Marketing collateral comes in all different types and styles. One of the most engaging and impactful ways to educate and market to your audience is hosting webinars.
In case you live under a rock and have never heard about webinars, let’s cover the basics.
What Is a Webinar?
Basically, it’s an online event with live video and audio.
A webinar is a virtual meeting or presentation that’s held in real time on the internet, connecting viewers remotely from across the world. Most webinars are intended to be educational or informational, but some can be organized as networking events and similar activities.
One of the most favored features is the degree of interactivity that webinars provide. Hosts can send information, receive and answer questions, discuss subjects, and share entire presentations live to anyone participating.
A ton of marketable value can be provided for an audience in just a 30-minute meeting.
Some other features that aid the accessibility of webinars include:
- Live text chats
- Slideshow and video streaming
- Edit/interact with documents in real time
- Surveys and polls
- Recording for later viewing
How Does a Webinar Work?
Whether you are hosting or attending a webinar, there are certain steps that you have to follow in order to be an active participant:
1. Register for the Event.
You should receive an email from the hosting software prompting you to register for the webinar through a link.
The landing page will likely have a form asking for your details. Once you’ve completed it, you’ll be taken to a thank you page, confirming your registration.
2. Read the Confirmation Email.
Along with the thank you page, you’ll receive a confirmation email reminding you of the time and date of the event. It may even offer to add the event to your calendar!
If participating in the webinar requires any software, a link to download it is often included in this email.
3. Download the Software.
It’s likely that you’ll receive a few reminder emails in the weeks and days leading up to the webinar.
As the event gets closer, make sure that you take a moment to download the necessary software included in these emails if you haven’t already. Waiting until right before the webinar can mean missing the first few moments since download times can vary in length.
4. Join the Webinar.
The day has arrived and you’re ready to either present or learn!
At the scheduled time, use a link from one of the reminder emails to join the webinar. Typically, the link will open your software for you and put you into the meeting.
The Elements You Need for Your Webinar
Now, for those specifically presenting, there are some key elements that are necessary for your webinar to be considered a success.
Here’s what’s required:
A Live Event
Remember, the appeal of a webinar is that it takes place in real time. Even though most organizations make their webinars available for viewing after the event, there still has to be a live recording first.
Schedule a time and date for your event to happen so you can have active participants that you can engage with.
This is the whole reason you’re hosting the webinar, right? Naturally, most of your attendees will be watching online, but you can also have an in-person crowd if you’re hosting at your office or in a conference space.
Make sure to promote your event through all of your channels to get the word out there. You’ll have viewers from all over looking to learn from you and your brand.
Have you ever presented in front of a silent, unengaged room? On the other side, have you ever had a teacher or presenter lecture on and on without ever addressing you or the other attendees?
Neither scenario makes for an engaging learning experience. Take advantage of the fact that your audience can interact with you during your webinar.
Speak to them directly and pay attention to any questions they may be posting in the chat. Your goal should be providing value, so don’t skip out on opportunities to do just that.
If the content you’re presenting is more educational than just informational, you can increase interaction by adding quizzes and surveys to the webinar experience to see how much your audience has learned. They’ll feel like they have a more active role, and you’ll learn how effective your webinar actually was.
Of course, the nature of a webinar mandates that there be an audio and visual element to the event. In fact, that’s what your audience will enjoy the most!
They’ll be able to directly engage with someone from your brand. This is particularly appealing to leads who may already be in your sales cycle and are looking to learn if your company truly knows their stuff.
There’s a wide variety of video hosting software available for webinar purposes. Some have screen sharing capabilities, Q&A tools, and more to make the experience more engaging.
Make sure that you are using one that will work best for your presentation. Poor video quality and a choppy audio experience can harm the performance of your event. Before the webinar officially starts, perform a technical test run to make sure that everything is in working order.
The decision to present from a camera (your audience can see you) or from your computer (your audience only sees your screen) is entirely yours, but either way you’re going to need slides.
Every presentation, virtual or not, requires visual aids to help your audience keep up with you. Not many people are charismatic enough to keep an audience’s interest with only their voice.
Except maybe Oprah. Or Morgan Freeman.
A slideshow isn’t only going to help keep your viewers’ attention. It’ll help with the learning process as well.
They’ll have an easier time taking notes and connecting ideas if they can see what you’re discussing. Make sure to have a slide deck prepared to make your webinar feel engaging and valuable.
The Benefits of Hosting Webinars
When it comes to your marketing goals and objectives, webinars can really drive results for you. Here are some great ways you’ll benefit from hosting one:
They Raise Brand Awareness.
