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How F5 Networks used webinars to take advantage of a new market opportunity

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Several years ago, the federal technology agency National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommended that companies should transition from 1024-bit RSA keys to 2048-bit RSA keys by 2011. (RSA keys are algorithms for public key cryptology, which enable digital transmissions, Web transactions and files to be encrypted for security.)

This is big news for any e-commerce or financial site since SSL transactions that have 2048-bit RSA keys will require significantly more computer processing power to encrypt and decrypt the data. This past summer, IT infrastructure and application delivery networking provider F5 Networks, seeing a market opportunity, created a new webinar campaign centered around these new RSA requirements.

“We knew that our customers, and really any larger websites out there, would be affected by this change and have to either buy a bunch of new equipment or face having their sites run slower,” said Kirby Wadsworth, F5 Networks' VP-global marketing. “We also knew our competitors would see this as a market opportunity, and wanted to get to all of our customers quickly with simple, straightforward information to help them understand the potential problems.” Additionally, F5 Networks said it wanted to market its BIG-IP product family, which solves the additional capacity issue without having to add new servers and processors.

From its inception, the webinar series, which debuted in October, was marketed using an aggressive e-mail campaign and paid search placement. F5 Networks also promoted the webinar to its partner community, which was encouraged to invite their customers to the event. The webinar—run three times in a single day to hit “all the time zones and locations, EMEA, Asia Pacific, and North America, around the world” —was also supported by a landing page that featured white papers and technical and product information.

F5 Networks decided to run three live events rather than simply recording it once and putting the archived footage on a website, a nod to the different requirements and needs of different audiences, Wadsworth said. “We wanted to make sure they were interactive so people could ask live questions and have them answered,” he said. “We felt like the impact [of the new RSA key requirements] might be different in different areas of the world. It's definitely going to affect Indonesia very differently than Germany, for instance. We wanted to make it as personal as possible.”

As people came to the webinar and clicked through to the landing page they, like all of F5 Networks' leads, were scored and qualified before being handed off to sales. Qualification and scoring includes title, how many white papers they download, and how long they stay on the company website. Once they are turned over to sales they are contacted within 24 to 48 hours.

Typically, F5 generates about 11,000 to 12,000 leads each month combined from the more than 50 marketing campaigns it is running at any time. The campaign has generated more than 3,000 inquiries. “The majority of people who downloaded the white papers, and attended the webcasts,” Wadsworth said. “The webinars have generated right now somewhere about $5 million in potential sales opportunities—that's pipeline.”

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