Creating a webinar is one of the best ways to connect with prospects in an increasingly remote world.
Since the advent of remote working, people have relied more than ever on technology for education and social interaction. This means more zoom meetings instead of face-to-face meetings, more walks to a home office instead of commuting to a skyscraper, and of course more webinars instead of live events.
BrightTalk B2B webinar platform saw a 76% increase in video, webinar and virtual events uploaded to its platform from March to June 2020. From April 2019 to April 2020, ON24 saw the monthly usage of its webinar platform increase by 167%. If ever there was time to create a webinar, now is it.
Are webinars dead?
In a word: no. While webinars may seem out of date, especially when compared to social media trends where brevity over substance, they have proven invaluable in times of social distancing.
That was not always so. A few years ago we were afraid that webinars would be a thing of the past. While nearly half of consumers said they would like to see more videos in the future, we found that “Research Content” and “Online Courses”, both of which would be covered by the webinar, were at the bottom.
However, the majority of businesses are moving towards a teleworking model and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down. The new “Working from Home Economy” guarantees that webinars will remain a cornerstone of a company’s marketing and sales strategies.
As companies turn to webinars to replace their live events, the market is oversaturated. It is even more difficult to make your virtual event stand out from the crowd. Fortunately, HubSpot and GoToWebinar have teamed up to bring you the ultimate webinar planning kit that will help you create a compelling and effective webinar.
Are you ready to host an online event that engages prospects and drives lead generation? Follow these steps to make a great webinar that will work in 2021.
How to create a webinar
- Brainstorm the right topic.
- Choose a webinar format.
- Choose a webinar tool.
- Assign roles to your team members.
- Produce the content.
- Pick the right day and time.
- Practice your webinar before the event.
- Promote your webinar.
- Connect with your audience.
1. Brainstorm on the right topic.
Before you can start creating your webinar, you need to determine the topic you want to talk about.
The topic you choose should answer questions your audience usually asks, and preferably be very specific. For example, if you’re hosting a webinar on email marketing, you can focus specifically on subject lines.
Overall, your webinar should add value to your audience. Think of your company as a whole and your unique value proposition. What topics are you an expert on? Which topics can you value? Consider choosing an educational topic as this type of content works very well.
Align the topic with the goal of your sales team. A successful webinar depends on the alignment of sales and marketing. If the marketing team is creating content that doesn’t help the sales pitches, it is not a successful attempt at bringing high quality leads to sales.
Fortunately, there are experts at your disposal to come up with ideas for content that actually complement and support the sales pitch: the employees themselves.
Instead of guessing what your sales team would like to focus on at a webinar, ask them questions. Get the staff buy-in for a webinar before you schedule it. Set up a meeting to discover new ideas for content and find out what vulnerabilities they need to resolve. This goes a long way in ensuring that sales tracking with registrants is seamless after the webinar is over.
2. Choose a webinar format.
There are tons of options when you’re considering how to structure your webinar. Panel discussions, questions and answers, single speaker presentations, and interviews are the four most common types. Other formats include product demos and case studies.
For panel discussions, you can invite industry experts to discuss a current niche topic in your industry.
For Q&A, all you need is the product experts on your team to answer your customers’ questions.
Interviews are also good choices. You can choose either an industry expert or a current customer to interview them about their experience with your company.
3. Choose a webinar tool.
There are many webinar hosting platforms that you can use to build your webinar. Popular platforms are ClickMeeting, GoToWebinar and Zoom.
Keep your goals in mind when looking for a tool to use. How many people do you think will attend? Do you need a tool that allows over 1,000 attendees to participate? How much is it? And how easy is it to use? These are questions to consider when deciding which webinar tool to use.
Additionally, you should make sure that the tool supports the type of webinar you are planning to host. Can it handle video chat for panels or Q&A webinars? The right tool for you will depend on the overall goals of your event.
4. Assign roles to your team members.
After choosing the platform, you want to assign roles in your team. Typically, you need to choose four people:
The organizer takes care of all facets of planning, from generating ideas to creating content. You are usually the main point of contact on the webinar platform.
The moderator is the subject matter expert on your team or in the industry who presents the topic you have selected.
The moderator is required for panel discussions, but not for presentations with only one speaker. This person will help stimulate the conversation for the panelists. You can also assign a moderator if you expect to get a lot of questions from attendees.
Assistants are the team members who are on hand in the event of a technician or other type of emergency. If there is no sound, an assistant can intervene to correct the problem. Like moderators, assistants can also manage the chat box during the event.
5. Produce the content.
Once you have found a tool and know the topic you want to present on, it is time to create the content depending on the type of webinar you want to host. Will it be a PowerPoint and Talking Head presentation? Or would you like to have a live panel with questions and answers? Either way, you need to produce the content and prepare for the big day.
