A study from Content Marketing Institute shows that 62% of marketers are using webinars as a tactic to deliver B2B content marketing. We’ve heard it said time and again, content is king. So how should it rule? Through a good mix of content that steadily and easily reigns over the target audience.
Webinars provide a lot of benefits, such as direct customer interaction. Attendees sign up voluntarily and actively engage through the webinar chat, Q&As, and give their feedback through the survey. Another good benefit is its flexibility. Attendees can participate in the comfort of their offices/homes!
It’s not surprising that webinars are ranked as the third-most effective content marketing tactic, according to Adobe Connect. It makes sense that a lot of marketers have ventured into using it to connect to their audience and build their brand.
I’ve had the privilege to help our Features Editor, Danielle Antosz, with managing our SEJ Marketing Think Tank webinars since the middle of last year. When we had our initial meeting, I was a bit overwhelmed. A LOT of work goes on behind-the-scenes to create just a single webinar, and the complexities increase drastically when you are managing two to four webinars at the same time, like we do here at SEJ.
Now, 10 months into working on the project, I’ve realized successful webinars have a great deal to do with proper organization and coordination.
Based on what I have learned, here are the top things to keep in mind for a successful webinar:
Plan and Organize Well
I was lucky that Danielle paved the way for seamless webinar planning. We have a webinar editorial calendar where the topics, speakers, and dates are planned far in advance. We also maintain a webinar checklist of the things we need to do as well as a list of tasks for us and other team members to prepare. The project management tool Podio helps ensure all deliverables are met on time. We start planning six weeks prior the webinar live date—that gives us a lot of flexibility and legroom for coordination and changes.
Offer Interesting Topics
Webinars are web-based seminars, and people participate in these types of initiatives to learn, so you need to make sure you are offering topics they find interesting.
As the organizer, we are responsible for providing knowledge, know-how, and expertise to attendees, so they can take this knowledge and put it to use at work.
Planning of the webinar topics should be an integral part of your overall webinar strategy. As any marketer should know, all customer touch-points and messaging should be cohesive and drive toward a specific goal.
Invite Compelling Speakers
At SEJ, we make sure to invite leading industry experts, with the proper knowledge and experience in the topic at hand. We also make sure that speakers are credible and have a good track record and level of authority.
When the speaker is well-known, we expect great registration numbers because of the speaker’s influence. Larry Kim’s webinars, for example, tend to do really well. Attendees sign up immediately because of his reputation, clout, and personal brand.
Promote Your Webinar
Our awesome designer, Paulo, kicks things off by creating design assets for the webinars (see sample designs below). We make sure that promotional images contain all relevant information—such as the names of the speaker and the moderator, webinar live date, a short brief about the webinar, and what attendees will learn from the event.
SEJ ThinkTank landing page design
SEJ ThinkTank banner
These assets will then be sent to the technical development and social team, to roll out registration pages and promotions. Our landing pages are efficiently integrated into the website and webinar platforms to ensure sign ups.
We also leverage on our email database. We send out a dedicated newsletter, just to promote the webinars, one to two weeks prior the webinar date. Below is a sample of our direct mail:
The newsletter is short, concise, and provides an easy registration process for interested recipients. I always check the registration numbers a day after our newsletter has been sent out, and it continuously amazes me how many sign-ups we get from the newsletters alone.
Social media platforms are also very powerful tools in getting the word out there. Facebook posts and tweets are strategically scheduled in advance, and we make use of Facebook and Google+ event pages for further promotions.
Choose the Right Webinar Platform
So, your topic, content, and speaker are all very interesting; you’ve made sure that all necessary preparations have been made; BUT if there is technical problems during the live episode, the webinar viewers will still have an unpleasant experience. This leads to poor feedback and ratings. The webinar platform is a very important element in making sure that each webinar episode is a success.
At SEJ, we use GoTo as our webinar platform. One thing I like about it is the easy interface that allows for a seamless user experience. It’s easy to schedule and configure the settings of each webinar. It also provides automated poll, survey, and follow-up emails to promote attendee engagement.
However, it requires attendees to download the software so they can join the webinar. Some might find it annoying to have to download it, but the features can compensate for the download effort. It also has chat capabilities that allow for more engagement.
I also like the webinar reports generated by GoTo. The reports are segregated by what metrics you wish to see, whether it’s about attendance, registration, performance, a survey, or just the over-all webinar analytics. It gives a good measure of what you did well, and what else you can improve on.
Other Webinar Platforms
ON24 can accommodate both webcam webcasts and live webcasts. It provides a customization of webinars, and a wide array of presentation tools for interactive and engaging audience experience.
One good thing about this platform is it doesn’t require a software download. It can be used anywhere and everywhere, even on mobile!
Customer reviews of on24 show that users are impressed with its sophisticated user experience. It has the capability for technical integrations for an improved interface.
As part of Adobe’s product line, Adobe Connect allows for online meeting experiences for collaboration, virtual classrooms, and large-scale webinars. Aside from the regular webinar platform features, it provides easy registrations, customizable and persistent live environment design, and webinar engagement monitoring tools.
Treat each webinar as an event—it requires a lot of planning, coordination, and follow-throughs. The topics, content, and the speakers should provide an added value to your target audience. After all, your audience came for the knowledge, so make sure that you provide them with the education they desire.