“What’s your current webinar strategy like?”
“Well, I’ve made a point to attend lots of webinars... but I’ve never actually hosted one myself. What should I do?”
This is how 90 percent of my conversations started when talking to our MSP partners at Navigate 2017’s Grow Your Business Hub. Many understood the value of webinars—being able to educate and establish oneself as a thought leader in the industry. However, few actually took the next step to be a part of or host webinars of their own.
If you’re looking to strengthen your webinar strategy and generate more leads, this post will serve as your guide to hosting and executing a successful webinar.
1. Nail Down Your Topic
The first step in any marketing program or campaign should be to choose your focal point. To generate the most interest, you should aim for something that is both relevant and educational. Generally, you’ll want choose a topic that is either:
- Evergreen – It is and always will be relevant. These are topics that are relatable (i.e. common problems or pain points in the market) and you’ll find that interest in these topics won’t fade as time goes on.
- Timely/Topical – Dealing with a current event or breaking news. With these topics, you’ll generally see a big spike in interest at first, but it will taper off as time passes.
Once you have a topic, you’ll want to outline the general agenda for your webinar. Essentially, what structure would you like it to take and what major points would you like to hit on? Is there an outside speaker you’d like to present on this topic, or do you have an internal resource available?
When this framework is finalized, you can then create the title and abstract for your webinar. The key to these is to concisely summarize what you’ll be talking about as well as the value that attendees will get out of registering for your webinar. With your title, focus on making it short and to the point, but keep in mind that it should catch people’s eye and cause them to click on it. For your abstract, try to keep it to three paragraphs or less, and make sure that you’re targeting the right keywords for your SEO strategy.
2. Set Up the Front-End
The next step is actually planning for your webinar, which includes booking the time and date on which you will host it. As a general note, try to schedule these at least one month ahead of time, so you give yourself enough time to promote the webinar (which we’ll talk about in a minute).
When planning, you’ll also want to consider which application or platform you will use to host and record your webinar. I’d recommend checking out Zoom, a video and web conferencing service. They have a free, basic account that provides all the features and controls you’ll need for building out your webinar strategy.
Lastly, you need to create a landing page where clients and prospects will be able to register for your webinar. Some of the most important elements to have on your webinar landing page include:
- Date and Time
- Key Points Attendees Will Learn
Additionally, you can add a personal touch to your landing page by adding the photo and biography of any presenters on the webinar. This is extremely helpful in letting those who are interested in attending know who will be speaking, as well as gaining insight into some of their credentials.
Apart from the webinar itself, promotion is the most important step in your webinar strategy. The goal of hosting a webinar is to share your expertise on a given topic and (hopefully) get potential clients interested in your business, but how do you get people to sign up in the first place? This is where proper promotion is so beneficial.
Typically, the most successful type of promotion for webinars and events is email promotion. We’ve found that the sweet spot for direct email sends to promote a single webinar is around two to three. For example, you should be sending the first email about one month beforehand, the second around two weeks out, and the third the day before. Of course, this should be tailored to your business’ needs and what you’ve found works best.
With promotion, it’s important to note that direct email sends should be used in conjunction with social media or other platforms, such as a blog or email newsletter. It’s not necessary to always send direct emails, but sharing the webinar on multiple platforms will be essential to driving registration.
4. Hosting the Webinar
Now we’ve come to the main event, the actual hosting of the webinar! Usually, we’ve seen partners go about this step either one of two ways. The first, which is the more popular option, is to host the webinar live, in real time. This is beneficial because it gives a sense of authenticity to the webinar, and it can work well when multiple people are presenting. However, this method can get a little tricky when technology doesn’t want to cooperate, or if you or other presenters tend to get nervous and trip up on words. If you do choose this option, I’d suggest keeping speaker notes handy—just in case you lose your place or train of thought, you can have something to fall back on.
The second option, which might appeal to those who are just starting out, is to pre-record the webinar and simulate it live during the specified time and date. This is helpful if you’re worried about getting everything right the first time around. However, this can get difficult when it comes time for the Q&A section.
Regardless of which method you choose to host your webinar, you’ll want to keep in mind a couple of key things:
- When beginning, be sure to welcome everyone and introduce yourself and/or other presenters. You’ll also want to go over a brief agenda, so attendees will know exactly what to expect.
- Practice makes perfect. It’s never a bad idea to do a quick run-through of your deck, even if you plan on pre-recording and editing.
- Have a team member listen in during the start of the webinar. This way, you’ll be able to make sure the audio and video are feeding through correctly.
- Make sure to leave time for Q&A towards the end. Whether you pre-record or are hosting live, I’d strongly suggest preparing two or three “canned” questions that you can have ready to ask at the end of the webinar. Sometimes attendees are a bit shy to be the first to raise their hand, even though they have a question. Starting things off with a relevant question you’ve prepared can help kick things off, and you’ll see more questions will flow in from there.
- Last, but certainly not least, remember to record your webinar! The recording is a very useful resource to have (especially in post-promotion), so be sure to press that button when you begin.
Even though the webinar is over, you’re not quite done yet. To get registrants to continue to sign up for your webinars, you’ll want to follow up with them in a timely manner. Do this by sending two separate emails, one to registrants who were able and one to those who were not able to attend. For those who did join you, you should thank them and include a link to the recording so they’re free to view it again or share it with team members. For registrants who weren’t able to make it, you should say that you’re sorry you missed them, as well as send them the recording so they can view the webinar on their own time. With an application such as Zoom, it’ll be able to segment these lists for you, so all you’ll have to do is press “send.”
Additionally, you can use the webinar in post-promotion as a lead generation tool. Simply take the recording, leverage it as an on-demand video and put it behind a form on your website. For prospects and visitors who come to your website and are interested in the topic you’ve chosen, they’ll likely fill out the form to view the webinar, and you’ll be able to capture their information and grow your prospect base.