For example, if you are making a PowerPoint, you will need to make your slide deck. Make sure the slides highlight your points but don’t have script. These slides should be visually appealing and contain interesting graphics such as pictures or GIFs.
If you’re hosting a discussion-style webinar, schedule your speakers, collect audience questions, and prepare other questions so you can prioritize your time during the webinar.
6. Choose the right day and time.
To choose a time and date for your webinar, consider where your audience lives. Use tools like Google Analytics to find out where people are and choose an appropriate day and time zone.
ON24 reports that Wednesday and Thursday are the best days for webinars, with 11 a.m. being the best time. Another popular time is 10 a.m. Both are great for a variety of time zones and should avoid most commute or work hours. Typically, these times avoid conflict for most people.
However, if your audience is entirely in the US, you don’t have to worry about global time zones. Instead, you can focus on planning a time when most people don’t commute. For example, the early afternoon or after work are generally good times.
7. Practice your webinar before the event.
Exercise is essential to a successful webinar. Many things can go wrong on the day of the event, but preparing can help you avoid technological glitches.
Practicing can also help you become comfortable with the platform if you’ve never used it before.
We strongly recommend creating a fake event on your webinar platform. Post it, send a link to another team member, and practice like it’s a real webinar. Your team member would see it as a participant and tell you what the presentation looks like on the other end.
8. Promote your webinar.
After you’ve done the backend work, it’s time to make sure you have people ready to attend.
To promote your webinar, you can create a landing page where users can log in and distribute and promote this link in a variety of ways.
For example, consider running ads through social media and search engines. In addition, you’ll want to use free promotional tactics – you can post to your own accounts and website, and email your subscribers. It is important to use your own follower base to get people interested.
Reminder emails are also helpful. Send “Don’t Miss Out” or “Seats Filling” emails as the day approaches.
And when people sign up, you want to remind them that the day is ahead of them. You should send them the webinar link about an hour in advance so that they are clear, and they don’t have to look for the link in their registration email.
9. Follow up with your audience.
Obviously, webinars are a great sales opportunity and you don’t want people to leave your webinar and never think of you again.
This is why you want to send them a thank you email and get feedback from attendees so you can plan better webinars in the future.
Remember, attendees generally like to have a recording. If you then send them a link to record, they won’t have to take notes during the webinar. This also means that you can send it to registrants who wanted to participate but couldn’t.
Webinar Marketing Strategy
- Set up a search engine optimized landing page.
- Promote your webinar to current subscribers and contacts via email.
- Promote your event on LinkedIn and other social media channels.
- Send reminder emails to registrants.
- Offer a certificate of completion.
- Consider co-promoting the webinar.
- Survey participants after the webinar.
- Provide the necessary information to sales.
Once you’ve created relevant content topics for your webinar and set up the event, it’s time to introduce that webinar to as many eyes as possible.
Webinars are not just about creating excitement. Once the webinar goes online, you need to build tension and drive engagement.
1. Set up a search engine optimized landing page.
The first step in your webinar promotion strategy is to create a streamlined landing page that will allow registrations to start organically.
This landing page should have a target keyword in the title, a registration form, and a tweaked copy. Ideally, the form should integrate with your other marketing and sales tools and automatically turn registrants into contacts or prospects.
2. Promote your webinar to current subscribers and contacts by email.
Now that you have a landing page that users can be directed to, it’s time to reach out to your first few participants: people who already know about your business and customers who have dealt with you in the past.
After you’ve sent a personalized email to your contacts, do the following:
3. Promote your webinar on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.
LinkedIn is an excellent platform for promoting webinars. Webinars are usually created for other companies, and LinkedIn is the ultimate B2B marketing platform.
LinkedIn now offers a virtual event option that allows you to add the link to access the webinar. Registrants can also start discussions on the event page and give you potential topics to address during the presentation or Q&A.
You can also promote the webinar through display ads on Google, Instagram, and Facebook. However, we recommend keeping the majority of your investment on LinkedIn.
4. Send reminder emails to registrants.
Once you have received registrants, it does not mean that they will appear. If you promote a webinar a week or two in advance, some of your registrants will likely forget when the live date is coming.
Remember to send reminder emails the day before and the day of the live event to ensure a high live attendance rate.
5. Offer a certificate of completion, professional development lessons, or credits.
An easy way to entice registrations is to offer something in return. Certificates of completion, PDHs, and CEUs are credentials that attendees will want to receive after the webinar. This also entices you to stay until the end.
Completion certificates can be offered to virtually any professional. Industries such as engineering, architecture, software development, and marketing require professionals to continue their education after their careers begin.
