What better way to celebrate back to school season than to discover a new way to educate your customers?

A webinar is a powerful tool to help you do just that.

Not only are webinars effective—letting you reach your customers online wherever they are—but they’re also affordable—costing as little as two cents per attendee.

At Constant Contact, we use webinars to train our customers to use our products and to teach small businesses and nonprofits how they can grow their brands with the power of email marketing and social media.

This week, I sat down with Katharine Farrell, Education Development Specialist at Constant Contact. Katharine hosts many of the webinars we hold each week including: How to Run Engaging Webinars. (That’s right, we even host webinars … about hosting webinars!)

Not sure if webinars are the right tool for your small business? Check out my full interview with Katharine:

What is a webinar and why would a small business want to consider running one?

Webinars are events that are held online, where you can invite people to attend from the comfort of their desk. So whether they’re at work or at home, they can easily attend a webinar. When they attend they’ll be able to see your screen, so you can demonstrate something or show them slides and they’ll be able to hear audio of that.

The reason a business would want to do it, is because it’s an inexpensive way to reach a wide audience. It’s an easy medium and it can cost as little as two cents per attendee to do it. You can make a big impact and it’s a great way to get your audience engaged and really educate them.

How can a business decide if the topic they have in mind is right for their webinar?

That’s a very important question. I think a lot of small businesses get so excited about doing a webinar and get very focused on what they are going to get out of it. What you really need to focus on is what your audience is going to get out of it. Make sure that the goal of your webinar matches your audience’s motivation to attend.

When you’re thinking about topics, it’s really things that provide prescriptive advice, educate your audience, and have a clear value and benefit. Whether that’s resolving a pain point—for example, at Constant Contact we know a lot of small businesses want to grow their email lists, so we have an entire webinar on tips for how to build your list.

But also hot topics are great for attracting a wide audience and it gets people “in the door.” So for example, a webinar on Pinterest would be really valuable to our audience right now, or social media in general, because it’s something they’ve heard about, there’s a lot of buzz, and they want to capitalize on that buzz.

So having prescriptive advice that has a value to the attendee is a great way to have a webinar, as long as you keep what they want and what they’re going to get out of it in mind.

How can a business make sure they have an audience for their webinar?

Having a topic that’s going to provide value is very important for getting people to want to attend the webinar. You want to make sure that topic is evident in the title and in the description. When people are searching for things, you want to make sure your webinar is coming up in those search results.

Once you’ve picked a topic, the next is to pick a time. Time is important because if people can’t attend at the time of your webinar, then they can’t attend, and it’s a moot point. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays are typically the best days and you’ll really need to determine a time that works for your audience.

Once you have those two squared away, the next step is to promote it out. You can do that through an event invitation, event homepage, or through social media—really reaching out to your base and letting them know about the webinar.

If the topic is of value to them, they are going to want to register. Registration isn’t something that always happens with webinars, but I do recommend it because people are a lot more likely to attend if they register. It also makes it easy for you because you can collect information about the people who are attending—you can follow up with them and also send them reminders.

So selecting a topic that’s of value, a time that works for your audience, and then making sure your audience knows about it, would be the three key steps.

Have questions about running a successful webinar? Post them in the comments below.