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Essential Webinar Advice from James Harley of Drewry Shipping Consultants

CoronavirusCovid-19Digital EventsDigital SeminarsDrewryEvents Management PlatformLive EventsOnline EventsResourceWebinars+-

We were very fortunate today to share the wisdom and expertise of James Harley, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Drewry Shipping Consultants. James has many years of experience in providing global webinars, coordinating both morning and afternoon sessions of the same event to fully service the global community. We thought James’s experience and knowledge would be very useful for anyone looking to take advantage of these virtual seminars - in the wake of mass-cancellations of physical events brought about by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

High Worth and Pin-Point-Targeted Events

James was adamant that you think very carefully before you offer up any event. Now that near everyone is working from home - there is an overabundance of ’digital noise’, and if you don’t approach each webinar delicately you will exacerbate the fragility of the situation and turn your audience off.


It means each event has to be of high currency and practical relevance - offering real and practical solutions for coping with what’s going on right now. You should in fact err on the side of caution, and ensure that instead of having a full extended programme of events, you rather concentrate on just the apex of that, and certainly don’t try to do any sales-leads leveraging, but reflect your category leadership status by offering your membership and customers - genuinely practical and useful solutions to their immediate challenges.

Contact Lists, Conversion Events and the Mechanics of Targeting

Few companies use Affino’s Conversion Events and Contact Lists to better effect than Drewry. James sets up extremely elegant workflows around each specific campaign - which gathers intelligence based on customers’ and members’ interactions with content and messaging.


All that intelligence gets gathered by Conversion Event Triggers - which in turn are used to populate strategic Topic-related Contact Lists. And while there are a number of automated triggers, James also applies some manual due-diligence into ensuring that all the right interested parties are on that list.


Meaning that when communications go out about events relevant to the engaged audience with the matching Topic categories and conversion events - you can be very sure it’s hitting exactly the right interested parties.

Messaging and Frequency

While it’s important to keep your communities and membership engaged, it should not be a matter of high-frequency of events, rather an informed schedule of properly worthy webinars - where you announce the next one in the follow-up communications of the current, or just taken place one.


In fact the Webinar announcement / invitation to register is only actually sent out twice. Everyone who responds or reads it the first time around is removed from the second mailing - so you minimise the chance of messaging fatigue or inadvertently putting off existing converts.

Audience Rationalisation and Final Pre-Webinar Communications

Once you have completed your two Webinar Invitations mailings, you double-check the audience list, which for Drewry can vary from 50 to 700 - depending on the popularity of the Topic. Up to this point everything has been handled via the Affino Platform, but in the final stages there is hand-over to Drewry’s Webinar software of choice which is GoToWebinar.


GoToWebinar handles the actual registrations for the Webinar, and the final event messaging - which is of the alert variety goes out 4 times in advance of the Webinar - 1 week, then 1 day, and then finally a 1 hour alert.


The essential data / intelligence that Drewry then draw out of GoToWebinar is who actually attended on the day.

The Format of Drewry Webinars

Drewry are huge advocates of brevity - meaning that each Webinar session in totality takes up no more than 30 minutes - which means 20 minutes of talking, followed by 10 minutes of Q&A.


Drewry Webinars tend to be formatted in one of two ways: the first is to have a Host/Compere that does the introductions and scene-setting for a couple of minutes - before handing over to an Industry Expert. Alteratively the key session is shared by a Drewry Category Expert and Pertinent 3rd Party Industry Representative - who can give a first-hand account of real and practical measures being taken to meet the challenges being discussed.


The Audience is most interested in proper first-hand real-world accounts and scenarios that they can directly relate to and learn from. Which means it is essential to have real-world industry representation at these Webinars - rather than just talking around generalities.

Webinar Recording, Follow-Up and Final Q&A

At the actual Webinar Events there is usually a flurry of Questions right at the end, which cannot all be answered within the allocated 10 minute period. To which ends Drewry provide a transcript of the Q&A with edited highlights from the overflow - which is included in the post-webinar message follow-up.


The Webinar is always recorded and Drewry use Vimeo to store all their Webinar Videos. All those who registered for the event get sent the follow-up message, which includes reference to the recording, the Q&A Transcript and details of the next event.


Beyond a link reference on the Drewry Website referring to the Vimeo Recording, no other reference to the even details is retained. There is no PPT or equivalent format of the Webinar or write-up on the website, and the only place the Q&A is referenced is in the follow-up mailing

10 Key Points on Considering Webinars

  • Don’t over-do-it or overwhelm your audience - and be brief at all times!
  • Be very aware of ’Digital Noise Fatigue’
  • Always place Quality over Quantity
  • Take a leadership / benevolent position, don’t try to monetise every Event or make a sales opportunity out of it
  • Don’t over-do your messaging or follow-up, too many messages will turn people off
  • Accurate Audience Definition and Contact List Management is Essential
  • Make use of Conversion Events and Topics to be able to accurately and properly track members’ interests
  • Ensure that your featured speaker is a relevant Industry Expert imparting real-word experience and practical solutions
  • Make sure you provide more added-value - there will be others trying to do the same thing as you
  • Only do Webinars that are wholly worthwhile to your target audience - do not have hidden agendas
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