Advertisements
 

6 Reasons Lists are Awesome for Content Marketing

June 15, 2013

We all love lists

Photo credit: Flickr user born1945 via photopin cc

Introduction

Whether it’s a blog posting or a webinar, list-based content draws well. In fact, there’s a chance you clicked through to this posting because of the “6 Reasons” in the title (admit it). What makes list-based content so popular? Let’s count the ways.

1) They’re tangible.

Before you even click through to read a list-based piece of content, you already know that you can put your arms around it. By its very nature, a list makes a piece of content self-contained. It tells you up front what you’re getting: 5 of this or 15 of that.

2) Gives you a sense of pace.

Very rarely do I see a list-based piece of content in which each piece is overly long. You expect a rather brisk pace, as the author moves from one list element to another. Sort of like what I’m doing here!

3) Gives you a sense of progression.

Related to pace, list-based content ensures that you know precisely where you are. Let’s take a webinar. If the webinar has “5 Tips” in the title and the presenter is on tip number 3, then you know that you’re roughly 60% through her presentation.

4) Gives you a fixed beginning and ending.

Sometimes, you never know how long a piece of content will go on. List-based content tells you the ending point before you start. Even with a long list (e.g. “100 Reasons I Love New York”), you know when the piece ends.

And, if there’s a lot of content to consume, you know to pace yourself accordingly. With the “100 Reasons,” I’m apt to skim the list much quicker than “5 Reasons.”

5) Gives you the opportunity to pick and choose.

Consider a very long article. The further I progress, the greater the challenge for the article to “hold” me and keep me interested. If I know an article is 10 pages long and I’m not engaged by page 2, you’ve likely lost me.

Here’s where the “chunking” of list-based articles has an advantage. The first 10 of your Top 100 list may have lost my interest, but I can continue scanning through the list to pick out (and read) items of interest. I’m much more likely to make it to item 100.

6) Gives you convenient reference points.

In this era of social sharing, list-based content provides convenient reference points when sharing a post. For instance, if you like this particular point, you may be inclined to tweet this post and say, “I like number 6.” (feel free to tweet that now).

Conclusion

As a final point, my unscientific analysis tells me that list-based content tends to be shorter. So I’ve kept each point succinct, which makes this post short and sweet.

Advertisements

3 Simple (Yet Powerful) Features Every Webinar Platform Should Consider Adding

June 1, 2013

My advice for webinar platform providers

Photo credit: User laughlin on flickr via photopin cc

Introduction

I’ve planned many webinars and attended a whole lot more. Webinars are a tried and true vehicle for communication, lead generation, training and more. That being said, the user experience could be even better. Let’s cover three features every webinar platform should consider adding.

1) Scrolling tickers.

Scrolling tickers would be useful in webinars

If you’ve ever presented a webinar, you know that without fail, these two questions are asked every time:

“Will this webinar be available on-demand?”
“Will the slides be made available for download?”

This information should be provided to viewers at the beginning of the program (or, throughout it) – NOT during the Q&A portion at the end. But how can this be accomplished? With a scrolling ticker placed within the webinar console (a la CNN, as shown above).

Pre-programmed ticker messages.

The ticker could be programmed with a set of messages to be run in rotation. With regard to the slides, the messages could be:

“The presenter’s slides are available in the ‘files’ folder [above]”
“Slides will be posted to our blog immediately after today’s webinar”
“Slides will be emailed to you right after today’s program”

You’d program a similar message with regard to the on-demand archive.

On-the-fly ticker messages.

Webinar planners (or moderators) could then submit ticker messages on the fly, providing comments in context to the presentation.

Examples:

Re-share a great quote the presenter just said
Remind viewers to submit questions
Invite viewers to visit the presenter’s web site
Invite viewers to visit your web site

2) Enhance the “Q&A Slide”

How most webinars end

[Do I really need to stare at this for 25 minutes?]

Let’s say a webinar is 45 minutes long. The presenters complete their slides in 20 minutes and spend the next 25 minutes on Q&A. This means that the ending “Q&A slide” remains on the screen, unchanged, for 25 consecutive minutes!

This is a pet peeve of mine.

