Live from MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Forum: Using Webinars to Generate Spicy New Business

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Feb 3, 2011
More Articles by Janet

I’m a huge fan of using webinars, and we do our fair share at Search Mojo. So I was excited to hear Lisa Horner from Citrix Online (GoToWebinar) speak on how webinars can help your business. At Citrix Online, Lisa said that they do an average of 65 webinars per quarter.

Why Webinars?

Lisa started by covering social goals, including:

  • lead and inspire
  • create compelling content
  • expand
  • measure success
  • earn and keep trust
  • connect and engage
  • be strategic
  • brand holistically

All of these goals apply both to the social program AND the webinar program. She said there are three main reasons webinars are a vital component to your marketing plan:

  • We are storytellers as marketers. Content is your story and webinars carry that story. Webinars are part of your content program.
    • You’re giving customers a leg up. By giving customers information, you give them an advantage. Webinars help build a long-term partnership and continue the relationship. Webinars are essentially an education vehicle.
  • You have a long list of marketing tactics. How many, though, provide you a live, interactive space to be with prospects and customers? Only a select few, like tradeshows, telemarketing, webinars, social networks and events. Webinars allow you to engage with prospects/customers bidirectionally.
  • Finally is revenue.

Constructing Webinars

As you’re building content, how do you speak to what is on the “to do” list of prospects/customers? Consider the relevance of your content. Lisa gave a circle of considerations:

  • What is the solution/service?
  • What is the persona you’re speaking to?
  • What is the logical relation?
  • What is the story or goal?
  • Who can speak with authority about the story or goal?
  • How do you find the customer and contact them?
  • What are the things that are working? At what point in the buying cycle are they working?

There are five major components to a webinar program:

  1. The Story
    • Product
    • Persona
    • Buying cycle
    • Topic
    • Title of Webinar
  2. Planning
    • Date and time
    • Media partner
    • Moderator
    • Speakers
    • Kickoff
    • Dry run
    • Event creative
  3. Promotion (attract attendees)
    • Registration landing page
    • Frequency
    • Paid media
    • House file
    • Customer base
    • Social
    • Speaker promo
    • Incentive
  4. Live Event (find a way to keep compelling conversation going)
    • Intros
    • Polls
    • Panel
    • Interview
    • Attentiveness
    • Q&A
    • Hashtag #
  5. Post Event
    • On demand
    • Q&A
    • SEO
    • Nuturing
    • Survey
    • Impact

Case Study

Lisa shared a GoToMeeting case study:

  • Solution: GoToMeeting
  • Persona: Entrepreneurs
  • Topic: Think like an entrepreneur
  • Buy Cycle: Early

The webinar did not mention GoToMeeting but focused on education. The belief was that companies using an online meeting solution have a competitive advantage. The story would be: Think Like an Entrepreneur. They contacted Lane Becker, one of the founders of, as a subject matter expert. Managing speakers can be a bit like cat herding, but it’s worth it.

They drove registration via Twitter, email, a Facebook event, a media partner, and to Lane’s community.

Lane gave three main points in the event — provided great content. He was also live and dynamic. Dry content can make a webinar boring. People don’t care about your product, but what your product can DO for them. Some other things you can do to jazz up a webinar is to add polls, Q&A, panels and interviews. You can also open up your live event by adding the conversation to Twitter via a hashtag, so those outside of the event can also participate in the conversation.

Extend your event by recording them, creating a video, using the hashtag, etc. After Lane’s webinar, there were so many questions, they did a separate video and posted it to YouTube with answers. Get the content up quickly to get the best response. 40% view the content in the first three days, but the content will also live on longer too. It will get traffic far into the future.

To drive word of mouth after the event, they also shared the content on YouTube, SlideShare, Twitter, Facebook, email, the website and the blog which all helped SEO as well. However, the problem of the new world is that lead forms will be going away in the future. Make it easy for people to get your content. Nuture everyone and let others use the content to nuture. At Citrix Online, they feel that even if you want to drive people to register in your database, the reality is that prospects FIND YOU — YOU DON’T FIND THEM. So give them the content for free, and if they like it, they will seek you out. Don’t stress too much about the registration form for a webinar.

The next step with Lane’s webinar was a “next step”. What’s the next step for these attendees? Create more content for them.

Sales alignment is important too. Make sure the sales team knows the story so they know how to speak to the attendees so they can continue the conversation.


Metrics should be your “guard rails.” If you’re micro-managing, it’s hard to innovate your programs. At Citrix Online, they’re always looking at cost of creating demand, but it shouldn’t be the top driver. Watch to see how conversion percentages increase. What stories are converting? What customer types are converting best? Then create demand around what converts best. Watch to see that cost per opportunity is reducing. What is the percentage of revenue? Is it increasing?

Some of the core things that Citrix Online looks at are:

  • Top Funnel
    • CTR
    • CPL
    • Response %
  • Conversion
    • Waterfall
    • ALV
    • CPO
  • Message
    • % pipeline by persona
    • % pipeline by program
    • engagement
  • Sales
    • sourced bookings %
    • influenced bookings %
    • CPA

The full life cycle of webinars ends up being:

  • Drive value
  • Create intimacy
  • Build trust
  • Create a partnership
  • Build loyalty
  • Generate revenue

Questions from the Audience

How long should webinars be? For sales, 30 minutes and for marketers perhaps 45 minutes. At Citrix Online they usually do 45 minutes.

Do you turn every webinar lead over to sales? Citrix Online does not. They have some criteria the lead has to meet before it moves to sales. They also use Eloqua to see what people are doing and score them before they move to sales.

How do you lead source track-back if you don’t use a lead form? Short answer, they don’t care! Ultimately if the direct number of people coming in increases, she said she doesn’t care.

How do you ensure that the sales team continues the story? It’s problematic. There are sales trainers that are educated about the stories. They will develop content sales can use to continue the story/conversation. It’s a big investment.

How do you handle fears of competitors seeing your content? It depends. There are certain things that you’ll put out that are more educational and some that are not. Most of your content you should be promoted as much as you can.

Do you have a way to filter out competitors from your programs? They used to. They can see them. They used to kick them out.

Have you found a sweet spot for a frequency standpoint? It can be easy to saturate your community with too many webinars. They’re trying to do less high-attendee level events. But this really varies based on many factors. Watch your rate. If you see your attendance rate is normally 45% and this begins to drop, you may be saturating your community. So do fewer webinars with more attendees, or do more webinars with fewer attendees.

What’s the best days to promote and how far in advance to increase attendance? They touch potential attendees probably no less than five times. A schedule that is great is week before, few days before, day before, and day of the webinar. From a media promotion perspective, promote about two weeks before.

What is the average attendance rate? Probably about 30-40%. You’ll get varying degrees based on topic or product. But attendance rate shouldn’t be your only measure — look for business impact on the back end.

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