“Are webinars a waste of time? It would be interesting to hear from those of you who run regular B2B webinars about how this technique works for your business in terms of “lead generation” and/or “lead conversion”, and also whether you feel that there are other benefits to your business besides lead generation.”
No, they’re not a waste of time, but I would advise caution.
The very strong trend that we’ve seen in the last year or two is a shift in Webinar strategy for B2B clients such that online events are now used primarily for lead conversion (lead nurturing) rather than lead acquisition.
This is simple economics – Webinars (or any sales event, for that matter) require an investment in time that yes, result in more qualified leads, but at the expense of prospects who don’t register simply because they’re not at the point in the sales cycle where they feel such an investment is merited. Consequently the response rate with Webinars is less and the cost per lead is higher than with alternative offers such as white papers. (In fact, when we’ve tested white papers and similar information offers head to head to Webinars, all things being equal white papers generate twice the response.)
However, in the context of a lead nurturing program, Webinars make sense because they’re a natural “next step” for the prospect who has already been educated on your product but now wants to see it demo’d, or hear a customer talk about his/her experience, etc. Response rates are higher because the audience is already familiar with your company and thus is more likely to invest the time.
Don’t forget to leverage your Webinar beyond the live event. Archived or on-demand Webinars can have a long shelf-life on your Website (be sure to require registration for viewing) or as assets alongside white papers, case studies, podcasts, analyst reports and the like in a content syndication program. Many clients report receiving many more leads from the archived event than they ever did from the live program.
My advice would be: look for less expensive vehicles (SEM, content syndication) to bring raw inquiries into the lead funnel, and then employ systematic lead nurturing, including not just Webinars but a range of different content offers, in order to further profile, qualify, and educate leads and convert them to sales-ready opportunities.