So here’s how to address this: dynamic slides. When presenters select a question to answer, they click an element in the presenters’ console. A new slide is rendered containing the question text. The webinar planner can choose a setting which determines whether the submitter’s name is shown next to the question.

Now, as viewers join the webinar in the middle of a presenter’s answer, they’re able to see the precise question being answered. Use this with the “on the fly” ticker messages and your Q&A session just got 200% more effective.

3) Copy SportsCenter’s rundown graphic.

Add a rundown to your webinars

In 2007, according to Wikipedia, ESPN’s SportsCenter introduced a “rundown” on the right side of the screen (later moved to the left). The rundown listed, from bottom to top, the upcoming highlights (or stories). If you see your team’s highlights listed in the rundown, you’ll stick around and wait to see it, thus keeping you viewing SportsCenter longer.

I’m NOT suggesting that a webinar rundown simply list the heading of each slide, a la the slide outline in PowerPoint. Instead, presenters should be asked to map out the primary segments of the webinar. And it’s these segments that should be listed in a rundown.

In a live webinar, the idea is to interest viewers in subsequent segments (to keep them around). In the on-demand archive, the rundown segments are clickable, allowing viewers to navigate directly to that segment.

Conclusion

OK, so perhaps these features aren’t as simple to implement as I might think. But they are powerful. Add these three features to your platform and I guarantee that your customers will produce more effective webinars.


Why I’m There On Pure Virtual Events

January 28, 2011

Introduction

Over on the INXPO blog, I wrote a posting on Why I’m There on Pure Virtual Events.  The posting was a counterpoint to an article written by Dave Lutz (@VelChain) of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting.

Dave’s Points

Dave made the following points on “pure” virtual events:

  1. Attendees value the content not the commerce.
  2. They tend to attract an entry- or mid-level professional that lacks enough buying authority or influence to deliver ROI to exhibitors and sponsors.
  3. Networking feels limited if it occurs at all.
  4. It’s difficult to build trust that leads to purchase through a virtual booth.
  5. When education is offered for free and archived, it’s easy to find something more pressing to do. Archived views are less valuable than live ones.
  6. And finally, most webinars stink. I can count the good ones I’ve experienced on one hand.

Point, Counterpoint

I provided some counterpoints to the points.  Here’s a link to the full posting:

http://inxpo.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/why-im-there-on-pure-virtual-events/

I’d be interested in your thoughts – questions include:

  1. What your thoughts on hybrid events?
  2. What are your thoughts on pure virtual events?
  3. How can webinars be more engaging?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts – thanks!


5 Tips For A Successful Virtual Trade Show

June 22, 2010

The following is a guest post from Craig Rosenberg.

On the 29th of June from 8AM to 4PM Pacific, I’ll be running my first virtual trade show: Mastering Lead Management.  At Focus, the company I work for, we’ve been doing webinars for our clients for years. But this virtual event is our first day-long comprehensive show.  To differentiate and make it as successful as possible, there were a few critical decisions we made during the show’s development:

We called it an interactive summit — To us, a virtual trade show or trades hows in general give the impression of a vendor bazaar where everyone’s main goal of the event is to get buyers introduced to vendors. Buyers expect more.

We leveraged all unbiased, third party content (no vendor pitches) — We have sponsors, but our approach to any content we create is all about making it “buyer-helpful,” that is, information that helps buyers do their jobs better or make more informed purchasing decisions.

We gave all sponsors full booth functionality — Instead of worrying about creating different pricing schemes for different features in the booth, we gave everyone everything we could.

    We think these decisions are at least in part the reason why we’ve garnered thousands of registrants to the event so far. Based on what I’ve learned and past experience with all kinds of trade shows, here are my 5 tips for successful virtual trade shows:

