Webinars – where you run a seminar over the internet – are an increasingly popular and convenient way to get information out to people. They’re also a brilliant marketing tool, because you’re positioning yourself as the expert in your field. So what’s the best way to run them? Here are some useful tips.
1. How far in advance should you advertise your webinar?
If you start too early, people often forget what inspired them to sign up in the first place. Email your target audience no more than a couple of weeks in advance. Advertise the event on Twitter, Facebook and other social media too. Get your message out wherever potential attendees might be lurking.
But also remind people just prior to the event. This re-stimulates interest in those who’ve already signed up, and gives a final opportunity for other people to register. Don’t forget to ask for permission to use their email addresses!
It can be a good idea to email helpful pieces of content to those who’ve signed up. This way, the audience becomes more familiar with the speakers, anticipates hearing more about the topic and is reminded of the webinar itself.
Don’t overdo the reminders, though. They can get annoying and be counterproductive if they’re overused.
People often don’t sign up for a webinar the first time they see the offer. It may take two or three attempts before they’ll be convinced.
2. The 50% rule
Roughly 50% of those who sign up will turn up. This means that once you reach your target threshold of registrations, you need to continue to promote the event. You want to avoid investing lots of money in a webinar only to have too few people attend.
3. Who should attend?
A webinar is an event just like one that happens in real space. Assuming the topic is of interest to your target audience, they’re going to ask similar questions. One such question is “Who should attend?”
That’s why you need to make this crystal clear in your invitation. Both those who are within and outside of your target will appreciate the clarity you show by stating exactly who you want to reach, whether it’s specific types of companies or specific job titles and areas of responsibilty.
You want to do as many dry runs as possible – but this may be difficult if you have guest speakers who are time-crunched.
Try and do at least two dry runs the day before the event, so if you find your graphics load slowly or you need to re-order your material, you have time to fix the problems. Dry runs are especially important if your speakers are being piped in from different locations.
If the speaker is in one place, and the graphics she’s talking about are being controlled from a different place, it’s critical that the person controlling the graphics knows when the next graphic is to be presented!
5. Keep it short
Start with an intro of about five minutes or less, where you welcome your attendees and tell them what they’ll be hearing about. The actual content should be 30 minutes maximum. That’s less than in a real world seminar, but people are often multitasking in their office while attending a webinar and their attention span tends to be shorter.
After the main presentation, you can add a short demo or explanation of what your company does, how you operate, and what makes you ‘buyable’. A surprising number of attendees stick around for these post-presentations, so it’s a good opportunity to pitch for new clients.
6. Missing it doesn’t mean they missed it
When people miss the webinar, email them and tell them where they can see a recording at their convenience.
7. Don’t leak leads
The main reason for a webinar is to get leads – so don’t lose them. These people have spent time in your event, and hopefully they’ll have been impressed by what they saw. So contact them. Thank them for coming and ask if there’s anything else you can do for them. Build on the relationship. Make sure your lead nurturing programme is watertight.
8. Don’t read your webinar speech
Unless you’re a great actor, reading a presentation out loud sounds terrible. Instead, use cue cards to guide you from point to point. Practice out loud until you know it all perfectly. Then, when it comes to the webinar, you can afford to do a bit of riffing if the mood takes you. This riffing comes across as spontaneous, and the audience senses and enjoys this.
9. Prepare for questions
If you’re going to have a Q&A session, it’s a good idea to ask for questions before the webinar. No one wants to be the first person to ask a question. Once the ball gets rolling, others tend to jump in. Don’t be afraid to pause before answering. Pauses indicate that you are being thoughtful about what you say next.