The secret to MarketingProfs’ webinar success
Not everyone can pull off a paid model for webinars. MarketingProfs, a Web publisher of resources for marketing professionals, has built a successful subscriber-supported online seminar business off the back of a membership model for its deep repository of premium content.
MarketingProfs began producing webinars around four years ago, and currently hosts around three new online seminars per month; its archives hold more than 300 on-demand webinars, according to Chief Content Officer Ann Handley. The seminars generally pull in around 250 attendees; the last one brought in 410, she says.
The site’s online seminars are priced individually at $129, though Handley admits the publisher doesn’t get much revenue from one-off sales. Most of the attendees receive access as part of their Premium Plus subscription ($249 annually). In this regard, the seminars help to drive those paid memberships, Handley says.
Because MarketingProfs has full editorial control over the content, it has managed to keep the quality high and the topics focused on what editors feel are the most pressing issues for their audience. The speakers are hand-picked and must submit their presentations in advance to be vetted by a MarketingProfs editor.
“Because we’re charging for these, we have to make sure the quality is up to par with our standards,” says Handley.
Each seminar follows a basic formula: 90 minutes in length, segmented into a one-hour presentation and a 30-minute Q&A, facilitated by a MarketingProfs moderator. “Their goal is to take the questions from the audience and make it conversational,” says Handley. Another conversation starter is a live chat function that allows attendees to post questions or comments during the presentation.
Beyond the seminars’ contribution to paid membership, Handley sees the webinars as another asset for engaging the MarketingProfs audience and increasing brand loyalty. And attendees tend to be both engaged and loyal. Handley cites a 75% response rate to post-webinar attendee surveys, with 98% of respondents typically saying they would recommend the seminar to a colleague or a friend. “If it’s below 95%, we start asking why,” says Handley.
Handley acknowledges that MarketingProfs has been leaving sponsorship dollars on the table by only offering paid seminars. Next year, the company plans to begin producing sponsored Webinars, in which vendors pay the publisher to produce the events in exchange for qualified leads.
The plan is to produce the same high-level content, even though the vendors will now have influence on topics and speakers. “If it’s going to have your brand on it, you have to keep the quality safeguards in place,” Handley says.
Handley admits it won’t be easy to balance paid and sponsored webinar products.
“This will be more of a marketing challenge for us,” she says. “We’ll have to be clear about when you’re a lead and when you’re not.”