). Finding the time to write is one thing, but finding the time to write well is something else entirely.

If you’ve ever tried to write well on a regular basis, you may have found that it takes time to get into a groove. It is not something you can just pick up and run with in two seconds. Sometimes it may take an hour or more before high-quality words start flowing onto the page.

Over the course of writing an inbound marketing guide, I’ve developed some strategies to help me get better work done in an (almost) timely manner.

  • Start early, even if you don’t feel like writing; get something down on paper and you can always change it later.
  • Make outlines. When you outline the information you want to write about, you can fill out a blog post or an article that much easier.
  • Write about things you have first-hand knowledge of.
  • Repurpose content where you can. Make sure you only repurpose content that won’t be competing with itself in search.

These challenges are by no means unique to me, and I’m sure there are others I’m missing. This post is more of a reflection on how I could become a more efficient writer and marketer than anything tangible for our readers.

 

What challenges do you face as a writer for large projects? Have you ever run into the challenges I’ve mentioned above?

How to Develop Engaging PowerPoint Decks for Webinars

PowerPoint decks are a great teaching tool. They’re super easy to create, and almost anyone can use the software to develop their own.

Perhaps that’s the problem.

With the wrong designer behind the keyboard, a PowerPoint presentation can be an absolute disaster. In many cases, they’re boring beyond belief. Big chunks of text, swooping bullet points, random clipart, and dissolving screens—it’s truly the stuff of nightmares.

To ensure you don’t give your audience a headache or put them to sleep, consider the following tips for developing an engaging PowerPoint Deck that gets your message across.

1. Plan Your Presentation

Plan Your PresentationA little forethought about the way in which you want to present your content can go a long way to ensuring your webinar success. Map out the various elements of your presentation and then decide how you want to bring them to life.

If you’re unskilled in the area of design, consider hiring a professional freelancer or searching for great slideshow examples online. You may find a creative trick or two that would work well for the topic you’re presenting.

2. Create Enough Slides

Don’t limit yourself; this isn’t a situation where less is more. Jam-packed slides simply aren’t pleasant to look at, so don’t be afraid to create lots of slides. Just make sure you keep each one focused on a single concept or talking point. You’ll have a much easier time capturing and maintaining the attention of your audience members.

3. Add an Interesting Welcome Slide

Attendees generally arrive at different times. While some may connect a few minutes early, others will join at the scheduled time. You’ll even have a few viewers who drift in a minute or two late. Whatever the case, every one of these people should see a warm welcoming message on a branded slide that sets the tone for what they can expect during the webinar. A great presenter headshot, sleek design, title text, welcoming message, and embedded background music will ensure viewers don’t drop out before the presentation even starts.

4. Choose Your Design or Theme Wisely

A clean, simple design is definitely the way to go with PowerPoint webinar presentations. Just make sure you subtly include your brand elements on each page so you’re not only consistent in your marketing efforts, but also reminding your audience that the content, thoughts, and ideas offered are linked to your business. If you’re changing the design or theme on a particular slide for any specific reason, make certain it complements the other slides in your deck.

5. Use Relevant, Engaging Visuals

Relevant, engaging visualsThere’s almost no excuse for having lifeless PowerPoint presentations these days. From basic clipart, animations, and slide transitions to screen grabs, graphs, and other catchy visual material, you can keep your audience entertained and engaged throughout the length of your talk. As a bonus, many webinar tools and software solutions allow you to add interactive content, such as polls and surveys, at just the right moment.

As a final note, be sure to add slides that briefly introduce the presenter or guest speaker, provide a quick overview of the agenda, offer additional resources, and end off the presentation with contact info and a call-to-action. You’ll also need to proofread your content so that you don’t stumble upon embarrassing mistakes when you’re in the middle of your webinar. Line up your powerful PowerPoint deck with a great vocal presentation and you’re sure to have a winning webinar on your hands.

 

Are you using PowerPoint to create your presentations? Are there any other webinar presentation tools you’d recommend? We’d love to hear from you, so share your thoughts, tips, and advice with us in the comment section below. 

Can You Benefit from Inbound Marketing Software?

Inbound Marketing SoftwareThe amount of activities you could be involved with in online marketing for your business is dizzying. There are so many to think about, and it’s easy to get lost. When you are promoting a business in a digital space, things get a lot easier when you have software to manage the task.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, there are a handful of very useful inbound marketing software programs available. Businessbee.com offers a great synopsis of the costs, benefits and feature highlights of the different inbound programs out there, so we won’t go through that here.

