Anatomy of a Kick-A** Webinar

Lessons From The Frontline: Anatomy of a Kick-A** Webinar

Here at The Streaming Network, we’re obsessed with converting leads to customer through Webinars.

In the first episode of our ongoing podcast series, The Webinar: Lessons from the Frontline, we’ll be discussing the most effective techniques we’ve used to unlock the potential of well planned and effectively executed webinar programs.

As marketers we’re competing with multi-tasking, omni-screening, and tab hell to gain the attention and interest of our audience.

Let’s get down to business!

In our first episode, we are discussing:

  1. Sourcing Content: It is important that the content you are discussing is solving a pain point for your target audience.
  2. The Case Study: present your information or your story in a way that your audience will understand and resonate with is imperative to your webinars success.
  3. The Presenter: A host needs to curb a tangent, elevate the talent and engage the audience.
  4. Data Driven Decisions: How we can use real world data to drive content and promotional strategies.

The Complete Video Transcript

Mr. Pete: Webinars are hot. As a content marketing professional, I’ve produced hundreds of videos for social and traditional media platforms and currently work with one of the largest podcast networks in the country. So, for me, understanding how webinars work in B2B space is both essential to my professional development and an exciting form of content creation.

According to a study commissioned by digital agency DemandWave, 41% of B2B marketers site webinars as the best marketing tactic for driving revenue. I’ve set out to discuss webinars with one of the foremost experts in the field, Matt Ley, President of The Streaming Network in Toronto. Together, we’ve created this multi-part series of videos and podcasts, The Webinar: Lessons from the Frontline or How I Learn to Live with Never Getting a Second Chance with Live Virtual Events.

We’ve all endured one of those webinars, either stiff and scripted or freeform and rambling where a business leader has asked for your time, but it’s clear from the start that the purpose is to sell and not inform. We’ve signed up, but much of our time is spent either surfing the web or, likely, even includes a bathroom break.

Still, you sit through. The host is one of those foremost experts in the field, and you really need to understand the subject at hand. “It’s core to how you do your job,” you tell yourself.

On the other hand, there are those webinars that are an absolute joy. The format is engaging. The interviews are great. The statistics are loaded with information. The subject matter, even if it’s dry, is presented in a way that informs and dare I say entertains.

Matt Ley, welcome to The Webinar: Lessons from the Frontline. Today’s episode is Anatomy of a Kick-Ass Webinar.

Mr. Matt Ley: Thanks for having me, Pete. I’m looking forward to this for sure.

Mr. Pete: This will be great. This will be a lot of fun.

So, what’s the secret here? Where do we start in creating a webinar that all audiences will find useful and engaging?

Mr. Matt Ley: Well, I think the answer is in the question, right? If we’re going to create a webinar that they’re going to find useful and engaging, you have to start with them, right? What is it that they want to hear you talk about? What are their needs?

I say that because often, when people are asked to present their first webinar or they’re creating a webinar program, it’s more about the topics that they want to talk about, the things they think are going to help their business. The result of which, to quote a friend of mine who I’ve interviewed a number of times on a topic like this, Ron Tite, is that you end up pitch slapping your audience. It turns into you pitching on your company, or your product, or your wares. And generally speaking, in the world of content marketing, that’s a bad idea.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: Right? So, you want to start–you want to start with ideas from them. So, where do you get those ideas if you don’t have them already is talk to the people on the frontline.

So, in my organization, I like to talk to the customer pre-sale. I’ll be involved in some implementation stuff. I’m on the frontline so I can speak to them. And a lot of what I take from those conversations informs not just my webinars but all of my content marketing.

So, if you’re the speaker but you’re in maybe a larger organization like mine where you’re removed from that frontline you want to go out and speak to your customer success managers are a great source. What are the questions that they are getting every single day? What are the struggles that they’re–that the clients are facing and they know about them?

Sales reps, what are they being asked about? What are the big questions that come out in their meetings? So, anyone who’s out there and actually talking to people, that’s a great source of information.

Mr. Pete: They’re your front line of understanding exactly what the market wants.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah, exactly, yeah.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: And the caution that I would give on this is that there’s also a tendency beyond the pitch slap to cover way too much content because you’ve got an hour. The average webinar viewer will stay for a live webinar for 56 minutes, 30 minutes for the on-demand. So, you feel like you got to jam everything in there, like everything you ever wanted to know about social media marketing but were afraid to ask. And, when you try to cover too broad of a topic, you rarely provide any useful information, right?

When we golf, there’s the shot that keeps us coming back because God knows not a lot of us love golfing. And webinars are–or I think in all content marketing, there’s got to be that point, that bullet that resonates with people and makes them want to come back to your brand for more information, and hopefully, down the road, to buy something.

Mr. Pete: And, really, you’re looking for that nugget.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah.

Mr. Pete: You’re not looking for–because you’re not selling. You’re looking to entertain. You want to find that thing that people are going to go, wow, that’s great.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah, and you want them walking away saying I got value. And there’s the stat, that thing, that idea–.

