Take advantage of the “new normal” and level up your marketing strategy with webinars! They can be an extremely powerful way to generate effective leads for organizations – after all, nearly three-fourths of marketers have reported that webinars are unmatched when it comes to creating high quality prospects. Don’t miss out on this remarkable opportunity!
This guide provides strategic advice, along with templates and tools that make running a successful virtual event simple. From handling behind-the-scenes logistics to generating leads – this is your one stop shop for the perfect webinar execution!
An introduction to webinars
Let’s cover the basics first. A webinar is a virtual seminar where a host(s) presents information to an online audience. It requires software that enables sharing slides, screens, and videos — but more on that later.
Webinars are a popular marketing tool across all industries. However, they’re particularly prominent in the software and tech, financial services, consulting, and education sectors.
Benefits of running webinars
- Expand your reach: Hosting an online webinar opens the door to limitless possibilities. It’s never been easier for businesses to extend their reach further than ever before – whether that be hosting live workshops or offering archived content on demand. Take advantage of modern technology by creating digital opportunities wherever you are!
- Engage your audience: Human connection is essential for engaging an audience and webinars are the perfect avenue to make that possible. Not only can you inform your target market, but through interactive elements like live chat & Q&A’s, polls & breakout rooms – audiences have the chance to participate in a meaningful way. Webinar registrations outpace blog readings even though they take about as long; this speaks of their success at utilizing FOMO tactics (fear of missing out) while making content easy-to-consume. If ramping up leads is what you’re after then give it a try!
Move customers along the buyer journey: Webinars are an amazing opportunity for guiding your prospects through the sales funnel! From lead generation and conversions to onboarding customers or increasing lifetime value, let webinars show you what they can do.
The buyer’s journey, or customer funnel, can typically be broken down into three stages:
- Awareness — Prospect experiences and expresses a problem or opportunity.
- Consideration — Prospect begins to research and understand their problem/opportunity.
- Decision — Prospect decides on a solution for their problem/opportunity (i.e., conversion).
Understanding the customer journey is crucial to creating an effective webinar strategy. In addition to Awareness, Consideration and Decision stages we all know about, there’s a fourth – Retention! It gives you the chance to nurture relationships with your customers long after they’ve made their decision so that you can support them for future endeavors.
- Gain unique insights: Unlock the power of webinars to gain unparalleled insights into your target audience. Through engaging Q&A sessions and real-time polls, you can quickly identify customer problems, trends and preferences — essential information for optimizing sales performance!
Utilizing tools such as Poll Everywhere helps you gain instant insights into what resonates with your audience during a live event, giving an added layer of understanding that can be difficult to attain elsewhere. Additionally, 22% of consumers indicate they’d like their hosts to take questions from attendees — so why not let them interact? Engage with prospects in real-time for deeper data and improved customer relations down the line!
- Showcase your expertise: Webinars are an excellent way to show off your knowledge and establish yourself as a leader in the industry. By using thought leadership, you can provide attendees with valuable insight that distinguishes you from other competitors. Already I have seen businesses gain increased brand authority and credibility through webinars – something key for achieving success! So make sure these sessions feature some reliable info backed up by competent experts; this will ensure all participants leave feeling empowered by their newfound wisdom.
Additionally, you will stay in their minds, so when they come to require assistance or are looking for something you provide, they’ll immediately think of you!
- Deliver value: When leveraging webinars, it’s key to always put your customers first. Your priority should be investing in content that adds value for them and deepens the connection between you — this encourages loyalty from viewers so they can become long-term customers or refer others to use your services. As opposed to focusing on short-term wins, delivering solid customer experiences through informative webinars is an ideal way of cultivating a strong brand strategy with lasting impact!
A step-by-step guide to webinar strategy and execution
Ready to make your webinar a success? Pour yourself a cup of coffee and prepare for an in-depth exploration into the key planning, marketing, and execution steps necessary for creating powerful digital events. Our guide will show you how to bring each step together so that you can confidently host engaging online workshops!
Step 1: Define Your Goals
First, you want to set your goals and align them to your overarching business objectives. There are two main types of webinar goals:
Business goals: This is what you want your webinar to achieve. For example, generating new leads, nurturing existing leads, supporting the onboarding process, revealing a new product, or retaining customers.
Webinar goals: These are your performance expectations for your webinar. For example, webinar registrations, live attendance, and how many people watch the replay.
To make sure your webinar strategy is effective, don’t tackle it alone! Gather the insights of key stakeholders from sales, marketing and support teams to set clear objectives that will boost success. Without a goal in mind, hosting a webinar could be an inefficient use of resources – so get creative with setting targets you can strive towards!