    1. It’s all about the content, it’s always about the content – All the blog posts and marketing we find today about virtual events is about minimizing environmental impact, shrinking travel budgets, etc.  While I think these points are interesting, we believe that if the content is compelling, they will come.  Think about it, despite all the marketing we are producing about people avoiding live events, they go and they go because they see value.  White papers, webinars, you name it, they all still work. But it’s about the content. Why would virtual events be different?  The answer is they are not.
    2. It’s all about the variety and volume of content – A virtual summit gives you multiple opportunities to peak a buyers interest with all kinds of content.  In a white paper or a webinar, it’s a one-shot deal.
    3. Content drives the types of leads you get – The biggest factor for the future of the virtual trade show market is ROI.  I can tell you that if you try to be something for everyone, then that’s what you’ll get.  Guess what, that is the problem with the traditional trade show market.  For successful lead generation, I’d suggest creating more targeted content and be prepared for less numbers.
    4. Virtual events are scoring machines – From a lead management perspective, virtual shows provide amazing activity data on attendees.  There is a lot of content available to participants and a lot of opportunities for interactivity. All of this should be collected and sent to whomever cares, such as sponsors.
    5. Understand why trade shows don’t work – This is a bit of a “reset” of the points above, but trade show attendance isn’t only down because of shrinking travel budgets. Trade shows are down because buyers have A LOT of choices for content to do their job better.  15 years ago, trade shows had a pretty solid hold on information. Now with the internet, information is everywhere without the time and resource commitments that make it harder for live trade shows to compete. What can you learn?  Well, people aren’t going to come to your event just because your show is virtual (and you don’t want them to), they are going to come because they see value.

    Craig Rosenberg is Author of The Funnelholic, his very popular B2B sales and marketing blog. He is also Vice President of Products and Services at Focus where he oversees product creation, management, and delivery. Prior to Focus, Craig spent years as a consultant for SalesRamp where he designed, built and managed lead-generation and inside sales strategies and processes for high-tech startups.

    During that time, Craig built lead generation machines at over 25 different companies in a variety of different high-tech verticals ranging from business applications to IT infrastructure. Because of his extensive experience, Craig acts as an advisor to Focus‘s clients, helping them solve a variety of different marketing and demand-generation challenges  You can visit Craig’s B2B Demand Generation Blog at www.funnelholic.com.

    Tweet this posting:


    Marketers as Event Organizers

    January 2, 2009

    Rebecca Lieb of ClickZ penned an interesting article titled “Marketers as Publishers”. Rebecca discusses the trend of marketers as full-blown content creators, especially in this age of digital media.  Examples cited by Rebecca include:

    1. Low cost video content creation and distribution (e.g. with a digital video camera to record and YouTube for distribution)
    2. Big brands creating original content (e.g. Bud.tv, along with Johnson and Johnson’s Baby.com)
    3. Creation and propagation of consumer generated media

    I agree with Rebecca – spending the past few years in tech media, I’ve watched the transition of technology vendors into prodigious publishers, with their mix of White Papers, Webinars, Podcasts, Case Studies, Videocasts and Product Collateral.  Some technology vendors are producing hundreds or thousands of pieces of content a year, giving their technology media partners a run for their money (on volume).

    Adding to Rebecca’s list, I think we’ll see an increasing number of marketers turn to virtual events – whereby marketers can easily morph into event organizers (in addition to publishers).  Perhaps you’re an up and coming vendor in an IT market – you see the benefits of doing a customer conference, but the business case isn’t quite there yet.

    With costs for virtual events coming down, you now have the opportunity to launch that customer event in 2009.  You do it online, making it efficient and convenient – and bringing its availability to a global audience of customers and prospects.  Take Quest Software as an example.   This maker of products and services for Enterprise IT has run virtual conferences the past two years.  Last year’s event was titled Quest Connect 2008 and included presentations (webcasts) on just about every technology produced by Quest.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Quest produce the same event (or events) in 2009 – so as you can see, they’re morphing into an event producer and event organizer (where the ongoing events occur online).

    With regard to consumer generated media (CGM), I’ve found that virtual events are a natural venue for fostering CGM.  Engaged attendees who participate in your event are not shy about expressing their thoughts and opinions.  You’re bound to see a lot of CGM around your products and services – and I’d argue that good or bad, the discussion and interaction  is valuable to your company.  In some cases, I’ve seen questions posed by attendees that are directly answered by other attendees.  How efficient!  Customer support (and prospect management) via CGM.

    So publishers (I mean, marketers), as you plan your activities for 2009, consider the virtual customer conference.  And, consider extending your (physical) customer conference into the virtual world.


    %d bloggers like this: