Webinars? Let’s Try Digital Experiences For Size, Says ON24 Marketing Director Tim Johnston 

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B&T Magazine
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For B2B marketers, the word of the year in 2020 was undoubtedly ‘webinars’. But a leader in this space, ON24’s marketing director Tim Johnston, says its time to rethink how you deliver them.

On Tuesday, Johnston took a sledgehammer to the boring, banal—and sometimes detrimental—rules that have crept into modern webinars, during 5 Webinar Rules to Break in 2021, an online event moderated by B&T editor-in-chief David Hovenden.

In 2021, the ON24 marketing director believes its time for B2B marketers to stop calling their webinars ‘webinars’ and instead deliver them as ‘digital experiences’.

“If you think that you can get away with just running a traditional webinar these days, you’ve got to do a lot more than that, because there are brands out there that are truly entertaining their audiences,” Johnston says during the webinar, pointing to the likes of Thomson Reuters, among other brands.

“The robot scripts just don’t work in this day and age, so we can’t get away with just an audio-only execution, just a screen or a script—it just doesn’t work.”

He adds: “It’s time to get creative … these are digital experiences, and we need to think differently about them.”

But how do we, as B2B marketers, get creative with this format? Well, according to Johnston, you’ll have to break these pesky rules.

Rule No. 1: Webinars run at this time, on this day

Are you getting into the same rut of running your webinars on a Wednesday at 12pm? You’re not alone. According to Johnston, this is a common problem that ON24’s customers are encountering.

“They get stuck in the mindset of running a webinar at the same time … I see this time and time again,” he said. “We don’t need to do that anymore.”

Pointing to recent ON24 research findings, Johnston said audiences are consuming webinar content differently, with the typically popular Wednesday, Thursday and Friday slots shifting to make way for opportunities for early morning commute webinars, among others.

Rule No. 2: A webinar is a presentation

Are your webinars delivered like a PowerPoint presentation? Well, according to Johnston, it’s time to move away from that.

“This is probably my favourite rule to smash into pieces,” Johnston said. “Too often, marketers think about webinars as a presentation … think of webinars as a digital experience.”

These digital experiences could come in the form of Q+As, coffee break chats, or contain elements you wouldn’t associate with the topic of your webinar—like a mixology or yoga class. Think outside the box.

Rule No. 3: A webinar must be “live”

With a rise in on-demand webinars, the old rule that these digital experiences need to be delivered live is now outdated. According to Johnston, it’s a misnomer that has been around for a long time.

“If you’re not planning for an on-demand strategy, or don’t have one in place, you need one,” he said. “Otherwise, you are potentially ignoring up to 40 per cent of your audience.”

Johnston also had further insights on why webinars should not be a certain length, and why you don’t need to gate your webinars.

Keen to learn more? ON24’s 5 Webinar Rules to Break in 2021 is now available on-demand here.

Featured image source: iStock/South_agency

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David Hovenden ON24 Tim Johnston

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