6 Best Practices For Following Up On Webinar Attendees & Registrants

Published: October 5, 2010

The webinar “leads” are not ready for the field. You also know some names are more qualified than others and require immediate contact — not just addition to email lists or entry in marketing automation programs.

How should you follow up on attendees and no-shows? Here are six best practice recommendations:

1. Include all no-shows in follow up activity

Even with day-before and day-of reminder emails, some registrants will miss the webinar. It’s not a lack of interest or motivation. Hectic schedules — especially for senior executives — shift attention elsewhere on short notice.

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While as many as 50% of sign ups may not attend, a disproportionately high number of non-attendees become qualified opportunities, so it’s important to segment and qualify them.

Time is of the essence following a webinar. Immediately post the archived version and forward the link to both groups with calls for action and contact information.

2. Segment and qualify attendees and no-shows

Because some attendees are great prospects and some are not, it’s important to build a segmentation and qualification model to identify high-value segments.

It’s not unusual to see a webinar generate a 10% lead rate, and a detailed analysis of results typically identifies segments with higher and lower rates. For example, say there are five discrete segments inside that 10%, and these segments have lead rates of 14%, 12%, 10%, 8% and 6% that — in total — average an overall 10% lead rate.

Post webinar, enhance these segments with data points like SIC code, revenue, employee size and growth rate. This added data further identifies segments as “most likely” and “least likely” to buy. Sample calls validate the segments with higher and lower rates.

A full court press should then be deployed against segments with the highest lead rates — thereby improving results and maximizing marketing dollars. Use less expensive media to nurture lower-rate segments, and make periodic calls into low priority segments to monitor activity.

3. Following up with outbound vs. inbound: a reality check

There is extensive reporting on the benefits of using inbound marketing to nurture prospects through the buying journey until they self-qualify as sales-ready.

The logic: marketing doesn’t have resources to contact prospects individually, and sales representatives don’t have time to follow up on unqualified leads. As a result, webinar attendees and no-shows are too frequently added to inbound marketing initiatives that theoretically “follow up” by nurturing them with download offers and social media.

A best practice recommendation is to follow up with outbound calling and not rely exclusively on inbound marketing. Here’s why:

  • Executive work styles and late adopters: Many C-level decision makers have not yet — and may never — embrace inbound’s self-service model.
  • Timely market coverage: Because inbound works best over time, it’s easy to miss opportunities that could quickly shift to be deep in the current pipeline.
  • Complex internal buying landscapes: Outbound calling and its emphasis on personal contact assure correct assessment of decision maker roles and influence.
  • High stakes with long sales cycle/high investment offers: The type and cost of offered solutions impact nurturing strategy. When offering long-sales-cycle and high-investment solutions, ground follow up strategies in personal contact.

4. Match nurturing to your prospect’s stage in the buying journey

While the tendency is to focus on short-term, sales-ready buyers, a post-webinar challenge is to correctly address the 60% of prospects who will buy a solution within two years of identifying themselves as a qualified opportunity.

Placing these mid- and long-term prospects in the right buying journey stage informs contact strategy, message content and information sources. Here are five steps that must be sequentially addressed:

1. Find the pain

2. Get agreement there is pain

3. Agree to do something about the pain

4. Agree to a generic solution

5. Agree to a customized solution

Sales too frequently defaults to step five. Successful nurturing of mid- and long-term opportunities is grounded in helping prospects clarify the causes of their business pain and understand ways to solve it.

Sources for solution information shift as the buying journey progresses. Early on, decision makers look to peers and industry analysts for insight, and contact strategy should include familiar references so prospects gain a sense of vendor credibility. By comparison, the value of vendor information increases substantially in middle stages as prospects look to vendors to cross-reference and validate solutions.

As prospects move through the stages, nurturing positions you as a trusted advisor differentiates your offerings and builds a preference for your solutions.

5. Think in multiples: multi-touch, multi-media and multi-cycle contact

Results multiply when contact strategies multiply. Successfully engaging prospects depends on a mix of tactics to maintain positive awareness of your offering until it’s time to buy.

  • Multi-touch: Frequency matters. We consistently find targets in our clients’ markets need an average of 12 contacts in order to engage. Nurturing prospects — depending on the sales cycle and situation — can take even more touchpoints.
  • Multi-media: Use a smart mix of multiple media. Integrate outbound calls with voice mail messages, personalized email, direct mail, e-marketing and landing pages.
  • Multi-cycle: With the largest group of prospects buying at more than six months out, expand your planned contact from over a few days to over several weeks and several months.

A case in point: the Chief Executive of a large utility finally responded positively on the 42nd touch and later signed off on a $1 billion deal for one of our clients.

6. Tailor your messaging to the reasons companies and people buy

Companies buy based on three conditions of need:

  • Fear of loss in their current situation
  • Perceived risk of deterioration
  • Opportunity to improve

Individuals have different conditions of need:

  • Recognition
  • Financial gain
  • Security
  • Self actualization


Vary messaging based on conditions of need. For example, a company perceives a risk of deteriorating conditions, and a decision maker acts out of a position of self-actualization. This makes for a good selling opportunity: the decision maker wants to do the right thing to help the company and is willing to take a personal risk.

Also make sure your offer is clear. A friend of mine owns a company, The Content Factor, a company specializing in content development and positioning for BtoB technology companies. On his web site, he publishes The Jargon Quiz to highlight what is wrong with the way companies articulate their offers. Here’s an example:

“XYZ Company is the global leader that brings ingenuity to the places where people live, work and travel. By integrating technologies, products and services, we create smart environments that redefine the relationships between people and their surroundings. Our team of 140,000 employees creates a more comfortable, safe and sustainable world through our products and services for more than 200 million vehicles, 12 million homes and one million commercial buildings.”

Would you guess the company makes thermostats, fire detectors, auto batteries and other equipment? Make sure you speak clearly so prospects know what you’re selling and how they might benefit from your solution.

Implementing these six best post-webinar follow up practices will ultimately add qualified opportunities to your sales pipeline, increase return on your marketing investments and drive additional revenue.

Dan McDade is Founder and President of PointClear, the prospect development company. Before McDade founded PointClear, he served VP of Marketing for the direct mail firm, Jackson & Perkins, and as President of UST: The Business Marketing Group. To learn more about PointClear, read and post comments on the PointClear blog.

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