The Art of the Webinar: 31 Tips for a Successful Webinar
I once asked, “If today’s buyer is so busy, why do they set aside time in their day for webinars?” I got a lot of feedback, but what really struck me was the idea that attendees come to webinars as a form of free online training or consulting. Like a lecture or a talk, there is a high value placed on webinar content if the attendee cares about the topic. Webinars are a “must-have” in today’s marketing mix.
The issue of producing a successful webinar is not something to take lightly. That’s not to say it’s hard to do, but it is critical that you commit time, strategy, and resources to its success. I’ve compiled a list of considerations for marketers producing webinars.
There are five major steps in webinar production:
- Audience development (generating registrations)
- Attendee development (getting people to show up)
- Production (pre- and in-event production)
Here’s a guideline to help you organize and produce your great event. All of the tips are grouped by step, except the first one, which might be the most important:
- First and foremost, you must be able to answer the question, “What’s in it for my audience?” Webinars are thirty minutes to an hour of someone’s time, and they won’t sign up unless they believe they will derive value. If they attend and don’t get value, they won’t be back for the next one. But if they do get value, you’ve begun to build loyalty.
- Perform three email sends on different days to promote the event. At a minimum, begin promoting the event two to three out. Some people say you should start two months out.
- Create compelling subject lines. Read my post on email subject lines to learn more.
- Provide a hassle-free registration process. Don’t create onerous registration forms. The goal is conversion, and the more fields you add, the more drop-off you will see. The core registration fields for me are: name, title or role, business email, company
- Promote socially. Email provides the biggest bang for your buck, but since social is free, you might as well use it as well. We used to get 25 attendees from posting our event to LinkedIn events, for example.
- Ask third party presenters to promote to their social graph. When you promote it, it’s advertising. When a thought leader promotes, it’s quality content.
- Integrate social sharing into the landing page and thank you page. Encourage attendees to share so you can reach people you never thought you would.
- Send three email reminders – I recommend a 24-hour reminder, a 1- to 2-hour reminder, and a 15-minute reminder
- Try voicemail reminders. We used to use a company called Boxpilot. When we started to include voice mail reminders we saw attendee conversion rates increase 20%.
- Send social media reminders.
- Promote an additional offer for attendees. Okay, I admit it, we used to give away an iPod to attendees. It worked. It may not work for your market, so try a piece of research available only to attendees, or an eBook.
- Show the value to the potential attendee, and then reinforce that value in the content in the presentation – see #1 above.
- Create objective, helpful content. If you want to learn something, do you choose an infomercial? Or a documentary from a credible director?
- Don’t talk about yourself too much. Please, read every write-up on content marketing in the blogosphere. Use third-party star power.
- Use third party presenter(s). Third party presenters add credibility to the event and emphasize value to the attendee. Also, there are people who will sign up just to see their favorite presenters. I once moderated a Guy Kawasaki webinar that broke the webinar platform.
- Create content leading up to and post-event. Publish a blog post or even better, ask the presenter to create a blog post. Create one each for pre-and post-event. Create a one- or two-page whitepaper from the event.
- Brand your events. Think of a brand name for your events. As an example, SAP has a monthly event called “Coffee Break for Game Changers.”
- Try to create a consistent cadence of events. Once you have a brand name for your events, hold them consistently at the same time, same place.
Production (Pre-and during)
- Create a hashtag for the event. Promote the hashtag as people register. Encourage people to tweet during the event.
- Give yourself ample lead time – webinar expert Dennis Shiao recommends 90-120 days in lead time.
- Schedule a rehearsal. Plan on doing a 30-minute walk-through.
- Always finish your PowerPoint at least four days in advance and have others provide feedback.
- Engage the audience throughout the event. Polls are a favorite of many, or just ask people to write something in the question area.
- DO NOT READ PowerPoint slides to the audience.
- Provide data and research. Too many webinars are theory. Try to provide useful nuggets of information.
- Provide actionable tips that attendees can go and do immediately after the webinar – I repeat, webinars can be too theoretical. Give the attendees something they can use immediately.
- Have a moderator to intro, manage, and close (q/a) the event.
- Oh yeah, leave time for audience q/a.
- Host an easy to find on-demand version of the event. Event expert Miguel Arias says, “Virtual event attendees (often) come back during the post event…and many times you get more than 50% new attendees.”
- Send a post-event thank you email with a link to the on-demand version of the event. Many people miss an event because they were busy. Make it easy for them to get to the on-demand version by sending an email with a link.
- Post your deck to slideshare.net.
And just to remind you…never quit asking what’s in it for your audience. Your answer at the end should be just as strong as it was in the beginning.
Please use the comment box below to send us your tips!