Mr. Pete: –That one, right–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –That story that they walk away with.

Mr. Pete: Right. So, what types of content usually work best?

Mr. Matt Ley: Well, you’re going to hear me go back to this a lot is that the medium should lend to great storytelling, right? A webinar has time to get into the entirety of a story, and yet, we find ourselves not being great at storytelling in B2B marketing. Well, some people are, but a lot of us aren’t, right? We’re used to presenting, not telling stories.

And so, generally speaking, you want to try to find those stories that help tell your point the best. And, inherent in corporate storytelling anyways is this idea of the case study. So, when we went back and we looked at–we got inside the data on our customers, and we tried to see which types of webinars perform best. The second one was the case study or the working case.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: People understand the format. This customer has some problem that they might have as well. This vendor and this customer worked together to solve said problem. There was a great business outcome and an aftermath that everyone was happy with–.

Mr. Pete: –Right–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –So happy that they decided to get together and a webinar about it and talk about it.

And so the audience understands that conflict resolution. It’s the way our bedtime stories were told to us. So, that helps them, I guess, analyze or synthesize the content in a better way.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And, in general, you’ve got the cache, when doing a case, of having that customer involved.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, you got the two brands, the power of two brands. Interestingly, the number one–.

Mr. Pete: –I was going to say, so what’s the number one?

Mr. Matt Ley: So, the number one wasn’t so much about content when we looked into it. It was the co-marketing webinar.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: It’s when you’re bringing two or three different groups of thought leaders together around a topic. They all come at it from their own–from their own perspective.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: They all market it to their own group, and then you’ve got your–sort of your best performing, if you will, from a numbers perspective, webinar is that one.

Mr. Pete: I imagine, in a case study, it’s useful if it’s a blue chip client. But, you’ve got to–it gives you a chance to engage as well. Just as an organization trying to sell and trying to keep, you know, a client engaged with you, it gives you an opportunity to go back to them and say we want to do a case study.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah.

Mr. Pete: I want you to appear with me on this webinar.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah.

Mr. Pete: We’re going to talk about this thing. Underline, for them, the success of this thing, but also, bring them in and keep them as a partner with you in this other piece of content, right?

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah. I mean, it’s generally a win-win for everyone, right–.

Mr. Pete: –Yeah–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Like we all want to look–feel like we’re smart. This customer made a smart decision that fixed a problem that they have. But, the idea of affiliate marketing has been around for years.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: It’s not unique to webinars. And that’s just another example of how that works.

Mr. Pete: Yeah, yeah. So, what’s next? We, obviously, need to figure out the talent component. What does that look like?

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah.

Mr. Pete: You need to bring in the right kinds of people. You need to–you need to populate.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah. I mean, the webinar, I mean, is not just about–I mean, some people think we start with the PowerPoint. But, usually, you start with the person, right, that presenter–.

Mr. Pete: –Yeah–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –The person, the guy or girl who is going to be the subject matter expert. The guy or person on this side–.

Mr. Pete: –Yeah–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Of the desk.

Mr. Pete: How important is that? That must be key to the whole thing is having the right kind of–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Yeah.

Mr. Pete: Like, if somebody–you bring somebody in who can carry it.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah.

Mr. Pete: You already know, right away, that you’re knocking it out of the park, right?

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah. And I think that, you know, it’s interesting that you say that. You bring someone in who can carry it. And, you know, because I am usually on the other side of this, off the desk and out in the–not behind the camera, but you know, my customers are sitting here.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: And you’ll see people that are amazing at–on a stage when they’ve got an audience or people who are the smartest guy in the room. I like to say it’s not always the smartest guy in the room who is the best–.

Mr. Pete: –Yeah–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –The best presenter. And then they get into this weird format that we call webinar, and they’re not the best.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: Okay? But, you still–you want to start with the presenter.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, the caution that I already laid out there, and I’ll tell you a story about it, is it’s not always the smartest person in the room that’s the best presenter.

And so, when I was in my first year at university, I was coming off of the election – I’m going to age myself here – when Jean Chrétien and Jean Charest were duking it out–.

Mr. Pete: –Okay–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –And Charest looked like the young–the younger, more spry, what do you they call it, contender for–.

Mr. Pete: –Yeah, my parents told me about it. Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah, fair enough. So, I was in Ottawa for the young liberal convention right before I went into school. I’m so excited about Poli Sci. I’m that kid knocking on doors. I’d go wearing my red tie everywhere I go. And I get into my fist Poli Sci class, and we have an extremely intelligent woman, Dr. Ashenstad [sp], who ran the Poli Sci department at McMaster University, my alma mater.

