BusinessWatch Network’s Journey to Launching an Online Training Powerhouse
July 29, 2021
BusinessWatch Network (BWN) opened a new revenue channel with a paid webinar program on their website, achieving two to three times the conversions anticipated. BWN’s goal with the program aligned with their company philosophy: deliver high-quality, relevant B2B content to their newsletter verticals, all while building goodwill with subscribers.
BWN had already provided training in the B2B space on a diverse range of topics, including: Human Resources, Leadership, Management, Finance, Workplace Safety, Admin Skills and Presentation-related topics. BWN wanted to package these trainings to sell via registration to their subscribers. To do this, they needed a new website that would support the initiative. At the time, their website wasn’t scalable or flexible enough.
While they were in the consideration phase, Marcus Ulian, Director of Marketing Services at BusinessWatch Network, met ePublishing at a SIPA conference in Washington D.C. and found ePublishing had the capabilities and expertise the company needed.
We spoke with Ulian about the company’s experience.
ePublishing: What pain points did you have with your previous website and how did you map the ePublishing solution to solve them?
Marcus Ulian: Our previous website, built on a Joomla platform, was very difficult to use and build new pages for. It was also incredibly hard to integrate ecommerce solutions that the modern-day B2B customer is used to experiencing. When people are engaging with content, from our emails to our web pages, how are we able to collect usable first-party data? How can our team quickly sync data into our own internal databases? Most importantly, how can we use this data for actionable re-targeting efforts? It was clear BWN needed a solution, and ePublishing checked the boxes.
Overall ecommerce revenue increased 350% YOY since the deployment of the ePublishing CMS. Organic website subscriptions increased by 125%.
ePublishing: You’ve had great success with webinar sales. What do your webinar training programs entail and how have you made them so successful?
Ulian: The success of our webinars starts with our stringent process for accepting speakers. Each of our speakers is an industry expert in their respective fields/topics. No cutting corners on the production side either, with professional moderators, engaging sessions, fantastic handout materials and immediate customer support. It’s no wonder our customer reviews average 4.5/5 stars. BWN has a wide range of webinar topics, spanning across multiple verticals. We're usually running between 10 to 15 webinars a month. All of the registrations and payments are being completed on the ePublishing site.
Just like with any ecommerce business, great landing pages and a quality checkout process are critical. ePublishing was able to help us out with both considerably. They not only provided the technology behind those projects, but they also provided ongoing support to help market our webinars more effectively. It felt less like a technology relationship and more like a business consulting and marketing relationship, which was refreshing for us. ePublishing’s insight (from years of experience and hundreds of different publishing companies) helped guide us in a direction for growth.
“ePub not only provided the technology behind those projects, they also provided ongoing support and solutions to help market our webinars better.”
To be a subscriber of one of our newsletters is free. But we wanted to break into the paid-subscription business, and, alongside that, we had this whole idea surrounding B2B webinar training and different ways we could make that work. Historically, we would use outside landing pages to capture sales (subdomains and/or partner landing pages). This was a wildly ineffective route. You can’t put a value on keeping your people, on your site, all the time.
We're about to launch our all-access training pass. It's a site-wide access pass, an annual subscription where individuals can log in and access all of our webinar content on demand for a single price. That was what we wanted to do from day one. With a partner like ePublishing that understands paid subscriptions and the intricacies of building successful sales funnels, we were well prepared.
ePublishing: What features have made the most difference in terms of ePublishing and its capabilities?
Ulian: The GraphQL API was a critical piece to the integration. As you can imagine, we had to manage a considerable amount of data during the onboarding process. That's where the GraphQL API came into play. The custom GraphQL API we built alongside ePublishing development team runs automatically every single day. The API is integrated with our backend databases, providing BWN’s data, content, and business development teams the functionality they need.
The byproduct of high-quality engagement is high-quality B2B data. As a B2B company, we focus on collecting all types of behavioral and intent data on what our subscribers are reading so we can better target content and offers. If you’re a publishing company and you have no pulse on your subscriber data, you’re positioning yourself at a disadvantage.
Any content, whether it's consumer-targeted or B2B-targeted, you better have an understanding of your audience. We've been doing this well for a long time. It’s a major reason for our successes over the last 18 years.
In BWN’s case, our engagement starts with our newsletters. One of the main draws with ePublishing was that they had an industrial-grade solution for building out email newsletters. We received all-new templates for organizing newsletter content. The beauty is, the templates are integrated with the website. There was a handshake between the email newsletters and website data flow.
ePublishing: You probably had to work pretty closely with the team at ePublishing to pull in that historical data. What was that process like?
Ulian: That was definitely a heavy lift on the ePublishing side. We have all these subscribers and suddenly we have to create accounts for each one of these people on the new site. We had different settings and preferences for each subscriber. I believe that was the initial “oh no” moment: We need to build something. No way we can send billions of rows of Excel files over and over.
ePublishing: Have you experienced any unexpected benefits using the platform?
Ulian: I don't think any of us were expecting to see the type of conversion rates we're now seeing. We were essentially launching a new division of our business, so, whenever you're launching something new and it's untested, you don't know how it's going to perform in the marketplace. An unexpected bonus would be that we saw two to three times more sales than we were expecting.
“An unexpected bonus would be that we saw two to three times more sales than we were expecting.”
ePublishing: Do you have any advice for publishers, particularly in terms of migrating to a more modern platform?
Ulian: Have a clear idea of what you're trying to have your customers experience. I made this mistake. We were looking more internally (teams, products, services) as to exactly what we wanted to accomplish. Remember, you're building the new site, building in all the capabilities, for the customer. That's where the focus is. Whatever type of market research you need to do prior to the build, make sure you have an accurate representation of your customer base so you can make the right decisions from day one.
Focus on personal bandwidth. An individual can only digest so much digital content on a daily basis, and it's important you recognize that whatever you're trying to get in front of somebody's eyes, you're competing with a lot of digital players. If you're a company that feels like you have to get different offers and different pieces of content on people's eyes 24/7 (this may work for some companies) you may find diminishing returns. Oftentimes quality is better than quantity.
We've been happy with the ePublishing product as a whole, and we're looking forward to not only being a customer but also a partner. We've had a lot of different data and technology needs. Most tech companies, once you sign the line, they got ya. Then, you're trying to get somebody on the phone and there's no personal connection. All the individuals that I've met at ePublishing have been fantastic. The team at ePublishing really has a vested interest in the success of your projects. The people make the difference.
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