The ways in which companies and their leadership engage with their customers and other various members of the public is always evolving. New ways for outreach have brought more opportunities for information exchange, feedback gathering, and industry education all with positive branding, exposure, and authority-boosting impacts. Social media, guest blogging, white papers, and videos have all created opportunities in this regard in recent years, but the webinar has quickly shot to the top of this list, largely for its engaging nature and the return on investment that companies are able to achieve with it.
Webinars provide a platform for your company’s thought leadership to deliver insight on issues relevant to the public as a whole or to targeted segments to help them achieve various goals. Regardless of the intention and objective of a particular webinar, it is no small task when done correctly, and, as a result, it requires significant strategy and planning. Fresh off our recent webinar regarding Google’s Penguin Update, we have established five essential aspects of running a successful webinar that need to be prioritized early in the planning process.
Idea Generation & Content
Creating high quality, compelling content is essential and is an obvious key point for any webinar, but the initial first step before content creation is topic selection. In choosing subject matter for the webinar, decision makers need to combine relevant and trending issues that matter to both their industry and their public with the expertise held by the company. The subject matter needs to be in an area that the company has the authority to speak to, enabling its thought leadership to provide highly valuable information, advice, and recommendations.
Information that is actionable is best, and it should provide takeaways that can make a positive impact on participants. Selecting a target audience at this stage is also important so that everything from this point on can be done with a target group in mind. Also, keep trends in mind. Current hot topics within your vertical are a surefire way to increase conversion rates on registrations. Typically, you can expect 25%-30% of your registrants to attend. This number can be scaled, depending on the message of the webinar and the authority of the presenter.
One of the many returns on a webinar is the leads that result from the experience. The formula is tried and true. An expert source provides a free, valuable lesson on relevant issues, interest is created, and attendees are gained. A successful webinar yields a percentage of attendees who are interested in company services. Marketers putting on a webinar need to strategize exactly how they will gain the leads (attendees) in the first place, and then how they will convert them after the webinar has been held. Creatives, etc.
To get the attention of your target audience to promote the webinar, the key is multi-channel exposure. If your company has been active across platforms providing valuable information and engaging with followers in constructive ways, then this process will be easier. Promotion through all the social accounts held by the company is important, and using new means like pinning slides of the upcoming webinar to company boards on Pinterest, for example, could offer additional value. Paid search and email marketing are necessities in increasing registrants. Schedule drip email campaigns throughout the registration period leading up to the event, and blast once an hour, or even once every half-hour, prior to the event. Make certain your participants know the dial-in number and link for the webinar, as well as any potential software download times.
Blog posts, both on your own site and others that you appear as a guest on, can be helpful for making sure the word gets out about your event. Promotional videos explaining the upcoming webinar and what people can expect from it are well received, and featuring them on the main website and specific platform channels can also prove effective. A final element is PR, which is a growing area for online exposure and promotion. Given the announcement nature of a webinar, a press release detailing the webinar that is picked up by various outlets can provide additional online exposure, not to mention backlink SEO value.
Even having everything in place is not enough. The delivery of the content and webinar itself needs to be professional and, in a word, dynamic. There are two main components to this. First, the technology used should add value to the delivery. Slides are received well if they are used properly, but they should not be relied on too heavily. Presenters should instead integrate dynamic media and presentation tools such as Prezi that can make the message come alive. With that said, the technology being integrated should be appropriate and not be overwhelming to the point of taking away from the presentation.
Second, presenters have the obligation to be clear and engaging, manage time well, and keep the audience interested throughout the webinar. They play a very important role, and even if the content is top-notch, attendees may drop off if a presenter cannot keep them engaged. This includes the flow of speech and tone of voice, plus gestures if full video is used. All techniques can and should be practiced ahead of time.
Allowing for a Q&A segment within the presentation is an added value to conversions, and it will entice registrants. These segments can be open or moderated through chat. Encourage your participants to tweet questions to your Twitter handle throughout the presentation. Having an associate on hand to blog live updates and quotes throughout the webinar, as well as collect questions, is a successful way to enhance the presentation.
Post Webinar Engagement
The life of the webinar does not end when the last attendee logs off, but it instead kicks into another phase. Companies can continue to receive benefits from the event by recording it and posting the video to various company platforms. Doing a video that features shots of the presenters themselves when the webinar only featured screenshots is especially valuable as it presents another take on the experience and offers something new for attendees that come back to get additional information. Once the webinar is posted, continue promoting it on social accounts and through targeted ads to extend its life.
There can be high returns for businesses and individual marketers who provide valuable insight to their interested public, but learning how to harness the potential return of a webinar is essential. Proper strategy and planning from the outset is a must in order to start in the right direction, but planning all the right steps is what matters most. Consider all these elements, and you’ll be well on your way.