We all understand the vitality of knowing our industry and our audience - but when you really get into the nitty gritty of it all, how well do you know them?
Beyond a basic understanding, do you know exactly what your audience is seeking from your business - and more relevantly, your content? It’s the mistake that all too many marketers make; rehashing old content, irrelevant content, and missing a trick by simply not generating engagement.
Luckily, there’s a handy trick for learning all you need to know about your industry, conducting solid market research and understanding your audience - and it comes in the form of a nifty little thing we call the webinar.
The How and the Why
We know what you’re thinking: how do webinars work for market research? Perhaps you’re more familiar with the use of webinars for other purposes - lead generation, sales funnel targeting or product promotion to name just a few.
While it’s true that webinars work well for all of these different purposes, we wish people would realise that one of the benefits of the webinar is the sheer versatility of the format. Think of it this way: webinars are at their core just another form of content, so their capabilities are pretty much only limited to the creativity of their producers.
While there are different types of webinar that people first think of - product promotions, training sessions or Q&As for example - there’s no little box ensuring that you can only do XYZ in a certain form or subject. You can take the positives from each and utilise them for your own benefit. Like any other form of content, you should go into the planning with a clear subject and CTA, a goal in mind for your results, and a demographic to target.
Now, moving on to the juicy stuff, we’re going to tell you exactly why webinars work for market research.
Planning and Prepping
As we mentioned a minute ago, webinars are just another form of content - hefty, long-form content - but still content at the end of the day. We maintain this, and the fact that you can take a similar approach to them as you would with a blog, article or social campaign, but we’ll be real with you for a second.
To create a good webinar, you’re going to need to do a lot of planning and a LOT of research. While all content should be thoroughly research and adequately prepared, the thing with webinars is that they are looong - you’ll be talking for on average at least half an hour and maybe more. We aren’t talking bite-size social posts or a ten-minute read blog here - we’re talking keeping an audience engaged and your point focussed for sometimes over an hour.
We’re not trying to scare you (we promise!); the results are worth it in the end, and when you approach the subject with a clear topic and objective you’re sure to create an excellent piece, but the fact remains that a lot of effort and energy needs to go into production. While webinars can be created on any budget - and if you’re ambitious enough, within any time frame - most recommend that the planning and preparation period take a matter of weeks. After all, if you’re investing time and money, you need to make sure you’re getting the most possible out of it.
What does this mean? Weeks of dedicated research on a particular subject within the relevant industry. We’re talking reading, writing, meetings with other departments in your company, the integration of sales and marketing, in-depth looks into your own sales, resources and progress, and discussions with others in the industry. We’re talking identifying pain points and finding solutions - enhancing your knowledge even in your current area of expertise!
The sheer research, planning and prep that you’re putting into your webinar anyway will kit you out with plenty to talk about, not just in this coming webinar, but in future ones. In other forms of content. You’re gearing yourself with a huge amount of productive, relevant research - why not use it? The very action of creating your webinar is literally arming you with market research. It’s brilliant.
The wisest of webcasters will already know this, but if you’ve got a webinar in the works, it’s a great idea to form a content marketing strategy around it. What do we mean? We mean creating build-up. Through a social media campaign, newsletters or other channels, build up excitement for your webinar and get those sign-ups (remember, sign-ups can be used for lead generation even when attendees don’t show.)
How is this beneficial for the aforementioned subjects? Well, for one thing, you’ll be given at least a little bit of insight into the general appeal of your subject just by the amount of sign-ups; for example, if you’re covering a subject that’s already been discussed in-depth, offering up unoriginal ideas, you might not see much growth. But if you’re offering something fresh - which you can demonstrate by offering sneak peeks of video or visual content - you’ll be noticed.
Interactivity and Engagement
What else makes webinars a unique and invaluable form of content? That’s right - the capability to interact and engage. If you’re not using these tools, you’re missing a trick because there really isn’t any easier way of connecting directly with your audience, especially live.
