How to Drive Better Webinar Engagement with SMS Marketing

Becca Fischer
Events Marketing
Marketing Automation
Marketing Strategy

Since the first quarter of 2020, the number of B2B webinars has grown by 162%, with over 61 million hours of viewable content available. This rapid growth has not only led to “webinar fatigue,” but has also created a choice overload for webinar registrants and attendees. In this environment, marketers are now pressed to drive better webinar engagement in a flooded marketplace. 

That means potentially reaching past email as the traditional webinar reminder channel to connect with your registrants. Let’s discuss how you can drive webinar engagement with SMS marketing.

SMS marketing

SMS Marketing: Paving the Way to Direct Customer Engagement

The SMS marketing channel is capturing the attention of the modern marketer, and for good reason. Over the past few years, SMS marketing has evolved from mostly transactional messages. It has expanded into personalized reminders, product offers, loyalty discounts, and more, all of which contribute to building better brand experiences with customers. 

SMS allows marketers to reach prospective and current customers where they always are – on their mobile devices. And with a read rate of over 97% (compared to 20% for email) your reminders and notifications can cut through the clutter. 

Using SMS for webinar reminders, registrations, and confirmation messages can ensure marketing messages are seen and engaged with on a timely basis. However, this doesn’t mean you can just start blasting your database’s phone numbers. Legal SMS marketing requires the user to specifically opt-in prior to receiving any communications, and industry best practices guide marketers to be clear about expectations for the type and frequency of messages. 

When done right, SMS marketing can be a powerful tool in your marketing toolbox. In fact, we’ve recently implemented SMS marketing as an addition to our webinar programming efforts, and the results are too great to keep to ourselves. 

Use Case: Transform Webinar Engagement with SMS Marketing

Here at Act-On, we recently implemented SMS marketing to improve the experience and effectiveness of our webinar programming. First, we included a choice to opt-in for SMS reminders when registering for any of the webinars on our ongoing educational calendar. On average 20% of our webinar registrants sign up for SMS reminders. Interestingly, even though that percentage seems small, it has brought important results for our webinar marketing program. 

  • Our average attendance rate for webinars is between 20-25%
  • Attendance rate for webinars has increased by nearly 80% since implementing day-before and day-of reminders via SMS.  
  • Overall SMS opt-ins on webinar registration forms grew from 12% to 25%.

How We Implemented SMS Marketing to Boost Webinar Engagement

As you may have assumed, it all starts with getting SMS opt-ins. To begin, we simply added the appropriate fields to our registration form, and began building our segmented SMS marketing lists.

With SMS opt-ins it’s important to communicate the expectations upfront. For example, let your registrant know how you will be using their mobile information, and include a privacy policy statement similar to what you’d provide for GDPR guidelines. These steps are actually required by law in most countries. 

Once we started to build a list of webinar registrants who wanted to receive reminders via SMS, we built out a plan, and wrote up short reminder messages to go along with each of our webinar topics. We further enhance the entire SMS experience by ensuring the individual’s message is personalized. Making this experience personalized is key to enhancing the overall effectiveness and authenticity of SMS communications. 

For example, our SMS reminders include the registrant’s name, title of the webinar, and unique Join URL to make it not only personalized, but convenient to join the webinar from their mobile devices. This is accomplished by using the personalization fields in Act-On’s SMS composer dashboard. This adds a thoughtful touch-point for your recipient, and makes them feel seen. 

After the first event, keep your webinar audience engaged by sending future webinar invites by SMS (as long as they are expecting further communication via SMS). Instead of blending in with other webinar invites in the email inbox, you can invite them with a personalized message and shortened link to the next event’s landing page. 

Reporting on SMS Success and Scoring

It’s one thing to create an SMS strategy, but it’s another to report on it. Similar to your other marketing channels, it’s important to track the performance of the SMS channel. Ensuring you understand who’s engaging with your messages, when they’re being opened, and checking the deliverability rates will only grow your SMS credibility.  

Additionally, scoring your recipients on how they engage with your SMS communications can paint the full picture of your brand’s SMS success. If someone clicks on the link in an SMS message, assigning them the proper score enables you to measure their engagement with SMS and your content. 

Thoughtful Use of SMS Can Boost Your Webinar Engagement and Lead to More Conversions for Your Business

SMS marketing requires a thoughtful, strategic approach, and should fit seamlessly into your marketing strategy, while also taking into account the user’s experience, interests, and needs. 

As you can see from this use case example of SMS marketing to enhance our webinar program, SMS can be highly effective. Learn more about how to cut through the noise with timely, relevant, personalized, and positive messaging in our on-demand webinar on SMS marketing. 

5 Takeaway Tips to Use SMS Effectively:

  1. Ensure the individual is opted-in to receive messages from your brand
  2. Limit the number of sends to engage your audience without overwhelming them
  3. Schedule your messages ahead of time to ensure an efficient process
  4. Experiment with various lengths, content, and types of messages you’re sending
  5. Use your data selectively to create authentic and personalized experiences