Experts discuss how to put together and market an online seminar that will attract prospective customers and hold their attention.
Webinars continue to be a good way for companies to engage with prospects and generate revenue. But you can’t just decide to have someone, even if it’s the CEO, chat about a topic a couple of days beforehand, post a notice on your website and/or social pages and expect hundreds of people to tune it.
To have a must-see webinar, one that’s well attended, engages viewers and makes them want to find out more about your company, requires careful planning and marketing, as outlined in these 11 tips.
1. Choose a topic that will be of interest to your target audience
“Do your research and choose a topic [prospects] care about,” says April Runft, senior content specialist, kCura. Then “craft your promotional materials to show them why they should invest their time with you. And don’t tell them how great your product is. Done right, your webinars [and other content] will lead them to that conclusion on their own.”
“When deciding on a topic, focus on new and popular topics in [your] industry that haven’t already had hundreds of webinars on them already,” says Ryan Malone, founder & CEO, SmartBug Media. And “choose a topic that showcases your unique industry expertise and intellectual capital.”
2. Feature an expert
“The success of our webinar program comes from connecting our audience with true experts on individual topics,” says Henry Link, senior marketing program manager, Paycor. And the expert doesn’t necessarily have to be someone from your company.
“The audience doesn’t want you to pretend your company is the master [of] every topic,” he explains. In fact, “they’ll respect you more when you can connect them with experts in the field. Just make sure that your products and services help support [or are relevant to] the topic being presented.”
“Inviting experts is a win/win as they have a platform to share their expertise and you gain access to their networks, invaluable in webinar promotions,” says Nili Zaharony, CMO, Penguin Strategies.
3. Pick a day and time likely to attract the most participants
According to ON24 research, the best days to conduct webinars are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The best time depends on where the majority of your target audience is located. In general, though, it’s best to avoid first thing in the morning (between 8 and 9), late afternoon (after 4:30) and right before or during lunch (12 to 1).
4. Promote your event
A great way to promote your webinar is to create a preview or trailer. “We’ve seen tremendous results in our registration numbers when we market our corporate learning webinars with a short video trailer [like this one],” says Carol Leaman, CEO, Axonify. “A 30-90-second video is the perfect length to peak potential viewers’ interest [and] leave them wanting to learn more.”
Then, at least a couple of weeks in advance of your webinar, start promoting the webinar via your email list, social pages (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) and on your website. Be sure to include the date and time, a brief summary of the program and a link to register. Then post follow-up reminders a week in advance and again the day before and then shortly before the webinar is scheduled to begin.
“Segment your database and email sends so that the day of your webinar anyone who has not registered yet receives a ‘last chance’ email – and all those people who have registered get a friendly reminder with a link to the event a couple of hours before you start delivering your webinar,” says Joe Hyland, CMO, ON24. “This keeps your webinar top of mind as they’re starting out their day… and makes the event link easily accessible.”
“For those that didn’t attend, [send] an email [after with a] replay link, [letting them know] when it will be available [for a short period of time] to create more urgency, followed by another email on the last day of when the webinar replay will be available,” says Toby Danylchuk, principal, 39Celsius Web Marketing Consulting.
5. Choose a reliable hosting service
“Choose a platform that is user-friendly to your audience [and reliable], such as Google Hangouts, GoToWebinar, Cisco WebEx or Adobe Connect,” says Judy Walker, vice president of marketing, Anago Cleaning Systems.
6. Do a test webinar at least a day in advance
“Whatever you do, don’t assume that everything will go smoothly during the live webinar,” says Cristian Rennella, cofounder & CEO, elMejorTrato.com. “Test your equipment first. Do at least one runthrough [at least a day] before the live event to make sure that everyone knows what they’re doing and that all your gear is functioning correctly.”
7. Inject some humor
“There is no doubt that when something is funny, we are more likely to remember it over something ordinary,” says Hyland. “Humor [also] makes you, and your content, seem a little more human and relatable. So “when creating content, try to incorporate some sort of witty joke [being careful not to give offense] or funny anecdote.”
8. Don’t go on for too long
The ideal webinar length is between 45 and 60 minutes. Over 60 minutes and you risk losing your audience.
9. Be interactive
“When it comes to webinar interactivity, Q&A still leads the pack,” says Hyland. “In our study, we discovered that 81 percent of webinars include a Q&A portion. But there are [other] options available, [too], with nearly 1 in 3 webinars integrating social media. And polling and surveys are still strong performers. And if your event attendance is falling short of the average 57-minute mark, adding moments of interactivity may draw people in and keep them around for longer.”
10. Make webinars available for viewing afterward
“Increase the performance of your webinars by making the on-demand recordings available on your site after the live presentation date,” says Jodi Cerretani, director of Demand Generation, Vidyard. “It’s estimated that 42 percent of registrants never end up watching the actual live presentation, so it’s important to have the recording available afterwards to drive content consumption.”
On-demand webinars can also be a source of lead generation. “As soon as you post your on-demand webinar, make a small preview of it public for anyone to see,” she suggests. “Then post a form that asks for the contact information of anyone who wants to see the full webinar.”
11. Follow up with participants
“The role of the content marketer does not end once the webinar has taken place,” says Rennella. “It’s crucial to follow up with participants by sending them additional materials, requesting their feedback and letting them know about upcoming webinars and new related content on your website.”