Webinars became the “in vogue” marketing channel of 2020 once the pandemic took hold, and made other ways to get in front of prospects unfeasible. Many organizations jumped on the bandwagon – and resulted in winners and losers. One success story that’s worth talking about came from Jaime Lopez, Marketing Operations Leader, in “what I learned scaling from 1 to 20 webinars per quarter”.
Yes – Jaime and his team were able to increase their webinar output 25x almost overnight. Thanks to their state-of-the-art attribution models, they can now confidently say they generate a pipeline contribution of tens of millions of euros.
I wanted to ask Jaime some questions on how he and his team managed to successfully execute so many webinars, in an industry not known for tech-savviness (marine and energy equipment manufacturing) – plus, how you and I could apply his learnings to our own organizations.
Setting the Scene
The pandemic impacted the way the sales team functioned in Jaime’s organization. Going from a context where the most effective were in-person networking (lunches, dinners, coffee – etc.), to a reality where that was not possible, was the cue for the marketing ops team to step up.
“Suddenly all of our sales and marketing “weapons” were inadequate – completely out of touch with the world. So, we quickly had to figure out: what can we offer to both our sales people, and our customers, that can maximize what they can get out of their time, now, using different tools?”
Webinars were one thing they had used sparingly in the past. When the team started thinking about ways to educate prospects and customers, at scale, webinars were the obvious answer.
The team was able to increase their webinar output 25x in a short period of time:
- 4 webinars in 2019
- 108 webinars in 2020 (totaling 72 hours of webinar content)
Let’s dive into my conversation with Jaime…
What did you have in place to enable the 25x increase?
Luckily, our team was always in a ‘ready-for-action’ state with our MarTech.
When it came to introducing more webinars – we had a tool, we had processes- we only needed to ‘put our foot on the gas pedal’.
Challenges with previous webinar operations
You said you held 4 webinars in 2019, so your team already had some experience. What were the biggest challenges you faced with the previous webinar operations?
Beforehand, in 2019, our team was not too concerned with webinars as a marketing channel. There were also other characteristics the previous webinars had, that prevented us from scaling:
A huge undertaking
We worked with agencies who would make webinar planning more complicated than it should be. The agencies would put up what I describe as “scaffolding” – think scripts, Teleprompters, on-site locations – all this fancy production slowed down delivering webinars. It was like constructing a bronze statue, detail by detail. The cost of each of these was also a big obstacle for scaling up.
Data wasn’t ‘owned’ internally
External partners would use their own webinar platforms to collect registration and attendance data. The issue here is obvious – we couldn’t learn from the results of one webinar to the next (no closed-loop learning).
Beforehand, it was like constructing a bronze statue, detail by detail.
Webinar operations changes, with huge impact
In a nutshell, which changes to webinar operations helped you to scale up delivery? I suppose we can use the restrictions you outlined, and reverse those, but were there any additional initiatives that helped?
We have two guiding principles: own it, make it easy. Here’s how we break that down – and apply it practically.
- Make it easy: any salesperson, who has a reasonably interesting topic to talk about and has researched their audience, would have their webinar accepted by our team. We support our sales team, however, we did not want to end up being thought of as a “soapbox” for the salespeople.
- Low-cost: scaling one marketing channel this fast, overnight needs to be low cost. Otherwise, you will be blocked by the limits of your budget. Webinars fit this criteria well, being relatively low-cost.
- Production line mentality: our process made each webinar idea fit the ‘cookie-cutter’ webinar as much as possible. We would think “These are the input (ingredients), this is the structure, this is the outcome you can expect”
- Learnings: we focused on what we can learn from our attendees (mostly customers), and share that with our internal teams and partners as dashboards.
- Fully run in-house: to have our own webinar platform, our own team meant we could all develop our skills, and…
- Data owned by us: with control over the webinar platform, we were able to run analysis after each webinar, on what worked (and what didn’t work).
We have two guiding principles: own it, make it easy.
Ramping up for 25x webinar delivery
Okay – make it easy, have a production line mentality, communicate learnings, own the data – this all sounds great, but what actually enabled your team to achieve that high increase in webinar delivery?
There are four aspects that I’m sure meant we could achieve the big increase. I can’t advise for every team; every organization and team will be different. The first was “be tech-ready”.
1. Be “tech stack ready”
“Always be tech-ready”, is ABTR the MarTech version of the famous “Always Be Selling (ABC)?” Why is it the first on your list?
Yes – even in the worst case scenario, your people will be able to deliver something great, with minimal cognitive load. Whether that’s for webinars or anything else. A good way to start is to create and maintain a development roadmap that sets the direction in which you want to evolve, and the incremental capabilities you need to get there. Then, scout the martech universe for tools that do precisely that, and integrate well with your stack.
In photography, the saying goes. “the best camera is the one you have with you” – well, in martech, the best tool is the one you can trust to work seamlessly when you’re not looking.