So, she came out to teach us first-year political science, where we’re being introduced to the constitution and the Bill of Rights. There’s very little analyzing going on at our level. We just need to know the stuff first.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And she’s out there, and she’s talking about it. And then she’ll say something, and she’ll stop, and she’ll mumble. And she’ll say, oh, you won’t learn that for four or five years. It was a terrible experience for me. It actually made me switch, and then I switched programs and I went to economics because it was just so bad.

It wasn’t that–I mean, she really was the smartest person in the department. I mean, she’s a published author. She was dictating curriculum at that university. She’s a wonderful woman. But, it wasn’t right for her speaking to us.

And this can happen in a webinar as well. The person who is the practiced group leader, the person who invented that AI or whatever it might be, may be too high level to speak to the audience that you are talking to.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And so finding someone else within the organization might be a better presenter–.

Mr. Pete: –And make that–and bring that person, the smart person, in as a guest, potentially.

Mr. Matt Ley: Well, so that’s another methodology is if it has to be that person.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And, sometimes, it does, right? If it had to be Dr. Ashenstad because we were not talking about general political science, we were talking about–I don’t know what we were talking about–.

Mr. Pete: –Yeah–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Constitutional challenges to some new law Justin Trudeau is putting in, and it had to be her that spoke, and she wasn’t the best presenter or she was too high level. Now, it’s a role of somebody else–.

Mr. Pete: –Right–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –As the guy in your seat. And so we’ve been saying it for a very long time that, in a webinar, a webinar is always benefited by a host. Now, that host doesn’t have to be a professional like yourself but anyone in that role who is keeping track of the time, ensuring that when a presenter goes off on a tangent that maybe is not relevant, they can bring him back–.

Mr. Pete: –Yeah–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Ensuring that the main topics of said webinar get handled because that’s the–another thing that can happen in this format is we’ve been dealing with this question for quite a long time. It’s we can go off on a tangent that maybe isn’t germane to you–.

Mr. Pete: –Yeah–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –To what we’re trying to accomplish. And so the host can do a lot. And the host can also elevate the talent. I’ve seen this so many times where people are nervous when they sit down, they’ve never done this sort of thing before, and the host can put them at ease and help carry it to make it a little bit more engaging.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: The final thing, if you’ve read anything I’ve ever written, and I’m sure throughout this series that you’re doing, we’ll talk about this–.

Mr. Pete: –I’ve done a little reading.

Mr. Matt Ley: A little reading–is that this idea of us, even the question and answer, it’s a participatory format–.

Mr. Pete: –Mm-hmm–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –That helps our audience feel like they’re part of something–.

Mr. Pete: –Yeah–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Calling a radio show, the CNN sort of talk show where people are tweeting and/or calling in to be a part of it. It makes it easier for them to participate in the webinar if they feel like they’re part of our conversation–.

Mr. Pete: –Right–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –And not just a bystander watching.

Mr. Pete: Yeah. It’s interesting. In my university, my first class in journalism school, the teacher came in, also a bright, bright woman, walked into the class and said none of you are going to work in journalism.

Mr. Matt Ley: Amazing.

Mr. Pete: And you’re just sitting–I just paid my tuition. I’m sitting there looking at her going… Anyway, that’s–but that’s the same thing, right? She knew so much and should not have been teaching, right?

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah, yeah, and you want to say to her eat your heart out. Look what I’m doing right now, right?

Mr. Pete: Yeah, exactly. So, what about formatting content? Typically, you have a bunch of assets and data to present a PowerPoint or an infographic. How do you choose because you–and you alluded to this earlier. You want a nugget, right?

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah.

Mr. Pete: You don’t want to–you don’t want to put the whole thing out there. Or do you?

Mr. Matt Ley: Well, my opinion is, when you’re watching a news broadcast, and Anderson Cooper is referencing some tweet or–well, maybe tweet’s a bad example–but something that some politician said, or a ruling, or whatever it might be. You don’t get the whole ruling beside him on screen. You get that little tidbit that gets called out and gets highlighted–.

Mr. Pete: –A little quote, a quote at the bottom–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –A little quote, yeah, from it, right? And if–the idea that it is a webinar and it’s not a whitepaper. If it was a whitepaper and you could have it all there, why even talk about it?

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: The idea is you want them to listen to you tell your stories or work them through it, that you want to be a minimalist with your PowerPoint.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: And I’m sorry. PowerPoint isn’t going anywhere. It’s a part of webinars, whether you’re doing a video webinar, an audio webinar. There’s some level of displaying of visual information that helps the audience learn. This is a fact.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, it has to be there.

Mr. Pete: And you have to have visuals because, if you’re just looking at a person talking the whole time, your mind will wander.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah, and 80%-90% of webinars, depending on where you’re at, are just audio anyways. And it’s like–it’s like what we’re, you know–it’s like a podcast, right?

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And so you want to have that. You want to have that visual element. And so, you know, some of the things that I always say is you want to find the, you know, the fewest words. If you can go with no bullets, that’s the most amazing thing possible – the fewest words, the most striking images, and the best medium to tell your story, right?