If you’re using a good platform - like our FastCast for example (wink wink nudge nudge) - you’ll have the tools available to seamlessly integrate interactive resources into your webinar. We can offer polls and surveys (with easily measurable data tools) and downloadable resources so that you can directly involve your audience - for example, asking for opinions or by inviting them to join you in a task.
Chatbox features are also helpful, allowing your audience to directly engage with you, asking questions, giving feedback or just dropping their two cents, though we’d always recommend asking a colleague to manage this live so that you don’t get distracted from the presentation. Alternatively, generate a discussion on social media using a dedicated hashtag or sharing features; we can offer widgets so that the audience can view a social feed and the webinar simultaneously (that way there’s no risk of distraction!). This also means an increase in your own brand awareness, as your webinar and ideas will automatically be promoted onto the pages of others within the industry following your attendees.
To go back to polls and surveys, with the data collection metrics we have in place there’s really no easier way to quickly generate marketable, relevant information. Tailored to your discussion, there’s an immediate incentive for your audience to participate in a way that they may not if they’d received the same content over email or on social. You can reach out with relevant, engaging questions - what are their current thoughts on specific issues within the industry? What are their biggest pain points? What would they like to see from XYZ?
Then, feed this information back to the relevant team in your company. It’s a direct way of discovering where the gaps are within your industry, what problems can be addressed and how you can offer a solution. It can also greatly influence your subsequent understanding of your audience; you can directly enquire about the type of content your audience want to see, sure, but you can also use the data collected in your webinar to determine whether your subject was engaging enough or your CTA successful. Measure landing page rates, how long your average viewing time was and other specifics.
For example, if all your attendees started to drop away at fifteen minutes in when you began talking about yesterday’s jam sandwich, you’ll know for next time that your audience don’t care about jam sandwiches. (Sorry - rambling, unfocused content is one of our webinar pet hates.)
Connecting With Your Industry
Webinars offer so many ways to connect with your industry. For example, hosting a Q&A webinar is an ideal way to directly talk to your audience as well as opening up the floor to answer any of their own questions.
Thought leadership sessions are also fantastic, because they help to assert you and your business as a fresh, innovative mind within the industry. Becoming reputable for offering new and good ideas is always beneficial; it increases your own credibility, brand awareness, and can help to drive those at the top of the sales funnel closer to the bottom. Thought leadership webinars require a ton of market research in themselves, but when done well will help you to take it that step further in making it more relevant and usable within your own products.
One way to do this is through hosting a co-marketing webinar with others in your industry. This will give you a way to pool together your research and ideas and expand upon them, whilst also being brilliant for helping you to reach a wider audience within your own industry. If you manage to connect with other industry leaders, it’s also another way to increase your own credibility. A way to get truly quality market research is to generate it from more than just one perspective, delivering a better understanding of your industry, your competitors, and what your audience really require.
After Your Webinar Finishes
We’ve mentioned it a couple of times now, but one key to using webinars for market and audience research comes after your webinar has actually finished. Remember that data and analytics we talked about? Check that out and utilise it constructively.
Follow-up with your attendees - and your no-shows - by sending emails. Ask those who did attend what they thought, perhaps attach a survey to gather some thoughts, measure your success and garner further feedback. Jump onto any of those social conversations that we mentioned, or generate a relevant discussion on social media using your trusty hashtags.
Next? Put all that market research to good use. Repurpose additional content - there are so many ways to do this; with blogs, whitepapers and other SEO-rich website content, or utilise in your next content marketing strategy. And most importantly, ensure the results, feedback and research you’ve gathered throughout the entire process - from the initial planning stages to the main event - are delivered the appropriate team so that it can be used productively.
And there you have it - plenty of relevant market research, a richer understanding of your audience, and maybe even an idea for the next webinar to do it all again…
If you’ve got any questions, feel free to browse our Knowledge Bank or get in touch! That’s all from us, see you next time!