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Webcasting – audio and video streamed presentations

By Dave Chaffey 28 Jan, 2013

The popularity of video has led to a resurgence in interest in marketing using webcasting as a way to reach and engage business audiences, particularly given the reductions in travel budgets.  

In this interview I ask Charlie Blackburn of webcasting service provider BrightTALK to take me through the options and give us some examples of what works.

Are webinars still effective?

Q. Webinars are still a core technique for engaging professional business-to-business audiences, but I think most would say they're suffering from burn out and it's more difficult to get audiences to attend. I expect you to say this isn't the case, but how do you show new clients there is still an appetite from decision makers for webinars.

[Answer: Charlie Blackburn, Co-Founder BrightTALK]

You're right that I don't agree. The obvious analogy is the continued growth of audiences watching videos, both online and increasingly streamed and downloaded onto devices. Despite seeming 'saturated', consumption is still expected to double by 2016.

Webinars are similarly in a significant growth phase, as demonstrated by our own user growth, which was 63% last year. Like video, quality content is key, but it is also clear that both decision makers and thought leaders like the business efficiency of a webinar. For our clients it combines the value of putting on a conference but at the total cost of a single business trip.

The changing form of webcasts

Q. How have webinars evolved with the growth in recent focus on content and social media marketing?

[Answer: Charlie Blackburn, Co-Founder BrightTALK]

The webinar is changing and audience expectations have been raised by the consumerisation of technology. This is forcing webinar providers to put the audience experience at the centre of their product development efforts. This creates interesting challenges for us and our clients, as does the overall social media revolution.

Some clients cannot share for regulatory reasons and others wish to try and maintain some semblance of brand control in the open marketplace. We are looking to offer both audiences and clients what they want; simple explanations and how-to's for the current issues they face and clearly differentiated vendor approaches to solve them.

Integrating webinars into a marketing campaign

Q. How can webcasts best be integrated into a marketing campaign? How should be they promoted online and offline during a campaign so that the audience engages with them?

[Answer: Charlie Blackburn, Co-Founder BrightTALK]

Good webcasts, which include both longer form webinars and shorter form videos, are one of the reasons you would send someone an email or promote something on a banner. People don't want to be alerted to brand or messaging fluff, so webcasts are a great way to convey a company’s unique selling point and passion for its products. The content has to be of value to specific audiences, which is creating a challenge for marketers. Firstly, do you know the needs of these different customers? Secondly, can your product and related services deliver to these different needs? Thirdly, can you create unique content for each of these segments?

This all talks to great campaign skills: content re-mixing, audience segmentation, effective messaging, content delivery and insight. A good webinar and video provider will provide automation and tools to help marketers achieve this. We do see content promotion and re-use across online and offline techniques. Obvious examples are videos being played at conferences and content being captured at conferences for sharing

Assessing webcast or webinar effectiveness

Q. What information can you provide to clients on how well their webcasts are working? What does success look like?

[Answer: Charlie Blackburn, Co-Founder BrightTALK]

Clients are looking for proof that their customers are engaging with them. Webcasting is highly measurable. Engagement is measured to the nearest second, and clearly attributable. People are happy to register for live events, so we can tell clients which customer or prospect engaged with them.

Clients are finding that when they mix qualification information together with behavioural data, such as someone attending an online event for 30 minutes, then they have very good intelligence to share with Sales. Marketing is successful where it provides highly qualified leads for Sales.

Choosing a provider for webcasts / webinars

Q. When selecting a provider of webcasting, what should marketers look out for? Don't most still opt for WebEx or GoToMeeting?

[Answer: Charlie Blackburn, Co-Founder BrightTALK]

Webcasting has moved on from the days when it was only available as a managed service, so we would recommend the best way to pick a provider is to try it out. The other way to gauge a provider is to watch some of the content. See our example client channels for an idea of what effective webcasts can deliver.

The most common mistake people make in selecting a webcasting company is to try and use webconferencing technology for running online events. It's a bit like still using a VHS tape recorder to tape programs on Sky rather than using Sky Plus (or TIVO for your American readers). You could do it but there are much easier tools on the market.

Marketers should look for providers focused on delivering great audience experiences. At the end of the day we are helping our clients inspire their customers, firstly to consider them and secondly to select their products. In today’s economy this is challenging but marketers should pick the providers most able to do this.

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of Smart Insights. Dave is editor of the 100+ templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ Digital Marketing experts. Our resources are used by our Premium members in more than 100 countries to Plan, Manage and Optimize their digital marketing. Free members can access our sample templates here. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question. For my full profile and other social networks, see the Dave Chaffey profile page on Smart Insights. Dave is a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing.

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