So, if you asked me that question and this was a webinar, you know, I would want–instead of talking about it, I would want to show three great slides from people that I thought really did a good job.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: But, sometimes, slides aren’t the answer. Sometimes, the answer is a video that’s been shot. Why should I say it when someone else can say it better than me?

Sometimes, it’s a, you know–it’s a graphic only that you’re talking to for a fair amount–a fair bit of time and working people through said graphic.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: I’ve seen memes be very effective in this regard, right?

Mr. Pete: Sure.

Mr. Matt Ley: They’re light. They tell exactly what everyone is thinking.

So, you want to start thinking about your presentation in a highly visual way, which a lot of people have starting doing for when they’re in conferences and stuff. So, that’s a good thing, right?

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: But, next is you want to recognize the medium in which you are presenting in. So, in a webinar, we have a ton of opportunity to incorporate things outside a presentation. So, polls, I mean, they’re a simple answer. Over 35% of audience members will click on them. So, feeding those through while you’re asking out those open-ended questions to your audience is a good thing.

If you are talking about something that you know you can’t get to, right, that thing we were going to learn in four years about the constitution that Dr. Ashenstad was talking about in my first-year Poli Sci class, she could stop and say, you know what? It’s not for today’s conversation, but you know, you can download a case study on that, or you can go to this governmental website and read about that if you decide that you want to do more. And so, now, when you’re reaching hundreds, and it literally is–in North America, over 215 people is the average viewership for a live webinar. You’re reaching hundreds when you do these things.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: It’s you’re going to have people who need that level of granularity who maybe are at a fourth-year level, right?

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: You don’t get to ask them their experience before they sign up for your webinar. And then you got the people who are hearing about, you know, the constitution or the Bill of Rights for the first time who aren’t ready for that.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, offering them the choice to be able to dive deeper into the topic through downloadable links, most platforms have that, or you know, linking them out or directing them to other websites or other places where they can get more information is a power of that medium versus a lot of other ones, right?

Mr. Pete: Right. And, when you’ve got that wide range, that disparity, obviously, you can’t get too deep into it. But, you also don’t want to just be doing whatever the subject is 101, right?

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah.

Mr. Pete: You need to–you need to make your choices in terms of how to be simple enough for the pp who, really, are just trying to wrap their brains around a subject–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Yeah–.

Mr. Pete: –But not bore the crap out of these other people.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah. I don’t know. Everything I ever knew about SEO I learned in one presentation. And I know enough to hold a conversation with marketers. Well, I shouldn’t say that. I used to know enough to hold a conversation with marketers about SEO back, I think, in it’s–well, when it was in its infancy.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: I knew the understanding of keyword analysis. I had a base understanding of all this stuff. And so I learned that in a presentation called SEO for the CEO at–when we were on the PROFIT HOT 50 list. When you’re on the list as a fast-growing company in Canada, you go to this growth camp, and you get to pick what presentation you want to go to. I went to this guy’s presentation.

He started it by saying that, when we leave, we will get a kit. And that kit will basically encapsulate everything that he talked about in that presentation. He said go home, give it to your marketing team or whoever works on your SEO, and if they follow every step in that kit, they will be on page one of Google. And then he went on to explain that page one means nothing. You need to be number one if your SEO’s going to actually, you know, get you results.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And so he basically went through and provided us with not everything there is to know about SEO because SEO had gone well beyond that, but he provided us the base on which we could go out and start trying to optimize our websites. And, clearly, if we wanted to do a really good job and be number one, we would call his company and hire him to get us–get us to the next level.

Mr. Pete: Right, right.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, I like that as an example because I walked away with a really good knowledge of SEO, right? And, if I was a young, budding marketer who wanted to be in the SEO game, I would learn the staples of what SEO is. But, I knew that I was just getting started in that presentation. So, I walked away with something. And I think that’s what you always want to do.

When I’m hosting webinars, which I do for customers sometimes, and I get the content, and you know, sometimes, I’m dealing with like a psychologist who’s talking about, you know–I don’t know what they’re talking about half the time when it starts because, you know, I’m not–I’m not a medical doctor. When I start getting into it, I say to them, you know, if the audience could only walk away with one thing, what do you need them to walk away with?

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And then I always try and go back to that as I’m going through it to make sure that they say everyone needs to walk away with just one point. Are they focusing on that? And we all need to do that. So, would they have that thing that they’re walking away with that says, wow, that was worth my hour.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: I learned something.

Mr. Pete: What about promotions? How do you ensure that people are showing up?

I worked in an–in an events business. There was things you did, traditional things you did in order to, you know–using social media and things like that to make sure you’re driving people and selling tickets.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah.

Mr. Pete: Are the tricks the same? Is there a special way of doing this thing for webinars?

Mr. Matt Ley: So, before I get into that–and a lot of it is the same. But, before I get into that, I think people need to know what they should expect, right? So, often, I drop numbers like the average, the index. And the index for viewership in North America is just over 200 live viewers to over 500 registrants. Unlike your physical events–.

