As b2b marketers continue to adopt new marketing automation technologies and, like a kid in a candy store, begin to experiment with new types of campaigns including drip, trigger, nurture and more, many can often forget that the best and most natural nurture marketing initiative is something they’ve likely done before, a webinar. Marketing automation platforms like SalesFUSION, becoming Sugar Market, realize the value and pervasiveness of webinars as a method of pushing thought leadership to the masses and have worked to bring webinars into the marketing automation fold.

SalesFUSION last year released a new event management platform that links directly to webinar platforms such as Citrix and Webex. The reason integrating for these platforms in the first place is the realization that many marketers were using these platforms outside of the MA platform to do things that a marketer normally does inside the MA platform anyway.

Actions such as registration forms and reminder and follow up emails are common functions in both webinar platforms and MA platforms. In a typical webinar, you send out invitations, capture leads, set automated reminders, pre-set follow up emails for attendees/non-attendees. Sound like a nurture marketing initiative? It is. The steps we take to produce a high quality webinar involve many of the existing technologies that are native to marketing automation (drip email, trigger email, landing pages).

Webinars afford the marketer an opportunity to communicate one on one with prospects, with multiple touches, over an extended period of time. In fact, a webinar promotion has an average lifecycle of about 3-5 weeks. One of the most interesting statistics for webinars is, following the initial round of email invitations for a webinar, as a campaign type, webinars have some of the lowest unsubscribe rates and highest open rates of any type of campaign a B2B marketer can produce. Looking at a typical workflow for a webinar, you come to realize that webinars are the perfect short term nurture campaign.

For example, a typical webinar we produce at SalesFUSION would include the following steps:

All the while, sales is receiving alerts when prospects take action on these emails/registrations.The above eleven steps are simple and effective email communications with cross-sell messaging spread over a 3-5 week time period. The original group of registrants will have a very high open rate on all of the subsequent emails as well.

With all of the fancy tools available for diagramming multi-step, content-driven nurture campaigns, marketers who are new to marketing automation technology may feel a bit like a deer in the headlights and now know where to begin. I always try to tell marketers who want to engage in nurture marketing campaigns to begin with a webinar. Building one will force you to go through all of the key steps and mechanics of building a multi-step campaign and they are relatively “safe” in terms of knowing what actions to take and when.

Consider webinar campaigns to be skills building activities that will make you a better marketer going forward.

Be wary, however, of the one major pitfall of webinars. Bad content! Putting out webinars today is not as easy as throwing up a presentation or product demonstration. There are literally hundreds of webinars produced daily and entire web communities exist to promote webinars. You will have high competition for your target’s time and attention. Make sure your webinar theme is a compelling and educational topic. Ask yourself the question, in this webinar, am I giving the attendee high value for their time spent with me online? Focus on teaching them something they didn’t know before. Don’t sell in the webinar – that will come later.