Webinars are the closest thing you will find to a Swiss knife for marketing.
Depending on how you execute them, they can be used for awareness, lead generation, acquisition, product adoption, training, up selling (your services or higher plans) and thought leadership.
To hit the nail in the coffin, webinars are the only marketing tactic to introduce the human element in real time, making this an interactive experience, where rapport develops easier.
This can’t be replaced or subsidized by any other tactic.
Now let’s dive into the nitty gritty.
Why webinars work and what to expect
In general, webinars work because there is a real person talking to attendees in real time, addressing their questions and putting a human face to your product.
You might be thinking that it’s no big deal, but human nature and experience tell us it is.
When people are on a webinar, they will open up easier and rapport will foster (a key requirement for any kind of human conversion). What’s more important, if the webinar is appealing, a good portion of your audience will get excited and buy your product.
Interestingly enough, this is also applicable to enterprises, since if you get one decision maker or influencer excited they can sell other key persons in their company on your product. Getting excited is different than getting hyped up, as in the latter, dubious and subtle or hard selling methods are employed.
Some of your audience will get excited if you deliver a good webinar and that’s totally ok; in fact it’s great for all parties involved.
It’s not uncommon to see a small peak in MRR and/or signups after a webinar…
Let’s see the types of webinars you can set up for your B2B SaaS.
Webinars to increase activation
These are the most crucial webinars and I suggest you start with them, if you have a decent flow of monthly signups (>500) or a not-ideal onboarding. Here is how they work:
1) Visitor signs up for a free trial or a free account (if you have a freemium plan).
2) Visitor gets her welcome email in which it contains 2 dates and times to join you in your upcoming webinar, where you will show her how to get the most out of your software.
3) Visitor clicks the appropriate date and signs up for the webinar.
4) The webinar gets added to her calendar and she attends it at her own convenience. If she misses it, a recording is sent to her automatically.
Now, she learns how to use your product to solve her problem in 30 mins, by a real human being and gets to ask any questions she might have, without having to wait for a reply. In addition to that she can also listen to questions asked by other attendees that she hadn’t had thought of.
Before you know it, you have a small, quickly formed community, where even though they can’t interact between each other, attendees feel part of something real and not just trying another web app they found on the internet.
These webinars are usually presented by a sales person or a support person, or a customer success manager and they usually need 2 persons, one to moderate and one to present.
You might get tempted at some point to record a webinar and send people to the recording instead of doing the same webinar over and over again. I’d advise you not to, because people can easily understand when something is genuinely real time and when it’s recorded. And when it’s recorded, it loses a lot of its mojo…
It’s good to close your webinar with a call to action, something like “Sign in to your account and put in action what you saw today“. You don’t want to sell them here, you just want to activate them to use your product.
If you want to see this webinar type in action, sign up for a free trial at ActiveCampaign (aff link) and you will see how they do it.
Product updates webinars
These webinars are for your existent users. Do you have a major update or just shipped a significant feature?
Hold a webinar and let your existing users (free and paid) know. I am pretty sure you have already written a blog post, sent them an email to let them know, and maybe even created a video! But. Most people don’t have time for that and they simply won’t read them, or won’t play around to learn how to use them.
Now, inviting them to your webinar where you will show them all the new updates and how to use them, that’s something very appealing.
In these webinars people also tend to get very excited, so you should see a reduction in churn in at least that month. These webinars are useful for:
- Reducing churn
- Increasing seats of existing paying users
- Up sells (services or higher plans)
Similar to the previous webinar type, it’s good to close with a call to action along the lines of “sign in to your account and see how this new feature applies to your account“. Send them the recording after you are done and see your users getting excited!
Advanced features / upgrade plan
This kind of webinar takes place after someone has signed up to try your product and if there are some features only available to the paying plans.
On the webinar you will show them the advanced features of your product, how they can benefit from them and why they are important.
Invite them to upgrade at the end of the webinar to get access to these features, or even better, offer them a coupon to try the upgraded plan for free for 15-days.
These webinars rarely take place, because you need a good volume of free trials / free plans for this to make sense and by that point you will have probably implemented a sophisticated marketing automation solution to take care of it.
However, if you have the time, resources and volume to pull it off, I suggest you give it a try.
Webinars for enterprise SaaS
Now, for B2B SaaS that target enterprises, things are a little bit different…
In this case, you want leads or visitors to sign up for a webinar that has a topic of interest to your target audience, similar to a blog post, ebook, report etc.
Then, at the end, you can mention your product or even give them a demo of it.
Demand Generation Webinars (/w 3rd parties)
These webinars usually aim to increase leads, signups and generally top of the funnel acquisition, but they can also be used to convert free users to paid. SumoMe does this with great success, but they have a massive userbase of free plans.
Here you collaborate with a 3rd party (company or influencer) and each party brings 50% of what’s needed on the table (half the presentation and half attendees, etc) or one party brings the audience and the other does the presentation.
I haven’t done these kind of webinars yet, so I can’t offer more insights, but I suggest you check this comment and thread at Inbound.org for some great advice and an example from Christine White (co-marketer at Hubspot).
I have tried a few tools and the best I have worked with is GoToWebinar. I am in no way affiliated with them.
Actually I believe it’s the best webinar software on the market and most companies use it for their webinars. We saw an increase in attendance and a decrease in time needed to orchestrate the webinar, after using it.
It has a free trial to check it out.
To wrap it up, webinars are a great way to grow your B2B SaaS especially for companies that already have some volume of signups and traffic. They give some human element that can’t be replaced by any other marketing tactic, except attending offline events.
If you want to try them out, identify which part of your funnel could use some improvement with a webinar and try it out. I’d suggest starting out with a webinar to announce your new update (when you have one) to test the waters.
Don’t forget to do one or more test pilots before doing your first webinar.
Any experiences or questions that you’d like to add?
Leave a comment below and let’s discuss.