Mr. Pete: –Right–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –You don’t sell out seats and get near 80% to 90% fill rates.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: You’re–just everyone gets it now that not only is there no selling out of an webinar, that there’s an on-demand version of it.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, less than 50% of people show up who register, right?

Mr. Pete: Right. And that’s not a worry, then. You get your 200 live, and you’ll–it’ll do something.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah. If you’re anywhere near 50% on live, you should not be discouraged.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And if you’re around 200 viewers, don’t be discouraged.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: Are there ways of doing better? For sure, like we would go out and talk to our top 9% of our customers, you know. These are all people who have well over 1,000 live viewers and well over 1,000 on-demand viewers. So, they have more viewers, and their index is even better than everybody else–.

Mr. Pete: –Right–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –On what they’re getting. But, yeah, if you–don’t feel bad about those data points, and there are things you can do to kind of–to improve it.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, one of the things is, you know, we talked about physical events, right? So, your goal, when you’re hosting your physical events, is to get every seat filled as soon as possible, right?

Mr. Pete: Yeah and you’re selling tickets.

Mr. Matt Ley: You’re selling tickets, yeah.

Mr. Pete: And you’ve got sponsors, and you want those sponsors to see the people because they’re [unintelligible.]

Mr. Matt Ley: Then, you know, more people will sponsor, and you can add new sponsorship levels when you’re sold out. And, you know–.

Mr. Pete: –Yeah. Some would say, in live events, that’s all that’s important. What happens, actually, in terms of the information, and I’m sure you’ve been to events like that–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Yeah–.

Mr. Pete: –You’re going, okay, well–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –It doesn’t matter–.

Mr. Pete: –This is useless.

Mr. Matt Ley: Well, in a webinar, it’s different because those people that signed up for your physical event four, five weeks, six weeks, the early bird ticket guys, the guys who are really into it, in the web world, those are the people who are least likely to attend because, if they commit to an hour of their time some distant date in the future, four or five weeks into the future, they’re less likely to actually show up–.

Mr. Pete: –Really–?

Mr. Matt Ley: –Because they don’t know what’s going on in their calendar.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: It’s the people who register the week of that are going to be there.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, like a physical event, you want to have a promotional schedule that’s fairly long. So, we say four to five weeks for a webinar is ideal, even though those people who register four to five weeks out may not attend.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: It’s getting into the minds of people that this is coming up, and this is happening, and they should attend.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, that first drop on an email that happens four or five weeks out I might look at and say, hmm, maybe. I’ll open it.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: And I’ll look at it. Nah, I’m not going to commit now. I’ve got no idea what my week looks like.

Mr. Pete: Right. You’ve planted the seed.

Mr. Matt Ley: You planted the seed.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: By the time the second drop comes, I’m a little bit more–my week’s a little bit more solid, right? I might know I can’t attend and decide not to register for the event because I can’t.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And then the week of I get the email. My week’s, you know, got some cancellations. I’m good. Now, I get to attend said webinar.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: I sign up and I show up. So, you want to have a communications plan like that. Now, the issue that we see is that, in a world of email marketing where the dreaded unsubscribe, we don’t want to over communicate to people, over promote, is that there’s this feeling that they don’t leave enough room for themselves in that final week. So, we always say you want to finish really, really strong if you’re going to get people out to the webinar.

When we do our email communications in that final week, we do a split where we hit the whole list of people who haven’t registered, you know, some 10,000 records. And the people who have been active within the campaign but have not registered, they’re getting an email from me, the speaker, or not just me, whoever the speaker is.

Mr. Pete: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, we’ll send it out for them. And then the other will get more of a standard kind of invite. At the same time, during that week, all sales are linking to the webinar in their–in their communications, talking about it, and the speakers or speaking in this–if it’s me are on LinkedIn doing invitations to people going, hey, check this out this week, that kind of thing.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, we get a huge spike. We get better than 50% of our viewers registered that week ourselves, which is a little bit above the norm.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: You usually get about 40% of your audience coming in that final week.

Mr. Pete: Right. But, there are numbers you should be looking at, like there’s 20%–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Yeah–.

Mr. Pete: –Sort of long–in the longest process, and it builds [unintelligible.]

Mr. Matt Ley: Right. But, the problem is that, if you don’t communicate that final week and just expect people are going to register, it’s not going to happen.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: You got to leave room for that promotional schedule, or else you’re always going to feel like your webinar is underperforming.

Mr. Pete: And you’ve got to create a sense of excitement, right? You’ve got to be–as you get closer and closer, you got to be–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Yeah, your communications should not be the same every time.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: You should kind of look to amp them up. But, you know, I also caution people. I mean, a sense of excitement, again, it’s not a physical event. Everyone knows they can tune in later.

Mr. Pete: Oh, my God, it’s coming!

