I’ve been in the business of helping companies in technical industries grow and evolve for nearly fifteen years. Suffice it to say, I’ve hosted a webinar or two in my time and have learned something new from each and every one of them.
Achieving quantifiable success when hosting a webinar is all about finding the sweet spot between ease and intrigue. You want potential viewers to be interested in what you have to say and you want them to be able to access and understand that information easily. You have to draw them in and keep them engaged.
If you’re wondering how to do that, don’t fret — I’ll be covering the hows, whys, ins, and outs of successfully hosting and promoting a webinar below.
What exactly is a webinar?
When writing this post, I conducted an experiment. I asked five people I knew what they thought a webinar was. The answers were varied. I was told that webinars were “online conferences,” “live interactive presentations,” and “like a video call except usually only one or two folks are talking and everyone else is listening.”
The great part about this experiment was that everyone was correct. A webinar can be a lot of different things. It can be used as a platform for teaching. It can also be an opportunity to directly showcase products and services.
It can be whatever you or your business wants it to be. The only rules to a webinar are:
1. That it’s an online video class, workshop, lecture, or presentation
2. That you have a good reason for hosting it
What do I need to do to successfully host a webinar?
Imagine a webinar like a dinner party. Anyone can throw a fast food cheeseburger on a plate and call it fine dining. You’re not anyone, though. You’re someone who doesn’t want to just get by, you’re someone who wants to stand out and succeed. You’re here to serve a six course prime rib and strawberry pie kind of webinar. The best way to accomplish that is by doing the following:
- Plan ahead with your content. Because webinars offer a low-stress way to interact with a brand, they’re a great engagement tool for prospective customers that aren’t quite ready to talk to sales. You need to consider what types of content offer your prospects and customers the best value. You want to interest them, not sell them. Figure out what topics are the best fit by thinkings about common questions asked by prospects and clients alike. Check your website’s analytics to see which pages get the most traffic and build ideas from there.
- Use a platform that best fits your needs. There are a wide variety of different platforms that you can use to host your webinar. You’ll have a lot to choose from depending on your experience, industry, and specific needs. Zoom is a popular and easy-to-use option, but you’ll want to make sure your presentation is password protected to guarantee safety. WebEx is a well-known player in the webinar circuit, but its interface can be challenging for first-time users. BrightTalk is a popular option for tech companies because of its ease-of-use and visibility.
- Do a test run. This is a great rule of thumb for any type of online event. Don’t wait until the last second to make sure your settings, mics, computers, cables, and cameras are working properly.
- Pay attention to timing. You’ll find a lot of different information about the best time to host a webinar. We’ve found that times of the day and week where people are tuned in but not as busy are the best. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and times of the day right after meals tend to be the most successful.
How do I best promote my webinar?
Promoting your webinar is crucial. After all, what’s the point of hosting a webinar if no one tunes in to see it? There are four main avenues to go down when planning a promotion plan for your upcoming event:
- Email marketing. Email marketing is the most effective tool at your disposal when it comes to webinar promotion. If you have a client/customer newsletter that already exists, use it. Your newsletter will already be populated with individuals who are either prospects or existing clients, so they’ll be more likely than most to be interested in the subject matter you’re offering. If that’s not an option, add a line promoting the webinar with a link to a dedicated landing page to all your staff member’s email signatures.
- Social media marketing. Social media marketing is the best way to promote a webinar. You can try Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram to see what works best for the audience you’re targeting. A single cool image edit shared across multiple platforms can go a long way.
- Paid search campaigns. One of the greatest appeals of a webinar is that it usually doesn’t cost a lot of money to develop. Spending a little on paid search promotion is almost always worth it. A limited, targeted campaign that’s focused on highly specific keywords (i.e. “webinar” or “training”) can be quite productive. You can double down with paid search by running display or retargeting ads, which are usually more cost-effective due to lower cost-per-click.
- Your website. If you have a website, you might as well use it (and if you don’t, consider creating a website asap!). Do some heat mapping on your website to know which areas see the most action. You can use those sections for conversion forms to drive sign-ups. Custom landing pages are also important and can be used after the webinar airs for additional information and resources.
The bottom line
Webinars are a great resource for any business trying to expand their reach. They don’t require doors or walls or a long drive. All a person needs to participate is a computer and a little free time. Since we’re all living in a hectic, busy world, being able to access useful information digitally can make a big difference. Plus, webinars can also develop trust, promote your company’s role as a thought leader, and help you better understand your target audiences.
If this post has inspired you to try your hand at hosting your very own webinar, don’t forget to send me an invite! I’ll do my best to tune in.