2. Standardize and productize
In Spain, when something is simple, repetitive and churns out the same thing over and over you can call it la máquina de hacer chorizos – the sausage-making machine. In the anglosphere I guess you can call it a cookie-cutter approach. Making gingerbread cookies with a cookie cutter is repetitive and low-tech compared to carving them out of the dough with a knife, but it enables you to get a large, consistent and high-quality output; and to focus on the most important part – enjoying the cookies.
Standardizing puts processes in place so that anyone on the team can replicate the campaign with minimal cognitive load. Productize webinar delivery, to fit every webinar “in a box”, like flat-pack furniture or a Kinder egg toy.
Spending minimal cognitive load frees up your team’s time to do more creative, rewarding exploration work.
3. Upskill hosts
We made organizing and hosting webinars a core skill in our team; everyone from the team leads, to the junior team members, could confidently run webinars.
When you have webinars running in different time zones, you need competent people in all regions. Aside from our HQ (in Finland), we had people in the US and APAC who are ready to host webinars.
We coached the presenters to improve webinar quality. It’s usually the people who have the most to say, that say the least. We pair up presenters who have different personalities – one “technical” speaker (“here’s what I have to say”, lays the groundwork), one extroverted speaker, and if possible, one external speaker (such as a customer).
4. Extreme data drive
Data – successfully manipulating and visualizing it – is the “only tried and tested path to optimization”. We collected several data points (quantitative and qualitative) that were displayed in impactful dashboards.
I’m curious what productizing the webinar process looked like in practice. Which stages would a webinar go through, and which tools did you rely on to accomplish smooth operations?
This is my favorite thing to do, working in marketing operations delivery. Remember this means your team spends minimal cognitive load on webinar logistics, and frees up their time to do more creative, rewarding work.
Here’s how we productized our webinars:
- Request form: anyone who wanted our team to coordinate a webinar would fill in an Asana form, which requested the topic, speaker, date, the target audience, promotion channels preferred, and a pitch.
- Standardized timeline: we put in place a sequence – what needs to be done, and when, ie. an activity needs to be ready X days before the webinar broadcast date.
- Standardized structure: after testing extensively, we found that the optimal webinar length is 60 minutes, (including 15 minutes of Q&A), with no more than 3 speakers, and 30 slides maximum. This was all documented by our team to provide solid guidance for future speakers, and for our team to coach them with confidence.
You can see some of these assets and visual aids below:
These webinars weren’t just calls where our salespeople would just talk randomly about whatever they wanted. We re-enacted the seminars that they were used to, including interactive elements, such as polls.
Our webinar platform of choice: GoToWebinar
Following our “always be tech stack ready” motto, we looked for tools that work well together, with minimal headache.
There are very few platforms that have a native connector with Pardot, GoToWebinar is one.
Why not Zoom? We didn’t have a good experience with integration in the past, which was unstable to work with. However, we heard at ParDreamin’ that Sercante plan to release their own integration so might be a good time to reevaluate Zoom as an option.
Webinar Setup Checklist
This is what our webinar checklist looked like.
|Assets needed||Responsible party||Content needed||Description|
|Emails||Webinar owner||● Email 1: Invitation|
● Email 2: Reminder + 2nd reminder (optional)
● Email 3: Thank you
● Email 4: Sorry you missed it
Each email must include a unique:
- Subject line (don’t use the same subject line for each email, but consider different
- Sub header
- Body text (synopsis of webinar and listed topics)
|Emails are a good way to promote
your webinar so invest in
personalising each of them and
creating an attractive message
that makes target group to attend.
Consider all the sides of possible
motivators and try to use them in
|Imagery||Webinar owner||Images will be needed for the following:|
Webinar registration and thank you pages banner (1920x690)
Email picture (588x300)
Web promotion banners – register + on demand (1160x200)
Email signature banner (500x100) - optional
|Try to find images that are not
used already in previous webinars.
Also preferable if they are
generally related to your topic and
|Social Media||MOps / SoMe|
|Social media picture(s) ( 1200x626)||Social media is a good way to
promote your webinar to the
audience. The imagery can be
ordered at the same time as other
thank you page
|Webinar owner /|
|● Hero/banner image (1920x690)|
● Content for the registration page
|This should include a synopsis of the
webinar and key facts/ topics that should
be highlighted (USP’s or discussion points
customers would be interested in – MOST
RELEVANT INFO), date & time of the
|Presenters||Webinar owner||For each presenter (must have consent from any external presenters):|
● Job title
● Email address, LinkedIn
● Profile picture – (220x331) (with background)
|We can find internal emails, but need
emails especially from externals to our
technical setup in GTW. You can consider if
you want the emails to be visible also in
the website for possible questions.
|CRM lists &|
|Webinar Owner /|
Panelists / MOps
|A list of Accounts and Contacts , or alternatively, criteria that allows us to select the|
invitees (Account Segment, Country, Customer status, etc.)
|No role-based emails (e.g.
|MOps||Content from above (speaker information, headline, text)|
● Scheduled date and time
● Poll questions
|We set up the webinar + dry runs.
