Don’t fear the webinar: By packing the punch with a thoughtful strategy and engaging content, it can really sizzle.
We are often asked which marketing tactics are the best to prioritize — especially as budgets tighten. Often my follow-up questioning circles around, “What are you trying to accomplish – get new leads? Convert leads into sales? Drive brand awareness? Upsell or engage with existing customers?”
No matter the answer, one of my favorite (and highly underrated) tactics is hosting a webinar. With the proper planning, webinars are effective, affordable and convenient. Here’s why:
- No special equipment or setup is required — just a well-thought-out strategy, quality content, and engaging speakers. With increase in remote working, we’ve seen webinars start to edge out large gatherings or in-person presentations.
- Webinars are a great way to get your foot in the door with new contacts, rekindle a conversation with an existing contact, or provide a value-add for clients. Depending on the industry, they have an impressive ability to convert leads into customers, with conversion rates in the neighborhood of 20-40%, according to recent studies by readytalk.com.
As an example of the powerful nature of webinars, one of our large financial services clients successfully attracted and engaged a lead through a recent webinar. This led to a new client who had over $3 million in assets that needed to be managed. The webinar also generated some 500 new contacts that engaged with the webinar content, either live or on-demand, to whom the company can now market.
- Webinars are a great means for showcasing thought leadership to external audiences, which can build credibility and lead to new partnerships. A fintech client of ours who primarily uses webinars to target state government agencies found that a recent webinar they hosted actually opened the door for opportunities with federal agencies and nonprofit partnerships. Publishing and sharing expertise is important, and webinars can be a perfect avenue for just that.
While webinars have strong potential, their effectiveness is hinged upon a well-designed strategy. Here’s how to set up for success, so your webinars are not only effective, but also efficient.
1. Strategy and Planning
100% of your focus should be on your audience. Know who you are targeting, what they care about and why. Armed with this information, come up with a topic and brainstorm the top four to five takeaways your audience will find valuable. Then determine how to break the topics into digestible bits of information — this may be through simple text or visuals.
Using what you know about your audience, build out a six-month calendar for the content you’ll share in future webinars. Keep in mind that the exact content will be fluid — you should test various topics and use learnings from past webinars to adjust and improve future content.
In addition to developing content for the webinar registration form and the website page it will live on, consider a mix of promotional tactics, including:
- Email promotion: a series of emails prior to the webinar, including save the date, open registration and last chance messages.
- Social promotion: leveraging content from the webinar, generate excitement pre-webinar and continue to drive value to prospects unable to attend.
- Paid ads: Using tools like Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising and paid social, you can promote your webinar with your own designed ads. Ads should include pertinent webinar details, like the topic, date, time and registration details, and a quick hook regarding why someone might want to attend.
Ideally, your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system (like Salesforce) will speak with your webinar-hosting platform. This way when someone registers, a new contact or lead will be created or the action will be tied to an existing contact in your CRM.
3. Webinar Content
Using relevant topics you’ve identified, develop and organize the content into a presentable flow. Keep in mind content can be generated from scratch by conducting internal interviews and/or repurposed from existing content like white papers, slide deck and sales materials. Slides should include short phrases, snippets of key takeaways, and visuals.
Develop a run of show and help prepare the presenters. This includes a minute-by-minute breakdown of speakers, talking points and slide numbers, so all participants are aware of what will be covered at any given moment. High-level speaker talking points should keep the conversation focused while streamlining handoffs for multiple speakers.
Include a compelling call to action or wrap-up to conclude the presentation. This is also an opportunity to tease a short pitch — a piece of sales material to illustrate the audience’s challenges, while speaking to how your company can solve the challenge.
4. Webinar Facilitation
Set up your Zoom webinar with appropriate settings and hosting capabilities. Again, ensuring integration with your CRM system will allow you to seamlessly update your contact database and segment and identify leads based on their actions. Determine who will drive the slide deck, manage Q&A at the conclusion of the presentation, address and troubleshoot technical difficulties, etc.
Don’t forget to do a trial run – this is a great way to boost the presenter’s preparedness and confidence while smoothing over any glitches before going live.
5. Webinar Follow Up
After your webinar concludes, you’ll have several buckets of contacts: attendees, registrants who did not attend invitees that did not register, etc. Develop personalized, dynamic content targeted toward each of these segments as follow-up. For example, send snippets or a recording of the webinar to those who didn’t attend, or send additional value-add content to those who did attend to continue to keep them engaged.
6. Success Metrics and Strategy Revisions
Evaluate your analytics to further refine your webinar content plan moving forward. You’ll want to take a look at:
- Who attended your webinar
- How your email and social efforts performed
- How your ad/promotional spend performed (if applicable)
- What rate of lead conversion you achieved (how many attendees turned into customers or took the action you desired)
- Which sections of the webinar had the highest and lowest levels of engagement
Using your learnings, make adjustments and tweaks to improve your efforts moving forward. Perhaps there is an opportunity to elaborate on topics that saw high levels of engagement, and concentrate promotional efforts on areas that saw the most success.
With thoughtful planning, you can ensure the webinar content you provide is valuable for your audience and in turn lucrative for your business.