TIP: Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound).
Step 2: Know Your Audience
Identifying and targeting the right audience is key for creating a webinar that helps you achieve your goals. Utilize your teams to create customer or client personas in order to gain an insightful understanding of each attendee’s motivations, needs, interests – and more importantly – which stage they are at within their purchase journey. While having 1,000 attendees may look impressive on paper – it won’t be so if none have any use for your product or service!
Step 3: Find the Right Topic(s)
Understanding your target audience and webinar goals is essential when selecting the right topic. Rather than making it a sales pitch, create content that resonates with them while still promoting your brand or service indirectly – an effective way to make a subtle yet impactful impression! Then once this has been discussed give attendees insight into what value you bring in order for further amplification of results.
Great sources for webinar topic inspiration are your:
- Sales team — What pain points do they hear repeatedly? What are the most common obstacles to conversion?
- Audience — What are they talking or asking about on social media and forums?
- Blogs – What topics are people searching for, reading about, and converting on the most?
Step 4: Pick Your Webinar Tool Kit
A successful webinar is more than just hoping for the best. Arm yourself with a toolkit of technical tools to make sure your webinar succeeds! Invest in reliable broadcasting software and use project management or scheduling programs so that you can organize each part of your presentation content effectively. With these resources, nothing will get lost in translation as you deliver an effective message to reach maximum impact.
The bare minimum you (and all your webinar speakers) need to run your webinar is a reliable internet connection and a computer. However, if you want to add a professional feel to your production, you can use:
- A microphone with a stand and pop filter.
- A high-quality webcam.
- Studio lighting or graphically designed backgrounds.
You should list out your webinar software requirements beforehand so you have a checklist when evaluating your options. Some of the features I always look for include:
- Unlimited registrations
- Support for expected number of attendees, plus a 20% buffer
- Ability to build branded landing pages or embed forms on our website
- Easy UX for speakers and attendees
- Engagement features for polls, surveys, and Q&As
- Content sharing options (i.e., share screen, play video, present slides)
Along with your webinar hardware and software, you need to consider what tools will help you plan and market your webinar. We recommend using a project management tool that lets you organize each task in the lead-up to your event.
This can be used to plan the details of your webinar, from defining your goals and choosing a webinar topic, to selecting a webinar date, creating a registration landing page on your website, and planning your pre- and post-event marketing activity.
In terms of webinar marketing, your toolkit should include email marketing, organic and paid social media channels, paid advertising, and registration landing pages, to name a few. These marketing tools will amplify your webinar, increasing your reach potential.
Tip: If you plan to make your webinar interactive, don’t forget to include some interactive software that offers live polls, quizzes, and Q&As for audience members.
Step 5: Iron Out the Details
There’s a whole array of webinar formats to choose from, each with its own set of unique benefits. Consider what you’re hoping to achieve and then select the format that best suits those goals!
It’s important to keep the length in mind when planning. For most webinar events, an hour seems just about right; 5 minutes for introductions followed by 45 minutes of content and 10 additional minutes allotted for questions & answers. Of course depending on your goals you can adjust the timing accordingly from short product demos up to longer instructional sessions – be sure to roughly plan out enough time at the end if needed!
Ideal Time and Date
Choosing the perfect date and time to run your webinar can be a tricky affair, especially if there is more than one business involved. For maximum engagement from an audience of professionals, try scheduling for 11 am or 2 pm on Thursday; otherwise evening or weekend hours may prove preferable when targeting consumer audiences. And don’t forget about different time zones! To ensure convenience across those with diverse locations, pick a middle-ground suitable for the majority – such as 11am Pacific Standard Time (PST) which equates to 2pm Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Step 6: Find Partners for Co-Webinars
A robust webinar marketing strategy requires a consistent, reliable schedule of webinars. So, how do you guarantee consistency with so many moving pieces?
One way is to run regular webinars that only involve someone from your company. For example, a co-founder can hold monthly Q&A sessions on his/her product/company that’s open to anyone who registers.
However, we recommend partnering with other companies for maximum reach (i.e., leads) and value in terms of what the webinar will offer. Two founders sharing experiences, case studies, and strategies will provide more insight than one, and if you rotate partners regularly, your audience will always have a fresh perspective and reasons to sign up.
Webinar partnerships are one of the easiest ways to multiply your impact, as your partners bring their own audiences, insights, and expertise to an event.
By partnering with an experienced webinar marketer, you further increase the potential success of your co-webinar as you develop the best webinar strategy for your intended goals and audience.
Double the reach means you can promote your event through both of your networks and marketing channels. This cross-promotion is a powerful way to get even more eyes on your upcoming webinar.