What we would like to discuss is why software can be of benefit, its myths and how you might go about the process of deciding whether you need it or not.

definition of benefitThe Benefits of Inbound Marketing Software

Inbound encompasses a lot of things. It’s SEO, social, blogging, video, images and other forms of content or content platforms. Most of these things require ongoing management. Another common thread is that there are more than a dozen methods to accomplish each of them.

The basic goal of any software should be — and often is — to make some kind of computerized task easier to do. Software should save time, money, headaches and misery. Many of the leading inbound marketing software programs do just that.

I haven’t had first-hand experience with all available software, but I have had the opportunity to check out a couple of them and actually use them in my work. If you can successfully tie together your social media work, SEO work, blogging and other activities along with tracking and analysis into one central location, you can save yourself a lot of digging. This is especially true if you do a lot of volume.

myth-v-factThe Myths

Myths aren’t exclusive to inbound marketing software. They go along with any software program. What I’m referring to is the fact that software companies, and sometimes the programs themselves, can lure us into believing that we can just flip a switch and the work is done for us.

In reality, software packages can help save time, but you still have to put in the effort. No program is going to magically market your business. With any platform that you choose to utilize, do the following:

  • Learn the features of the program very well
  • Look for opportunities where you can leverage the software’s strengths in your work
  • Be resourceful; use other programs with your new tool to maximize its performance
  • Don’t rely on it to make you a better marketer; only you can do that
  • Read any best-practice guides or reviews on the software

Jon Henshaw gives a very candid appraisal of Hubspot marketing software in this blog post from back in May of 2013. While you should probably take any opinions with a grain of salt, both the post and the comments offer some valuable insights.

inbound-marketingDo you Need Inbound Marketing Software?

The fast answer to this question (as with many others) is “it depends.” I don’t have a hard rule for you on this one, but the following conditions would suggest that you should start looking into some kind of program to help you with your job:

 

  • You are relying heavily on SEO, Social media, blogging and other inbound tactics to grow your business
  • You manage multiple presences for multiple companies online
  • You are using more than 5 different programs to manage the same campaign for the same company (or your own)
  • It is apparent that you need to increase your marketing efficiency as evidenced by your inability to get past a plateau or to maintain your sanity

Inbound marketing software can be expensive, so you have to enter into an agreement with a company for the right reasons. For those who need it, software can help speed up your processes, make managing campaigns much easier, provide useful tracking and sale information and allow you to manage your activities from a single location.

 

What are your thoughts on using inbound marketing software? Do you have any additional insight on the topic? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

4 Tips for Creating an Awesome Webinar Invitation That Drives Registrations

Webinar InvitationWithout a qualified target audience, your webinar is practically meaningless. After all, you can’t reach the business goal your presentation is designed to achieve when there’s no one to take action or convert. Therefore, you want to kick off the registration process on a high note with a winning webinar invitation that builds your list of attendees.

To ensure you get your messaging spot-on right from the start, follow these four easy tips:

Tip 1: Write a Killer Subject Line

One of the toughest jobs you’ll have as a webinar marketer is persuading your target audience to open your email invite in the first place. The sheer volume of incoming mail overwhelms most people, which is why many will often choose to open a message based on its subject line alone. A great subject line should be attention-grabbing (that doesn’t mean ALL CAPS), concise, compelling (but not hype happy), and focused on the core benefit of the webinar. Also, steer clear of language that could be caught up in SPAM filters.

Tip 2: Pick an Attractive Design

You may be limited for choice by the email marketing software or application you’re using, but many providers offer great templates for email blasts. Consider stepping up your game with a design that’s not only in line with your branding, but that also supports the overall look and feel you’re hoping to create for your webinar presentation.

Tip 3: Make It Highly Targeted and Personal

Hopefully, you’ve already segmented your subscriber or lead list and you’ve gathered enough personal information to address potential audience members by name. Not only do you want to be very specific about the people you’re sending this email to, but you also want to ensure you add a personal touch that wins them over whenever you can. A “Hey Joe” can sound a lot more inviting than a “Hey there,” so think about your list targeting and personalization options when constructing your invite.

Tip 4: Get the Structure and Messaging Right

Before you start writing your promotional copy, you want to ensure you have:

  • An outline of your agenda;
  • Details on the webinar title, guest speakers, date, time, and length;
  • Links to your registration page;
  • And the list of key features and benefits of your webinar.

Once you have this information at hand, you’ll want to focus on creating your email body. The important thing to keep in mind here is that you’re writing to your ideal audience members—people who are actually interested in hearing about the topic you’ll be covering in your webinar, and people who can help you reach the business goal you’re longing to achieve. A deep understanding of these individuals will help you identify and use language that’s going to appeal to their senses and convince them to take action and register.

As part of the email body, you’ll need to address the pain point this webinar will solve, introduce the title of the webinar, explain what viewers can expect, highlight the best features and benefits, and provide basic event details. Most importantly, you’ll need to link to the dedicated landing page you’re using for registrations and include a strong call-to-action that encourages people to signup.

Webinar registration and attendanceWhatever you do, make certain:

  • You’ve built interest and a genuine desire to learn more;
  • Your instructions are clear;
  • And you’ve established a sense of urgency in your CTA.

Do that and you’ll be selling virtual seats to your webinar like hotcakes.

As a final note, it’s important to be prepared for no-shows. While you may have written super hot promotional copy even the greats would admire, there will likely be a number of registrants whose interest was only lukewarm. You may need to examine why people dropped out if there’s a massive discrepancy, but at least you’ll know it’s not because your invitation stinks.

 

Did you find these tips for creating a webinar invitation useful? Perhaps you’re an invitation writing ninja with a few tips of your own to share. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic so drop us a line in the comment section.

Measuring Inbound Marketing Results

measuring-inbound-marketing-resultsSometimes what we do in marketing is based on intuition or common knowledge. Most of the time it is based on data. Having logical and accurate data helps us make the right decisions on where to focus our resources and our efforts. For inbound marketing online, collecting data helps us gauge how effective an initiative was. What metrics do you focus on, though? Is it visitors to your website? Downloads of content? Leads? Sales, followers, likes and interactions?

Define What your Inbound Marketing Results Should Be

As a business professional, I often have a lot of things running through my mind every day that I have to complete. Sometimes there are so many things that it’s easy to work myself into a frantic state that I have a lot to do. It helps to lay out clear goals for the day so that I know exactly what needs to be completed right away and what can wait.

For your inbound marketing activities, it’s hard to measure what you’ve accomplished without first defining a goal. You have to define what you want your results to be, or you will have a really hard time measuring your progress, or even knowing if you’ve accomplished anything.

For companies marketing their businesses online, there are a lot of common goals such as generating leads, making more sales and delivering good customer service. You don’t have to use a common goal or anyone else’s objectives, but you should have something you are aiming for. It may be brand awareness, engaging your target market, maintaining an active presence online or to grow a network.

Measuring Inbound Marketing Results

Once you have an objective or goal, then you can start thinking about how you can measure it. If you have an uncommon goal or something where part of your conversion takes place offline, you may have to get creative. For the sake of this blog post, we will focus on measuring a common goal related to inbound marketing: generating leads.

Measuring Lead Generation

For almost any company, the basic formula for measuring the success of a lead generation campaign is figuring out he cost per lead and eventually the ROI (return on investment) for the campaign as a whole. Running campaigns online makes the much easier to do than in the physical world.

Cost per Lead

In order to track this, you have to note your costs in building, launching and running the campaign. For example, AllState Insurance recently ran a campaign where they provided 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi on Delta planes in exchange for users’ name and address information.

In order to successfully come up with a cost-per-lead for that campaign, marketers would have had to keep track of what it cost to develop that idea, implement it and run it for a specific time period. The cost per lead is then simply the cost of the campaign divided by the number of viable leads they were able to generate. Notice it’s not all leads, just the good ones.

return-on-investmentMeasuring ROI

On the other side of that campaign, marketers would have to reconcile the leads they did generate and follow up with sales in order to come up with ROI. The basic ROI formula is ROI = (Gains – Cost)/Cost. Naturally, AllState would have gotten a lot of people (perhaps some not even of legal age to purchase insurance) taking advantage of the offer. By wading through their collected data and pulling out only those leads viable enough to produce sales, they can calculate their cost per lead.

In the end, follow up with sales (if marketers aren’t following up on their own) is an important part of the process. Only by getting the final amount of customers who actually signed up for a product that AllState offered can marketers measure the success of the campaign.

