Every form of content has unique advantages, so it’s difficult to say any one type of content is head and shoulders above the rest.
But, if you were to declare the webinar the ‘king’ of marketing content, you wouldn’t be alone. After all, 73% of B2B marketers and sales leaders say webinars are the best way to generate high-quality leads (source).
There’s no arguing the fact that webinars are an effective form of content. But, there’s some debate as to where webinars fit into the buyer’s journey. Are they better suited for prospects in the early stages of their journey? Or, do webinars appeal more to prospects who are nearing the end of their journey and preparing to make a purchase?
Was all of the above the answer you were expecting? If not, keep reading. Today’s blog post explains how to leverage webinars to guide your prospects through every single stage of the buyer’s journey!
Stage 1: The Pre-Awareness Stage
The aptly titled “pre-awareness” stage refers to the first stage of the buyer’s journey, in which the prospect is not yet aware they have a problem. Naturally, they haven’t started to research solutions. But, smart marketers don’t wait for the prospect to become “aware” — smart marketers create content that creates the aforementioned “need.”
Using Webinars during the Pre-Awareness Stage
Prospects in this early stage of the buyer’s journey will only respond to engaging, vendor-neutral content. They don’t want to learn about specific solutions or dive deep into highly-technical concepts. We typically discuss blog posts and infographics as useful forms of top-of-the-funnel content. But webinars can be extremely effective at nurturing prospects through this first stage.
A webinar targeting sales prospects in the pre-awareness stage should focus on a pain point or broad topic that is relevant to your audience. Start by examining your buyer personas and digging into the shared interests and pain points of your best customers.
Remember: prospects in this early stage may not be able to identify their pain points yet, so you must approach the topic from an engaging, educational point of view. We recommend including an element of audience participation or interaction to make your webinar as engaging as possible for prospects in the pre-awareness stage.
Let’s say your company sells a social media management platform that helps businesses streamline their social media workflow, boost brand awareness, and implement a social listening process. Your hypothetical prospect is a digital marketing manager at a small business. They haven’t grown a large following on social media, but they don’t believe there’s anything wrong or inadequate about their social media process.
It goes without saying, a webinar about the value of social media management platforms would not resonate with this prospect. Instead, you create a Halloween-themed webinar in which two of your employees discuss “5 Social Media Nightmares to Avoid at all Costs.” The webinar is lighthearted and engaging, but it speaks to many of the problems your customers face before eventually buying your solution.
The prospect sees an ad for the webinar and is curious enough to sign up. They find the conversation engaging and informative. And, it inspires them to do some more research into the problems discussed in your webinar.
Stage 2: The Awareness Stage
As you have probably guessed, prospects in this stage are now aware of their problem. They’ve begun to recognize their pain points. But, they still haven’t developed a fully-formed understanding of what they need to solve the issue. As a result, prospects in this stage still aren’t looking to purchase a solution. But, they have begun to seek out specific information related to their problem.
Using Webinars during the Awareness Stage
A webinar targeting prospects in the awareness stage should remain vendor-neutral, with an educational rather than salesly tone. The difference here is that prospects in the awareness stage might find your webinar because they’re actively researching a topic — unlike in the previous stage, where they likely stumbled upon your webinar by chance and were curious enough to join. So, a webinar in this stage should dive deeper into the prospect’s pain points. Help them understand their problem in greater detail.
Let’s continue with the previous example in which your company is a social media management platform. At this stage, your prospect is aware that their social media strategy is flawed in a number of ways. Most importantly, they’re struggling to keep up with their audience interactions and the growing number of messages they’re receiving from customers on social media.
As they research these problems, they find a link to your webinar titled Social Listening: How to Manage Your Brand Reputation Across All Social Media Channels. Though the prospect is only vaguely familiar with the term ‘social listening’, they sign up to the webinar because it seems highly relevant to the issues they’ve been researching.
Much like in the previous example, this webinar does not focus on the social media management platform your company sells. But, it goes into greater detail about the topic of social listening, which is a key feature of your product. After attending this informative webinar, the prospect decides to start looking for a tool that offers social listening capabilities.
Stage 3: The Consideration Stage
A prospect in the consideration stage understands their problem and is seeking a solution to solve it. They might have identified a few potential vendors, but they haven’t taken the steps to purchase one specific product yet.
Using Webinars during the Consideration Stage
A webinar targeting prospects in this stage should still be engaging and informative, but no longer needs to be vendor-neutral. You want to showcase your product and help the prospect understand why it’s the right solution for them. You should include slides or video that give the webinar attendees a live look at your product and its most essential features.
With that being said, it’s important to remember that a webinar is not the same thing as a product demo. It’s appropriate to showcase your solution throughout your webinar, but remember to stick to a unified theme or topic. Always provide valuable information to your webinar attendees.
To continue with our example, your prospect has decided they need to purchase a social media management platform with an emphasis on social listening functionality. As they research specific vendors, they discover your upcoming webinar Boost Your Social Media ROI With These 5 Social Listening Tactics.
Of course, the tactics you cover in the webinar are ones that your platform is uniquely capable of performing. After attending the webinar, the prospect not only has a good idea of how to improve their social strategy — they also believe your solution is the right fit for them.
Stage 4: The Decision Stage
At long last, the prospect is ready to make a purchase. Someone in the decision stage of the buyer’s journey has learned all they need to know about their problem, and they’ve narrowed down their options to one or a few vendors. If they’re consuming content at this point, they’re looking for answers to any lingering questions or concerns they might have.
Using Webinars during the Decision Stage
Webinars can make a big impact during the decision stage of the buyer’s journey, mainly because of their interactive nature. For example, you might consider hosting a live Q&A in which attendees are able to ask questions about your product, your company, and any other topics they’re mulling over as they near the end of their buyer’s journey.
The prospect has identified your social media management tool as the best solution to address their problems. They attend a live webinar hosted by one of your most reputable customers. During this webinar, your customer walks attendees through a variety of processes and workflows they depend on your product for. The customer also answers attendee questions and talks about the success they’ve achieved using your platform specifically. Attendees now have proof that your platform has worked for other successful organizations.
Final Thoughts on Webinars and the Buyer’s Journey
Now, throughout this blog post, we used the same hypothetical prospect and company as our example. Of course, no matter how much we’d like the buyer’s journey to be this smooth, it’s important to remember that a buyer’s path to purchase isn’t always this simple. That’s why we recommend hosting a variety of webinars that speak to prospects in each and every phase of the buyer’s journey.
As marketers, we often place specific content types into rigid categories. A blog post is “top-of-the-funnel” content, a customer testimonial is “bottom-of-the-funnel” content, and so on. But, it’s important to be open-minded when it comes to any form of content. A certain content type might naturally align with one phase of the buyer’s journey, but a few adjustments can make it equally effective for other stages. For more webinar-related content, we recommend you check out the following articles:
- 8 Simple Steps to Prep Your Webinar Funnel for Sales
- 10 Metrics to Measure B2B Marketing Webinars
- Top 10 Tips for Executing Successful Webinars
- 5 Ways to Generate More Webinar Leads
- 8 Easy Ways to Repurpose Webinar Content
We hope today’s post convinced you that not only are webinars effective, they’re also versatile. As long as you maintain a solid understanding of your target audience, you can successfully create webinars for prospects in any stage of the buyer’s journey.
For more ways to identify, target, and engage with your buyers, contact ZoomInfo today. We offer the leading B2B contact database to help you nurture each and every one of your leads from start to finish.