May 24, 2022
Teamwork makes the dream work. It’s a cheesy catchphrase, but it’s quickly becoming the key to success in the online events space.
The cold truth is that digital events are a numbers game. Unless you’re pouring your budget into paid ads, the reach of your virtual events is limited by the size of your email list, social media following, customer and employee base, and their willingness to spread the word.
If your product, content and marketing are good enough, that base will grow organically—but slowly. But what if you want results more quickly?
To paraphrase the great Ringo Starr, get by with a little help from your friends—through joint venture webinars.
A joint venture webinar is an online event hosted by two companies, where one of the two businesses makes an offer to attendees at the end of the session. Just by partnering with another company, you could double or triple your webinar's reach.
This works primarily by combining two related audiences into a much larger pool of interested potential leads, which confers lots of marketing benefits to both parties, as we’ll cover next:
Let’s return to the numbers. According to the latest Webinar Benchmarks Report, the average webinar registration rate is 46 percent. Of those registrants, 55 percent will show up to the session, meaning that about 25 percent of your invitees will actually attend the session.
So on average, you need to invite four people to earn one attendee—and that's before you account for any dropoff that occurs during the sales process.
Since sales pipelines are naturally leaky, you’re strongly incentivized to invite as many potential guests as possible (provided that they’re still in your target audience).
Through a partnership, you could possibly double or triple your potential audience pool in minutes—for free.
Of all marketing tactics, cross-promotions have the best cost-benefit ratio, making them a near no-brainer for any marketing team looking for a shot in the arm.
Here’s an example of joint venture webinars at work: Let’s say that Acme Company has 20,000 LinkedIn followers and 200,000 email subscribers, while Beta Company has 15,000 LinkedIn followers and 350,000 email subscribers. They team up for an online event, promote the event on their individual LinkedIn channels, ask their employees to share to their personal accounts and invite their email list.
The event gets 2,000 registrants and 1,100 attendees. On the list of registrants are 300 people from Alpha’s email list, 700 people from Beta’s email list, with the rest coming from LinkedIn. This means that Alpha nets 1,700 new subscribers from the event, and Beta gets 1,300 new subscribers.
Earning so many subscribers so quickly is good enough on its own. But even better is that each company’s gaining a critical mass of leads from an industry or field that’s similar, but slightly complementary, to their own.
A diversified subscriber/customer base has lots of strategic benefits: giving your company a foothold in new markets and industries, informing new product ideas or establishing new sources of thought leadership. All through a few partnered events!
Stats aside, joint venture webinars confer more value to your audience than your company can provide alone.
Every company operates within their specific sphere of expertise. And despite our best efforts, it’s difficult to branch out from our industry’s culture and skillset. But today, no industry can operate in a vacuum. To facilitate remote learning, teachers need to master eLearning systems. Content marketers need social media platforms and websites on which to promote their work.
More than ever, people need and want interdisciplinary knowledge—and joint venture events are the perfect vehicle for that kind of content.
Through a partnership, your company can present multiple perspectives on a topic or dig deeper than possible on your own. That produces higher quality content for your audience, establishing the credibility of both partners and encouraging new leads to follow up and purchase.
Imagine getting ready for a first date. Nerves and jitters abound. But if your date’s been personally recommended to you by your best friend, you’ll feel more reassured than you would if you found them on an anonymous dating app, right?
That logic explains the effectiveness of JV webinars not just in earning leads but conversions.
The objective of any marketing strategy—building your email list, hosting online events, etc.—is to earn your audience’s trust. You’re asking people who are totally inexperienced with your brand to take you at your word… which is a costly uphill battle.
With joint venture webinars, you can leverage the trust your partner’s followers have already established with that company—and transfer it to yourself.
The reasoning being: If you actively follow a company, you trust them and their decision making, so you’re more likely to trust the companies they choose as partners. If you trust that partner company, you’re more likely to buy from them.
If you can earn your audience’s trust for (almost) free, a paid ad targeted at an anonymous crowd of thinly targeted Interneters is suddenly much less attractive.
As explained by Thinkific: “You can see the difference in the conversion rate on your landing page. For example, let’s say you’re running an ad on Facebook and you’re getting a 15-30% conversion rate. Most likely, if you run a similar piece of marketing to the same landing page but through an affiliate, you will get a 60-70% conversion rate, because when a person lands on your landing page through an affiliate, they already trust you. They already know that somebody else is vouching for you”
“Anybody can put an ad on Facebook, but not everybody can build a relationship with a partner.”
