It wasn’t that long ago that some in marketing circles were wondering whether the webinar was dying out. But the rumors of its demise have been greatly exaggerated, especially given the situation we’re in now. It’s impossible in most places to share a cup of coffee with your next-door neighbor, much less attend a conference or an evening panel discussion. Virtually everyone in the technology world is at home, online all day long.
The webinar is back.
But, truth be told, it never went anywhere in the first place. After all, nearly three-quarters of marketers count it as one of their top ways to generate leads, according to a survey conducted by InsideSales.com.
That said, not every webinar is a winner. If they’re not well planned and promoted, you end up with an audience you can count with your fingers. And unless you’re selling to a very exclusive audience, that’s no good for anyone. So, to help you put on a webinar that generates the leads your sales organization needs, here’s some guidance on how to plan and promote it successfully.
Give your audience something valuable
Many marketers make the mistake of thinking that, since their ultimate goal is to sell a product or service, the webinar needs to do that directly. Occasionally, that might be the right way to go. If you already have a large user base, for instance, and you’re rolling out a new module for your platform, a webinar that shows off the new features and illustrates its use cases might be exactly what your customers want.
But most of the time, showcasing your product or service won’t generate much interest. People don’t typically flock to a sales pitch. After all, timeshare companies in Florida have to give away multi-day vacations just to get people to attend a one-hour sales presentation. With this in mind, the first order of business is to pick a topic that prospects will find appealing and then find experts who can speak to it.
Here are a few places to go look:
Talk to your sales team: They talk with prospects every day. What are prospects’ biggest concerns? What news stories are they following? What do they need help understanding?
Inquire with your PR team: They’re talking with reporters who cover your industry and, if they’re doing their job, are following the news closely. What topics are hot? What trends are working their way to the top of the heap?
Examine your website’s analytics: Are certain blogs on your website seeing more traffic than others? Are there any sudden spikes in views? The data could help point you to a compelling topic.
See what your competitors are discussing: Their blog, their webinars, their white papers — all can be great sources for compelling webinar topics.
Whatever topic you choose, it must be something that is intrinsically interesting to your customers and prospects. Whether it helps them better understand the implications for new industry regulations or provides them with concrete tips they can use to more efficiently manage data storage, you want your attendees to leave your webinar feeling it was worth their time. If so, when a salesperson follows up a couple of days later, they’ll be much more receptive to a conversation.
Put as much care into selecting speakers as you do your topic. They need to be knowledgeable and able to speak with energy and enthusiasm. If it’s in your budget, you may want to consider hiring an outside speaker who can not only bring their expertise, but also their own audience. Make sure to vet them, however, by watching some of their previous performances. Not everyone who can write well has the charisma to carry a webinar.
Promoting the Webinar
Promotion is just as important as the topic, and you’ll want to begin outreach at least four weeks before the webinar takes place.
Before you begin promotion, however, make sure you understand who you want to attract and what the benefit to them will be. Are your in-house prospect and customer lists sufficient? Do you need to augment it with targets from an outside vendor in order to tailor this list to fit your desired audience? What will likely be seen by this audience as the most valuable benefit of attending?
Unless you know the answers to these questions, you’re not ready to begin the process of promoting your webinar.
Next, optimize your landing page. Highlight the topic, speakers, time and, most important, the benefits of attending. But keep it brief. People are likely to be turned off by a wall of text. They should be able to glean the most important information at a glance.
Also, while you want to collect information from registrations — collecting leads is the point, after all — keep the number of fields to just the essentials. The more information you request, the bigger the barrier you erect for people to register.
Finally, if you have the time and the budget, a one-to-two minute preview video is a great addition. If the video is well-produced and informative, it can significantly boost your registrations.
Email — the old standby that still works
Now that you have the landing page, it’s time to plan out your email outreach, which is still the most important tool for attracting attendees. By far, most of your registrations will be the result of your email campaign.
Begin with an invitation that, again, leads with the benefits of attending. Timing these emails can help increase registrations. Best practice is to send them out Tuesday morning. On Monday, people are busy planning out their week, and the closer you get to Friday, the more people are cramming to get weekly tasks completed — webinar invitations are more likely to go unread. As for sending them out in the morning, checking email is one of the first things people do, so you’ll want your invite in that batch. Truly though, the other days of the week will still work — the only day you want to avoid is Friday.
Send out invitations weekly. And don’t forget to send those who have registered a reminder email both the day before and an hour prior to the webinar’s start time.
More than just email
Company blog: If you’ve got a blog — and you should — make sure to promote the webinar there with a call to action that leads to your registration page. The post needs to do more than just announce the webinar, however, if it’s going to attract readers and attendees. You could, for instance, conduct a brief Q&A with one of the presenters or provide readers with a preview of one of the take-aways they can expect from the webinar. Whatever you do, make sure it’s not a Craigslist ad, but rather a blog post that can stand on its own.
Social media: Concerning social media, leverage all of the channels important to you and your audience with a steady cadence of posts. They shouldn’t be the only thing you talk about, of course, but keep a consistent drumbeat going at a pace that’s appropriate to the social media platform.
Amplify through employees’ network: Don’t forget about the networks of employees and presenters. Encourage them to repost items to their own networks from the company social media feeds, or give them some guidance to create their own. It’s a powerful way to amplify your reach.
Co-marketing: Consider bringing on a speaker from one of your partners or any other company that’s adjacent to your market position without being competitive. So long as the speaker knows the subject well and can provide a compelling talk, you can enlarge your audience by co-marketing the event.
An asset with a long tail: Finally, remember that promoting your webinar doesn’t stop the day of the live event. You’ll want to keep a recording of the webinar on your website, where it can serve as the call to action for blog posts, the subject of social media posts and a source of leads for months to come.
Webinars are still a powerful way for marketers to generate leads and forge relationships with customers and prospects. These guidelines should help you identify topics that will resonate with your desired audiences and then promote your webinars effectively to keep your pipeline full.
If you would like to get in touch with us to see how our team can help you create and promote webinars that generate great results, contact us here.