Technology is providing today’s companies with an amazing array of tools. From video conferencing to high-powered CRM solutions, businesses today have more resources at their fingertips than ever before.
One of the most useful tools available is the webinar. Compared to the cost of traditional advertising or a trade show presence, a webinar is highly cost-effective. Not only that, it gives you the opportunity to connect with customers and potential customers in an interactive, multimedia environment.
Yet, some webinars fall flat on their face. It’s not for a lack of trying; in many cases, the company or person responsible for the webinar simply doesn’t realize what’s involved in producing a successful webinar.
Here are some tips that will help your webinar be both engaging and effective:
Know what you’re trying to accomplish
Truthfully, this is where any webinar endeavor should begin. You need to have a realistic idea of what the webinar should accomplish. Are you trying to generate a certain number of new leads? Are you trying to establish your company’s credibility in your niche? Are you trying to increase brand awareness?
Webinars are particularly good for all of these purposes, but your goals will greatly determine the content of the webinar as well as the tactics you use to get the word out about your webinar. They’ll also determine how you handle registration, and what sorts of information you collect during that process.
Choose the right presenter
The person in marketing who proposes the webinar is rarely the right person to do the presentation. Instead, look for a resource that brings something other than marketing expertise to the table. That might mean your CEO, one of your top engineers, a salesperson, or even an industry expert that can be coaxed to come in and help with the webinar. (An outside expert will often generate greater degrees of interest and credibility, as well.)
Choose the timing of your webinar carefully
Whenever possible, try to offer your audience a choice. On any given day or time, some of your key viewers may be unavailable. If you offer a webinar series split across several days or weeks, you’ll pull in more and better leads over time. Not only that, it will give potential customers the opportunity to come back again and again, helping to reinforce your credibility and increase their brand loyalty.
In this regard, you also need to think about your audience and their schedules. For example, if an industry trade show is running on the day you’re offering a webinar, you’re going to miss out on attendance from some key players. If most of your audience is on the West Coast, 10 AM Eastern time is going to exclude many of them from attending. On the other hand, if you have a coast-to-coast audience 1 PM seems to be an ideal time for most attendees.
Don’t skimp on marketing and promotion
You’ll want to start promoting the webinar at least two weeks ahead of time. You should have reminders go out to prospective attendees around two days, and then again at two hours before the webinar. Without a reminder, only around a third of the attendees that sign up will show up.
Integrate your webinar into your other marketing channels. Have the sales team call their existing clients, as well as prospects. A personal invite is much more likely to get a response, and it’s an easy, no-pressure call to be made.
Cross-promote the webinar via your other marketing channels. Include a blurb on the webinar (along with a sign-up link) in your monthly newsletter. Make sure there are at least a couple of blog posts on your site that talk about the webinar. Pass out flyers at trade shows, along with fact sheets related to the webinar.
Learn from the webinar for next time
The webinar is an interactive format. As such, you have the opportunity to get immediate feedback. You can get both qualitative feedback during the webinar from individuals, and you can get quantitative feedback after the webinar by providing a poll or a customer survey. In that survey, ask specifically what kinds of things you could do to improve a future webinar, and to get some insight as to the interest level the attendees have in the topic as well as your solution.
Have an effective sales follow-up plan
Each attendee should receive some sort of thank you for attending, and a link to the webinar (which should always be recorded). This simple step in itself will often result in sales or referrals. Send a “sorry you couldn’t attend” note to those who didn’t make it, along with a link to the recorded webinar. The sales team can then follow up with prospects, as well.
A successful webinar can be a wonderful tool for your company. Follow these tips and your webinar will be as successful as it can be.
Katie Reynolds is the Marketing Manager of Webinars and Public Relations at Vistage International. Vistage business coaching groups help CEOs build successful companies. This executive coaching organization is membership-based only and provides high-level development opportunities for executives.