Now that we’ve covered the “why” of joint venture webinars, let’s get to the “how.” You can’t just ask everyone to be your friend; consumers see through that act just like they did in middle school. So how can you ensure that your joint ventures are as impactful as possible? Learn more below:
We don’t need to tell you that some relationships look better on screen than in real life. Joint venture webinars work the same way.
Partnerships work to their fullest potential only when the companies involved offer complementary products, have complementary audiences, and people are interested in the content they can collectively produce. Here’s what we mean:
Two companies might appeal to the same type of person, but offer products so different that the partners can’t find a topic that organically combines the interest of both sides.
By necessity, the partners will have to choose a topic where one company has more knowledge than the other, putting one company in the hosting role while the other is relegated to silent sponsor status. While that session can still be successful, it won’t have the same mutual benefit as a joint venture webinar.
That's why your partner company should have a product that meshes well with your own. For example, that webinar software company might partner with a content marketing specialist for a session on incorporating webinars into a content marketing strategy.
This works because the companies are involved in opposite sides of the same process, and each company’s respective audience is likely to have knowledge of one side of the process than the other. That means that each company’s audience can learn something genuinely new from the “partner” company (i.e., the content marketing company’s audience can learn more about webinar marketing, and vice versa). Both audiences have a reason to tune in—and to follow up with the opposing company once the session’s over.
Following similar logic, the partner companies also need to have complementary audiences.
If you try to sell two separate audiences, with different needs and pain points, you’re more likely to generalize your message so much that it doesn’t actually connect with anyone.
It’s like a football team with two starting quarterbacks: If you’ve got two, you’ve got none.
But if your audiences overlap too much, you’re selling the same audience twice and canceling out the biggest benefit of cross-promotion: exposure to new faces.
Basically, you want to strike the middle of the Venn diagram. As you recruit partners, ask them about their audience size/demographics, then compare them against the reports from your last year of virtual events. If the audiences seem too alike, move on.
Finally, will people care? Returning to our webinar software and content marketing example, it seems likely that the two audiences would be interested in that partnered event.
But maybe our webinar software company’s followers only want information on constructing webinars, not leveraging them for marketing. Or the content marketing team’s audiences is more interested in podcasting and social media.
Mismatches in audience interest can tip a seemingly mutually beneficial partnership in the direction of one company versus the other. If Company A’s followers are interested in what Company B’s selling, but Company B’s followers don’t care about Company A’s product, that partnered event will generate much more business for Company B.
That means that each company should gauge their followers’ interest in the specific session topic before committing to anything concrete.
The biggest advantage of joint venture webinars is the larger audience size. Take full advantage by tapping into all of the marketing tools you—and your partner—have to offer. This includes:
Six weeks before your webinar, work together to create and distribute a promotional kit, including suggested social media and email copy and graphics, to ensure that both partners are promoting the event’s narrative and takeaways in the same way.
From there, start with a static post introducing the webinar narrative, date and time. Then post other pictures, related articles and short teaser videos hyping the event, all with the unique registration link.
Using copy from your previously made promotional kit, both partners should send their first invitation email one month before the event. Add graphics for each partner or better yet, create a custom graphic including both logos. After the initial invitation email, send follow ups one week and one day before the event.
You and the partner company can swap guest posts on each other’s blogs, which lets you dive deeper into the context and narrative surrounding your webinar topic.
Since the podcast format most closely mirrors the webinar environment, this is a great place to show, not tell, the audience what they can expect from your joint venture event. Leading up to the event, host a podcast or video series featuring the event host from your partner company, and vice versa. If your event hosts deliver engaging, intriguing podcasts, along with a promise for more, the listeners will know the joint venture webinar will be even better—and be ready to register.
Virtual events often include gamification, a series of challenges encouraging guests to engage with event modules in order to earn prize packs—bundles of products offered by the sponsors and exhibitors.
This advertising tool also doubles as an engaging activity for attendees. Apply that logic to your joint venture webinar by running a contest featuring prizes (free services, swag, etc.) from both partners. Run a raffle or giveaway open to anyone who shared a social post about the event. This way, your potential audience is spreading the word while you’re advertising for both of your companies.