You need to create poll questions (2-3) to
make the webinar interactive with the
audience. Have 5 planned Q&A questions
available, if there are no questions from
|Webinar slides||Webinar Owner /|
|Presentation as ppt file without video, animations, sound effects or transitions||Please follow brand guidelines when
creating the presentation. The
presentation can be modified before the
dry runs, but not after. It is recommended
that the webinar duration be 1 hour
(45min presentation with a 15min Q&A).
Each row in the checklist contains instructions on the following:
- The assets required (eg. emails, imagery, Salesforce campaign, presenters, social media etc.)
- Responsible party: the Marketing Ops team, webinar owner, or panelists?
- Content needed: information required, dimensions, and guidelines.
- Description: for additional guidance (and to bust through typical marketing jargon).
Please use this as a template in your own organizations; if you set up a process using this document, it would make me very happy. Copy with pride, and tweak it to your needs!
What helped us is that the tasks were automatically created, thanks to Asana rules. Asana is the place we all manage our tasks from, meaning nothing would get forgotten (and no one had the opportunity to “hijack” the process).
Webinars + Salesforce
You mention Salesforce Campaigns, CRM lists, etc. Could you give some details on how you prepped Salesforce to receive webinar data throughout the different parts of the delivery process?
Creating Salesforce Campaigns
Salesforce Campaigns are created from the Asana project, using webhooks. When triggered, the Campaign is created with the relevant Campaign Member statuses, and even Campaigns for the related assets (child campaigns), such as email sends.
This ensured we kept a consistent Campaign Hierarchy throughout our team.
When completely new individuals register to our webinars, we create them as Prospects in Pardot, which then sync to Salesforce as Leads. Personally, I wouldn’t create them as Salesforce Contacts; they would need to be related to an Account record, which you won’t have sufficient data to create. You’ll end up with a frustrated Salesforce admin when they find out you’ve created thousands of “private contacts” (Contacts without Accounts).
Measure and Iterate: Reports and Dashboards
We know you advocate capturing data to ultimately make changes to get better results. About those dashboards you mentioned – the ones that communicated each webinar’s learnings to internal teams and partners – can you talk more about how you decided which information should be included, and how they were created?
Some people would call me a data nerd – well, I take that with pride! Our mentality is we measure whatever we can measure.
We measured all the usual indicators, like the response rate of the participants. On top of that, we were especially interested in the interest and attention indicators, engagement with polls and questions asked. We want to show how it compares to other (similar) webinars.
What we can’t measure with numbers is equally important:
- How did the speaker/panelists feel?
- Should we tweak our process to incorporate those learnings? We always did a debrief as a team to learn from each other.
In reality, our dashboards were built on a data visualization tool (with a data lake as the source, in our case):
- Data visualization: Power BI displays data from a data lake, which receives data from multiple sources (Pardot, Salesforce, social media and GoToWebinar)
- Data lake: Azure Data Factory
We created dashboards that show the same metrics for each webinar. That way, we could try to compare apples to apples – in other words, similar webinars with parallel metrics.
Here is one webinar, in a detailed view:
You’ll see what’s important to us:
- % registered people that attended,
- Attendee drop off (if, and when),
- Poll results,
- Attentiveness and interest
- The number of questions asked. Gaining this pulse on the audience was key, to also discuss the topics that were important to them.
These are important for sales to prove that our team is not just here to make things look nice, we’re here to give you insight into prospect/customer needs and enable you to have those conversations with them. Focusing on the Q&A information, we create a similar report:
The mastermind behind these dashboards is Sujata Karan, a Trailblazer in marketing analytics.
The Impact: Webinar Influenced Pipeline
What were the results? How did you display the pipeline that webinars influenced in a way that would be impactful for various stakeholders around the organization?
You may remember that we worked hard to have best-in-class marketing attribution reporting. We measure marketing influenced revenue in B2B MA. You can see how each channel performed in this two-year comparison.
- 2018/19 pre-COVID times, the webinar channel influenced ~$10 mil in pipeline.
- Compare that to when we ramped up (2020/21), influenced revenue jumped to $733mil.
That’s a 78x increase (an even greater increase than the growth in the number of webinars)! Webinars became the second most influential channel at a relatively small investment.
The 4 webinars we did in 2019 felt like a huge undertaking at the time. Then we did 100+ webinars, all in-house, which resulted in a 78x increase in webinar-influenced opportunity pipeline.
Remember these key aspects to scale webinar delivery without driving yourself crazy or burning out your team:
- Be “tech stack ready”
- Standardize and productive
- Upskill hosts
- Extreme data drive