Webinars: a channel for financial marketers in 2017?

Jessica Sims

Creative Strategist

Posted on December 9, 2016

The financial industry is changing. David Arnott, CEP of Temenos, is calling it “a once in a generation shift; a second big bang.” Changing consumer behaviour and the challenge of satisfying more demanding, better-informed but less loyal customers is putting pressure on marketers.

What’s more, in a competitive financial marketing landscape – made possible by the internet – customers are finding it difficult to differentiate, both in terms of the products provided and brand personalities.

That’s daunting news. If demands are higher, loyalty is lower, and your key audience are struggling even to pick you out of the crowd, how are you supposed to build long-lasting, rewarding sales relationships?

There’s a growing need to respond with a marketing strategy that is personal, competitive, customer-centric, and that holds added value for those engaging with it. In 2016, we talked a lot about digital channels and how to use them to meet these challenges, but there’s one more channel we want to draw attention to.

Webinars may well be one of the most valuable channels available to financial marketers in 2017. They beautifully combine the digitisation that speaks to our tech-heavy lifestyles and the personal, trust-building, solution-focused, ‘opt-in’ marketing that customers now best respond to. Over 60% of financial marketers are now using webinars as part of their content marketing programs (source: Content Marketing Institute), including HSBC, NatWest, Lloyds Bank, and Barclays.

 

Let’s talk you through their potential and their persuasive benefits.

Why webinars?

As you probably already know, a webinar is an online seminar delivered to an audience who have chosen to participate. And that, in a nutshell, is why they’re so powerful. Pitch and promote the topic in the right way, and before you even start, you’ll know your attendees are interested and responsive.

You can tailor webinars around almost any call to action. You could use them for brand-building and to grow authority, to provide in-house education sessions based on important problems and pain points, or simply to find customer leads.

In terms of leads, the potential return on investment is impressive, too. Based on a survey conducted, between 20% and 40% of webinar attendees turned into qualified leads.

Here are a few more opportunities they could provide.

Webinars help get you recognised as industry leaders

Hosting a webinar is the perfect chance for you to showcase your experience, knowledge, and services, in an ‘actions speak louder than words’ demonstration. Rather than just telling your customers that your company is an authority on a certain issue, you can show them.

Webinars come across as proactive and therefore dedicated. You’re paying attention, and you’re responding, live. By creating a dialogue through the webinar format, you can build genuine authority, credibility, and trust. You can also strengthen an ethos of open communication and listening by inviting attendees to take part in Q&A sessions.

By targeting your content to be informative and beneficial, you’ll have the chance to be seen as an educator within your industry, not just a salesperson.

Webinars strengthen relationships

The visual language of webinars is a valuable opportunity to communicate your company’s personality through real people that attendees can feel connected to. It’s the start of an emotional investment, feeling more like a conversation than a sales pitch, that participants can begin to feel some sense of ownership of.

Practically speaking, webinars also help to facilitate better communication generally. They’re a great way of creating space and opportunity to discuss client-company questions, product release updates, and any information that needs clarifying. So much more efficient than lots of written information sent out at different times. You can check in real time that everyone is on the same page.

Webinars feed depth of knowledge

The beauty of webinars is that they work in two directions. Not only can your clients get to know you better, but you can get to know them! Q&A sessions open up the potential for exciting, continuous and organic discoveries and insight.

You’ll have so much more to draw on than dry data: you’ll have the chance to form a more complete observation by considering the attendees’ responses and language too. Webinars also offer the opportunity for retrospection and reflection, as you can record them and look back.

Webinars help companies to grow

The global nature of the webinar platform offers an exciting chance to extend your reach to new places and audiences. In terms of data, webinars also help to grow your database and sales leads in a qualitative sense. You can make it a requirement for attendees to provide useful data as they register. This will allow you to capture information like job titles and email addresses, as well as personal details that could help you differentiate and target future campaigns.

How to get started

Follow these four simple steps, and you’ll be well on your way:

1 – Choose your topic:

Pick something highly specific that allows you to go into plenty of detail. Ask yourself questions as you test out your ideas. Why does this topic matter? How will it help?

2 – Create a script and slide deck:

As is the case for all presentations and business meetings, preparation and practice are crucial. First, write and make use of a well thought-out and formatted script to help you stay on target, both topic and timewise. Your slide deck should then accompany this, emphasising and supporting your script and drawing attention to your key points.

3 – Choose a platform:

There are loads of webinar software providers to choose from. Take a look at GoToWebinar, Adobe Connect, or brightTALK to get you started.

4 – Test and practice:

We’ve mentioned webinars’ lead-generating ability, but it’s important to remember that it will all depend entirely on good advanced planning. Think about the stages your attendees will go through, from start to finish. Have you covered every angle? What is the webinar’s CTA? Is it to download further content from your hosted page? Do you need to set up tracking links for an offer, web page, or piece of content? How could you gather additional information?

Learning more

The best way to get to grips with webinars in 2017 is to plan well, try something, listen to feedback, and then refine your technique ready for next time. To get you off on the right foot, however, here’s a useful resource base of webinar guides and tips that can help give you more advice and some good ideas to try.

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