You’re a brand that’s providing high-quality, high-value content in a widely accessible way, without crafting it as a huge sales pitch. That makes you incredibly appealing to buyers who are tired of facing a different marketing scheme at the turn of every corner.
Webinars are an excellent means to promote your company and what you offer without pushing your audience away. It’s a pretty cost-efficient way to boost your authority as well, since most hosting software and sites have affordable pricing. Some are even free.
They Can Help Develop Trust and Authority.
Speaking of authority, a webinar is a great way to show off just how impressive your business expertise is.
When you put together a quality presentation, you’re displaying your industry knowledge and skills, which can validate your audience’s trust in you and your authority.
Also, like we mentioned before, buyers like being able to put a face to a name. It’s much easier to purchase from someone you feel you know than it is to an anonymous entity.
Being in front of a camera can help viewers become emotionally invested in your brand, increasing engagement and trust.
They Build Relationships.
Since your audience has now seen you and heard how knowledgeable you are, it’ll be just that much easier to start organic relationships with them. During your webinar, make sure that viewers have the time to really see your character and get to like you.
Every good salesperson knows that good business is only done when there is a positive relationship between parties. A webinar is an opportunity to get a head start on sparking that relationship.
And hey, you’ll have a great conversation starter to break the ice after the presentation ends.
You Can Learn From Your Audience.
The interactive features that most software offer give you the tools you need to really get to know who your targeted audience is. Pay close attention to their questions, concerns, needs, and what they respond to.
That insight can lead to improvements in other areas of your marketing strategy. You can identify both your audience’s challenges and your business’ at the same time.
Learning more about your viewers will allow you to create better products, offer better services, and present more valuable content in the future.
They Can Generate Qualified Leads.
The registration forms for your webinar act like gated content, collecting lead information for you.
The fact that they’re signing up for information that you’re providing about your services makes them qualified. It’s the perfect sales lead: you’re giving the lead solutions to their needs and, in return, you’re getting their contact information.
You Can Record and Repurpose It.
You don’t have to stop providing value just because your webinar ended. Record the event so that you can make it accessible for later viewing. Audiences will return to your content in an effort to better understand what was shared.
Even more, you can totally repurpose the content of the video as well. The information you shared during the webinar can be translated into ebooks, podcasts, blogs, or a video series, increasing the value of the webinar in your business’ content marketing strategy.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to transforming your content.
It Can Add a Revenue Stream.
This perk is subjective to the size of your audience and industry, but companies that expect greater numbers of viewership and possess more authority can host a paid webinar event.
Viewers may be willing to pay a small fee for premium content and networking. A lot of in-person seminars charge for attendance because of their size.
The only difference for a webinar is that people can attend from the comfort of their own homes if they wish. Just make sure that you’re providing actual value to them. You’re more likely to earn an angry mob instead of happy customers if they feel like they were conned.
What Is a Webinar Like? The Attendee Experience
After the content itself, your audience should be the next focus in an effort to host a successful webinar. You want to create the ultimate attendee experience, leaving them happy that they participated.
Make sure you consider their entire experience, from seeing your promotions and registering up to the follow up after the event.
An epic webinar experience consists of:
An Informative Landing Page
It’s critical that you’re clear and straightforward on your landing page.
Those who are considering signing up want to know what to expect if they register, so make sure you don’t leave out any details, like who is speaking, when it will take place, etc.
From the invitation to the “Thank you for attending”, emails shouldn’t be a casual encounter. Each message a lead receives in their inbox should be intentional and valuable.
The confirmation email will let them know that their form submission was processed. The reminder email sent the day before the webinar will give them an opportunity to download the required software.
Craft emails that will serve a purpose and not spam your audience. Don’t forget to include well worded CTAs and other relevant content, like ebooks or blog posts, that will prompt recipients to start engaging with your brand before the event even happens.
Smooth Video and Audio Experience
The worst thing that could happen to you during your webinar is losing the video or audio feed right in the middle of you presenting impactful information. Actually, losing both would be the worst thing.
Like we mentioned before, make sure you’re using the best software available to you for your live event. You could be sharing the secrets of the universe, but it won’t matter if your audience is having a hard time receiving it because of technical issues.
A Robust Follow-Up Strategy
The webinar itself shouldn’t be the last interaction that happens between you and your audience. They’ll be grateful to know that you’re still thinking of them when everything is said and done.
Send an email with a summary of what was discussed, a link to the recording of the webinar, and a request for some feedback.
Present your leads with the opportunity to keep engaging with your brand and answer any questions they may have that weren’t answered during the event.
If you have another webinar lined up, you can send an early invitation to generate some buzz. Reach out to those who weren’t able to make it and let them know that they have another opportunity at a later date. Include directions on how they can gain access to what they missed before.
