Argosy's Free Webinars Lead to Wave of New Subscribers and a SIPAward

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When you see numbers like a "1,000% increase in conversions from prospects to subscribers over the previous year" and a "27.27% trial-to-sale conversion rate," you take notice. So let's see what led to these amazing numbers for Argosy Group's Regulatory Compliance Watch Webinars in 2016—a campaign that earned the Simplify Compliance business unit a Third Place 2017 SIPAward for Best Lead Generation Program.

The big decision—which proved to be the correct one—that Argosy Group made from the previous year was to provide the webinars for free instead of selling them. The conversion success made "the subscription revenue earned from each of the prospects so much more valuable than the one-off revenue stream [they] received from these efforts in the past."

Here's how they did it:

The webinars focus on key benefits to that specific audience. They look at "the top regulatory concerns in the industry and the tools the viewers can use to help them survive an exam if their firm is targeted by the Securities and Exchange Commission." The audience is investment advisory chief compliance officer prospects so this focus is quite relevant.

There's a big certification incentive allowing attendees to gain necessary CLE/CPE credits to maintain their accreditation. During the webinar, the editorial staff provides attendees with two necessary codes to receive the credits, one at the start and one towards the end. "This ensures they stay on the line for the entire hour."

It's a short window from first email to webinar. Prospects and subscribers receive the first marketing campaign email two weeks prior to the webinar date. The series consists of five emails highlighting the topics and tools.

Webinar attendees were offered a 7-day free trial to Regulatory Compliance Watch. "If prospects fill out the form, the sales team is notified that the person has requested a 7-day free trial... and the appropriate representative follows up with the prospect."

Only subscribers have access to the tools. At the end of the webinar, attendees are reminded that only subscribers can access the recording and tools at any time online, using their Regulatory Compliance Watch account.

The webinars stay content driven. Because the subscriber benefits are inherent and prospects will be contacted later, the webinars can remain mostly sales-free and offered to both subscribers and prospects. The information remains current with up-to-date discussions from leading experts in the field.

Account execs do a comprehensive follow-up. Account executives call and follow up with prospects once they request access for a trial, either before or after attending the webinar. After the trial, account execs can check how often the prospects used the site and tools, and what topics most interest them. Prospects who did not attend the webinar are also contacted and offered a trial. They cannot access the webinar after it's over unless they subscribe or sign up for a trial.

The conversions support the strategy. "During the first year of the strategy to offer webinars to prospects for free, Regulatory Compliance Watch saw a 1,000% increase in conversions from prospects to subscribers over the previous year when we sold the webinars." The trial-to-sale conversion rate was 27.27%, very high for them. Given they have an 86% renewal rate, this initiative proved profitable.

The marketing highlighted the benefits. The webinar homepage highlights a subscriber call to action to get the tools featured during the event. There is also clear information on the certification credits that can be earned.

A follow-up email also highlights the benefits that only subscribers get. "Get more guidance, tools and CLE/CPE credits for IA Watch's Ethics webinar" reads the subject line, followed by: "Subscribers of IA Watch have access to additional compliance guidance, documents and tools on ethics."

Webinar marketing remains straightforward. The next webinar takes place Nov. 15 – Conquering Current Compliance Challenges. "Don't risk making compliance mistakes or spend countless hours creating new policies, procedures and practices without first hearing the compliance guidance Regulatory Compliance Watch will give you during this industry update."

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…