Written by: Barbara Pfeiffer, The Partner Marketing Group
For the third year in a row, webinars made it into the top 10 “most effective” lead generation tactics as reported in our 2019 Technology Marketing Benchmarks & Trends Report. That’s not surprising since someone who gives up time to join a live webinar—or watch it on demand—clearly has an interest in what you’re sharing.
However, I also regularly talk to clients who tell me that webinars are not working for them. Typically, they point to low attendance and low conversion rates for those who did attend.
So what’s the difference between a webinar that drives leads and one that wastes time (both yours and your prospects’)? How do you make webinars the superstar performers they should be?
I’ve got seven ways you can boost performance, engagement and conversions for your next webinar.
Step 1: Set a Goal for Each Webinar
For every webinar, you should have a reason for holding it and a goal for the event. Super basic, right? Yet ask yourself how many times you’ve heard (or said) during marketing planning—we need to do a webinar. Unfortunately, too many times, webinars fall into a checklist of tactics without a lot of thought given to the why.
Before you set a date, pick a topic, assign a speaker or even add webinars to your marketing plan at all—set your goal for the webinar. Specifically:
- Are you targeting the top of the funnel and creating awareness for a new solution or introducing yourself and your solution to a new market?
- Do you have a number of engaged prospects that you want to accelerate through the sales cycle?
- Do you have prospects that are ready to take the final step but just need a little more convincing?
- Maybe you’re using webinars to keep your existing customers updated on important changes to your solution, teaching them about certain features, or how they can get more out of their investment.
Defining clear goals for each webinar you hold is the first step toward increasing performance.
Step 2: Define Your Webinar Audience
You probably considered your audience when defining your goals. However, you still need to determine who you are talking to. Be as targeted as you can. A CEO, department manager and IT will have different concerns, want different information and you’ll need to deliver different messages.
I see a lot of webinar plans that say “C-Suite” but that’s not a person. The people that make up the C-Suite will likely not all have the same needs.
Step 3: Develop High-Value Content
People will only join your webinar if they can learn something new so you need to provide them with high-quality, educational content. Webinars are as close to a one-on-one meeting as you may get without an actual sales call. This may be their first introduction to your company and capabilities, or the final step in making a decision to work with you, so be sure you leave them with a good impression.
If you can’t invest the hours you need to develop original thought leadership and educational content—skip the webinar until you can. A negative experience can ruin any future business with prospects that attend.
Once you’ve set a goal and defined your ideal audience, creating content that delivers value becomes a lot easier. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Look at your website and social analytics. What are people coming to your site looking for? What are your top-performing social posts? If you have certain blogs or topics that are driving interest more than others, they might be a good fit for a future webinar.
- Go back to Step 1. Look at the goal you defined for your webinar. A webinar focused at the top of the funnel needs to be educational, addressing the fact that the audience may not even know there is a problem. A webinar focused on the middle of the funnel might delve deeper into your solution. For the bottom of the funnel—where people are ready to convert—give them content that helps remove risk and barriers (like customer stories that show real outcomes).
- Use existing content. Consider building a webinar around your best existing content. We deliver multiple webinars every year around our annual Technology Marketing Benchmarks & Trends Report. If you have an awesome eBook focusing on trends in your target industry, that can be the foundation for a powerful webinar.
- Tell a story. As mentioned above, customer stories are impactful especially for the bottom of the funnel. Even if you can’t get a customer to join your webinar, tell their story. Share real-world scenarios wherever you can so prospects can visualize those same outcomes for their business.
Step 4: Dress for Success
Remember, your webinar may be as close to a sales call as you get so you want to put a “power suit” on your presentation. Beyond the content itself, how you present it will determine whether your webinar is a superstar or total dud. Even the best content can’t compensate for poor design, overloaded slides and ugly templates.
Here are a few webinar design tips:
- CUSTOMIZE your templates. If you don’t have a custom template for ALL your presentations, you should. Work with a designer to create a deck that fully reflects your branding. If you can’t make that investment, there are dozens of sources out there to buy well-designed templates far better than the stock templates in Microsoft PowerPoint. Simply update them with your colors, fonts and branding.
- LIMIT the bullets. If you have more than 2-3 on a slide, it’s too much. And no cheating trying to squeeze paragraphs of text into bullets—they are SHORT statements. Save long thoughts for your notes because if you put everything you want to say on a slide, people will be reading the slide and not listening to you.
- PUNCH it up with strong visuals. Don’t just find as many free stock images as you can and load your presentation with cartoons, cheesy graphics or photographs that say nothing. A good rule is to have a consistent theme for visuals. For example, black and white photographs, illustrative icons, line drawings, etc. that tell a unified story.
Tips on how to create a compelling presentation could actually be another blog, so for now I’ll share this webinar from Go To Meeting on designing great presentations.
Step 5: Deliver an Amazing Experience
It’s VERY easy to lose the attention of your audience during a webinar. Some studies show webinar attendees become distracted every 11 minutes, but I suspect it’s far more frequent than that. To keep people engaged:
- PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! I can’t stress this enough. I personally write out everything I want to say in my notes. Then I run through the slide deck using those notes at least 2 times before delivering a webinar. That way I’m not just reading them on the webinar because 1) there is nothing more boring than reading to someone and 2) people CAN tell when you are. When you present, interject your personality and imagine speaking your audience even when you can’t see them.
- Use interactive tools. Almost every webinar platform has tools that allow you to poll your audience during your webinar. Use them! It can keep your audience engaged and can also help you garner valuable information. Make sure your audience knows how to ask questions for your Q&A. If you’re super comfortable doing webinars, you may want to pause briefly after each slide to check the Q&A panel but that’s definitely more of an “advanced” technique.
Step 6: Create Excitement
Of course, all this work is for nothing if you don’t get the right people to your webinar. Bear in mind that a common practice these days is to register and watch the recording at the viewer’s leisure. Worry less about your attendance on webinar day and more about the overall registrations and views post-event.
How to sell your webinar and get the most registrations and attendees:
- When you’re writing your invitations, be very specific on what they will learn by attending.
- If you have an expert speaker or panelists, highlight them and their experience in your invite.
- Start demand generation about 2 weeks prior to the webinar. If you start promoting too far out, people forget they signed up.
- Do a heavy push for registrations 24 hours before AND the day off. Be sure to send different emails to those that are already registered and those that haven’t signed up yet.
- Be creative. Incorporate your best visuals from the webinar into your invite.
Step 7: Follow-Up & Maximize Your Investment
If you do webinars right, you’re going to be spending a lot of time on them. Get the most out of your investment with a strong follow-up plan.
- Send unique emails to attendees, registrants that did not attend, and those that did not register. For those that didn’t attend, provide a link to the webinar. For those that did, provide additional content on the topic of your webinar.
- Write a blog with the highlights of your webinar and key points, then share it on your website and your social channels. Include a link to watch the webinar if applicable.
- Consider publishing your slide deck as a PDF on SlideShare. This provides another link to your website and people can find your content through LinkedIn searches.
- Have employees add a link to the webinar recording to their email signature (for about a month after the webinar).
- Provided the information wasn’t time sensitive, go back to social media with additional posts a few months after your webinar to drive new views.
Ready to make webinars the star of your marketing?
By following all the above steps, and investing adequate time and resources, your webinars can be one of your most powerful lead generation tactics! But, if you’re like many of our software and technology clients, you may need an extra hand to get there. If you need help designing your PowerPoint presentations, creating a full demand generation campaign for your webinars, or determining how to best approach your topic—reach out to The Partner Marketing Group team.