Mr. Matt Ley: It’s coming, yeah. I’ll never get to hear this again.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: No, you’ll get to hear it anytime you want.

Mr. Pete: Do you give–do you give away stuff in the promotion?

Mr. Matt Ley: Like to show up?

Mr. Pete: No. Like here is an example of what you’re going to get, or here–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Yeah.

Mr. Pete: Start to publish pieces of information that is like tangentially related–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Yeah–.

Mr. Pete: –Or directly related to what’s happening. Is that part of the whole promotion process?

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah. When done really well, it is–.

Mr. Pete: –Yeah–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –You know. And, you know, in our case, we’re a webinar-first marketing organization. And I don’t think you’ll ever be at, you know, serious decisions or at a conference where anyone says they’re a webinar-first organization, but–because it’s a dirty little secret that many people are.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And what I mean by webinar first is that you kind of–these presentations organically grow and build from client presentations and from things that we’re doing. And then someone’s like, oh, my God, that’s really good, and that’s really useful. So, it goes from a board room, or a conference, or just internal meetings, and it flips to, now, it’s a webinar.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And then, when the webinar is done, now we’re like, oh, this is great. We’re going to do blogs, and e-books, and you know, videos on this topic because it is so good and people like to consume content in different ways. And so, generally speaking, there are other content assets that you can provide to people.

In our world, we do everything simulated live.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: We produce thousands of live events for customers where the heat is on and it has to be perfect. And so, when we do ours, we prerecord them. We pretend they’re live.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: They go out at a certain time. I don’t hide it at all from anyone in that. And so we can actually leak out some of the interview questions, or some of the videos from the webinar can go out early to help fuel that registration.

Mr. Pete: To sort of make it–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Yeah.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, you’ve got the promotional schedule. Then, you’ve also got the people who did register. Remember, I said that those people that come in early maybe don’t show up.

Mr. Pete: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Matt Ley: And so you got to have like two paths of communication occurring. The one path is the people who have not yet registered, and you’ve got to do all of your own email marketing for that. But, then there’s getting the people to actually show up who did register.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And so our data indicates that two days before and two hours before is the best time to remind people. You want to remind them a couple times. These emails will often not come from you but from your platform so that you’re not worried about spamming or anything like that. They are people that have opted into this webinar. You’re just helping them remember to actually show up.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And getting people out doesn’t stop at the end of the webinar. And that’s one of the biggest mistakes that I see from people is they’re feeling that the live is the only thing that matters.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: We host live webinars so that we can have a dialogue with our audience. And I say, oh, yeah? In general, over 13,000 that we looked at, less than 10% of people asked you questions. Are you guys getting, you know, everyone asking you a question?

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And, if they do, it’s only a 60-minute webinar. How many questions do you actually get to answer, right?

Mr. Pete: Yeah, yeah. And how many are going to be relevant to not just rambling–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Yeah–.

Mr. Pete: –Not even a question, but a statement.

Mr. Matt Ley: Exactly. So, we all know that, of the 90-something percent of people who didn’t ask a question, many of those are just as valuable of leads or just as valuable of viewers as the 9% who did. And so on-demand has that same amount of value.

And so one of the–one of the other keys of getting your index up or your viewership up is respecting the on-demand and ensuring that, within 24 hours, that archive is posted and that people who registered but couldn’t view–and I say–and I don’t say didn’t view. I say couldn’t view because, often times, when people sign up, they have an intention of viewing, especially those who came that week of. But, something came up in their life, right?

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, you’ve got to get an email out to them. This thing you wanted to see, you can now see it. It’s recorded and you can view it here. Here you go.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And then they will take action. You generally get a 25% lift in viewership just by sending out that email.

Then, what we generally recommend is you go into a period of passive promotion where your social media says, oh, we have this recording or we have this great webinar. You should kind of check it out. And then we actually recommend, depending on where you got on your index or where you got premier your viewership numbers, is that two weeks after it you re-promote it. You either re-promote the on-demand or you do what we call a “command performance,” or a rebroadcast–.

Mr. Pete: –Right–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Because it’s not about how many people you get through your webinar at Wednesday at 2:00 P.M. which, by the way, happens to be the best time to hold a webinar. It’s the–it’s the amount of people you get through it in the course of its lifetime. And we usually see the most people get through it in that sort of three to four weeks around it.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And then there’s a trailing effect throughout the rest of the year–.

Mr. Pete: –Right–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –If you keep it hosted. But, you got to optimize to make that happen. It won’t happen on its own without those promotional schedules being followed.

Mr. Pete: Why Wednesday, 2:00 P.M.?

Mr. Matt Ley: I don’t know. My assumption is that it hits all major time zones within North America. I mean, Wednesday, 2:00 P.M. is marginally better than Tuesday at 2:00 P.M.

Mr. Pete: So, it’s–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Yeah.

Mr. Pete: 2:00 P.M. seems to be the thing, mid-week, 2:00 P.M.–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Yeah–.

Mr. Pete: –After lunch.

