The digital age has provided a plethora of tools for businesses to market themselves and interact with their audience — both current and potential clients. Email marketing and social media platforms alone have forever changed the way companies engage with the public. But one of the most useful digital marketing tools is frequently overlooked by many organizations: Webinars.
Webinars are useful on many different levels. First, they make your company stand out from the pack, giving you authority and representation as the industry experts in your field. This works similarly to publishing blog posts or LinkedIn articles; when the public wants to know about a particular topic, they’ll look to your company as a valued resource.
More so than web articles, however, webinars offer an excellent method of direct interaction with potential leads. You’re bringing them in to take part in a special live event in which they will receive valuable information and be offered the opportunity to ask questions that will be answered on the spot.
Another benefit to webinars is that the content can be recycled afterward. It can be turned into a YouTube video to grow your list of followers, or shared with prospects who registered but were unable to attend the webinar. Chances are your company can also reuse the content, at least parts of it, for a later webinar.
The cost of a webinar can run between $100 and $3,000 depending on the technology and platform used as well as if you need to outsource the slide deck creation. But surveys indicate that webinars are a worthwhile investment. A poll run by Ascend2 found that 43% of marketers found webinars to be a highly effective marketing tool.
Sketching Out Your Webinar
The first step in webinar planning is defining a goal. Would you like to promote a product or a service? Will the webinar be an instructional workshop strictly to educate your audience?
No matter your goal, make sure your webinar is customer-centric. This means that it needs to be something that will contain information that’s valuable to your audience. What would they like to know and what tips or wisdom can you impart to help them learn more? What are their business challenges, and how can your product or service help solve these problems? If you talk about something your company is selling, remember to keep the pitch focused on results for the audience, not features of the product.
When crafting a webinar title, approach it just as you would a blog or article title. Avoid anything that’s too clickbait-sounding; craft a title that will generate curiosity, enthusiasm, and interest. Make sure your title accurately represents the content that will be presented.
When putting together your webinar, start with a general outline of specific items you’d like to cover, based on common questions your leads have or the kinds of problems you often help your clients solve. Then create a script based on that outline. After this, you’ll have enough of a vision to put together slides for the presentation.
It’s worth repeating: the point of a webinar is to deliver information that is valuable/useful to your audience even if they don’t purchase your product or service. If there is a sales pitch, push it to the last part of your presentation in order to deliver the value up front.
Plan for your webinar to last approximately 30 to 45 minutes; if it stretches far beyond that, your audience will begin to lose focus. Also, make sure to include a Q&A session at the end (and plan this into the overall time of the webinar).
In addition to being knowledgeable about the topic, the webinar presenter should be passionate and enthusiastic. Plan to keep the presentation interesting in order to engage and entertain your audience.
To ensure that the webinar runs smoothly, practice it a few times. This is the only way to ensure that you don't end up having to adjust your timing midway through in order to cover all of your material. Truth be told... I script every webinar I give, slide by slide. It avoids using unnecessary transition words -- "And so..." and it cuts out the time-wasters (um, I mean, you know, etc.). And if you are responsible for introducing yourself, script that, too. No one wants to hear a presenter blather on about their accomplishments when there is meaningful material to be shared.
Want more tips? You'll find them in How to Create Presentations Your Audience Will Watch Start to Finish.
With webinar in hand and ready to go (or at least with the title and main topic points laid out), you’re ready to begin promoting the event. There are a variety of digital channels available for webinar promotion, including your company website, blog, email newsletter, and social media channels (where you should create posts and run paid ads). Craft LinkedIn articles and guest blog posts that include a registration link, and send out webinar details to your email newsletter contact list. Consider asking partner businesses to promote the event.
It will also help to segment your email and social media audience to ensure that you’re only reaching out to the portion of your audience who will be interested in the webinar topic.
All promotional communications should be straightforward and include details about what the event will offer. According to ReadyTalk, starting about three weeks out from the event is ideal; this will give you time to build enthusiasm by trickling new information about the webinar (as well as give your audience time to plan to attend).
Make signup simple and straightforward. After receiving registrants’ names, emails, and phone numbers (if they’ll provide the latter), you’ll be able to send them event reminders via their preferred contact method.
Wrapping Things Up
After the webinar, send out a personalized Thank You email to all of the attendees with a link to either a PDF of your slide deck or the recording. Make sure you include a special offer (it's now okay to promote your offerings a bit) and invitation to join your email list.
Typically, only about half of all registrants actually attend the webinar they signed up for. Don't write off those contacts just yet! Follow up with a personalized message to this audience ( "Sorry you missed it, here's a link to the recording"). There are likely contacts who are interested in your presentation but couldn’t attend due to a last-minute change in schedule. ReadyTalk found that between 20% and 40% of webinar attendees will turn into qualified leads, making this a marketing tool that should not be ignored.