6. Consider promoting the webinar together.
Try your hand at co-marketing. One of the best ways to gain new expertise, generate interest in content, and increase the reach of a campaign is through a co-marketed webinar.
Instead of hosting a webinar with in-house speakers, try working with another company that is targeting a similar buyer personality and bring their expertise to the conversation.
That way, it creates more interesting content and gives you the opportunity to put your webinar in front of another company’s established audience.
7. Post-webinar respondents.
The only way to get better is to know how to get better. You can refine your next webinar by submitting a post-event survey. Having a better event is a safe way to market it to potential customers.
In this survey, you can include a link to the next webinar that you are hosting to help advance registration for this event.
8. Provide the necessary information to sales.
A big part of the pre and post webinar process is making sure that the correct information is being delivered to sales. For this reason, GoToWebinar and HubSpot recommend creating a webinar hub that sales can easily access with the following information:
- On-demand recordings of all webinars.
- A calendar of past and future webinars.
- Documentation detailing the goals, title, target person, funnel level, key points, speakers, and logistics of the webinars.
- Promotional and follow-up emails.
- Collection of graphic and text CTAs Sales reps can be incorporated into their communication.
- Mechanism for collecting suggestions from sales reps for new topic suggestions and general feedback.
However, once the webinar is over, you need to make sure that the sales reps are ready to close those leads. Send a follow-up email to your staff and provide the following information:
- Leads who have registered
- Leads who participated
- Leads who signed up but didn’t participate
- Leads who never signed up
- New SQL leads from lead scores after the webinar
- All other relevant webinar data
- Sending email templates that allow sales to send to leads based on their webinar behavior. Add other relevant content that they can use to continue nurturing leads over the coming weeks.
If you put extra effort, you can ensure that the webinar is successful from both a sales and a marketing standpoint.
Useful tips for creating webinars
Not sure how to make your webinar stand out from the crowd? Do not worry.
Presentations with only one speaker are admittedly exaggerated. At a time when webinars are ubiquitous, it’s even more important to use different tactics to keep your viewers engaged.
Think about how you can confuse the presentation of the information in your webinar. Here are some tips:
- Discussion style webinars work very well. We have found that non-written discussion-style webinars are very effective in reaching our audiences. At many of our live events, we completely dispensed with the slides and instead brought two speakers together and had a moderator ask live questions on the air. It’s effective for both promoting Twitter participation via a hashtag and keeping the content talking, but informative.
- Answer your customers’ questions throughout the event. Create a webinar based on your prospect’s questions. Send a call to answer questions live. This will help build commitment and excitement for what is to come. Hopefully the people asking questions will show up the next day.
- Engage prospects in advance by adding interactive features to the webinar login page. You can also use a landing page like this one that has a voting feature that people can use to rate their key questions. This will also help you prioritize the material that your audience is most interested in.
According to ON24, 68% of marketers say webinars are one of the best ways to tie marketing activities to revenue. Webinars can also help generate high quality leads. Why?
- You are very committed. According to GoToWebinar, the average view time for webinar attendees is 57 minutes.
- You work across the entire customer journey. From panel discussions to thought leadership to weekly live demos, webinars are a dynamic and effective way to move prospects from awareness to closed business and beyond.
- You generate high quality leads for sales. Webinars contain a wealth of information about your prospects that you can use to identify high quality, ready-to-sell leads. With each webinar registrant, you can collect lead and engagement data that your sales team can use to initiate personalized contact.
- They bring consumers to you for a variety of reasons. 27% of consumers watch a webinar where they learn more about a passion or hobby, while 24% say they watch webinars about entertainment value. 18% of consumers watch webinars to expand their knowledge of their job. Almost a quarter said they saw webinars on all of the above topics.
- They give you the opportunity to teach something specific about your product or the industry. 30% of consumers say they feel more engaged when a webinar teaches them something new. And when it comes to your product, you can assume they have a keen interest in the conversion.
- You will see an increase in subscriber conversion. ON24 saw a 61% increase in registrant-to-subscriber conversion in April 2020. In 2019 it was 55%.
We know that planning and promoting a webinar can be tricky if you’ve never done it before. That’s why we’ve put together a guide, template, and checklist for you to get your webinar off the ground – whether it’s your first or your fortieth. Click here to download the kit for free.
It’s all about alignment
Webinars are experiencing a timely revival. They’re not just an effective marketing tool. They’re also effective sales tools – but only if your sales team has the information, content, and tools to get prospects down the funnel and close deals.
Creating the kind of alignment you need to make this all a success isn’t easy. That’s why HubSpot and GotoWebinar created this ultimate guide for creating a successful webinar and included a checklist to walk you through communicating before, during, and after the webinar.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2018 and was updated in January 2021 for completeness.