Webinars: one of the most effective marketing tools
Webinars not only generate new leads, but are also successful in converting them into sales. That makes them one of the most effective tools for B2B marketing. And you don’t have to take our word for it – recent research by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) reaches the same conclusion.
Besides supporting marketing activities such as ‘top of the funnel’ lead generation, webinars have numerous other applications, such as strengthening internal and/or external communication and for helping to achieve training goals. For example, webinars enable KLM to communicate transparently and directly with its employees, and the European Society of Anaesthesiology (ESA) uses webinars to facilitate knowledge sharing among its members.
In other words, webinars should really be a standard component in every marketing mix. According to CMI’s study, however, only 57% of marketing professionals are currently using them.
Organising a webinar isn’t difficult, but it’s only natural to find it a little daunting if you haven’t done it before. To guide you through the process as quickly and smoothly as possible, we’ve developed a step-by-step guide (see infographic below) for guaranteed webinar success!
Well begun is half done
As the infographic shows, the preparation phase is the most important… and it also takes the most time, so start well in advance. In theory, it’s possible to make the necessary preparations in the space of four weeks, but this is cutting things a little fine and leaves you less time for things like promotion – which is an essential factor in a webinar’s success. Therefore, we recommend that you start preparing six weeks beforehand.
Define the goals and the target group
Think carefully about who the webinar is targeted at and what the objective is. For example, do you want to generate leads? Do you want to communicate an important internal management update to your workforce? Do you want to educate customers or train employees? Specifically defining your target group – using buyer personas to help you if necessary – makes it easier to tailor the webinar content to their specific needs.
Next, set measurable goals. If you want to generate leads, for example, decide how many you want to achieve. How many viewers do you want to attract? Or are you aiming for a certain satisfaction score or a certain level of engagement? Make those goals ‘SMART’ (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) and use them as a guideline throughout the entire process.
Finally, align the content with your target audience. A topic that is relevant and interesting for your target group will increase the number of registrations, the level of viewer engagement and the chance of a high rating afterwards. Just as for the target group and the goals, it is a case of ‘the more specific, the better’ when it comes to the topic too. A good webinar provides an answer to a specific problem. A title like ‘Introducing our new product line’ does not tell a potential viewer how you will solve his or her specific problem. In contrast, a title like ‘How can you achieve better results with Twitter advertising?’ is a lot more concrete and implies that the webinar will offer a solution.
The art of presenting
Presenting a webinar is different from presenting to a group of people. In a ‘normal’ presentation, you can see the faces of the people in the audience and you can easily address the group or focus on a particular person. In a webinar, you are effectively talking to a camera. That can feel strange, especially when it’s your first time; it can seem like you’re talking to yourself. Therefore, our advice is to practice speaking in front of a camera beforehand so that it will feel more natural on the day itself.
The key is to look straight into the camera. Viewers can see your eyes and will notice if you keep looking off to the left or right, perhaps to read an autocue. So keep looking straight into the camera as if you’re talking to the viewer directly. When selecting speakers, preferably choose someone who has experience presenting in front of a camera.
Consider using a webinar host
A webinar host can be a valuable addition to a webinar. By beginning the webinar with a strong and compelling introduction, the host engages the viewers right from the start. Subsequently the host steers the discussion, asking the right questions to keep the conversation going and stimulating interaction with the participants. As a result, a host can add dynamism to a webinar.
Using a host also means that speakers don’t have to multitask during the broadcast. Rather than having to review and handle incoming questions and poll results themselves, they can fully focus on their presentation. This further improves the quality of the webinar.
The power of promotion
The content of a webinar is important, of course, but if no one bothers to watch it then it has all been for nothing. Start your promotional activities well in advance in order to attract as many viewers as possible. Schedule your webinar at the optimal time for your target group. Develop a message that appeals to your target group and promote it as heavily as possible through channels with the right reach.
Get your promotional activities off to an early start and increase the intensity in the final week before the webinar. Don’t worry too much if the number of registrations is lower than expected in the early stages – it’s not uncommon for a lot of the registrations (often more than half) to be received in the week before the broadcast, and some people don’t sign up until the day before or even on the day itself. That’s one of the advantages of a webinar being an online event – people can decide to attend at the last minute.
Reach the target audience live, but also afterwards
A webinar is the gift that keeps on giving! Webinars can be watched on demand, allowing the reach and impact of your message to continue long after the live broadcast. Well-designed webinars are also SEO-optimised to improve searchability on Google. You could therefore consider a webinar as a one-time investment that you can reap the benefits of for a long time.
For a step-by-step guide to organising a successful webinar, feel free to download the infographic here.