So you want to host a webinar. Now what?

By Rachael Brice on January 14th, 2016

Companies often determine hosting a webinar is the best creative marketing tactic to generate awareness. Webinars also help drive sales, educate prospects and customers, promote brands and increase lead generation, but before deciding to engage in such a time intensive project, ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Is the content engaging and interactive? 
  2. Do I have a partner or end user to help boost the webinar’s content value?
  3. Who am I targeting with this webinar?
  4. Does hosting a webinar align with my marketing strategy and goals?
  5. Have I allocated the appropriate lead time?

After answering these questions, if you believe a webinar is in fact the best tool to benefit your company, then it’s time to get to work. Through this two part blog series, we will discuss basic tips and highlight examples of promotional activities that will assist you during your planning process to ensure a successful webinar.

Part 1: Planning

Set the focus. Webinars should serve as a thought leadership opportunity rather than a sales pitch. Webinars present an opportunity for a company to raise brand visibility and build its thought leadership position by discussing top trends in its relevant industry. It is important to note when choosing the focus of your webinar that it remain educational, but also entertaining and engaging. No one wants to watch a sales presentation or a demo as a webinar.

Identify target audience. Depending on your company, you may have a smaller niche audience or a large, broader audience. For example, an audience can include C-suite executives and other key decision makers that either your company has not engaged with before or prospects that have already shown interest in your company’s offerings. Identifying your key audience will help shape your message and objectives.

Set clear objectives. It is important to set clear objective(s) for a webinar so your attendees know exactly what you will be discussing throughout the webinar. This will help ensure your audience is more engaged rather than confused or questioning what you’re trying to accomplish. It is also beneficial to choose a topic that compliments your objectives.

Leverage end-users. Using an end-user or industry thought leader as a speaker does not only greatly increase your company’s thought leadership stance and allow for deeper discussion during the webinar, but will also help promote the webinar across multiple channels, platforms and organizations. It is highly recommended you use at least one, non-employee thought leader during the webinar who can attest to your company’s products, solutions or services. Plus, webinar attendees will be interested to learn how your company is making a difference in the industry through your end-users’ insights.

Determine a call to action. Just as important as a clear objective is a clear call to action (CTA) for attendees. A CTA can be as simple as downloading a case study or white paper or clicking on a pre-developed link to register for a demo. Some companies even choose to have a giveaway or incentive for attending, which is an easy way to retain audience members until the very end of the webinar. It is important the CTA is clear and creates a sense of urgency for attendees.

Determine a time and date. Determining when you will host your webinar can be just about as important as choosing your topic. However, there is some debate to what day and time to host a webinar. According to ReadyTalk, it’s best to host a webinar on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday at either 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. EST., but GoToMeeting, suggests Tuesdays at 11 a.m. are best. The more webinars you host, the more you will discover what days and times are best for you and your audience.

Pick, choose and use a marketing automation system. It is imperative you have a distribution list you can use that includes your preferred audience. This list needs to be linked with your marketing automation account, if you have one allowing you to send out targeted eBlasts to your potential webinar attendees. Leads generated can then directly go to your Pardot account.

Pre-plan questions and answers. Developing four to five high-level questions and pre-planned responses for the Q&A portion is always helpful to have as a backup in the off-chance webinar participants haven’t asked any questions during the presentation. These pre-planned questions can help jumpstart good conversation and discussion.

Set attainable, tangible goals. According to ReadyTalk, the average webinar attendance rate is 40-50% of the total number of registrants, and it is not uncommon for webinars to receive only a 25% attendance rate. Additionally, only 20-40% of webinar attendees actually turn into qualified leads. It is important to keep these statistics in mind when setting goals and expectations to ensure they are realistic. Below are a few examples of goals you could set:

  • Generating brand awareness
  • Move X number of prospect clients into a position to buy a product or service
  • Secure X number of registrants with X% of attendance rate
  • Attain X% of sales conversion rate from the webinar
  • Generate X number of new leads

Whether you’re hosting your first webinar or your 100th, having the right plan in place can make all the difference. In our next blog, we will examine various promotional activities you can use to market your webinar to ensure success.

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