Join 10,000 other marketers already getting the best tips on running engaging events that boost pipeline and create raving fans.
Welcome to Event Marketers Live, a fast-paced series where we shake off the jargon and get honest with the humans behind the scenes of our favorite B2B events and experiences.
Erica Maki has reached over 100K+ attendees in her event programs. Early on, Erica's background was in sales. But as an Army wife, she prides herself in being exceptionally adaptable — and when she found herself stationed in the Mojave Desert, it was a remote role at Citrix that moved her into Customer Success and, eventually, Customer Marketing, where she tackled her first webinar programming project.
We chatted about how Erica drives value in Outreach's webinar programs. She's involved in everything from content planning, encouraging pre- and post-event engagement, and ensuring the email marketing for events works as intended.
Explore Erica’s top takeaways below, and catch all of her insight in the full episode.
Want to join the conversation? Register for the next Event Marketers Live event!
Here are the Top 3 Takeaways from this episode ⤵️
According to Erica, one powerful secret tip for webinar success is to use the first few minutes of your webinar to set the tone for positive engagement with your audience. If you start a few minutes early, you can use this pregame time to connect with audience members who are already signed in and ready to start.
The minutes before the official webinar can be magical for audience participation. Use this time to grab attention with a fun question or icebreaker game. Don't worry about getting too elaborate. Just think about an activity your audience would enjoy participating in and do your best to deliver something fun.
Remember, this is an opportunity for direct interaction with busy professionals who have taken the time to hear what you have to say. Help participants get the most from your webinar by providing a launching point for a deep dive into the content you are about to present.
When it's time to start, reintroduce your webinar topic and welcome everyone joining. Now you have a group of highly engaged participants to help new arrivers connect with the content.
When asked about webinar horror stories, Erica doesn't offer much. Instead, she credits this lack of relatable tales of event disasters to extreme pre-planning. She always has plans A, B, C, and D (at least) ready to go at any moment.
By just accepting that something could go off plan, you won't feel the need to panic. If anticipated and used correctly, unforeseen events during a live webinar can be opportunities to connect more meaningfully with your audience and show them you have a human side.
And it's undoubtedly better to realize that your guest's mic is turned off during the pre-show warmup than when you are ready to start the webinar officially.
Your pregame show is about building relationships with your audience and preparing them to receive the value you will deliver.”
According to Erica, the connection between you and your audience starts forming long before they log on to the hosting site. Engagement begins with pre-event emails that communicate value to potential attendees.
Crafting emails that resonate with recipients requires carefully considering how you present your topic. In addition, to create attraction with your emails, you must be clear about the value of your event for attendees.
Build creative and thoughtful subject lines by answering questions like:
Erica points out that your webinar topics should come directly from your marketing campaigns. By aligning the messaging for your webinar invites with marketing directed at your intended audience, you're more likely to grab attention and get more signups.
"Boring webinars are dead!" quipped Erica, and it's up to the event designer to find the proper aspect that will be a hit with potential attendees to promote.
Once you've designed the perfect messaging, it's time to turn your attention to when and how to get your message to your intended audience. You'll want to avoid oversaturating your list with invites. At the same time, being mindful of other communications your recipients may be receiving from your firm, you will want to contact them multiple times.
Pick a sensible schedule and use your email invites to incentivize and engage with your audience early. Again, the more relationship-building you can accomplish with attendees before your event starts, the more likely they will be receptive to your offer.
Erica stressed the importance of using an add-to-calendar app to automatically ensure that your event is on your users' calendars. With everyone's busy schedules, it's agreed that getting your event on your invitees' online calendars is everything.
One last tip Erica shared about pre-event communication strategy is an often overlooked yet powerful tactic. Erica calls it "The 24-hour send." It's an email you send out 24 hours before the event starts. The timing seems to work out for most people, and 24 hours seems just about right to give people time to plan without too much lead time to reconsider attending.
When Erica plans for an event, she relies on her experience to think through the desired flow and content and recruit the right mix of presenters. She often finds speakers internally, but she also partners with other webinar hosts and uses Linkedin Groups to locate authentic and credible presenters.
Try to pull a variety of voices that will help your audience gain insights from different perspectives. A winning webinar balances thought leadership topics with practical day-to-day, hands-on advice, demos, and tangible takeaways.
You know instinctively if your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) will respond more favorably to a subject matter expert explaining advanced topics or a lively panel discussion with questions from the audience. Mix it up. Think creatively about your subject and try to select speakers who will offer new insights and provide value to your audience.
When working with guests, it is critical to have backup plans if the lights go out at a remote location or if you lose the feed. Communicate every possibility with anyone you share the stage with so they know what to do and you know what they will do in any situation that arises.
Pre-event contingency planning is a significant factor in how confident your speakers will feel working with you. Take care of your presenters by building their confidence in the event plan. Let them know that you have everything behind-the-scenes under control, and they can relax and focus on conveying their message.
The days of the after-event survey are dwindling. So, toward the end of your event, take advantage of having a virtual room full of engaged participants ready to share their feelings about what you just offered them.
It's easy to miss, but the value of these engaged users with your product fresh on their minds is massive. How often do you get a chance like this?
Polls are one of the best ways to get authentic reactions from warm prospects. So do your sales department, executive suite, and yourself a favor and launch a short poll towards the end of your event.
Developing effective event strategies can take time and require a lot of thought and preplanning, but the payoff is the ability to nurture different levels of your sales funnel efficiently.
Thanks so much for joining us, Erica! That’s all for now, but we’ll see you soon for another episode of Event Marketers Live.