To illustrate, if it cost $22,000 to design, launch and run the campaign, and it produced 2,300 viable leads, the cost per lead is simply $22,000/2,300 = $9.57 per lead (roughly). Sales follows up on those leads and is able to convert 50 prospects. Let’s say the average policy they sold nets the company 600 dollars annually per customer for a grand total of $30,000 or a return on investment of roughly 36%.

Measuring the Offer

AllState may also want to measure the effectiveness of their process of getting people to sign up for their offer of free Wi-Fi. For this task, there are a multitude of tracking platforms available such as Google Analytics, Get Clicky and others. Google’s product is by far the most flexible and comprehensive for the money (free).

Testing is incredibly important before a campaign is launched. Marketers should design multiple versions of campaign landing pages and use methods such as A/b/n or multivariate tests to determine which version converts better. Tracking platforms like Google’s have these features built in. You can alternate traffic to be sent to different ads and collect data on which one was most effective.

There could be a lot of potential goals for your inbound marketing campaign but in general (if you are looking to make money), you should be focusing on metrics that will help you measure results that can potentially generate revenue.

 

How do you measure your inbound marketing results? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

The Basics of Webinars: Length, Format, Date, and Recording Options

If you’ve been following our webinar blog series, you’ll know we’ve tackled some crucial aspects of webinar marketing—like whether this tactic is right for your business, how you can benefit from it, how to set realistic goals and objectives, and how to select an audience-pulling topic. We’ve even covered 10 awesome tools for creating and hosting killer webinars.

Today we’re focusing on some of the finer details of webinar development. So, if you’re getting ready to leverage this powerful business tool for the first time, or you simply need a refresher course on webinar basics, follow along as we look at length, format, date, and recording options.

Webinar Length

Webinar LengthOne of the first things you need to consider when planning your webinar is presentation length. While most webinars tend to run between 45 and 60 minutes, there are those that push the 90 minute mark—and beyond in rare cases. The length of your presentation ultimately depends on the scope of your topic and whether you can convey all you need to in a reasonable timeframe. If your topic is too broad, you might want to consider a series of webinars that allow you to provide in-depth information rather than high-level points.

To figure out how much time you’ll need, break down your webinar components into opening remarks, talking points, and a wrap-up, and then assign a time limit to each. A typical webinar usually includes 4-5 minutes for a welcoming message, housekeeping, and presenter introductions; 40-45 minutes for the delivery of the content; and 10-15 minutes for Q&As, action items, and a closing. What you want to be mindful of here is audience engagement and participation. Ensuring your viewers are able to maintain concentration without becoming bored or uncomfortable is key to your success.

Format Options

Webinars can be structured in a number of ways, each with its own set of pros and cons. Popular formats include:

  • Single speaker webinars where one person gives the presentation and answers questions
  • Moderated panel webinars where a moderator facilitates the discussion between guests
  • Interview-style webinars where an interviewer asks expert guests a series of questions
  • Interactive webinars where viewers participate in a variety of activities

Ultimately, you’ll need to determine which format is going to suit your purposes. You’ll also need to take technological requirements and scheduling limitations into account when making your decision.

Date and Time Considerations

Timing is everything, especially if you want great registration and attendance rates. With that said, here are some quick fire tips to help you set the right date and time for your presentation:

  • Consider time zone differences, as well as where the majority of your target audience is based.
  • Since weekends are out, Mondays are for catch-up sessions, and Fridays are for wrapping up last minute business projects, you’re more likely to find success when hosting on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

  • Select a convenient time of day to run your webinar. You want attendance levels and concentration levels at their highest, so you need to determine the time of day that’s best for attendees.

  • Keep special holidays and events in mind. You’ll want to schedule your webinar well in advance, so make sure you choose a date that isn’t going to cause conflict with the schedules of your target audience.

Recording Your Webinar

Webinar Recording OptionsIf you plan to offer On Demand webinars (which you should), you’ll need to ensure you record your presentation and that the recording is of a high quality. The good thing is that most webinar presentation and hosting services offer recording options, as well as the ability to run practice sessions beforehand. Whatever you do, make sure you actually hit the record button when you’re ready to start. Also, consider backup recording software in case things don’t go according to plan.

It’s often the little details first time webinar marketers forget. Have you remembered to take length, dates, times, formats, and recording options into account? Perhaps you’ve forgotten one of these details in the past and now have a story to share. You know where to leave your comments…