Webinars, short for web-based seminars, offer a lot of benefits. From giving you the ability to get in direct interaction with customers to enabling attendees to participate from the comfort of their offices or homes, webinars are big business for B2B publishers. And that’s the problem – they are such big business that everybody does them.
How do you make your webinar stand apart from the pack? Here are five tips.
1. Focus on Content First, Then Leads
Keep your editorial standards high. If you are choosing the speakers, find subject matter experts who already have a following – they will draw attendees. If you can’t land a bigger fish, get feedback from your editors on sources who have interesting perspectives on the topics you are pursuing. Also, search blogs and other social media platforms such as Twitter to identify influencers in your space (you probably already know who some of them are).
If the sponsoring vendor is choosing the speaker, exert your editorial influence. Insist on an executive or subject matter expert who knows the topic well and is a polished presenter. Work together to define a topic that balances the sponsor’s messaging with the needs of your audience.
Once the speakers are identified, set objectives about the length, tone, and objective of the presentation. Assign an editor to collaborate with the vendor or the presenter on the slides to ensure they are on-topic, meet your brand’s editorial standards, and are not overly promotional.
If you develop a reputation for consistently great content, attendance will grow and vendors will be more willing to follow your editorial guidance.
2. Develop a Repeatable Formula
If you want to scale, you do not want to reinvent the wheel with each new webinar. Test different formats until you find the one that works best with your audience – then stick to it. Be consistent with the length of the webinar, the presentation format, the number of speakers, and the time left for Q&A at the end.
Be clear with your sponsors on the parameters. Otherwise, they will customize you to death. Of course, you’ll want to be flexible if it means winning a big campaign from a key sponsor. But these should be the exception, not the rule.
3. Consider a Paid Model
For publishers struggling with the issue of paid content, webinars may present a good option for testing a paywall. After all, they are highly produced, premium content that is different from your free well of articles and blog posts, so you can make a case for charging for them. MarketingProfs has developed a successful line of paid webinars, though its audience is already accustomed to paying for premium content on the site.
Test different price points until you find one that’s right for your audience. While a paid model might keep your numbers down, you are likely to get a more engaged audience.
Keep in mind that asking attendees to pay for a webinar also raises their expectations that the quality will be top shelf. Make sure you deliver on that promise.
4. Encourage Participation
Question queues and live chat are fast becoming checklist items for any webinar. Have a moderator on hand to keep the questions flowing and the audience involved. Oh, and if the audience is not quite as engaged as you hoped, make sure you have a list of prepared questions ready to prime the pump. You don’t want to hear virtual crickets chirping once you open up to questions.
5. Measure The Outcomes
Sponsored webinars live or die on the amount and quality of the leads you generate for the advertiser. But that is just one metric you should be tracking. Measure the percentage of registered attendees who actually show up to the event. Track how many drop off during the presentation. Post-event, send out surveys to get feedback on the quality of the content and the speakers. MarketingProfs tracks a simple but very important metric: Would you recommend this webinar to a friend or colleague?
I have focused here on the content side of the webinar equation. In future posts on SEJ, we will address best practices for the marketing and logistics elements of webinar production.