Any webinar requires preparation, precision and practice, including the following:
The week of your event, conduct a dry-run of the webinar including your presenters. Although you don’t need to run through the entire script, ensure each presenter can access the webinar software, use their microphones and cameras, share files and offers, and trigger any desired interactive features (like polls, Q&As, etc.).
This will minimize the chances of disruptive event-day technical difficulties. Also practice transitions between speakers and solidify the overall run of show, as this will reduce the dead silences that sink sessions.
Finally, test your affiliate and call-to-action links so that your guests can take advantage of any offers provided mid-session.
That said, sometimes sh*t happens, ranging from one presenter’s connection cutting out to the entire webinar software crashing. The month of the webinar, create a “crash plan” laying out your and your partner’s response to both the disruptive and event-ending issues. With two parties involved, it’s even more important to clearly divide responsibilities long before the big day.
Your crash plan should be a step-by-step process that encompasses:
Bottlenecks and communication breakdowns are what turn minor mishaps into major obstacles. So empower your team members to present issues to one another in a way that minimizes lag time and maximizes efficiency.
You could post issues in a separate internal Slack channel, call team members directly, or set up a day-long video call specially for talking through these issues. Just make sure your support agents know where to go before they need to go there.
Updating guests on technical issues in a timely, transparent manner can make or break your webinar, as well as the reputation of both partners, so keep this top of mind throughout your Crash Planning.
If your webinar software is still operational, you can send push notifications and/or automated email with news to guests through the platform. If not, post any changes on social media. Besides providing updates, proactively offer your guests with alternative programming (if possible) through those channels.
Your guests are the backbone of the webinar, so treat them as such through honest, informative communication and a solution-focused approach.
Since your webinar is pulling attendees from two distinct follower bases, your audience members may be more familiar with one company’s industry/subject area than the other. If your viewers aren’t familiar with the context of the talk, they may be reluctant to submit questions or comments during the session.
Kickstart the conversation by asking your team members to submit Q&A questions in the chat. If those questions can spark additional ones among your audience, the presenter can shift to user-generated questions but if the room remains silent, this font of questions can still keep the activity levels high.
Congratulations! Your JV webinar generated a ton of captivated new prospects. Now, you need to capitalize on that interest to convert those audience members into qualified leads and, hopefully, customers.
Through software integrations, you can position your sales team to follow up minutes after your event ends. If your webinar software is integrated with your preferred MAS or CRM tool, all of the data from your webinar will automatically, immediately flow to that platform.
That "data" isn't just a list of names and emails, either. It includes a full transcript of the webinar's public chat, all attendee answers to Q&As and polls and more. With that rich engagement data, your sales team doesn't just know who to contact. They can approach each conversation with a clear vision of that attendee's marketing goals and needs, and tailor their pitches accordingly.
After putting so much energy into creating a great inbound marketing piece, empower your sales team to seal the deal for you. (PS: If you're using your own webinar software, be sure to send any analytics to your partner as well.)
The biggest advantage of cross-promotion is the ability to reach untapped audiences through your content. Producing one joint venture webinar is good. But repurposing that session across multiple platforms, each with new audiences and sharing abilities, multiplies that reach even further. That includes, but certainly isn't limited to:
Post your session’s most quotable soundbites to your company’s social media platforms, then tag your partner company and encourage them to re-share. This will elicit interest from new followers, this proactively supports your partner company and thereby strengthens your working relationship for future events.
Create white papers that support your points with additional research and context, then you and your partner can post them on your websites for the price for an email or phone number. By putting a permanent, physical form of your webinar on your website, you and your partner’s ability to generate new leads from the same content extends indefinitely.
Podcasts are essentially interviews in audio form, a dynamic you’ve already replicated with your joint venture webinar. On your webinar software, or another audio editing tool, you can remove messy portions of the session’s audio and convert it into a podcast.
Your company’s followers may not be prepared to commit to a purchase immediately post-event. And that’s OK: Sometimes it’s not the right time to buy. But you do want to remain top of mind so that when the time comes, they’ll turn to you.
So post-event, give attendees an incentive to move further down your and your partners’ sales pipelines. Offer discounted services, free trials and/or a giveaway to select members that subscribe to one or both partners’ lists after the event.
Want to learn more about how the world’s most innovative companies are using virtual events and webinars to advance their marketing goals? BigMarker’s Account Executives are here to help! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.