Mr. Matt Ley: And it’s been three or four years we’ve seen it across customers.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: There was an argument this year. There was a major webinar conference if you can believe it, in San Francisco, Webinar World, that was a part of. And we, you know–over drinks, we talked about did we influence that or did it happen organically?

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: Do you know what I mean? Everyone’s always talking about Wednesday at 2:00. Did Wednesday at 2:00 just become the time the way that, you know, bad family comedy became the Friday night when I was a kid, you know, TGI Fridays?

Mr. Pete: Right, right.

Mr. Matt Ley: Did that just happen because they did it, or did we want to be sitting around watching Full House every Friday.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: I don’t know.

Mr. Pete: Good marketing always taps into what people are already doing, right?

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah, generally.

Mr. Pete: So, that’s how those things work. Okay. Do you want to talk about anything else about promotion, or should we move onto the big–the big challenge?

Mr. Matt Ley: Let’s go–before you get to the big challenge–.

Mr. Pete: –Okay–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –The one thing that I’ll say is that I talked a lot about, you know, people who will open versus people who didn’t–.

Mr. Pete: –Mm-hmm–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –And all of that. And so I think that, you know, the whole idea of getting people out in the webinar world is enhanced by integration with marketing automation. And I’m sure all promotions are, but in this case, even more than ever. If you have a level of integration, your campaigns around webinars get a lot easier.

Remember, when you’re promoting a physical event, that was the only event you were promoting.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: But, if you’re promoting webinars, you could have one today, one on Friday, one next Wednesday. Different segments of your–of your list of your client population are invited.

At that same conference, I met a girl part of a four-person team who delivered 120 webinars a month, right? So, they got to have this integration going to make it easier.

Mr. Pete: Yeah, yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: And it actually makes them more intelligent.

Mr. Pete: Yeah.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah.

Mr. Pete: Interesting. Amazing. Okay. So, at the end of every episode–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Yep–.

Mr. Pete: –I’m going to throw a challenge to you–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Yeah–.

Mr. Pete: –Something to try to either trip you up, hold your feet to the fire.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah.

Mr. Pete: So, here’s our first challenge. You and I have spoken on several occasions.

Mr. Matt Ley: Right.

Mr. Pete: I’ve read several interviews that you’ve been quoted in. You really hang your hat on some very, very specific statistics.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah.

Mr. Pete: But, every company has different DNA. Every company that you deal with, every company that I deal with has unique audiences, specific targets, different criteria that they’re trying to navigate around.

Mr. Matt Ley: Right.

Mr. Pete: How can you be so confident that the statistics that you regularly come out with are going to speak for every business?

Mr. Matt Ley: I mean, that is a good question, right? And, I mean, the simple answer is the sample size. But, you know, I’ll try and illustrate this in a different way.

I’m going to close down your laptop for a second.

Mr. Pete: I was wondering what the–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Cards, yeah. So–.

Mr. Pete: –I thought maybe in between–in between takes, we’d play some gin rummy.

Mr. Matt Ley: Maybe. Yeah, you’d probably win. But, yeah, this summer, I was away with my son, and we were in–and we were in Algonquin Park. And it was a rainy day, and we were trying to figure out what we were going to do. Well, sorry. We weren’t in Algonquin Park. We were at a resort near Algonquin, and we went into the park for the days.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: But, it still rained.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And we still couldn’t go in.

Mr. Pete: It always rains in Algonquin.

Mr. Matt Ley: It always rains, right? So, we had done a bunch of hiking. And so we decided that we were going to learn card tricks.

So, I’m going to start–well, I answer your challenge with this card trick. It’s I’m going to ask you basically pick any card from this group here.

Mr. Pete: Can I look at it?

Mr. Matt Ley: You can look at it, pick it, pick the one you like and the one that you love.

Mr. Pete: Can I show it to the camera?

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah, show it to the camera. Don’t’ show it to me. I don’t want to see the card.

Mr. Pete: Okay, and where do I put it?

Mr. Matt Ley: Just put it anywhere in. Shuffle.

Mr. Pete: Anywhere back in–?

Mr. Matt Ley: –Yeah–.

Mr. Pete: –Not in the same spot.

Mr. Matt Ley: It doesn’t matter. Shuffle the deck. Do whatever you want.

Mr. Pete: Shuffle the deck.

Mr. Matt Ley: Make sure there’s no way I could possibly know where that card is.

Mr. Pete: I’ll shuffle the deck like my old man taught me to shuffle a deck.

Mr. Matt Ley: Mm-hmm. So, while you’re doing that, to basically–to answer your question is I’m not–when I talk about these stats, I’m talking about stats and I often say what works for me because I think it’s important that I actually drink the Kool-Aid and I actually follow these data points or these promotional schedules and that sort of thing. But, the data comes from over 13,000 webinars, okay? And the way that we pick the webinars–now, while I do that, I want you to look for your card, okay? It’s going to show up in one of these three piles.

