Engage for Action: Webinar World

“Your data is only as good as the engagement you drive,” Sharat Sharan, co-founder and CEO of ON24 told  the Webinar World audience in San Francisco yesterday.

“Webinars just work,” said CMO Joe Hyland to the same audience. Yet despite ON24’s position as a leading provider of webinar — and webinar analytics — solutions, especially to B2B customers, the main theme of the conference has been what happens beyond the webinar.

That doesn’t mean that ON24 is shedding its webinar skin. Some single solution providers — I’m thinking, for example, of dynamic email vendor Movable Ink — seek the next level by widening their perspective. ON24 is doubling down on webinars, but at the same time seeking to show the ways in which webinar content can inform and drive marketing throughout the funnel.

That’s a significant claim to make. Webinars have traditionally been positioned as top-of-funnel tools, geared to attract the attention of prospects, thereafter nurtured through other channels. The ON24 vision incorporates not only that use, but the tailoring of webinar content to the middle of the funnel, and long-tail deployment of the content, both to prolong its value as an acquisition tool, and personalize it to target valued accounts.

There are three elements to ON24’s offering, as presented at Webinar World: live, always on, and personalized. The first should be self-explanatory. It refers to the value of webinars as engagement tools which give brands the opportunity to offer something which rises above what Hyland called “superficial clickbait.” A sophisticated webinar platform allows an audience not just to consume live content, but to engage directly with a brand through Q&A, through polling, and through offers of additional assets.

Currently in beta, there’s also a plan to extend the reach of live content with an easy one-click route to broadcasting it simultaneously on Facebook, and perhaps other channels: and, something which any webinar presenter will welcome, chatbots to handle predictable and routine questions (will the slide deck be available…?).

The second element refers to the long-tail value of webinars on demand, and the part they can play in triggering what ON24 calls a “content journey.” That doesn’t just mean archiving old webinars. ON24 urges the creation of an “engagement hub“, making webinar (and other) assets readily available to users. A drag-and-drop content playlist solution is offered, as well as a tool for adding engagement elements to non-webinar video (ratings, comments, polling, etc.). A Netflix-style binge is positively encouraged. It’s the “end of the dead end,” as Sharan put it. It’s not necessary to close a webinar and let the audience just walk away. You can offer them, he said, “the next experience, and then the next experience.”

Thirdly, ON24 seeks to add some ABM-related seasoning with personalization, via ON24 Target: content hubs specifically designed to deliver relevant webinar content to target accounts, based on the data which reflects the way in which individuals within that account have previously engaged with content assets. This is facilitated by an ON24 solution which allows the creation of personalized landing pages in just a few minutes; personalization at scale. 

If the continuous content journey, devised on the basis of the data users generate through every engagement with live and on demand webinars, has been the main theme of the conference, there have also been some significant news announcements. One was the launch of the Webinerd (yes, that word) Community. This will allow marketers to share best practices, offer product feedback, and win certifications, all within the ON24 platform.

Perhaps more far-reaching was the announcement of a preferred partnership with Marketo. While ON24 integrates with all the obvious marketing automation solutions, allowing brands to drive engagement data into campaign tools and CRMs, the multi-year Marketo partnership promises synergistic benefits to users of both solutions. Engagement touchpoints will be seamlessly transferred to users’ Marketo instance. The move also, of course, shifts ON24 closer to the broader Adobe eco-system.

ON24 covered DMN’s expenses to attend Webinar World.

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