Last week I saw a press release from ReadyTalk announcing webinar integration with Act-On for lead tracking and qualification. I thought to myself, "Wait a minute… Didn't they just announce something like this recently?" A quick Google search later, and I saw that two months ago they announced expanded webinar integration with Marketo. A month and a half before that, they announced an extension of their integration with HubSpot.
I spoke with Beth Toeniskoetter, Product Strategist at ReadyTalk, to get a clearer idea of what was going on with all these announcements. She said it was all part of a conscious effort to invest in lead generation value for companies that host webinars. While ReadyTalk has its own built-in front-end and back-end functionality for webinar registration and reporting, it is understandably less comprehensive than the dedicated offerings of marketing automation providers who devote all their development efforts to lead nurturing software. Why should ReadyTalk try to compete with those fully developed and supported technologies when they can simply partner with them and allow customers to take advantage of the best aspects of web collaboration and marketing automation?
Beth told me that lead generation and marketing is the most prominent use case for ReadyTalk's webinar customers (employee training seems to be the second most common application area). The company is seeing rapid growth in both their managed services and self-service webinar activity, so they wanted a path to assist customers in achieving lead generation goals without having to wait for additional development/release cycles from ReadyTalk. By using well-known partner offerings, customers get a shorter time-to-value from their lead generation webinar programs.
We didn't talk about it on our phone call, but I see this philosophy tying in with ReadyTalk's Webinar ROI Calculator that I wrote about last fall. That version of ROI was clearly associated with lead-to-sale conversions as a measure of webinar success.
I asked Beth where ReadyTalk's own internal development was concentrated these days. She said that they continue to invest heavily in transitioning from Adobe Flash to HTML 5 / WebRTC for the underlying operational platform. They also want to expand the use of their Simulive automated playback of recorded content for live audiences. Currently, Simulive is intended as a managed services offering, and the company wants to make it easier for self-serve users to run their own automated events.
As a point of personal curiosity, I asked about ReadyTalk's integrated telephone audio. ReadyTalk is one of the providers that allows webinar attendees to choose to listen via streaming computer audio or telephone audio. The problem with phone audio from many vendors is a lack of dial-in numbers for countries that have been associated with phone fraud or that are seen as having insufficient use to warrant setting up connections. This can be problematic for companies with global prospects or customers. Beth sent me the list of countries with local phone access to webinar audio and I was impressed to see 84 countries including traditional "problem spots" from South and Central America, Africa, and Eastern Europe. You are still likely to have trouble with telephone connections to countries such as Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran… But the US State Department might want to have a chat with you before such webinars anyway.
I like seeing a steady stream of product announcements from webinar companies. It indicates continued dedication to development and customer support that is necessary to remain in contention as a complete webinar solution. ReadyTalk seems to be taking the right steps to keep themselves in the short list, particularly for lead generation webinars.