Police car with policemen in the backgroundThe first time I ever delivered a webinar, I accidentally dialed 9-1-1. Twice.

I eventually managed to set up the audio that fateful day and have been going strong ever since.

Below I outline six tips to help you run an engaging webinar and avoid any first timer mistakes.

And if you follow these tips, hopefully no one will be tempted to dial 9-1-1 on purpose.

1. Set expectations

Once you’ve decided on running a webinar, set realistic expectations for success. Decide on who you want to attend, the number of attendees you want, the satisfaction rate, and the engagement rate post-webinar. By setting these expectations now, you’ll have a better understanding later if the webinar was worth doing. You also want to set expectations for your attendees. They should know if your webinar content is going to be the right fit for them.

2. Find the right webinar tool

Once you know what you want to achieve and who you want to attend, find the right tool. There are a lot of tools out there so before you make a decision consider the costs per attendee, audio costs, engagement tools, screen share capabilities, and the ability to record the session.

A great place to start looking is MeetingBurner, we recently integrated with them and they have special pricing for Constant Contact customers.

3. Reach them

Webinars are fantastic because you can reach a wide audience for minimal cost, but you have to get the audience to come. That’s where your online event promotion comes in. A webinar name that conveys a clear benefit is your first step to getting registrants. A compelling description that contains keywords will also help with search engine optimization (SEO). Then you need to spread the word via email, on your website, and of course on social media. Promotion is an integral part to getting people to register. But you also want to be sure they attend, so don’t forget about sending reminders! I recommend sending a reminder to registrants one week before, one day before and even one hour before. Often you will be broadcasting to people during their busy work day. With all those demands and distractions a reminder helps get them to the webinar.

4. Get to know them

As a webinar content developer, I love the information you can get from the registration form. On one hand it provides you with the contact information of your registrants, which is important for the follow-up process, and one the other hand it can provide you with fresh content ideas. Recently, I asked registrants of a webinar on event best practices for nonprofits to submit questions ahead of time. The majority of the questions were covered in the webinar, but the issue of sponsorships was not. And it came up a lot. Thanks to those registration questions, I was able to update the webinar content to answer that popular question and give people the information they needed.

5. Wow them

The webinar is really about your attendees and making sure they feel comfortable with the material and are confident moving forward. On the day of your webinar, make sure you’re prepared and broadcast from a quiet place. I also like to ask people to introduce themselves to the group. I find this makes it feel more like a person-to-person event and people are more likely to ask questions and participate. Make sure to stick to your outline, but allow flexibility to answer questions as they come through.

6. Hit them at their peak interest

If done well or even so-so, webinars are a great way to generate leads and move people through your sales cycle, if you follow up. You have to follow up. They could have attended the best webinar of their entire life, but that won’t matter if you don’t follow up. You also have to follow up quickly. Hit them while they are at the peak of their interest. And not just attendees, but also non-attendees who registered.

First, send everyone an email after the webinar. For attendees, thank them for attending and include the slides and a recording of the session. Also, include a clear call to action about the next step you want them to take. Then go ahead and copy that email, and change the subject line from “Thank you for attending” to “Sorry we missed you.” The only other change is to include an easy way to register for the next live session.

You can also use the valuable data you collected during registration to have your sales team follow up with attendees. A webinar is a great start, but you need to continue engaging with your audience for maximum impact.

Make it easy

When you boil it down, webinars are really about making it easy for your audience.

  • Making it easy for them to hear about it.
  • Making it easy for them to register.
  • Making it easy for them to remember to attend.
  • And making it easy for them to walk away with valuable takeaways.

Keep your audience’s best interests in mind and YOU will easily run a successful webinar. And no one will need to call the cops!

Want to learn more about how to run an engaging webinar? Attend our live webinar on June 5th! Register here.