Technical webinars are a staple in marketing to engineers and industrial professionals. You’ve probably attended a few of them yourself. Even though it takes a lot of work to plan, promote and present a technical webinar, it is worth the effort because webinars scored a solid 64% in Manufacturers’ Effectiveness Ratings for Content Marketing Tactics (Source: Content Marketing Institute).
The most recent research data I could find on the use of technical webinars is from the 2017 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector published by IEEE GlobalSpec. Here are some key findings from that report:
67% of technical professionals attended at least one webinar in the past year
3 being the average number attended
31% attended four or more webinars
71% planned to attend at least one webinar in 2017
Manufacturing content marketers are expected to increase their use of audio/visual content which includes webinars as is evident in the chart from the Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report.
Why engineers find technical webinars helpful
While in-person events such as tradeshows continue to be popular with engineers, webinars are filling the gap when it is not possible for the audience to attend in person. Engineers prefer to interact with vendors and educate themselves on their own schedule and like the convenience of being in their office and at their desks. Technical webinars have proven to be effective in raising awareness, establishing thought leadership and generating high quality leads that turn into sales opportunities.
Planning a technical webinar
This first step requires a lot of thought, because this can determine the success of your webinar. Brainstorm ideas for the topic; get input from your own product development people, the sales team and other in-house customer-facing team members.
Make sure the webinar is about the challenges faced by your customers and it doesn’t become a thinly disguised promotion for your products or solutions. Nothing is a bigger turnoff than an hour-long sales pitch.
That’s why it is critical for you to get input from various departments in planning the topic and the purpose of the webinar. Put some thought into what you want your audience to do after the webinar; don’t assume they’ll contact your sales team just because they attended your webinar.
Plan the day and the time of the webinar carefully. Monday is probably not the best day; Wednesday and Thursday are the best days of the week because they average the highest attendance rates. Consider the various time zones and make the webinar convenient for the largest segment of your audience to attend.
Another decision to make is whether the webinar will be live or pre-recorded. This will have a bearing on the webinar platform or provider you choose. Technical glitches can ruin a live webinar very quickly.
Pre-recorded webinars can be reused in the future without additional time and cost, if the topic and the content are evergreen. You could use a combination, where the live webinar is recorded and posted on your website later, making it available on-demand, 24/7.
Promoting your technical webinar
Email marketing is the most popular channel for promoting your technical webinar. Unless your webinar topic is generic that will appeal to a very broad audience, matching the right audience from a carefully segmented database is critical to your success.
Highlight (bullet points) what the audience will get out of the webinar. Include a short bio of the presenter(s) in your emails. Creating the actual HTML files, the landing page, the signup form and making sure your email is mobile responsive are very important components of webinar promotion.
Don’t rely 100% on email marketing to promote your technical webinars. Use other digital marketing channels such as newsletters, banner ads, text ads and social media. TraceParts can guide you through the whole process of promoting your technical webinars with our Digital Marketing Services (DMS).
Plan on post-webinar promotions. Email the slide deck and/or the recordings of the webinar to all attendees, including those who registered but did not attend.
Presenting your technical webinar
There is some overlap between this step and the planning part. You need to decide who the presenter will be; someone in-house or an outside expert. As I’ve mentioned earlier in this post, the webinar content and the presenter must resonate with your audience.
Applications Engineers are probably the best candidates for in-house presenters because they interact with customers on a regular basis. They understand the real-world challenges faced by engineers in their own work. According to an independent research study done by engineering.com, engineers have the highest trust (Rated 4.5 out of 6) in content presented by an engineering expert at a vendor company.
An outside expert needs to be someone with high credibility and name recognition. This works best for technical webinars on industry trends or the impact of new regulations.
Don’t take up the entire duration of the webinar for your presentation. Allow enough time for Q&A, this is an excellent opportunity for you to get immediate feedback and gain additional insights from your audience. Plan on adding one or two single-question surveys during the presentation to keep the audience engaged.
You may not have enough time to answer all the questions during the webinar. The moderator should announce that s/he will try to respond to all unanswered questions via email and encourage attendees to contact one of your Subject Matter Experts with additional questions.
Technical webinars when planned, promoted and presented right, can be very effective in raising awareness among engineers and generating higher quality sales leads.
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