Case Study

Why The Second Fastest Growing SaaS Company Is Running Weekly Webinars

Lucas Johnson

You’ve probably seen this little bubble

Intercom Icon

in the corner of at least 1 of over 20,000 businesses that use Intercom, but if you haven’t, you probably know of Intercom through its rapid growth from $1 million in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) to $50 million in only threeyears. If that’s not impressive enough for you, did I mention they skyrocketed like this almost entirely through word-of-mouth marketing? Their growth has even been compared to Slack, the fastest growing SaaS (Software as a Service) company of all time.

But I’m not here simply to talk about Intercom’s SaaS achievements. I’m here to talk about Intercom’s success with webinars. Why does one of the fastest growing SaaS companies run weekly webinars?In this post, I’m going to examine how webinars have played an important role in Intercom’s growth. Later on, I will also be breaking down their most popular webinar to date and explaining the genius behind it.I was also fortunate enough to get some great insight into Intercom’s webinar processes from the one and only Phil Byrne — Senior Product Education Manager at Intercom. Phil is the master of video when it comes to Intercom’s product education, and you’ll often see him running some of the weekly webinars, including the one in this article!

Intercom’s Webinar Trio

According to Phil, Intercom runs three types of webinars, each with different goals. He explains them as follows:

  • Product-agnostic - “These usually have one of our founders or directors chatting with someone who is not from Intercom about a SaaS topic which both will be well-versed on and should be of interest to existing customers and non-customers alike.”
  • Product specific - “These are targeted at existing customers who have not yet used (or are not getting enough value from) features they already have access to in products they already own. There’s no real upselling element to these; people are invited if they have product X for a certain amount of time, but have not used feature Y. We want people to get value out of Intercom; word of mouth is the strongest form of marketing out there.”
  • Announcements - “We also occasionally have run webinars to announce new features, like a new integration or product feature. These again can be either marketed to existing customers who will benefit from the feature, or new prospects who might also be interested from lead generation channels.”

The Benefits of Weekly Webinars

Intercom runs multiple webinars every week, all focused mainly on product education. “But wait,” you might be thinking, “how does product education contribute to rapid growth?” Let me explain.

Increased Customer Lifetime Value

Educating customers on how to use their product more effectively has many benefits in and of itself. Intercom has many different features and settings, and educated customers are more likely to use more of the platform, becoming deeply integrated. Pair this with higher usage, and Intercom is likely increasing each customer’s LTV (Lifetime Value) and greatly reducing user churn, all by simply running a few webinars!

Helping your customers see the full value of your product is key to ensuring their loyalty, and webinars are one of the most efficient ways to foster that loyalty.

- Ruarí Galavan, Manager, Product Education, IntercomQuote from Intercom's blog post, How to reduce customer churn with webinars

Trial-to-Paid Conversion

These webinars are put on for trial and paying customers alike. By learning more about the product and actually putting it into practice with their business and further integrating it, trial users are more likely to continue through their trial period and then convert to a paid subscription. Not to mention they can also eventually upgrade to other products as they get introduced to them.

Product Expansion

Intercom has three different products, Respond, Engage, and Educate, which can be used individually or together.Intercom has a great product for expansion. You need to install it on your website, and the more you use it, the more valuable and integrated it becomes in your business. The webinar that I break down later on in this post was specifically for Intercom users who have the Respond product. Although they don’t talk much about their other products in the webinar, they do mention some tips for users who have them. An important thing to note is that they do not push people to get the other products. They even make sure to state that the webinar is specifically for those with their Respond package, and no other product is needed to get tons of value from the webinar.Even though they don’t talk a great deal about the other products, the casual mentions and tips for working with them starts to familiarize attendees with the other products and can plant a seed of curiosity in their head to start thinking about how they could use them as well. While it probably isn’t the main benefit that Intercom gets from these webinars, it’s safe to say that attendees are going to be more influenced to buy other products as opposed to those who don’t attend any educational webinars.I asked Phil about the benefits that come from running these product education webinars and he said, “The main reason we run our internal product webinars is to make sure there is a positive relationship between us and our customers. We really and truly want our customers and Intercom to be a great fit. So, if we can identify a possible gap in the benefit they’re getting from our products (using Intercom, of course) and make them successful in their endeavors through a webinar, we decrease churn, increase LTV, convert trial users, all that good stuff, by simply helping them be successful using a product we happen to make.”

Intercom’s Traffic Avenues

Intercom has grown almost entirely by word of mouth, so it makes sense that they use their ever-growing customer base to advertise their webinars from within their app.Using their own widget within the Intercom app, they message customers directly about their webinars. This allows them to target the right users in a familiar and effective way, with no added cost to them.

An example of a message from within the Intercom app for a webinar.