How to Use a Webinar for Lead Generation
You’re a great marketer who is happy to provide free, or at least affordable, high-value content to your audience and peers, right? Don’t forget that you have your own goals to meet though.
Your webinar can actually be a great way to earn some new prospects.
Here are the steps necessary to boost lead generation:
Define Your Objectives.
What are your brand’s current marketing and sales goals? You can translate them into your webinar’s objectives. That way, your efforts for this one event are in line with those of the big picture.
Defining your objectives will help you carefully curate the entire campaign, from email titles to which webinar tools you utilize. Of course, your content should educate and inform, but you’ll want a means of measuring how effective the webinar was.
Identify Your Target Audience.
There’s a high chance that you’ll have a variety of attendees watching your video stream. That’s great for brand awareness, but it can make searching for qualified leads a bit more of a task.
Most of the viewers will be in the awareness stage of their journey, looking for information on what it is you do and how you can help solve their problems.
Create buyer personas so you’ll be able to properly target those in your audience who are looking to make a purchase or are ready to move down the sales funnel.
Select the Right Webinar Type.
Depending on the content you’re planning on sharing, different webinar types will help you achieve different goals. You should select one so that your presentation is organized and impactful.
A detailed presentation of your product or service, highlighting all the benefits of purchasing from you. The aim is to educate your audience about what your company has created and answer the questions that they may have.
In this type of webinar, you really want to zero in on your targeted audience, tailoring the entire presentation so that you can collect lead info and earn their trust.
Customer Retention and Nurturing
Meant to continue building upon pre-established relationships, you can provide informational presentations to those who have already purchased from you.
Customers will appreciate the fact that you’re willing to continue offering them value even after they’ve paid you. Appreciative customers make for returning customers and willing promoters.
For businesses with large or remote teams, webinars are a useful way to train employees and host team meetings.
Your employees are what help keep your business running, so it’s a good idea to provide them with some helpful tips and lessons too.
Probably the most common type of webinar, the goal is to share your field expertise with your audience and peers.
Make sure to take advantage of the visual component of a webinar and include slides, documents, or a whiteboard to help in the lesson.
For tech companies with advanced products or software, it’s a great idea to host a webinar that can guide new buyers through the onboarding process of their purchase. They’ll appreciate having the experts walk them through using their new tech.
Partnering with other businesses or experts can be a great way to bring outside perspectives into the conversation.
Be selective of who you choose. Select partners that have a similar audience to you and will be able to cross promote your business.
Everything about the collaboration should be mutually beneficial, and you’ll need to be on the same page about promotion and presentation. But if executed correctly, having a partner can really elevate the quality of your webinar.
Promote Your Event.
Don’t be shy about your latest event. Let your audience know that you’re hosting a webinar in an effort to help eliminate any obstacles they may be facing due to a lack of knowledge.
Your email subscribers will be excited to hear that you’re putting out new content, but you shouldn’t stop with just them. They’re already on your email lists.
Grow your leads past them and promote across your social media channels as well. Put ads up on your website, include it in your company newsletter, and encourage your team to share it with their own contacts. Do all you can to get the rod out there.
Develop Your Presentation and Practice.
Just like how you’d run through your lines for a school presentation, you’re going to want to practice before your webinar. People will be signing up to watch because they expect you to be an expert on whatever your speaking topic is.
Even if you know your stuff, you can diminish your credibility by being disorganized in your presentation or stumbling over facts and figures. Practice ahead of time so that your webinar can go off as smoothly as possible.
It’ll help you shake off any nerves you might be building up as well. It happens to the best of us.
Prepare for Event Day.
When prep for a presentation is rushed, it shows.
Make sure that you and your team have ample time to set up for your event. If your audience is going to be able to see the room you’re in, make sure it’s clean and empty of anything that may distract them from the presentation.
Go ahead and set up any gear you may require ahead of time. It’ll save you the headache of trying to figure out lighting and camera frames at the start of the webinar, which can come across as unprofessional.
Prepare as much as you can for the big day, and you’ll be thankful for it later.
Follow Up With Attendees.
That follow up strategy isn’t just to please your participants. All of those form submissions can be used as a means for lead generation as well.
In the follow up email, include some CTAs that will entice potential customers to look deeper into your brand and what you offer. The webinar is just a way to instigate a conversation with them, so make sure you pursue that opportunity.
Fuel Lead Generation With Your Webinar
You can start driving your lead generation abilities by hosting targeted, high-value webinars for your audience and buyer personas. The benefits are there, and it’s a fun way to engage with your leads.
What are you waiting for then?