Step 7: Stay Organized
Once you confirm a speaker(s) for your webinar, it’s time to get organized. Be sure to lock down the exact dates and details you need from them right away. For example, you could ask for:
- Confirmation of the webinar title and outline (or, if you haven’t discussed this yet, pitch a few topics/titles).
- Full name, email address, bio, and headshot(s).
- For external speakers, their logo and a white version for darker backgrounds to put on your marketing materials.
- A finalized date and time of the webinar itself, plus a run-through the day before (or a few days in advance).
Gathering these details early on in the webinar strategy process is important to avoid delays in your event. I recommend creating a speaker checklist you can use each time you engage a new speaker for a webinar. This checklist will help you stay organized and ensure nothing is missed.
Step 8: Master Your Webinar Marketing
Ready to catapult your registrations and leads? Webinar marketing is the way! Create a comprehensive promotional plan that incorporates multiple channels, plus coordinate co-marketing in preparation for maximum impact. Even better – team up with webinar partners so you can double the reach of your event when it’s time to promote.
We recommend requesting:
- Social media shares in the weeks leading up to the webinar. Twitter can be daily, LinkedIn should be once or twice max, and Facebook can be two to three times.
- An email announcement the week before the webinar, and a reminder the day before to register.
- A guest blog exchange with CTAs at the end of the posts to register for the webinar. You should aim to publish these blogs two weeks before the webinar to give them time to gain traction, be announced on newsletters, etc.
If your partners have a unique email newsletter schedule (monthly, weekly, etc.), ask to be in whichever issue is closest to the webinar date. Their email schedules don’t need to change to suit your preferences (after all, you’re the one asking in the first place).
Step 9: Nail the Execution
After you have crafted the perfect webinar plan, it’s time to ensure that everything runs smoothly during execution. Focusing on executing your webinar with skill and efficiency will help bring your event to life for all of its participants!
Build a Registration Page
Having a concise, compelling page on your website that outlines the webinar’s agenda and how it will benefit attendees is essential for making an impact. Utilize bullet points to clearly communicate what you offer, share bios of experts speaking at the event as well as their accomplishments in brief form – all while keeping things sweet and succinct! Make sure there’s an easy way for potential participants to register with a CTA (call-to-action) button or contact form linked directly off your registration page. Then set up automated emails so they receive reminders leading up to the date along with additional marketing-related messages from you promoting interest throughout the process.
Keep Branding Consistent
Branding is an essential factor to reach success with your webinar. Using the same colors, fonts and styles throughout all of your materials – from the presentation itself right up through social media posts or banners used for advertisement- will not only look professional but also give viewers a sense of familiarity that creates trust in both you and what you’re offering; paving the way towards conversions!
Harness Your Confirmation Emails
Throughout the webinar planning and execution, you need to ensure crystal clear communication.
Registration doesn’t automatically guarantee attendance. Once someone has signed up for your webinar, run a drip-feed email campaign similar to the following:
- Upon registration — Confirmation and a calendar placeholder
- One week before — Final information, such as guest speakers
- The day before — Reminder and log-in details
- The day of — Reminder and technical support details
Many webinar tools can handle these on your behalf, so make sure to set them up in your software to avoid missing any reminders.
Run Through a Rehearsal
Get ready for your webinar with a pre-event run-through! This is the presenter’s opportunity to become familiarized with slides, adjust their presentation flow and make any last minute requests. Don’t miss out on this key step in preparation; allocate some time before the actual event to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Here’s what to cover during the run-through:
- Who will welcome attendees
- Whether or not you’ll start the recording on time or one to two minutes after to give everyone a chance to join
- The flow of the webinar and where speaker handoffs will be
- Reminders, such as using headphones
- Whether your video cameras will be on or not
During the Webinar
It pays to have an extra set of hands in webinars: the speaker and the assistant. The latter can help with answering questions that come up during, as well as attending to any technical difficulties or late attendees who need assistance getting into the virtual event. This ensures your audience has a smooth experience overall!
Step 10: Post Event Marketing
After a webinar is finished, don’t let your hard work go to waste – make sure you keep the conversation going! Invest in post-event marketing for continued engagement with leads and customers alike. Share recordings of the event so interested parties can absorb even more information from it, while also reusing content to add extra value.
Step 11: Measure the Results
It’s time to assess the success of your webinar! Although opinions vary on this subject, it is important to take a look at all relevant metrics. Evaluate how you’ve achieved your desired outcomes and identify areas for growth — understanding what went well (or didn’t) can help create an even better experience next time around. Establish which data points should be monitored, when they need analyzing, and measure away – get into action mode so that you know where improvements are required going forward.