Webinar Programme Design – and how it differs from Webinar Programme Strategy

Webinar Programme Design is one of the most important aspects of a successful webinar programme (and here’s a clue: it’s not about layout/UI design). In order to create success at scale, you will not be able to get by without spending time on your Webinar Programme Design. So what is it, and why is it so important? And why is Webinar Programme Design different than a Webinar Programme Strategy? Read on to find out more.

For context, you may wish to also read about Webinar Programme Strategy in a dedicated post. We explained that it covers the strategy specifically for your webinars, but without creating a standalone siloed approach. To be successful, the webinar programme strategy needs to consider – and integrate with – the wider marketing and communications strategy.

So if Webinar Programme Design is not about layout and UI, and it’s not about strategy, what is it about? Well, it is all about how the webinar programme is structured and organised. It’s about the processes that govern it and the output it creates. This may sound like it’s several steps ahead of where your programme is right now. And that may be the case, but if your ambition is to scale the success of your webinars, then you will need to address this aspect of your webinar programme early on. Lay the foundations now, and benefit from it every step along the way going forward.

Five Key Aspects

Let’s break this down into some basic components for illustration. Your Webinar Programme Design should consider and address these aspects:

  1. Goals
  2. Volume of webinars (needed, capable, justified)
  3. Resources, contributors and capabilities
  4. Stakeholders – who is served/supported?
  5. Processes

Each of the above five aspects serves a vital purpose in your Webinar Programme Design. We encourage our customers to get complete visibility and understanding of each aspect before defining their programme design. In practice, organisations often find themselves well underway with a webinar programme having not considered all five aspects. If that is you, make today the first day of the next phase – i.e. begin revising your Webinar Programme Design. Here are some pointers for each aspect:

1. Goals

Marketing and organisational goals are usually well known and communicated. However, do you have an understanding of what your webinar programme goals should be to contribute to the organisation’s wider goals? The most common goal for external-facing webinar activity is demand generation – little surprise there. But what results should you expect and aim for?

While some industry benchmarks help guide marketers, these benchmarks are based on averages and should probably only be used for later-stage evaluation of a webinar programme. In other words, once your programme has met internal goals, it becomes useful to compare performance against external averages.

So how do you define your own programme’s goals? Start with the organisational goals, e.g. “50% of pipeline should be marketing-driven” or “X-number of meetings should originate from marketing activity” to name but a few. These goals allow you to put a value or a number on the webinar programme goal. Then work your way back along a method that allows you to put webinar performance against it. This method could be based – for example – on:

  • proportion of marketing spend, or
  • previous performance numbers set against general growth goals.

For illustration – “proportion of marketing spend”:

  • Total pipeline needed to meet sales goals is $50million
  • 50% of pipeline should be marketing generated (i.e. $25million)
  • Your total marketing spend is $1million.
  • Your total spend on webinars is $100k, i.e. 10% of total budget
  • Goal for contribution to marketing-generated pipeline from webinars = 10% of $25million = $2.5million

Your goals should then inform and govern your considerations for the next core aspect: “Volume of Webinars”

2. Volume of Webinars

Ideally, the volume of your webinars is driven by your above mentioned goals. If, so far, you decided the volume and cadence of your webinars based on personal preference or other criteria, it’s time to rethink. If, based on the above example of your webinar goals, you know you need to generate $2.5million in pipeline from webinars, your next steps is to work out how much pipeline you can generate per webinar. This may vary, so work with averages.

If the answer is $250k, you should aim to run at least 10 webinars per year. If the answer is considerably lower, you will at some point reach an unattainable goal for your volume of webinars. While this is a subjective number based on your own organisation’s resources, your approach should also include ways of improving how effective your webinars are in generating pipeline. The format and content are only two aspects that can significantly influence your webinar programme’s ability to generate pipeline.

Aim for a balance between what volume is needed and what volume you are capable of delivering to the organisation with your existing resources and capabilities. This will give you a justifiable number of webinars. Your cadence of webinars should come from that volume, but the cadence should also be governed by other factors, such as seasonality, sales and pipeline activity, product releases, industry developments and events etc.

3. Resources, contributors, and capabilities

Your webinar programme design is also vitally based around your organisation or team’s resources and capabilities, which includes also contributors from other teams or even 3rd parties. Resources can include anything from your webinar license to the number or team members that contribute to or help deliver the webinar programme. We often find that organisations don’t have a dedicated resource for webinars, i.e. no dedicated programme owner. It often gets picked up by the marketing manager or perhaps even an intern as part of their role. In other cases webinars may be driven by a different team. For example, it may be the solution consultants who use webinars to run technical demos, when ideally that should be owned and organised by marketing to better align with the overall commercial goals.

In the vast majority of cases, organisations have all the resources they need, but they are just not allocated effectively. In some cases, organisations may simply not have enough resources and instead they make use of contractors to fulfil the role of a webinar programme manager. This is often also the case when the organisation does not have the internal capabilities, i.e. expertise/knowledge around running and innovating a webinar programme.

Be mindful of whether your team or organisation has the resources and capabilities to run an effective webinar programme. If not, put a plan in place to build it up over time, or – if time is of the essence – look outside of your organisation for help and support.

4. Stakeholders

Everything we discussed in the previous points may be in place, yet your webinar programme may still be at risk of running in a silo. Running in silo results in a lack of efficiency, integration and value. Identify early on who the webinar programme’s stakeholders are. This can be both in terms of who contributes to and who benefits from it. Often, you’ll find, there is an overlap between these two groups.

Stakeholders often come from these functions: Pre-sales / Solution Consultants, Sales, Product Marketing/Management, Field Marketing, Customer Success, and Professional Services. Creating visibility, transparency and inter-locks with these teams means you have an almost never-ending supply of contributors, but also a significantly increased number of promotional channels to amplify your webinars to the marketplace. Early communication and alignment with your stakeholders provides visibility and inspiration for webinar content, as well as producing good-will within your organisation. This has a positive impact on the resources and capabilities you have available for the webinar programme – see the previous point (“Resources, contributors and capabilities”).

5. Processes

Last, but by no means least, are the processes that form the nervous system of your webinar programme. The best designed webinar programmes have precisely defined processes for all aspects. Well-defined and detailed processes form the basis for one of the most important aspects of any webinar programme: predictability. And from predictability comes repeatability. And from repeatability comes scalability.

When webinar programme design allows for unplanned variability, it creates undesired knock-on effects. Measuring metrics, while possible, becomes inconsistent. This makes it difficult to repeat successes. Being able to consistently measure performance, being it good or bad, is key to improvement. At the core of that are consistent processes. The more scientific you make your approach, the more likely you are to tweak your webinar programme design to achieve the desired effect. Continuous improvement is vital to a scalable, successful and well-funded webinar programme.

In essence, your processes decide how well your webinar programme performs against the goals you defined in point 1 above. There are many processes to consider and you may not be able to define them all from day 1. But you have to make a start. Start today, by creating a blue-print of what you currently do. Then put against that what you think you should be doing instead. This visualises a roadmap of where you need to go.

Want to know more?

WebinarExperts supports organisations across a range of webinar topics, including webinar programme strategy, webinar programme design, and tactical webinar execution. To find out more, contact us or call today on +44 (0)330 001 5327.