So, when you’re–.

Mr. Pete: –Do I react when I see the card?

Mr. Matt Ley: No, do not. Just [unintelligible–.]

Mr. Pete: –Blank face–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Just blank face, poker face.

Mr. Pete: Okay.

Mr. Matt Ley: No, no. I’m not even looking at you anyways. I’m trying to remember what I was talking about.

Oh, so we’re looking at 13,000 webinars. And, when we look at 13,000 webinars–which pile is it in?

Mr. Pete: I don’t know. [Unintelligible.]

Mr. Matt Ley: This one here? All right. So, when we look at 13,000 webinars, we–we’re looking at all webinars that people do not have to attend, okay, so data on people who do not have to attend the webinar. And what I mean by that is, as a marketing webinar, nobody has to attend. They can–they have the option of showing up or not showing up. And we focus on those because it’s on those where things like time of day, promotional schedules, and things like that will really, really matter.

Do you remember which one it’s in now?

Mr. Pete: I got it.

Mr. Matt Ley: So–.

Mr. Pete: –I’m glad I got a second chance because I wasn’t actually sure about the first one.

Mr. Matt Ley: Well, I found it anyways. We’re going to do one more of these, okay–?

Mr. Pete: –Okay–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Because I didn’t think it was going to be in that one. So, now, I got to do–I got to do another one.

Mr. Pete: Oh, you got to do a workaround.

Mr. Matt Ley: I got to do a workaround here. So, I’m going on the fly.

Mr. Pete: Okay.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, because we test those types of webinars, then what we can do is we can just put it into individualized practice.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, here’s an example. Which one is it in? Okay.

So, here’s an example is we decided–so, we know that 50% of people show up our–towards the end of our promotional cycle. So, then we asked ourselves, you know, is it even important for us to do the early promotions, right? If they all show up at the time, does it really matter?

Mr. Pete: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Matt Ley: And so we tried to just do it in the last week, and guess what happened.

Mr. Pete: What?

Mr. Matt Ley: It didn’t work. Sorry, I lost my–I lost my train there. One, two…

That’s your card.

Mr. Pete: Ha! That’s my card.

Mr. Matt Ley: I have no idea how that’s your card, but it was just math. It just works every single time.

Mr. Pete: It just works every single time.

Mr. Matt Ley: It just works. It’s the 11th card when I flip it over at the end of this program, which is what we’ve, in our own data sets, have proved about a lot of these other points is that it just works.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: I try to back it up with psychological reasoning that we need to know about the webinar before we’ll commit to it three weeks down the road.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: But, I’m not really in the head of the person who says yes, right?

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: I am actually philosophizing or trying to figure out what happens around this data set that I know to be true.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: So, I do hang my hat on the data and the stats. It’s a–because I think that we need to be data driven in the decisions that we make. I am always open to and I am always pragmatic in speaking to a customer because I know that they are all different.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: I know that their audience is different. But, generally speaking, anyone who follows the data-driven approach to promoting webinars or the data-driven approach to getting people to engage–and we’ll talk about this later about what people like to do versus what they don’t like to do–see improvements.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: And, as marketers, as communicators, as businesspeople, that’s where we’re looking. We’re looking for a 1X, a 2X, a 3X, whatever that improvement is, and so sticking to the data points will generally get you–will generally get you–get you an improvement. And then, from there, you just keep going up and keep going up.

Mr. Pete: Right.

Mr. Matt Ley: So–.

Mr. Pete: –So, it’s not just magic.

Mr. Matt Ley: It’s not magic at all.

Mr. Pete: It’s math.

Mr. Matt Ley: This is math and statistics. So–.

Mr. Pete: Because there was a time when you do that sort of thing, and then the next thing you know, you’re tied to a post somewhere.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yes, yes, yes. Well, I admitted it. You even saw me counting out the 11. I think the illusion was lost at that–.

Mr. Pete: –The illusion was lost when you started counting–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –At that point in time.

Mr. Pete: So, well, that concludes our podcast.

Mr. Matt Ley: Okay.

Mr. Pete: Matthew, thank you very much for coming. And we’re going to do a few more of these.

Mr. Matt Ley: Yeah.

Mr. Pete: We’re going to talk about a whole lot of–a whole lot of webinar things–.

Mr. Matt Ley: –Yeah–.

Mr. Pete: –In the coming episodes. So, stay tuned, and let’s move on to the next one.

Mr. Matt Ley: Looking forward to it.

Mr. Pete: Good.

 

Matthew Ley

Matthew Ley

Matt Ley is the current President and co-founder of The Streaming Network. Starting his career in virtual events in 2007, Matt is an industry veteran that is passionate about helping customers stand out in their industry with compelling virtual events that people want to attend. The driving ambition for Matt is that virtual events are not a utility for information distribution but an opportunity for firms to create a competitive advantage. Matt is an accomplished speaker, moderator and a sought-after thought leader.

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