Paid Advertising

Intercom’s in-app messaging to their customers makes up the overwhelming majority of their webinar traffic. So much so that it doesn’t make sense to spend much time on their next leading source of traffic, display advertising.Don’t get me wrong, paid advertising can be one of the best ways to get more attendees, but Intercom’s target audience for these webinars is their existing users, so they don’t need to spend money on paid advertising to get a large turnout.

Intercom ran paid retargeting ads to their users, but I personally don’t think it would be very valuable to dive into the ads. They were only run for a short time and haven’t been used for almost two months, at the time of this writing.

Breaking Down Intercom’s Most Popular Webinar

Now that we know the benefits of Intercom’s weekly webinars and where they get their traffic from, I’m going to dive into their most popular webinar and break it down.First, let's start with their targeting and messaging. They target their current users with the Respond product and reach out to them via in-app messaging to invite them to the webinar. They use messaging that strikes a pain point for many sales teams (“don’t waste time with poor leads”) and offers a solution via webinar. What sales team doesn’t want to accelerate the sales cycle and convert more leads?

They follow up the messaging with the webinar date and time, a clear call to action, and a list of valuable things that attendees will learn in the webinar. The thing that I love most about this list is that the first point concerns how you will learn to set up automatic qualification. Because, while everyone would like to enjoy those benefits mentioned in the first paragraph, some of us feel like we don’t have time, or that it simply might not be worth it. After seeing I can automate something that will improve my sales team, I’m sold.After succumbing to Intercom’s well-written, targeted message, I’m taken to an awesome registration page. Each of Intercom’s webinar registration pages has a specific topic and concise description that appeals to their target audience for that webinar (in our case, it was a webinar on how to close more deals by better qualifying leads in Intercom, specifically aimed at Intercom users with the Respond product).

The top of the page features the webinar title and description, along with an appealing graphic that features the webinar date, pictures of the webinar hosts, and a “Register Now” button.

After the graphic, all the webinar info is neatly laid out in an easy-to-read section. The left side allows you to register easily, while the right side gives you everything you need to know about the contents of the webinar, such as who is hosting it, what you’ll learn, and whom the webinar is for.

At the bottom of the page, they display other upcoming webinars, so if this webinar isn’t the best fit for you, maybe another one is! This is a great way to give the most value possible to each person who visits the page.If Intercom had used paid ads to send traffic to the registration page, this section would help them make the most of their ad spend, since they would have a better chance of getting that lead to sign up for another webinar if this one wasn’t for them.

After registering, you get a little confirmation popup with the webinar date and time, as well as links to add the date to your calendar.About 24 hours before the webinar, you get a reminder email and a note that they’re offering five random attendees an hour-long call to help you set up Intercom. This is a great additional incentive to increase webinar attendance and overall excitement for the event.

Along with the 24-hour reminder, they also send a shorter one-hour reminder that contains all the info you need to join the actual webinar.Now that we’ve covered all of that, let’s get to the actual webinar!

Once the webinar begins, attendees are greeted by the (awesome) hosts of the webinar, Phil and Anna. They welcome everyone to the webinar, thank them for coming, and introduce themselves before jumping right in.They also have a professional-looking video setup with a nice backdrop. While not necessary, it does add to the perceived value of the webinar, and considering they use their webinar recordings for a long time, it goes a long way.

The first slide opens with a familiar image that we’ve seen before on the registration page. It might not seem like it, but something very important is happening here: Consistency. People, whether it’s consciously or unconsciously, want things to be consistent. It’s familiar, it’s comfortable, and it assures you that you’re in the right place.

The next slide is a quick and simple overview of what the webinar will be covering. Phil and Anna go over each topic, quickly explaining what will be discussed and what attendees can expect from the webinar.

They start off by reminding attendees of the pain points and problems you probably have with qualifying leads. They show the traditional ways people try to solve these problems and explain why they don’t work.

Then they dive deeper into each of those traditional solutions to explain what about them does and doesn’t work. If someone in the webinar is using one of these solutions, they might start to become aware of the faults of that solution and be curious as to what better solutions exist. Those who weren’t even aware of a problem with the traditional way of doing things start to become problem-aware.

After presenting the traditional remedies to your problem, they bring out their solution, which is a combination of the best traditional solutions. Even if someone watching the webinar already knew about Intercom and their solution for this problem, watching the explanation of why it’s the better solution would only help to drive it home that Intercom is the best app to accomplish this.

Once they’ve explained why Intercom is the best app for the job, they jump right into a demo of the platform, teaching people how to use it for their specific product, and showing them things they might not have noticed before, or things that may have seemed confusing previously.

Intercom isn’t a simple platform; it has many different parts and settings. Phil and Anna do a great job of simplifying everything, making it easier to understand with very concise graphics and explanations. This is incredibly helpful and valuable, both for attendees and Intercom. They’re removing obstacles for users, enabling them to utilize more of the platform with ease.

Next, they bring in some statistics to increase credibility. Using stats from some studies they’ve run, they introduce the data in a simple and clear way. It’s a simple data point: Visitors who are qualified through Intercom’s “Operator” convert to user 36% more than without.

Then they go on to explain how to use their qualification feature, which is optional and takes more time to set up, but makes the customer more integrated with the platform, increasing their LTV. Although it’s a seemingly complicated setup for some, the hosts do a great job of fully explaining the process, again removing more obstacles for the users.

Next, they introduce more statistics to further add credibility to this feature, and thus more reasons for users to take the time to set it up.

Near the end, they show the statistics again of all the different parts of the product and how each will help them convert more leads to sales. Showing this data all at once is a great way to get people who are on the fence to start using all the features.

After the educational demo and slides, they do a 25-minute live Q&A, which is the same length as the demo and slides. During this period, they answer questions that were asked during the webinar and even explain some questions by going into the platform and showing exactly how to do what was asked.During the Q&A, they ask a simple poll question about what integrations the attendees would like to see next in Intercom. This is an amazing way to get tons of immediate feedback from users. They were instantly flooded with responses, as well as reasons for those responses.

After the Webinar

24 hours after the webinar ends, the webinar replay link is mailed out to all who attended the webinar, along with a thank you note from Phil.

Before the replay link is sent out, the webinar replay is put up on Intercom’s dedicated webinar page, which is the same page where the webinar was advertised. Here it joins their other webinar recordings in a nice little library packed with value. Customers and curious prospects are welcome to browse the other webinar recordings and watch whichever webinar they find interesting. This is a fantastic way to get more value out of webinars after they’re over.

After the webinar ended, the recording was featured on their webinar page.

A Recap of Intercom’s Webinar Process

Intercom sets up a webinar with a specific topic and concise description that appeals to their target audience for that webinar (in our case, it was a webinar on how to close more deals by better qualifying leads in Intercom, specifically aimed at Intercom users with the Respond product).They target their current users with the Respond product and reach out to them via in-app messaging to invite them to the webinar. They use messaging that strikes a pain point for many sales teams (“don’t waste time with poor leads”) and offers a solution via webinar.They follow up with a confirmation email, and 24 hour and 15 minute reminder emails that include everything the registrant needs to know about the webinar.When it comes time to start the webinar, the hosts start off by introducing themselves with a friendly smile, thank everyone for coming, and then jump right into the webinar with a quick slide presentation.The first slides introduce the webinar and give an overview of what they’re going to cover over the next hour. The hosts then go over a few slides, explaining the different functions of the product, along with statistics backing up the reasoning behind why the product is the way that it is.After the short slideshow, the hosts share their screen as they give a general product demo, showing exactly how to do things previously mentioned in their slideshow.After around 25 minutes of their slide and demo presentation, they open it up to a live Q&A, answering as many questions as possible and even giving a demo of how to do specific things in the product. During this time, the hosts ask a quick poll question about what integrations the users would like to have on the platform.After about 25 minutes of the live Q&A, the hosts thank everyone for coming and end the webinar once they’ve given everyone their contact info if they have further questions.Up to 24 hours later, the webinar recording is hosted on Intercom’s dedicated webinar page, along with their other webinar recordings. Each attendee is then sent an email thanking them again for coming to the webinar and is also given the link to the specific webinar recording.

What We Learned

It may not seem like customer education webinars would play a huge role in growth, but Intercom uses weekly webinars to increase user LTV, convert trial users, and reduce churn.Sadly, Phil couldn’t share any of their stats with me, but he could say, without a doubt, that the webinars do work. “We analyse the effect of our webinars through user behavior pre- and post-webinar attendance, and they are absolutely beneficial from a user and a business perspective.”Intercom’s webinars are successful for many reasons, but a big reason is undoubtedly because they have great, educated hosts who are dedicated to teaching users how to get more out of the platform.That being said, it doesn’t take a dedicated webinar producer to get a ton of value out of webinars!Phil also offered up some great advice on making the most out of webinars: “I would say that a great live attendance rate, although important, is not as much so if you send out a recording of the webinar to ALL registrants. People register with the best of intentions, but sometimes life just gets in the way. Having a recording means your webinar has an impact far beyond the broadcast date, and you can still serve the content through targeted messaging to the right people as long as it remains relevant.”Thanks for reading, and a huge thanks to Phil as well for providing invaluable insight into their webinar process! I truly hope you got some value from this insight into Intercom’s webinar process.And while you’re here, I have one quick question for you: Do you use webinars in your business? If so, what kind of webinars? If not, what’s stopping you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions!

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